The history of the Argyllshire Gathering, part 33



By Jeannie Campbell MBE

The set tunes for the Open Piobaireachd at the 1966 Argyllshire Gathering were: The MacDougalls’ Gathering, Lament for the Union, The Park Piobaireachd, No. 2, Lament for the Laird of Anapool, Beloved Scotland and Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie. Three were to be submitted. Arrangements for the Gold Medal were as before. The Gathering took place on Wednesday and Thursday, September 14 and 15.

The Piping Times reported: “Once again the premier events in the world of piping attracted pipers and enthusiasts from all parts – Canada, U.S.A., England, Paisley and Partick. There was no shortage of competitors, or audience, or enthusiasm, and the oral traditions of our country were enriched by sagas which will be recounted round the peat fires of Barra, Manhattan, Vancouver and Wilmington for generations.”

Donald MacPherson.

The Gold Medal was the first event to be decided, and Duncan MacFadyen achieved a comfortable double with a sound rendering of The Vaunting. Runner-up was Willie MacDonald from Benbecula. Donald MacPherson won yet another Oban Open Piobaireachd. Still a young man, Donald has already surpassed the achievements of John MacDonald of Inverness and was now heading for the most phenomenal records in piping history. His MacDougall’s Gathering was, said the PT, played in Donald’s usual immaculate style.

MacDougall’s Gathering in fact won three of the four open places. Hector MacFadyen played it for second prize, but John MacFadyen was the exception when he was placed third with Beloved Scotland.

The lighter music inspired some good performances, especially from John MacAskill who won the March, and John MacFadyen who at last captured the Strathspey and Reel prize which has eluded him. In the march, strathspey and reel for former winners, Donald MacPherson again showed his versatility by making it a double.

The results were:

Ceòl Mòr (The Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal) – 1. Duncan MacFadyen, Johnstone; 2. William MacDonald (Benbecula); 3. George Lumsden (Edinburgh City Police); 4. A. MacPhail (Glasgow); 5. Donald Morrison (Aberdeen).
Judges: Dr. Kenneth MacKay, John A. MacLellan, and Nicol MacCallum.

Open Piobaireachd (A.& S.H. Cup) – 1. Donald MacPherson, Westwood and Glasgow; 2. Hector MacFadyen (Pennyghael); 3. John MacFadyen (Portree); 4. Seumas MacNeill (Bearsden).
Judges: Capt. D. R. MacLennan, Duncan MacColl, and Hector MacLean.

March, Strathspey and Reel (Former Winners) – 1. D. MacPherson; 2. Seumas MacNeill (Bearsden); 3. Pipe Major John M.MacKenzie (Dunblane).
Judges: Dr. Kenneth MacKay and Capt. D. R. MacLennan.

Marches (The Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal) – 1. John N. MacAskill (Glasgow); 2. John M. MacKenzie (Dunblane); 3. John MacFadyen (Portree); 4. Dugald Ferguson (Glasgow); 5. John Wilson (Campbeltown).
Judges: John A. MacLellan and Duncan MacColl.

Nicol MacCallum (Left) and Hector MacLean await the next competitor in the Strathspey & Reel competition at Oban in 1966.

Strathspeys and Reels (The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society’s Star) – 1. John MacFadyen; 2. John A. – Ian – MacLellan (City of Glasgow Police); 3. Duncan MacFadyen; 4. John N. MacAskill; 5. Ian C. Cameron (Edinburgh).
Judges: Nicol MacCallum, and Hector MacLean.

The tunes set for the Open and Clasp contests in 1967 were: Lament for the Duke of Hamilton, The Daughter’s Lament, Lament for the Harp Tree, Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon, The Red Speckled Bull and John Garve MacLeod of Raasay’s Lament. Competitors were required to submit four tunes. At the Northern Meeting Gold Medal competitors were required to choose six from a list of 12 tunes but this did not apply to the Argyllshire Gathering.

Although the Piping Times reporters took no interest in the balls, these were still an important part of the Gathering for the members and their guests. The society papers were interested, particularly when a well-known person attended, such as this report from 1967: “Kilted Prince at Ball. Prince Charles paid a surprise visit to the Argyllshire Gathering Ball in Oban last night. He arrived with friends from Inverawe, 15 miles away, where he is staying with Mrs G P Campbell-Preston, a lady in waiting to the Queen. Guests at the ball, top social event of the season in Oban, included the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, and Sir Charles MacLean, the Chief Scout. The Prince, wearing jacket and kilt, was cheered by a small crowd of spectators as he entered the gaily decorated Argyllshire Gathering Hall.

“He was welcomed by the Captain of Dunstaffnage, Chief Steward of the Gathering.

“Guests enjoyed a champagne supper and a bacon and egg breakfast before leaving in the morning.”

In a departure from the usual practice, the Gathering was held on August 28 (a Monday) and 29 (a Tuesday). The results were:

Ceòl Mòr (The Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal) – 1. William MacDonald (Benbecula); 2. Donald Bain (New Zealand); 3. George Lumsden (Edinburgh City Police); 4. James MacIntosh (Dundee); 5. Robert A. Barron (St. Andrews).
Judges: Dr. Kenneth A. MacKay, Capt. D. R. MacLennan and Capt. G. B. Murray.

Open Piobaireachd (A.& S.H. Cup) – 1. John MacFadyen; 2. Duncan MacFadyen; 3. Donald A. Morrison (Aberdeen); 4. William MacDonald (Benbecula).
Judges: Lt.  Col. Neil Ramsay, Archie G. Kenneth and Charles MacTaggart.

