The last meeting of the year involved plenty of chat and festive cheer. It was half 9 before we realised that a tune was required. Up to the plate stepped Peter McCalister and after a few light music tunes he presented and played the little heard War or Peace, Cogadh Na Sith.
Note-This is ancient piobaireachd is a tune played on the eve of a battle to rouse clansmen to a high emotional state, or, in battle. It was also once commonly known as “The True Gathering of the Clans”.
At the Battle of Saint Pierre in 1813, a piper of the Gordon’s played Cogadh no Sith and was killed as he played. A second piper took up the tune and was also killed. A third piper completed the tune.
Probably the best known playing of Cogadh no Sìth was at the Battle of Waterloo when Piper Kenneth MacKay of Tongue played the tune.
Kenneth MacKay was a piper with the 79th Cameron Highlanders. As his regiment was forming a square to defend themselves against the charging French Cuirassiers, the proudest cavalry of its day, Kenneth MacKay stepped outside the square and took up his pipe to play Cogadh no Sith. Ouitside the square he marched despite the repeated charges of the French cavalry, all the while playing Cogadh no Sìth.
The square held firm despite heavy casualties – over 300 officers and men killed or wounded. Kenneth MacKay by some miracle was unharmed. The Cameron Highlanders were singled out for special mention by the Duke of Wellington. When representatives of the regiment were invited to Paris to appear before the royalty of Europe, Kenneth MacKay played Cogadh no Sìth for the Tsar of Russia.
He was later presented with a set of silver mounted pipes donated by Britain’s Prince Regent.
Now that all said, as most of you will know, the picture of MacKay depicts him playing an F. There are none in the tune?
Anyway once again great stuff from Peter and a very fitting way to conclude the year that saw some 15 piobaireachds aired.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 10th January 2017 where the new band format will commence, so everyone please bring your pipes. The Society is putting together a new member tune book that hopefully will be available early next year.
So all in all another great piping year has come to an end with fond memories of fun and frolic’s. After all that’s what it’s all about, is it not?
Compliments of the season to you and yours.
The Eagle Pipers’ Society