Match report Tuesday 12th November 2013

Piper warWith the poppy still in flower it was with a nod to the ‘old soldiers’ and those still serving that got the evening under way with the PM rolling some old favourites that recognised the WW2 campaign.

Allan Harper was up next and in his selection he played the little heard Heroes of Oosterbreek. This is a 2 parted ¾ retreat march written by Angus Lawrie who was pipe major of the Strathclyde police band.  In 1978 he visited Arnhem where, in 1944, the parachute brigade had tried to capture the bridge crossing and had suffered heavy losses. He decided to compose the tune when he found the grave of a young soldier called McCullough who was from his hometown, Oban.

Allan Harper

Allan Harper

Note: Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time.

Field Marshal Montgomery’s goal was to force an entry into Germany and over the Rhine. He wanted to circumvent the northern end of the Siegfried Line and this required the operation to seize the bridges across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine) as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the Lower Rhine would allow the Allies to encircle Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr from the north. It made large-scale use of airborne forces, whose tactical objectives were to secure the bridges and allow a rapid advance by armored units into Northern Germany.

Initially, the operation was marginally successful, and several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured. However, Gen. Horrocks’ ground force’s advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, an extremely overstretched supply line, at Son and failure to capture the main road bridge over the river Waal before 20 September. At Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division encountered far stronger resistance than anticipated. In the ensuing battle, only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them, they were overrun on 21 September. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated on 25 September. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient force and the river remained a barrier to their advance until the offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945. The failure of Market Garden ended Allied expectations of finishing the war by Christmas 1944.

Craig Martin

Craig Martin

Craig Martin was next for shaving and warned up with Old Adam followed by the 10th HLI Crossing the Rhine.

Note Donald Shaw Ramsay was born in 1919 in Torphichen, Scotland. When he was eight, his first teacher was Sandy Forrest, who was then Pipe-Major of the Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band, which exists today, led by Pipe-Major Gordon Stafford and promoted to Grade 1 in October 2008. Ramsay enjoyed early success in solo competition, doing well in the junior categories at, among other events, the Northern Meeting. At 19, he became pipe-major of another local band, and the next year joined the 10th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, recruited by the colonel of the battalion to establish a band who pulled strings to ensure that Ramsay was part of his group. At the time, however, the minimum age for a British Army pipe-major was 21, but corners were cut and Ramsay became the latest “youngest pipe-major ever,” a title that seems to have been given to numerous people over the years. It was with the 10th HLI during the Second World War that Ramsay saw action, and wrote one of his first great compositions, the 6/8 march, “The 10th Battalion H.L.I. Crossing the Rhine.”

Craig finished off with a double MSR Donald MacLellan of Rothsey, Duncan McColl, Maggie Cameron, Sandy MacPherson, Broadford Bay and Dr. McPhail’s Reel.

Next up was Hon Pres Colin MacLellan who opened with My Faithful Fair One. His next selection started with the P/M John MacLellan tune The Plains of Normandy.P1030115

Note: Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June; more than three million allied troops were in France by the end of August.

Fresh from a recital in Troon, Colin continued with a double MSR before finishing off with some musical hornpipes and jigs.

P1030118The PPP was Lachie Dick and once a wee adjustment was made to the F he was off and running into John MacDonald of Glencoe, Struan Robertson and The Smith of Chilliechassie. (Killiechassie is just outside Aberfeldy). Lachie finished off with some small reels before handing over to Roddy Weir who was on piobaireachd duties.

Roddy settled the pipe and played a lovely MacDougall’s Gathering. This is a very bold tune and at one time may have gone under the banner of a Salute. It certainly has that robust proud makeup that requires the piper to step up to the plate with a bold approach. Roddy did exactly that and it was a fitting end to the evening.

A fine warm up for a visit to the Royal Scottish Piper’s Society on Friday 15th November. More of that later!

Roddy Weir

Roddy Weir

Euan Anderson

TrophyHon P/M

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November 18, 2013 · 9:52 pm

Match Report 29th October 2013

The Castle hallIt feels like quite a lot has happened since the last match report and some of it I can actually remember.

If you recall in our last MR we had an evening with Iain Speirs and Cameron Drummond who were heading up to the Glenfiddich. As you will all now know Iain rolled out two magnificent performances to defend his title and become the 2013 champion. No mean feat and very well deserved. Cameron played a superb Unjust Incarceration and was unlucky not to feature in the prize list. He also acquitted himself well in the MSR and must be pleased with his inaugural performance. Both pipers had family and friends in support and the celebrations ran well into the following morning. This is where there is a wee memory lapse.IMG_0595

I do recall a fire that everyone seemed to ignore (apart from the staff), proving that a free bar is indeed a powerful magnet.

