• PART 53 •


The Argyllshire Gathering in 1988 was again a three day event, with similar arrangements to the previous year. On Tuesday, August 23, the Silver Medal heats took place in the Masonic Hall and the Corran Hall. The set tunes were The Battle of Waternish, The Gathering of Clan Chattan, Black Donald’s March, The Bicker, The MacFarlane’s Gathering, A March for a Beginner, MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart’s Lament No. 1, Melbank’s Salute. Three tunes were to be offered. The two heats of the March were held in St Columba’s Cathedral Hall and the Great Western Hotel.

On Wednesday the Junior MSR was held in the Masonic Hall with six competitors. The MacGregor Memorial was held in the Corran Halls with the first section at 9am and the second section in the same location after the Senior Piobaireachd.

The Gold Medal began at 10am in the Masonic Hall. The set tunes were You’re Welcome Ewen, Nameless (Hiharin dro o dro), Beloved Scotland, Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy, The Battle of Bealach nam Brog, The MacRae’s March, MacNeill of Barra’s March, The Menzies’ Salute. Four tunes were to be offered.

The Senior was to start at 10am according to the programme but it was delayed until 11.10am. The requirement was for six tunes of the competitor’s own choice.

The heats of the Strathspey and Reel were held at 10am in the Great Western Hotel and St Columba’s Cathedral Hall. The final of the Silver Medal followed in the Great Western Hotel.

The Piping Times report

The Piping Times report was written by Jeannie Campbell: “The Argyllshire Gathering took place in Oban over the three days of August 22, 23 and 24. Although the events of the first two days are indoors the four halls used are widely scattered across the town so everyone gets plenty of fresh air and exercise.

The Silver Medal

“On the first day the Silver Medal began at 10am, in two sections, each of 24 competitors, in the Corran Halls and the Masonic Hall. Section A in the Masonic Hall was judged by Andrew MacNeill, John Burgess and Evan MacRae and the five chosen to go through to the final were:

  • Niall Matheson, Inverness
  • Moira Morrison, Fort William
  • Jonathan Gillespie, Luton
  • Michael MacDonald, Canada
  • Stuart Samson, Fort George.

“Section B in the Corran Hall was judged by Andrew Pitkeathly, Ronald Morrison and Ronald Lawrie. The five finalists chosen were:

  • Eric Rigler, U.S.A.
  • Bruce Woodley, Canada
  • John Higgins , U.S.A.
  • Derek Fraser, Southampton
  • Gregory Wilson, New Zealand

“Competitors had to submit three from a list of eight tunes, the most popular being MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart’s Lament No.1, submitted 29 times, and the complete list of most popular to least popular was:

  1. Kinlochmoidart’s Lament No.1 – submitted 29 times
  2. Black Donald ‘s March – submitted 28 times
  3. The MacFarlanes’ Gathering – submitted 27 times
  4. The Battle of Waternish – submitted 16 times
  5. Melbank’s Salute – submitted 14 times
  6. Gathering of Clan Chattan – submitted 11 times
  7. The Bicker – submitted 10 times
  8. A March for a Beginner – submitted 6 times.

“On the second day The Silver Medal final was judged by Ronald Lawrie, Neill Mulvie and John Maclellan. The result was:

  1. Stuart Samson – MacFarlane’s Gathering
  2. Eric Rigler – Melbank’s Salute
  3. Bruce Woodley – Black Donald’s March
  4. Jonathan Gillespie – Melbank’s Salute
  5. Derek Fraser – Melbank’s Salute

“The March competition was held in two sections on the first day, each with 32 competitors, in St. Columba’s Cathedral Hall and the lounge of the Great Western Hotel . This was definitely the most comfortable place to be as one could relax in the armchairs, enjoy the sunshine and watch the boats sailing by; a great improvement on the Phoenix Cinema and Dunollie Hall. Ten from each section of the march were chosen to play in the final on Thursday at the Games.

“Wednesday started at 9am with the MacGregor Memorial in the Corran Hall and the local junior March, Strathspey and Reel in the Masonic Hall. This had six competitors and was judged by the Gold Medal bench of Andrew MacNeill, John Burgess and Evan MacRae. The result was:

  1. Jamie Sandilands
  2. Tony Campbell
  3. Iain Maclsaac
  4. Stuart Liddell.

The Gold Medal

“The Gold Medal followed the MacGregor Memorial at 10am. There were 30 entries but five didn’t play. The room is rather small for a big event, with seating for about 40 at the most and anyone in the hall before the start of the Gold Medal, when the decisions were being made, knew well in advance what tunes had been chosen for all the competitors. The most popular of the set tunes was Beloved Scotland submitted by 25 out of the 30 who entered. The complete list of most popular to least popular was:

