P.M. R. J. Gillies’ pipes / Dugald Gillespie / Kilberry Castle for sale / Roddy’s recital


Reader, Alexander Gillies is seeking information on his late father’s pipes.

Alexander’s father was Pipe Major Roderick John Gillies [pictued] and he died in 1997 aged 67. Roderick served as Pipe Major of the Cameronians just before it disbanded in 1968. He was then Pipe Major of the Royal Scots until he retired in the early 1970s. Roderick had a croft at Smerclate on South Uist and taught piping in the schools of the Uists and Eriskay.

Alexander says: “He often competed in piping events on Uist, including the Uist Games. I remember one year when he won all the piping competitions there.” Alexander thinks that Roderick may have been in the Glasgow Police Pipe Band, the Scots Guards, and the Royal Highland Fusiliers as a Pipe Sergeant.

Roderick was a friend and colleague of the late Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE. Prior to his death, Angus had been in contact with Roddy’s father about the sale of the pipes and seemingly had potential purchasers lined up at the time.

“I am told they are a very old set of Henderson pipes,” says Alexander, “one of possibly ten sets of the vintage left. I would just like confirmation.” Alexander realises it is a long shot but wonders if any readers can help. Please contact us in the usual way.

• According to the Notices of Pipers, Roderick Gillies did indeed spend time with the Glasgow Police before joining the army, firstly the Scots Guards, then the 1st Bt. Cameronians until disbandment when he joined the Royal Scots before retiring in 1971.

We understand he was also Pipe Major of the Army Apprentices School in Carlisle 1963-1966.

We are saddened to report the death of Dugald Gillespie, aged 87. As Inspector Dugald Gillespie, he was for many years in overall charge of administration of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band unit.

Dugald, from Portnahavan in Islay, was not a piper but was known as a Gaelic singer. Indeed, he won a gold medal at the Royal National Mòd in 1981.

Angus Lawrie composed a lovely tune for him entitled simply, Dugald Gillespie. It appears in the Gordon Highlanders’ collection.

Ian McLellan, Inspector Dugald Gillespie and Alex Connell in 1979 after winning the Worlds that year which was held in Nottingham, England.
Ian McLellan, Inspector Dugald Gillespie and Alex Connell in 1979 after winning the Worlds which that year was held in Nottingham, England.

The tune became very popular after the Strathclyde Police played it in competitions in the early 1980s. We enjoyed the apocryphal story that Angus went into Glasgow Week in Hamburg instead of the tune on two occasions – at the British and a European Championships – within one year. If we can picture Ian McLellan being fuming on the first occasion we shudder to think of his reaction when Angus did the exact same mistake again.

Our condolences go to Dugald’s famly and friends.

Kilberry Castle, the former home of the Campbells of Kilberry is for sale.

A spokesman for the The Estates Office in Oban said the Category B listed building in Knapdale was, in fact, under offer. The castle has been on the market with offers in excess of £650,000 invited.

The original castle was built in the 15th century and was added to in the 19th century. A lintel over the door reads, “Plundered and burnt by a Captain Proby, an English pirate 1513. Rebuilt JC 1849.” This, however, is thought to be bogus.

The grounds extend to 21 acres and feature a large walled garden, lawns, deciduous woodland, a burn, three fishing ponds, Victorian pets graveyard, mausoleum and chapel remains.

Externally, Kilberry Castle is of the Victorian period and has little architectural merit. It was the home for many years of Archibald Campbell, the compiler of the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor and a founding member of The Piobaireachd Society.

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society wishes to correct a mistake in the information it released regarding Roddy MacLeod’s forthcoming recital this autumn.

Roddy’s recital will take place at Kinloch Community Hub, Old Balallan School rather than the Community Hall, as stated previously.

The date for the recital remains at October 1.