I do recall being in the company of Callum Beaumont and speaking ‘Fife’ to Greig Canning. Both Callum and I are from a rather refined and cultured background and it was hard to keep pace with the lingo but Greig eventually got his message across. It unfortunately cannot be printed here but suffice to say I have a few new words in my vocabulary.

I do recall falling asleep with my contact lenses in. I managed to prise them out with the Sgian Dubh so all is well.

I do recall have the annual visit to the life saving services at Ballinluig with Colin, Jenny and Tracey on Sunday morning. A full fry up and a pint of blood saw me back on the road.

Yes another great Glenfiddich. I blame this all on Liz Maxwell. If you read this Liz please put my tickets aside for next year. :)

Of course the celebrations that Sunday morning were a bit muted as we bade farewell to Tracey Williams who was returning home the following day. It was somehow quite appropriate that she was crying while I was trying retain my breakfast. That’s piping!

Wee Spoon, Tracey and Fiona or WTF.

Wee Spoon, Tracey and Fiona or WTF.

So as I took to the floor to warm up the evening it was with a nod and a wink to absent friends and one who had already arrived in Melbourne on the last leg of her journey home. As I was playing some 6/8s there was apparently some spooning going on in Melbourne. Katherine Belcher aka ‘the wee spoon’ had found herself a new and shiny Big Spoon.  ‘The Spoon is dead. Long live the Spoon’ Aye right enough, the morals of an alley Kat-Kat !

Roddy Weir

Roddy Weir

Next for shaving was Roddy Weir, the first of our London competitors who were having a warm up at the Eagles. Roddy was in fine form and had a bagpipe to match. Once it had settled he trotted out Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque, Donald MacLennan of Rothesay, Arniston Castle, Caberfeidh, Broadford Bay and Dr MacPhail’s Reel. Roddy finished with a couple of hornpipes and volunteered for the piobaireachd slot in two weeks time. Great stuff.

Lachie Dick was up next and he was also straight into the big stuff playing The Pap of Glencoe, Susan McLeod and Bessie McIntyre. Lachie is one of the young stalwarts of the society and its great to see him make such great progress.

Lachie Dick

Lachie Dick

Time for pies. No rush this week as you know who had left the country (OK a cheap shot but you can’t do anything about it). We did set aside two and have a minutes silence.


Tracey’s pies

The PPP was none other than the Hon President himself who wanted a run out in preparation for a recital he was preparing for in Troon. As usual Colin deftly stepped through some light music during which he played two little heard Donald McLeod reels Neil Angus MacDonald and Roddy MacDonald’s Fancy. Once he had brought the pipe into line he gave us the lovely Earl of Seaforth’s Salute.

James Logan says in his notes to MacKay’s Ancient Piobaireachd: “The rising for King James under the Earl of Mar, was promoted in the North, chiefly by the MacKenzies, who distinguished themselves at Sherriffmoor. They were the first clan who were called by General Wade to deliver up their arms, which they did at Brahan Castle, 1725. 

Colin plays The Earl of Seaforth's Salute

Colin plays The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute

This was composed by Finlay dubh MacRae, Seaforth’s Piper, when his master was in exile, and expressed the wish of himself and the clan, that he might soon return, and in good health. During his absence, the rents of the estate, although forfeited, were regularly remitted to France, and 800 men escorted the money to Edinburgh.” 

 A rather more plausible-sounding account in notes to David Glen’s Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd: “‘The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute (1715) Fàilte Uilleim Dhuibh Mhic Coinnich.’ This ‘Uilleam Dubh,’ or Black William, was the fifth Earl of Seaforth. 

He lived in a most critical time in the history of the Highlands. He was present with his Clan at Sheriffmuir, and after that battle he followed James III. (The Pretender) into exile. His estates were forfeited, although it was found extremely difficult to carry the forfeiture into effect. For several years after the estates were forfeited the rents were collected by the Earl’s faithful henchman at Sheriffmuir, Donald Murchison, and conveyed to his exiled master in Spain.

There is a story told of a faithful Kintail man, who, when he found the Earl of Seaforth casting peats in Spain, expressed his astonishment in what has since become a proverb, by exclaiming, ‘Bha latha eile aig muinntir na mòna,’ the peat-cutter shave seen better days. The Earl was equal to the occasion, and promptly replied, ‘Cha’n’eilneach gun dà latha ach fear gun lath’ idir,’ there is none without a change of days but he who has no day. 

