By Jeannie Campbell MBE
The first day of the Argyllshire Gathering of 1965 was held on Wednesday, September 15. The Gold Medal was reckoned to have been a better-than-average competition, with much good playing heard.
The result was: I. Neil MacEachern (The Bicker); 2. Donald Morrison (The Unjust Incarceration); 3. Finlay MacNeill (Lament for the Duke of Hamilton); 4. John Graham (The Battle of Auldearn); 5.Tommy Pearston (Rout of Glenfruin). Other noteworthy tunes included Ronald Morrison, BertBarron (The Little Spree), William MacDonald, Benbecula (Marquis of Argyll’s Salute), HughMacCallum (MacLeod’s Short Tune) and George Lumsden (The King’s Taxes). The judges were Archie Kenneth and James Campbell.
Neil MacEachern’s Bicker was, Archie Kenneth wrote in the Piping Times,“a beautiful and outstanding tune.”
The competition marked the debut of 16-year-old John Wilson, Campbeltown. The tune chose for him was Lament for Patrick Òg MacCrimmon. Archie Kenneth wrote: “Young A. J. Wilson played Patrick Òg well and correctly enough, but I felt he was not getting inside the tune. He should not stand and beat time to the doubling of variation I, incidentally. But this was a promising debut.”
Dr. Kenneth A. MacKay. C. D. MacTaggart and Capt. D. R. MacLennan judged the Open Piobaireachd. It was, said Dr. MacKay, “about the best session of piping I had heard for a long time.”
There were 15 players in for it. The tunes set were 12 of our longer and full bodied tunes. Each player had to offer six, and all 12 were heard. Dr. Kenneth wrote (again, in the Piping Times): “From his English place of exile came Donald MacPherson and on a superb pipe he gave a very beautiful rendering of the Lament for Viscount Dundee. In his usual modest unobtrusive, almost apologetic way he quietly annexed the cup once more.
“The three MacFadyen brothers were only divided by Wm. Macdonald (Inverness), a truly remarkable family achievement. There can have been very little between these four. Iain MacFadyen was second with Isobel MacKay, not so often heard now, and played as if he enjoyed it. John MacFadyen, straight from Glasgow and on to the platform was third with Craigellachie. Wm. M.MacDonald fourth with My King has Landed in Moidart, and Duncan MacFadyen fifth with The Vaunting.”
Rowan Martin, a young piper from Rhodesia, played in the Open Piobaireachd. He played The Groat Dr. MacKay wrote: “This young visitor from Rhodesia may have surprised many. He played pleasingly and competently, inclined rather to rush in places. When he has digested the mass of material he has absorbed on his tough hiking circuit of the Highlands, pack and tent on back, pipe-box in hand, he is going to be a formidable competitor.”
In contract to the first day, the Games held the following day were held in bitterly cold weather. “Sitting on a pipe box listening to the morning competitions was almost inviting death by freezing of the blood-stream,” wrote Dr. MacKay.
The results were:
Marches, the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society’s Star – 1. John MacLellan, Glasgow Police; 2. Pipe Major John M. MacKenzie (Dunblane); 3. Sgt. J. L. Wilson (Gordon Highlanders); 4. William MacDonald (Benbecula); 5. John Abbott (Edinburgh).
Judges: D. R. MacLennan and Archie Kenneth.
Strathspeys and Reels, the Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal – 1. John Wilson, (Campbeltown); 2. John L. Graham (Avonbridge); 3. John N. MacAskill (Glasgow); 4. Iain MacFadyen (Glasgow); 5. Rowan B. Martin (Rhodesia).
Judges: Dr. Kenneth A. MacKay and James Campbell.
March, Strathspey and Reel (Former Winners) – 1. Pipe Major John M. MacKenzie; 2. Pipe Major Ronald MacCallum, M.B.E. (8th Bn. A.& S.H.); 3. Pipe Major Donald Morrison (Aberdeen).
Judges: Charles D. MacTaggart and Major L. Balfour Paul.
Marches (Local)- 1. Peter MacCallum (8th Bn. A&S.H.); 2. Brian Hughes (Tobermory); 3. Gilbert F. MacKay (Glasgow University O.T.C.).
Strathspeys and Reels (Local) – 1. Piper Peter MacCallum; 2. Brian Hughes; 3. Gilbert F. MacKay.
Judges for local events: Archie Kenneth and Dr. Kenneth A. MacKay.
John Andrew MacLellan, better known as Ian McLellan, was born in Clydebank in 1937. His grandfather was a cousin of John MacLellan, Dunoon. He began piping with the 214 Company Boys’ Brigade then played with the Renfrew Pipe Band. He did his National Service with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1958 to 1960 then joined the Glasgow Police in 1962. As Pipe Major of the band he won the World Championship 12 times. After retirement in 1992 he was a partner in The Band Room piping and drumming supply business based in Glasgow city centre. He is now retired and lives in Bearsden
Angus John MacLellan was born in Rothesay in 1938 although his family was from South Uist. After working as a merchant seaman he joined the Glasgow Police and played with the band. After retirement he was an instructor at the College of Piping. Angus won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1976. He died in Glasgow in 2013.
Joseph Lobban (Joe) Wilson was born in Banff in 1938 and was taught by Pipe Major James Robertson of Banff. He enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders in 1957 and became Pipe Major in 1961. He left the army in 1966 and joined the Glasgow Police in 1967, retiring in 1994. He was an instructor at the College of Piping from 2000 to 2010. He died in Glasgow in 2010.
John Napier MacAskill was born in Glasgow in 1944 although his family was from Bernera. He was taught at the College of Piping. By profession he was a doctor in practice in Fort William. He won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1972. He died in 2003.
Rowan Martin was a pupil of Bob Brown and Bob Nicol, and took a number of prizes in Scotland in the late 1960s, including third in the Gold Medal at Oban. He went on to be a prolific prizewinner in South Africa.
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