The history of the Argyllshire Gathering, part 11



By Jeannie Campbell

The competitions resumed in 1919. Advance news of the Argyllshire Gathering appeared in several newspapers during July and August that year. The events were the same as before, with three piobaireachd competitions, a march confined to those who had not won previously and a march for those who had. The same applied to the two strathspey and reel competitions. In addition, there was a local march and a local strathspey and reel.

Niall Diarmid Campbell was now the 10th Duke of Argyll and President of the Argyllshire Gathering.

Niall Diarmid Campbell, 10th Duke of Argyll.

The first report of the 1919 Gathering appeared in the The Scotsman newspaper of September 11: “The Argyllshire Gathering has been revived after a lapse of five years, and the games which are held in connection with the gathering opened at Oban yesterday. The games extend over two days and yesterday’s events were confined to military and naval competitors. The weather was everything that could be desired, and there was a large attendance, though not quite so large as was customary before the war. The attendance in the members’ enclosure was, perhaps, as large and as brilliant as at former gathering, though many prominent county people who could attend were absent.”

There was no regatta that year.

The 1919 Highland Society of London Gold Medal was won by Pipe Major James O. Duff with Pipe Major Andrew Macdonald from Craigellachie second and Piper J. A. Gordon from Edinburgh third. Willie Gray, Pipe Major of the Glasgow Police, won the Open Piobaireachd. The third piobaireachd competition – for prizes presented by the Piobaireachd Society – was won by Piper John Macdonald of the 2nd Scots Guards, based in London, England.

Pipe Major Willie Gray.
Pipe Major Willie Gray.

The second day was spoiled by rain and the attendance reflected this. Most of the piping competitions were conducted in heavy rain. The weather improved late in the afternoon in time for the dancing competitions.

The stewards were: MacLachlan of Maclachlan, Lieut. Colonel Lloyd of Minard, Colonel Campbell Preston, Ardchattan; Sir Fitzroy D. MacLean of Duart and Lieut-Colonel Campbell of Kilberry.

The judges in the piping were: Lieut.-Colonel C. A. MacLean , D. S. O.; John Bartholomew of Glenorchard; Mr. J. Graham Campbell, yr. of Shirvan; Major Leckie Ewing, and Major Chrystal.


Marches (Open only to previous First Prize winners at the Gathering) – 1. Pipe Major Willie Ross (late Scots Guards); 2. Pipe Major G. S. MacLennan (Aberdeen); 3, Pipe Major James O. Duff.
Marches (Open to All-Comers who have never won a First Prize at the Gathering) – 1. Willie Gray; 2. Robert Reid (Glasgow); 3. Pipe Major Andrew Macdonald.
Strathspeys and Reels (Open only to previous First Prize winners) – 1. Pipe Major Willie Ross; 2. Pipe Major G. S. MacLennan; 3. Angus MacLean (Ardfern). 
Strathspeys and Reels (Open to All-Comers who have never won a first prize at the Gathering in this competition) – 1. Pipe Major James O. Duff; 2. Willie Gray; 3. Robert Reid.
Local Marches – 1. Donald MacNiven (Partick); 2. Duncan Lamont, Pennyghael; 3. Donald Macgillivray (Kilmichael).
Local Strathspeys and Reels – l. Charles MacEachern (Islay); 2. Donald MacNiven; 3. Duncan Lamont.

Duncan Lamont.

Duncan Lamont was born in 1894 at Pennycross, on the Isle of Mull. He served with the Cameronians during the First World War and was Batman and Piper to Brigadier General Cheape of Tiroran. He was Pipe Major of the 8th Argylls TA from 1935 then served in France until 1940 before being based at the barracks in Perth tutoring pipers. He was a member of the Pennyghael Pipe Band. By profession he was a gardener and was an apprentice gardener at Gruline on Mull, a gardener in Tillycoultry before the war and a gardener in Tiroran after the war. He was employed as a postman at Pennyghael on Mull until he retired. He died in 1973.

John D. MacDonald was born in 1893 at Melness in Sutherland, a nephew of Robert Sutherland (Pipe Major of the H.L.I.). John joined the Scots Guards in 1914 and served in France during the war. He was appointed Pipe Major in 1921 but retired with tuberculosis in 1931. He retired to Lairg in Sutherland where he died on January 8, 1946.