The final player of the night was High Tower. We have all had times when the bagpipe just decides to have a mind of its own. In its devilish make up it sucks you in to try harder and harder to sort it. The harder you try the harder it gets. The bagpipe smiles knowing you should put it down and go for a beer. Tomorrow is always another day. Andrew did just that and by all accounts had it singing by the time he arrived in London. Hopefully it had a cover on the bag. I say no more.

That was the evenings evening.

We are back on Tuesday 12th but more importantly is our night with the Royal Scottish Pipers Society the following Friday 15th November 19.00hrs at their rooms in Rose Street Lane. Please come along and support the night. It would be very helpful if you could let Douglas Gardiner know if you are going for catering etc.

P1020382Euan Anderson

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Iain Speirs wins the Glenfiddich Championship 2013


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Match report Tuesday 15th October 2013

P1030078Tonight’s Eagle Pipers was a rather special affair due to the fact that we were treated to a sneak preview of the aural delights that await those of us who will be attending The Glenfiddich Piping Championship on 26 October. Current Champion Iain Speirs and rising star Cameron Drummond were both in very fine fettle with 10 days of preparation remaining. Hon. President pointed out that one-fifth of Glenfiddich competitors will be EPS members – indeed Committee Members. A proud representation indeed.

A good crowd had assembled at Haymarket, somewhat dazzled by the lack of fencing which has been removed with the completion of the ever-controversial tram lines. Tom Peterkin had a new haircut for the occasion, and the Hon. P/M drew the curtains – sure signs that a fine night of music was awaiting us.P1030082

With his Naked Niall drones sounding warm and rich and resplendent in his new Strathallan attire, Cameron got the evening underway with some small 4/4 marches, George Morrison CSO, Flett From Flotta and Lord Lovat’s Lament. Cameron’s pipes are fast becoming iconic – he started playing the pipes before the mounts were completed, and hasn’t yet stopped playing them long enough to have them added. He continued with a jig set of The Loch Ness Monster and Dr. Flora MacAulay of Carradale. Cameron then stopped to give us the tune names, and I have come think of this interaction with the audience as a trademark of Royal Conservatoire-trained pipers. At the end of each semester, the Degree students are required to present a recital that includes an element of history or context for the tunes they are playing. I have often noticed that players who have completed the course have incorporated this aspect of presentation into their standard practice, and I feel it is a welcome addition.

P1030083Cameron then launched into a double MSR – the requirement at The Glenfiddich. He opened with the seldom-heard marches Glengarry Gathering and Mrs Duncan MacFadyen, continued with The Caledonian Society of London and The Shepherd’s Crook, and finished with Miss Proud and John McKechnie. This was impeccable playing, and a privilege to have a front-row seat with such a player.

Lament for the Earl of Antrim was Cameron’s piobaireachd, and while it may not be a difficult tune to memorise, the length of the lines and number of variations makes it a reasonably long tune, testing the concentration, bagpipe and player in a long-distance style of event. As with any piobaireachd, the truest test is in the musical interpretation, and the nuances Cameron brought to the tune were lovely.

Time for pies, and there was a bit of a scrum for them tonight. While enjoying my pie in the company of EPS Comms Manager Douglas Gardiner and EPS Romeo Nils Michael, the latter posed the question: What did The Thief of Lochaber steal?

Iain was keen to get the second half kicked off, and with his own trademark sound and pipes that rarely require tuning, he got warmed up before settling into a mammoth, triple MSR. If elite athletes train for long-distance events by going further than the race for which they are preparing, then this must be the training regimen for which Iain is opting. Donald MacLellan of Rothesay, The Knighstwood Celildh, The Duchess of Edinburgh, Susan MacLeod, Dora MacLeod, Arniston Castle, The Smith of Chilliechassie, Loch Carron and John McKechnie were the tunes, delivered with style and polish. Iain’s piobaireachd was Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie, another seldom-heard tune which begs the question: why do we not hear such a musical, interesting and challenging composition performed more often? A rare treat.

That was the end of the evening’s playing, however, the night was far from over. The Hon P/M was dropping us home at Dean Park Crescent when the Hon Pres. kindly offered an invitation to taste some recently purchased cherry vodka. The front seat passenger, Iain Drummond (Cameron’s father) claimed that he had “never tasted cherry vodka before”, and of course our Hon. Pres. felt obliged to rectify this matter.

In we went and consumed said cherry vodka and a fair amount of Limoncello. It was then we were treated to the finest performance of the night. The Hon Pres. gave us the little heard ‘The Lament for the Acer’ It had a very distinctive rhythm, strong pulse and was smashing. The evening concluded sometime around 3am and that was that.