March, Strathspey and Reel (Former Winners) – 1. John MacFadyen;  2. Ian McLellan; 3. Hugh A. MacCallum (Campbeltown).
Judges: Lt. Col. Neil Ramsay, Dr. Kenneth A. MacKay and Major L. Balfour Paul.

Ian Cameron, who made a successful return to Oban in 1966, receives his ticket from the Secretary, K. MacKinnon.

Marches, The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society’s Star – 1. John  MacFadyen; 2. Arthur G. Gillies (Kilchrenan); 3. William MacDonald (Benbecula); 4. Angus J. MacLellan (City of Glasgow Police); 5. Dugald Ferguson.
Judges: James Campbell and Archie G. Kenneth.

Strathspeys and Reels (The Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal) – 1. Donald Bain (New Zealand); 2. Arthur G. Gillies; 3. Angus J.MacLellan; 4. DugaldFerguson; 5. G. Richardson (City of Glasgow Police).
Judge: Capt. D. R. MacLennan and Capt. G.B. Murray.

Marches (Local – 1. L. Gardiner (Tobermory); 2. Alastair MacFarlane (Oban); 3. D. MacLennan (Oban).

Strathspeys and Reels (Local) – 1. L. Gardiner; 2. Alastair MacFarlane; 3.  G. Crawford (Oban). The George Duncan Cup was won by L. Gardiner. The judges for the local events were James Campbell and Archie G. Kenneth.

The set tunes were all long pieces and they did not appear to be popular with the pipers, as can be seen from the report by one of the judges, Col. Neil Ramsay: “The excitement and suspense engendered by this competition lasted from the first E of the Duke of Hamilton to the final B crunluath of Donald Ban. Neither audience nor judges could have assessed the result before the final note was sounded.

“The lack of quantity – there were only four competitors – was amply redeemed by the quality of the performers, who gave of their best. They were in the order of playing, Duncan MacFadyen, Donald Morrison, Willie MacDonald (Benbecula), and John MacFadyen.

“Duncan opened with the Duke of Hamilton. He played the tune well, on a beautiful pipe. Worthy of special mention is the way he slows down very slightly before the cadence at the end of each line. The crunluath also was particularly well timed.

“Donald drew The Bull, the Red Speckled one in case you’re in doubt. It was a finely balanced performance with plenty of sparkle in the variations. His pipe was very mellow in the bottom hand but the top A in variation 1 was a trifle weak. This tune can become tedious in the hands of one less expert than Donald Morrison. He maintained its interest right to the end.

“Willie MacDonald (Benbecula) began John Garve with the drones in perfect unison but not quite true to the low A on his chanter. He played the first line of the Urlar and each variation once only, as in Angus MacKay’s book. The tune lost nothing from this, and is quite long enough already without the repetitions. It was a first class performance, with beautiful fingering in those long taorluath and crunluath variations. Willie unfortunately made a noticeable slip towards the end of his Crunluath, which, in this keen competition, automatically relegated him to fourth place. Believe it or not, this sort of thing is just as distressing to the judges as to the player! Wewere glad, a few minutes later, to hear he’d won the Gold Medal.

“Donald Ban came last. His composer would surely have been delighted with John MacFadyen’s rendering. His pipe was exceptionally sweet, and he maintained the song to the very end. In the taorluath and crunluath he plays F then E after each top A, a recognised alternative which is musically pleasing to the ear.”

The results were – 1. John MacFadyen; 2. Duncan  MacFadyen; 3. Donald Morrison; 4. William MacDonald.

Dugald Ferguson was born in 1935 at Lagavullin, Islay. He moved to Glasgow 1953 and became a fireman firstly in Clydebank then in Kirkintilloch. He was badly burned on both hands shortly after 1969 but recovered. Later he worked part time with Donald MacLeod at Grainger & Campbell’s in Glasgow. He retired to Cairnbaan, Argyll and died in 2014.

Donald Bain was born in 1934 at Ashburton, New Zealand and was taught originally by his father. He came to Scotland in 1966 and had tuition from Donald MacLeod, Bob Brown and Bob Nicol and returned to New Zealand in 1968. During the late 1970s he came to Scotland three times and won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1979. He died in New Zealand in 1998.

Jimmy McIntosh
Jimmy McIntosh.

James Haddow McIntosh was born in1925 at Broughty Ferry near Dundee, Angus. He played with the local band before enlisting with the Cameron Highlanders in 1939 aged 14 and received tuition from William Young, William Ross and Donald MacLeod. After serving for ten years he returned to Dundee, becoming an Engineer for National Cash Register. He was Pipe Major of the City of Dundee then PM of the new NCR band. He studied piobaireachd with R. U. Brown and R. B. Nicol and won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1971. He was in business as McIntosh and Henderson with Murray Henderson, then in 1982 emigrated to the USA, becoming the piping instructor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. He died in the USA in 2021. His widow, Joyce is soon to publish a book about Jimmy.

Graeme B. Murray was educated at Morrison’s Academy, Crieff then Sandhurst. He was commissioned in the Seaforth Highlanders in1956 and retired as Lt. Colonel in June 1989. He died in 1995.

Graham Richardson was born in Glasgow in 1936. His mother was from Skye and his father from the Borders. He joined the Cameron Highlanders in 1954 for two years’ National Service and served in Korea and Aden. Shortly after returning he joined the Glasgow Police, retiring after 30 years.

• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3
• Part 4
• Part 5
• Part 6
• Part 7
• Part 8
• Part 9
• Part 10
• Part 11
• Part 12
• Part 13
• Part 14
• Part 15
• Part 16
• Part 17
• Part 18
• Part 19
• Part 20

• Part 21
• Part 22
• Part 23
• Part 24
• Part 25
• Part 26
• Part 27
• Part 28
• Part 29
• Part 30
• Part 31
• Part 32