Charles MacEachern was born in 1892 at Conespie on the Hebridean island of Islay. He worked for the London, Midland and ScottishRailway (in the Glasgow office) and was leased to Lord Breadalbane as manager of steamers on Loch Tay. He then worked in Inverness as Chief Relief Agent. Charles died in 1975.

Major William Leckie Ewing was a member of the Scottish Pipers’ Society and a frequent prize winner at its competitions. He lived at Cameron Cottage at Arden on Loch Lomond and was mentioned frequently in newspaper reports of salmon and trout fishing. He judged at the Argyllshire Gathering, the Northern Meeting and at many other events.

‘Major Chrystal’ was probably Robert Alexander Chrystal, born in Glasgow in 1881, who served with the 1st Bt. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the Great War. He was the author of books and articles on angling.

The 1920 Argyllshire Gathering took place on September 8-9. The Pall Mall Gazette of September 6 reported that, “This is one of the chief events of the Highland season, and many yachts are now on their way for the regatta of the Royal Highland Yacht Club and the Corinthian Yacht Club.”

Proceedings opened with the annual Gaelic concert by the local Gaelic choir on the Tuesday evening, when the Duke of Argyll presided over, “a fashionable assembly.” Disagreeable weather in the morning affected the attendance of the general public. The Duke of Argyll (President of the Gathering) was there throughout the whole of the day, and among others in the reserved enclosure were Sir Fitzroy D. MacLean of Duart, Bart.; Lt Col. T. O. Lloyd, Minard; Col. Campbell Preston, Ardchattan; Lt. Col. J. Campbell of Kilberry; and Major A. J. MacLean of Ardgour, all of whom were stewards.

There were large entries for all the piping events. The results from Day 1 were:

Piobaireachd (open to all comers) – 1. Donald J. Mackenzie (Sutherland); 2. Pipe Major John Macdonald (Inverness); 3. Pipe Major Willie Ross (Edinburgh).
Gold Medal – 1. Pipe Major William Taylor (Dunblane); 2. Donald J. Mackenzie; 3. W. Thomson (Campbeltown).
Piobaireachd (prizes presented by the Piobaireachd Society) – 1. Pipe Major George Macdonald; 2. J. Macintyre, 3. J. MacCallum.
Marches, Strathspeys and Reels – 1. Pipe Corporal D. R. MacLennan.

The results from Day 2 were:

Marches (open only to first prize winners at previous Argyllshire Gatherings) – 1. Pipe Major Willie Ross; 2. Willie Gray.
Marches (open to all comers who have never won first prize) – 1. Pipe Major Robert Reid (Glasgow).
Strathspeys and Reels (open only to previous first prize winners) – 1. Pipe Major Willie Ross; 2. Angus MacLean (Lunga).

D. R. MacLennan in the uniform of the 1st Batt. Seaforth Highlanders.

William Taylor was born in 1877 in Caithness. He was a brother of James Taylor. In 1894 William joined the Seaforth Highlanders and served in Crete then in Sudan 1897-8 and as Pipe Major in India 1900-09. From 1909 to 1914 he was Pipe Major of the 3rd Battalion at Fort George. From 1914-1919 he was with the 7th Service Batt. He was awarded the M S Medal and the Croix de Guerre in 1918. From May 1919 he was Pipe Major and instructor at Queen Victoria School, Dunblane until he retired in 1927. He died in 1968 at Ardersier near Inverness.

Donald Ross MacLennan was born in Edinburgh in 1901 and was a half brother of G. S. MacLennan. In 1919, ‘D. R.’ enlisted in the Scots Guards, was appointed Pipe Major of the Seaforth Highlanders in 1924, Sergeant Major in 1939, Regimental Sergeant Major in 1941, then Captain and Quartermaster in 1944. He won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1956, the same year in which he won the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering. He died in 1984 at North Berwick.

Donald Iain MacKenzie often appeared in reports as “D. J. MacKenzie”. He was born in 1891 in Kincardine at the head of the Dornoch Firth. He worked in Tain as a bank and won the Gold Medal at the 1912 Northern Meeting. He immigrated to Ottawa where he continued to work as a bank clerk but when war broke out he returned and joined the Scots Guards. He returned to Tongue after the war and took over the management of the Tongue Hotel from his father. He died at Tongue in 1968.

William Thomson from Campbeltown was for a time Piper to the MacNeills of Ugadale.

• Continues.

• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3
• Part 4
• Part 5
• Part 6
• Part 7
• Part 8
• Part 9
• Part 10