On a personal note, this was my last Tuesday night at Eagle Pipers as I am returning to live in my native New Zealand after nearly a decade in Scotland. Such a difficult and heart-wrenching decision was far from easy to make, and as I am currently embarking on my “Victory Lap” of Scotland, I am thinking a lot about my time here and my involvement with piping for all of those years. I am reminded that we are in danger of taking for granted that which is easy to access. We can quickly become complacent. Of course it is impossible to do everything all the time, but I think sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that because it is there, it will always be there, or WE will always be there to make use of it, and we fail to support and enjoy the treasures that are on our doorsteps. I know there are many people around the world who would give their eye teeth to be able to be in the audience on a night like tonight or at Blair Castle next weekend, and yet for many of us who live within a relatively short drive, life gets in the way, and we simply don’t manage.


I feel very fortunate to have had so many opportunities to be part of a generation of pipers and piping in Scotland, but particularly to have witnessed the reincarnation of the mighty Eagle Pipers, which embodies two of the greatest treasures that piping gives us: music and friendship.

I will miss both very much indeed.

Jimmy and Me

Jimmy and Me

TW xx

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Visit to The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society – Friday 15th November

The RSPS has very kindly invited us to join them for a meeting on Friday 15th November at their premises on Rose Street Lane South, Edinburgh.

The format is very similar to ours except there is an informal band session at the beginning of the evening.  Everyone is therefore encouraged to bring pipes although there will be limited slots for playing solo in the bar afterwards.

The warm hospitality of the RSPS is well documented and they even have pies to match our own.

On display in the RSPS is the grand sea eagle which used to grace Eagles meetings in the West End Hotel.  Any plans to release or relocate this bird on the night of our visit would be, at best, ill conceived.

Please can you email me on if you would like to attend.

Douglas Gardiner

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Results for the inaugural Capt John MacLellan solo piping competition

TrophyBelow are the results for the inaugural Capt John MacLellan solo piping competition organized by and held at the Army School of Piping in Edinburgh last Saturday.

The overall trophy is replica of the statue recently unveiled in memorial of pipers and drummers killed in combat, located at the Army School.

With Colin MacLellan being the President of the Eagle Pipers’ Society it was thought only fit and proper do donate a trophy in recognition of one of Edinburgh’s great stalwarts, P/M Robert L Kilgour. Bob is still active and can be found on occasion enjoying a tune and a dram in the Scot’s Guards Club.

Back in the day

Bob back in the day

This is a welcome return to competitive piping in Edinburgh and by all accounts it was run in true military fashion and an outstanding success.

ColinCongratulations to those behind the scenes and the prizewinners.



1st David Wilton (Captain John MacLellan Medal)

2nd Colin MacLellan Cup – Faye Henderson

3rd Jonathan Greenlees

4th Gordon McCready

5th Jenny Hazzard

MSRprize winners

1st Gordon McCready (P-M Angus MacDonald Trophy)

2nd Kevin McNulty (Plumbers’ Knowe Trophy)

3rd Peter Hunt

4th Gavin Ferguson

5th Cameron Drummond

Open Hornpipe & Jig

1st Callum Watson (Robert L Kilgour Trophy)

2nd Steven Gray

3rd Kevin McNulty

4th Gordon Bruce

5th Allan Johnstone



1st David Shedden (Joe Rafferty Plate)

2nd Steven Gray

3rd Connor Sinclair

4th Darach Urquhart

5th Sarah Muir


1st Steven Gray (John MacLellan Pipe Banner)Prizes

2nd George Stewart

3rd Sarah Muir

4th Connor Sinclair

5th Kris Coyle



1st Callum Watson (Jo Delworth Quaich)

2nd Kevin McNulty (Dean Park Eagle)

3rd Caitlin MacDonald

4th Kris Coyle

5th Edward Gaul


1st Callum Watson (Fort Augustus Shield)

2nd Caitlin MacDonald

3rd Stuart McCallum

4th Andrew Gray

5th Glenn Rosspipers

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Glenfiddich Warm Up – Next Meeting 15th October

The Society is very pleased to announce that Iain Speirs and Cameron Drummond will provide 45mins of music each at our next meeting (Tuesday 15th October).

Iain and Cameron are warming up for The Glenfiddich Championship at Blair Castle on 26th October.  Iain is of course defending champion and Cameron is making his first appearance so the stakes will be high.  Both will play a piobaireachd.

An evening of first class piping is assured.

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