What the difference a day makes-well more like 48hrs but you get the drift.
With the band having completed a full hours practice (in preparation for our visit from the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society in 2 weeks time-March 19th) Lachie Dick was to be the post pie piper.
Last Saturday Lachie, not surprisingly, fell victim to the tradition of the ‘stag’ having an early bath. Unfortunately for him it was at the start of the Indian meal, circa 19.30hrs. He awoke around 21.30 to a round of applause from the patrons but it was a taxi for Dick under with watchful eye of wing man Andrew Gray.
However, now fully recovered, like the Phoenix from the ashes, he took to the floor for a tune and trotted through a wide variety of tunes in preparation for this weekends Duncan Johnstone competition in Glasgow.
Included in his spot was the 6/8 march Domhnail Ban of Kyle’s Flodda, composed by Alex Muir. Domhnail Ban is the local piping instructor in the Uist schools and Alex Muir was a minister from Harris. Interestingly he was a musician who composed tunes for the pipes but never learnt to play. As can be seen from an excerpt from his memorial he was quite a character.
‘Alex continued to teach until 1977, when he felt called to the Ministry of the Word. He returned to Glasgow University to study for a Bachelor of Divinity degree, after being accepted as a candidate for the Church of Scotland Ministry. He graduated in 1980. He did short assistantships in Largs, on the island of Barra and occasional ministry in Sutherland and Wester Ross, before being called to the parish of Canisbay with Keiss in 1982.
Alex had a fruitful ministry in Caithness, where his preaching and pastoral care of the parishioners were greatly appreciated. He also had the privilege of being Minister to the Queen Mother when she was on holiday at the Castle of Mey. Not long after arriving at the manse in Cansibay, he and Catriona had the honour of being invited to the castle for dinner.
This was to be the first of many visits and Alex was able to offer pastoral support to the Queen Mother during his ministry. Alex never divulged any confidences to anyone, including the press, who would sometimes pester him for information about his times at the castle – and the Queen Mother clearly respected him greatly for this.
The dinner parties were not sombre affairs. On learning of Alex’ musical abilities, she invited him to sing Scottish songs and ballads in the drawing room after dinner. This became a regular event. Alex was asked to take his guitar along and had the songs copied out for everyone to join in.
Perhaps the greatest memory of these occasions, which Alex and Catriona greatly enjoyed, was the evening when, to their surprise, the Queen joined her mother for dinner at the castle from the Royal Yacht. There was a memorable, if surreal, moment, when the Queen Mother asked for Alex to lead them all in the singing of “The Jeely Piece” song and the Queen seemed to enjoy the humour immensely! ‘
Alex also composed The Bays of Harris that is often heard in Uist.
And with that the evening was done. Great stuff Lachie and good luck at the Duncan Johnstone.
Duncan Johnstone, 1925 – 1999, was a prolific composer of many excellent pieces and many of his tunes are part of the standard folk and piping repertoire. Helen Urquhart from the National Piping Centre says there is an unprecedented entry this year. The competition run by the CPA is this Saturday and starts at 09.00hrs at the McPhater Street venue.
Dates for the diary are
16th March Duncan Johnstone
19th March Eagle Pipers welcome the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society
23rd March Piobaireachd Society conference and AGM
16th April Eagle Pipers welcome John Dew as their guest player.
PIOBAIREACHD SOCIETY ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2019
The 2019 annual conference will be held in the National Piping Centre on Saturday 23rd March. There will be an informal ceilidh in the Pipers Tryst on Friday evening 22nd March. The conference will conclude with a dinner in the National Piping Centre on Saturday evening.
A preferential rate for room booking per night of £109.00 per room single occupancy £119.00 per room double occupancy for the nights of 22nd and 23rd March has been obtained at the Holiday Inn, Glasgow, Theatreland, 161 West Nile Street, Glasgow G1 2RL – www.higlasgow.com. This hotel is just across the road from the Piping Centre. Delegates should book directly with the hotel, quoting DOCTORS, Reservation Office working hours, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Telephone 0141 352 8300 / Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conference rate including dinner is £55; day rate including lunch, teas and coffees £35.
- New evidence about the Old Competitions – talk by Jack Taylor with tunes by Iain Speirs and John Dew. Featuring a replica Donald MacDonald bagpipe, and tunes selected from the 1844 list.
- My piping life and times – panel discussion led by Gary West.
- MacCrimmons’ Gold – a film premier.
For further information contact Roderick Livingstone, Treasurer:
Telephone: 07801 014885
See you next Tuesday 19th March. Highland dress required to play in the band.