Tonight was the start of our 2018 youth program and we were lucky enough to have Ciaren Ross along to start the ball rolling. Ciaren went to Queen Victoria School and his dad, Gordon Ross, was the first to steer him in the right direction. Tuition from Andrew Wright and latterly Willie McCallum has helped mould him into the fine young player he is today. It was nice to see Gordon come along to support his son and no doubt cast a critical ear over his recital!
Ciaren did exceptionally well in the C Grade last season and has now moved up to B grade. He recently won the jigs at the Duncan Johnstone Memorial competition. He is the current pipe sergeant of the National Youth pipe band and plays in Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipeband.
On a robust steady pipe he settled into the first half of the evening with some 6/8 marches starting with The Trees of North Uist. With the pipe humming along he was quickly into some big strathspeys and reels before playing one of his own compositions, a waltz, ‘Iain’s Jelly Bean’, that was written last year when sharing a flat with piping pal Iain Crawford. A slow air and some great jigs followed that started with the Peter MacLeod tune, Donald MacLean.
And with that the first half was done and time for a pie.
During the break mention was made of the passing of Gordon Webster. Gordon was WO1 Pipe Major of both 1st and 2nd Battalions Scots Guards and had the honour of serving as 9th Sovereign’s Piper to Her Majesty The Queen.
Ciaren came back for the second half warming the pipe with some 3/4 retreat marches before playing two 2/4 marches, Hugh Alexander Low of Tiree and The Glengarry Gathering. Two top notch tunes. With a final tweak of the drones it was time for some Ceol Mor and the tune of the evening was to be The MacKay’s Banner.
A’ Bhratach Bhan ( The White Banner)
‘Little is known regarding the ancient banner of the MacKays. All that the clan History tells us on the subject is that Robert MacKay son of Neil of Achness (the chieftain who was killed in Thurso in 1649), was the custodian of the colours; that this Robert had a son Neil to whom the colours descended; that Neil in his turn, had a son Robert, who had the flag and that after him his son Hugh had the custody of it. An old man in Thurso, Hugh MacKay, commonly known as Hugh “Hamar,” had the banner in his keeping for many years. It came to him in this way: Hugh MacKay, son of the second Robert above mentioned, had no family. On his death the flag was handed to his brother Angus; and this Angus left it to his son, the Hugh “Hamar” just referred to. On the death of Hugh about 10 years ago, Alexander, county assessor, Thurso, got the flag and in his possession it still remains.
Ciaren made a great job of the tune despite the ever increasing temperature in the room. And with that we were done. A real treat and if this is an example of things to come Ciaren is sure to have another successful year on the boards. Many thanks to him for coming along a performing for us.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 17thApril. Bring your pipes.