Piobaireachd Club – February 25th, 2012

Friday, February 25th, 2012

It was a rather rainy Friday, but the Hilder family were gracious hosts to a fine night of piobaireachd playing.

The feature piper of the month, and his first time playing at the club, was Joe Stewart. Joe hails from the Seattle area and recently had successes at two amateur invitational competitions in Connecticut and Ontario. Joe’s tune was “The “Red Speckled Bull”. While many piobaireachd are attached to a battle, birth, or death, the story of this tune seems somewhat humorous, as it tells of the battle with a bull, (and eventually the death of the bull). Ronald MacAilean Og MacDonald and his gillie were on their way to Lochiel and the Camerons had placed a vicious bull at the river Sgaitheal. Not wanting the embarrassment of turning back, Ronald killed the bull, twisted off his two horns and made the lad carry them to Lochiel. Ronald composed the tune and played it when nearing Achnacarry castle. When returning home, he went to see “MacDonald of Keppoch”. The tune may once have been known by this name.

Alexander Schiele was next with “The Unjust Incarceration”. This tune is said to have been composed by Ian Dall MacKay (the famous blind piper from Gairloch) who lived from 1656 to 1754. One possible origin of the tune is that it reflects his own feelings of frustration and anguish. Another possibility is that Ian was writing of an event hundreds of years before. Naill Bhass MacKay – the eldest son to the chief of the clan MacKay – was taken prisoner by King James I and incarcerated on Bass rock in the Firth of Forth in 1427. King James executed or imprisoned many chiefs in an effort to control the highland clans. James was executed in 1436 and Naill escaped from the Bass rock and became 8th chief of the MacKay clan.

The next piper to play was Aaron Stone. He played “Sir James MacDonald of the Isles Lament”. Liam Hilder followed with “Catherines’ Lament”. This tune is thought to have been composed by Calum MacBaileart Cheiard upon the death of his wife. Hal Senyk played “The MacDonalds are Simple”. This was the first time this tune had been played at a club meeting.

Liam’s father, David Hilder, made his debut with “Too Long in This Condition”. There are different stories associated with this tune. One is of Patrick MacCrimmon being stripped of his clothes by the English at the battle of Sheriffmuir (1715). Another refers to Donald Mor while in hiding from the MacKenzies after avenging the death of his brother, Squinting Patrick.

Ed McIlwaine closed the evening with “The Lament for the Earl of Antrim”. This tune was written by Patrick Mor MacCrimmon, piper to Rory Mor MacLeod.

The next club meeting will be on March 30 at the home of Bob and Mary McIlwaine.