Part of the Fyffe Christie mural that hangs in The National Piping Centre. Christie’s painting depicts several well known pieces of ceòl mòr and was presented to the College of Piping in 1954 by the Glasgow University Piping Society.

A common fun aspect to seasonal piping schools is asking youngsters to write a short story based around tune titles. Here is one such story written by Muriel Clayton and published in the April 1980 edition of The International Piper. Her story uses a number of piobaireachd titles and was read out at that year’s Piobaireachd Society conference.

Muriel used an incredible 56 tune titles in her story. If you fancy a go please send us your offerings and we shall publish the best.

The beautiful Mary MacLeod, her golden hair like fair honey, tied back and with a blue ribbon, walked slowly to the end of the great bridge, leading her red speckled bull, the Pride of Barra. She had been MacCrimmon’s sweetheart but after the massacre with red Hector of the battles, MacCrimmon will never return, and she was left to lament for the dead.

Times were hard, and though the boats were weighing from land there was a scarce of fishing. They returned through the sound of the waves to their little supper, feeling that they had been too long in this condition. When the men went to drink, it was a little spree indeed.

Then came the time for paying the King’s taxes and loud was the company’s lament! They began to bicker among themselves but when faced with war or peace, all the men paid rent but Rory. He was filled with a flame of wrath! “No!” he cried, “I have inherited my father, the blind piper’s obstinacy. I am proud to play a pipe and to say that this is my beloved Scotland, and that the glen is mine, and I will pay out no grain in hides and corn in sacks – no, not even a groat!

Thus vaunting, he drew his old sword and attached the tax collector who tried to defend himself with a pretty dirk. There ensued a desperate battle which result in the rout of the lowland captain and, finally, his death. With red hand, Rory buried the body but discovery and retribution followed, with a long and not unjust incarceration. Sad it was to hear his father’s lament and to see the aged warrior’s sorrow at the loss of his only son. The old man cried, “He would not hear the piper’s warning and now I am left to lament for the children.”

Years passed by and the old men of the shells would shake their heads sadly as they heard the mournful song of the daughter’s lament as she sorrowfully passed them by. But one day a different note was heard in the distance, like a phantom piper. It was the proscribed and nameless exile finally returned to tell how he had appealed against his sentence, and had got a kiss of the king’s hand and forgiveness for his misdeeds. Returned – and renamed – he was greeted with cries of, “Welcome! – Johnny – back again!”

Filled with Mary’s praise, he took her in his arms, saying: “My dearest on earth, give me your kiss!” … and the bells of Perth rang out; no lament for the union of the two but a ring made from her golden hair as a finger lock!

Soon, all were summoned to a big spree to celebrate the birth of Rory Mòr and the babe slept to the sound of the old woman’s lullaby.