Lochaber Juniors 2020 / Argyllshire Gathering 1984

The prize winners from the 2917 Lochaber Juniors.

Lochaber Piping Society is pleased to announce that Jahama Highland Estates is to continue as its main financial sponsor into 2020. The company manages a huge tract of land in Lochaber, much of which provides the catchment area for the water supply to the hydropower stations at Fort William and Kinlochleven.

A spokesman also confirmed the date of the 2020 Youth Piping and Drumming competition as March 28. We will post an entry form in due course.

Lochaber’s agm was held recently and saw the present committee re-elected. Monthly meetings featuring recitals are being considered.

Torquil Telfer.

Meanwhile, around the coast at Oban, moves are afoot to mark the 150th year of the Argyllshire Gathering in 2021. The Argyll Piping Trust marked its 40 years at this year’s event.

bagpipe.news notes that Torquil Telfer, chief steward, is due to hand over to someone else after 2020 but it is to be hoped that he stays on for the anniversary. Torquil took over from Jamie Mellor who took over from the late Angus Nicol, and has proven to be a first-class steward. Historically, the post was held for three years but in recent times this was extend to five.

With Oban and stewarding in mind, we enjoyed reading an account of the 1984 event. It appeared in the October 1984 Piping Times although the report did not carry a byline. We reproduce it, below:

The Argyllshire Gathering

Mike Cusack.

The Gold Medal competition was due to start in the Corran Halls at 9.15am, but eventually got underway at 9.40am with an audience of 43. The judges were David Murray, Andrew MacNeill and John Burgess. Entry to the Gold Medal this year was open to all prize winners in previous Silver Medal competitions at Oban and Inverness, as well as holders of the Silver Medal and other prize winners in the gold medal.

There were 22 names in the programme, but Roy Gunn also played although his name was listed for the Silver Medal. Of those entered, Allan MacDonald and Anne MacKay didn’t play and the only breakdown was Robert Wallace. By 10.30am the audience had increased to 73. The lunch break was at 1.00pm, and the judges were on their way out as Logan Tannock finished the crunluath of The Little Supper, not waiting to hear the first line of the ground again.

The competition re-started at 2.15pm but those wishing to hear the Senior Competition went to the Phoenix Cinema for 2.45pm and so missed the best tunes of the medal competition as the first three prize winners were among the last six to play.

The most popular of the set tunes were The Bicker, Grain in Hides and The Little Supper, each submitted by 16 of the 22 competitors in the programme. All the Men Paid Rent but Rory was submitted 15 times, and the least popular tune was Black Wedder’s White Tail, submitted four times.

Result – 1. Michael Cusack, Houston, U.S.A, (Queen Anne’s Lament); 2. Alfred Morrison, Bishopton, (Queen Anne’s Lament); 3. Roderick MacLeod, Cambuslang, (Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks); 4. Amy Garson, Ottawa, Canada, (All the Men Paid Rent but Rory).

The march to the field at Oban, 1984.

Senior Piobaireachd
This began at 2.55pm in a very chilly Phoenix Cinema. The audience at the start numbered 85, but several were tourists who had come in out of the rain. One steward at the door was only just prevented by his colleague from demanding the £1.00 admission fee from the Chief Steward. Another steward was heard telling people, “You can go in now, he hasn’t really started” when the player was half way through his tune.

The judges were General Richardson, Andrew Pitkeathly and Ronnie MacCallum. There were 10 names in the programme but John Wilson and Angus MacLellan didn’t appear.

Donald MacPherson, Oban 1985.

In first place, for the 12th time at Oban, was Donald MacPherson, playing the nameless tune Cherede Darievea. This was the longest tune of the competition, lasting 18 minutes.

In second place was Hugh MacCallum, playing the same tune, third was Malcolm MacRae with The Red Speckled Bull, fourth John MacDougall, again with the Nameless tune. The competition finished at 6.15pm. Others who played were Murray Henderson (Lady MacDonald’s Lament), Iain MacFadyen, (Lady MacDonald’s Lament), Duncan MacFadyen (Abercairney’s Salute) and Andrew Wright (Abercairney’s Salute).

The Prince’s Salute was submitted nine times and The Vaunting eight times, but neither was played. Lady MacDonald’s Lament was offered nine times, Abercairney’s Salute and Nameless five times and The Red Speckled Bull four times.

Silver Medal
This marathon event began at 9am. in the Dunollie Halls with William MacDonald, Robert Hardie and Dr. Leslie Craig judging. There were 50 names in the programme but not all played. According to the programme 93 tunes were submitted but some were listed twice under different names and some twice under the same name.

Those with no chance of a prize were waved off; two chokes, a wave of Dr. Craig’s pencil and off they had to go.

After the finish of the senior competition those arriving at the Dunollie Hall were in time to hear the last 18 in the Silver Medal, which included first and second prize winners, five who didn’t turn up and two who were waved off.

There was an audience of 45 to 50 at 6.45pm by 7.30pm it was down to 23, and when the competition ended at 8.50pm 35 people were in the hall. The result was announced at 9.15pm. First was the last to play L/Sgt Roger Huth, Scots Guards with Beloved Scotland. Second was James Hood, Bonnyrigg (The MacDonalds are Simple), third Sgt Brian Donaldson, Scots Guards (Old Men of the Shells), fourth Cpl Gordon Long, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and fifth Iain Bruce, Australia.

The Games
10.00am Thursday morning, torrential rain. On the station book-stall the headline of the Oban Times promised a dry day but crowded. Many pipers had gone home and only 26 played up the road, about half the usual number. The dancing events were transferred to the Dunollie Halls as it was considered too dangerous for them outside.

Alfred Morrison and Colin Drummond, 1984.

In the March Strathspey & Reel for Former Winners 10 out of the 14 entered played and the tunes were played once over instead of the usual twice. The result was: 1. Sgt Brian Donaldson, Scots Guards; 2. P.M. Iain Morrison, Queens Own Highlanders; 3. Hugh MacInnes, Glasgow.

The judges were R. Hardie, A. Pitkeathly, W. MacDonald.

The march was judged by Col. Murray, John Burgess and Andrew MacNeill. Result: 1. Sgt Brian Donaldson; 2. Michael Cusack; 3. Scott MacAuley; 4. Angus MacColl; 5. Gordon Walker.

The Strathspey & Reel was judged by Gen. Richardson, Ronnie MacCallum and at the beginning Dr. Leslie Craig, who was later called away to a sick relative in Switzerland. Result: 1. Murray Henderson; 2. Robert Wallace; 3. Alfred Morrison; 4. Angus MacColl; 5. Barry Donaldson.

Local Events
– 1. Thomas A. MacArthur; 2. Neil R. MacNaughton; 3. Neil A. MacKinnon.
Strathspey and Reel – 1. Thomas MacArthur; 2. Neil MacNaughton.