By Jeannie Campbell MBE

The ten tunes set for the Open competition in 1958 were The Battle of the Pass of Crieff, Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon, Donald Gruamach’s March, The Earl of Antrim’s Lament, Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute, Scarce of Fishing, Colin Roy MacKenzie’s Lament, The Park Piobaireachd, The Red Speckled Bull and The Daughter’s Lament. Four tunes were to be submitted. As previously, tunes were set for the Northern Meeting Gold Medal but not for the Argyllshire Gathering.

In 1958 the Piping Times reported: “The weather this year at Oban was probably the best in living memory and in fact the sun was shining so brightly outside at Drimvargie that practically everyone would have been glad if the competition had been held out of doors.”

The standard of playing in the Gold Medal event was reckoned to be high, and Iain MacFadyen won the first prize with The Battle of the Pass of Crieff, making him the holder of both Highland Society medals, having won the Inverness one the previous year. The second prize went to Jimmy Young, Edinburgh, with The Rout of the MacPhees. Neil MacEachern of Islay was third, playing The Bicker, and fourth and fifth were John MacDougall of the Cameron Highlanders (Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute) and Ronnie Lawrie of Oban (MacDougalls’ Gathering).

The March to the Games Field in 1958. Can you recognise some of those faces?

14 pipers played in the Open Competition, with two failing to finish their tunes. John MacLellan of the Seaforth Highlanders placed first with The Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie. Second was John MacDougall who played The Lament for the Earl of Antrim. Donald Morrison, Pipe Major of the Aberdeen Police, played Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute for third prize, and William MacDonald, Inverness, obtained fourth place with Scarce of Fishing.

Since the competitions had finished reasonably early it was possible to hold the informal 6/8 March contest. The outstanding tune of the competition was Dr. Ross’s Fiftieth Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering as played by lain MacFadyen. Second prize was awarded to John MacDougall for Kirkhill, and third prize went to Neil MacEachern who played The High Isle.

Alan Dodd pictured in 1958 at Oban.

The march of the pipers on Games day was described in the Piping Times as “the usual sop to the tourists.”

An innovation this year was the playing of three competitions at one time so that the March, Strathspey and Reel for former winners was played in the forenoon instead of being left till after lunch. 20 pipers played in the March. The final result was: 1. John MacDougall (The Argyllshire Gathering and Mrs. John MacColl); 2. Donald Morrison (Lord Alexander Kennedy and Abercairney Highlanders); 3. John MacFadyen (Mrs. John MacColl and Willie Gray’s Farewell to the Glasgow Police); 4.Pipe Major Donald MacLeod (Portland Castle and Angus Campbell’s Farewell to Stirling);5. Alan R. Dodd (Duchess of Edinburgh and Lochaber Gathering).

19 competitors played in the Strathspey and Reel, and again the standard was very good. A short leet of six was chosen and the final result was as follows: 1. Neil MacEachern; 2. Jimmy Young; 3. John MacFadyen; 4. Iain MacFadyen; 5. John MacDougall.

The winner of the March, Strathspey and Reel for Former Winners was John MacLellan.

Alan R. Dodd was born in 1932 in Dunedin, New Zealand. After early tuition in New Zealand he came to Scotland in 1955 and had further tuition from Archie MacNeill, Bob Brown, Bob Nicol and Peter MacLeod Jnr. He worked as a taxi driver in Glasgow from 1956 until his return to New Zealand in 1960. In the 1980s he moved to Australia. He won the March at the Northern Meeting in 1958. He died in Australia in 1997.

In 1959, the Gathering was on September 8 and 9 with the Games on the first day and the Ceòl Mòr competitions on the second day. The Piping Times reported that the weather was “excellent”. Several piping ceilidhs were heard around Oban, including one at the Station Hotel that attracted a notable “bench” of professional pipers.

The Gold Medal produced 21 performances, many of which were of the highest standard. Kenneth MacDonald won at his first attempt. In the Open Competition, John MacLellan celebrated his recent appointment as Director of the Army School at Edinburgh Castle by winning it for the second time in succession.


March, Strathspey and Reel (for Former Winners). 1. Pipe Major Donald MacLeod (Seaforth Highlanders). 2. Thomas Pearston (Glasgow). 3. Pipe Major Ronald MacCallum (8th Bt. A & SH).

Marches (The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society’s Star) – 1. Pipe Major Donald MacLeod (Seaforth Highlanders), Parker’s Welcome to Perthshire; 2. Jimmy Young (Perth), Southall; 3. John L. Graham (Avonbridge), Mrs. John MacColl; 4. Hector MacFadyen (Pennyghael), Bonnie Anne; 5. William M. MacDonald (Inverness), Lord Alexander Kennedy.

Strathspeys and Reels (The Argyllshire Gathering Medal). 1. Alan R. Dodd; 2. Jimmy Young. 3. Kenny MacDonald (Glasgow); 4. Hector MacFadyen; 5. John L. Graham (Avonbridge).

Marches (Local, The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society’s Miniature Star). 1. W. M. MacKenzie (Kilmelford); 2. Hugh M MacDougall (Glasgow); 3. C. MacPhedran (Oban).

Strathspeys and Reels (Local). 1. W. M. MacKenzie; 2. Hugh M. MacDougall (Glasgow); 3. C. MacPhedran.

1958 Argyllshire Gathering. The piper with his back to the camera is possibly Hector MacFadyen. Donald Morrison and Neil MacEachern can be seen at the far end of the boards.

Wednesday, September 9, 1959:

Ceòl Mòr (The Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal) – 1. Kenny MacDonald; 2. Seumas MacNeill; 3. Willie. Connell. 4. Ronald Morrison. 5. Jimmy MacGregor.

Ceòl Mòr (The Kenneth Cup) – 1. Pipe Major John A. MacLellan. 2. Jimmy Young; 3. John MacDougall; 4. William M. MacDonald.

Jigs – 1. Pipe Major Donald MacLeod; 2. Jimmy Young; 3. William M. MacDonald.

Kenny MacDonald was a pupil of Roderick MacDonald of the Glasgow Police. His winning tune was Donald Gruamach’s March and on a very fine instrument he played a faultless tune.

Ronald Morrison was born in South Uist in 1919. By profession he was a schoolteacher. He was the convener of the Uist & Barra Piping Competition for many years and was a part time instructor at the College of Piping. He also taught many pupils privately. He died in Glasgow in 2004.

The March to the Games Field in 1958. Bert Barron and Donald Morrison wait to receive their tickets from two stewards.

John Lamont Graham was born in Avonbridge in 1935. He was taught by his father and by his uncle Donald Shaw Ramsay. He died in 2011.

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