  1. Beloved Scotland – submitted 25 times
  2. Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy – submitted 20 times
  3. Nameless tune Hiharin dro o dro – submitted 19 times
  4. MacNeill of Barra’s March – submitted 17 times
  5. You’re Welcome Ewen – submitted 16 times
  6. The Battle of Bealach nam Brog – submitted 13 times
  7. The MacRaes’ March – submitted 5 times
  8. The Menzies Salute – submitted 5 times

The Gold Medal was won by Roderick MacLeod playing Beloved Scotland and the full result was:

  1. Roderick MacLeod – Beloved Scotland
  2. Dr Angus MacDonald – You’re Welcome Ewen
  3. William McCallum – MacNeill of Barra’s March
  4. Brian Donaldson – The MacRae’s March
The 1988 March to the Games, from left: Angus MacColl, D J MacIntyre, Roddy MacLeod, Bruce Woodley, Dr Angus MacDonald and Ronnie MacShannon.

“Meanwhile, in the Corran Hall, which is a bit too big for a small audience, the MacGregor Memorial Competition for young pipers began at 9am. Each competitor played one piobaireachd in the morning and another in the afternoon, after the Senior Piobaireachd. The result was:

  1. Moira Morrison – MacFarlanes’ Gathering and Kinlochmoidart No.1
  2. Alison Campbell – MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart and Mary MacLeod
  3. Graham Campbell-Mulholland – Glengarry’s Lament and Massacre of Glencoe

“Starting at 10am in St. Columba ‘s Cathedral Hall and the Great Western Hotel was the Strathspey and Reel, played in two sections, each of 33 competitors with 10 from each chosen for the final.

Senior Piobaireachd

“The Senior Piobaireachd started at 11.10am, not 10am as in the programme, but as five of the 15 entrants didn’t play the lost time was made up. The judges were Iain Cameron, Andrew Pitkeathly and Ronald Morrison. Competitors submitted six tunes of their own choice so we heard some of the great tunes. The result was:

  1. Murray Henderson – The Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon
  2. James McGillivray – In Praise of Morag
  3. Roderick MacLeod – The Battle of Auldearn No. 1
  4. Gavin Stoddart – The Unjust Incarceration

The others who played were:

  • Michael Cusack – Lament for the Children
  • Colin MacLellan – Lament for the Viscount of Dundee
  • Allan MacDonald – Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon
  • Robert Wallace – Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay
  • Kenneth MacLean – Mary’s Praise
  • Andrew Wright – Lament for the Earl of Antrim

“The event finished at 4.30 leaving the audience the choice between the second part of the MacGregor Memorial, the final of the Silver Medal in the Great Western Hotel or the last hour of the Gold Medal in the Masonic Hall.”

•Roddy MacLeod, Dr Angus MacDonald, Ronald MacShannon, Gordon Walker and Brian Donaldson.

The Games

“Oban is the bargain of the year with two full days’ piping, in four halls, and a programme for an inclusive price of only £1. The third day is not such good value, with an admission charge of £2.50, another 50p for the programme and only about three hours of piping, with three events all played at once. Over 100 competitors had now been reduced to 40 as several were appearing in more than one event. There were five entries in the local events, 20 finalists in each for the March and Strathspey and Reel and 12 entries for the former winners’ March, Strathspey and Reel, although three didn’t play.

•The Duke of Argyll and the stewards.

“There was the usual march to the Games field led by the Duke of Argyll and the stewards, with Roddy MacLeod, the new Gold Medallist, in the Pipe Major’s position leading the pipers. According to the programme there was a jig competition but this was cancelled. Guest band for the afternoon was British Caledonian with PM Harry MacNulty and also playing in the band PM Angus MacDonald home on leave from Oman.

“The March was judged by Andrew MacNeill, Neill Mulvie, John Burgess. The result was:

  1. Peter Maclnnes
  2. Roddy MacLeod
  3. Gordon Walker
  4. Mike Cusack
  5. Michael MacDonald
•Andrew MacNeill, Neill Mulvie and John Burgess.

“The Strathspey and Reel judges were Iain Cameron, Evan MacRae, Leslie Craig. The result was:

  1. Angus MacColl
  2. Roddy MacLeod
  3. Donald MacBride
  4. James Bayne
  5. Jonathan Gillespie

“Formers winners MSR judges were Ronald Lawrie, John Maclellan, Andrew Pitkeathly. The result was:

  1. Brian Donaldson
  2. Dr Angus MacDonald
  3. Murray Henderson

The piping was all over before 4pm and everyone could head for home or to Cowal for another two days of piping.”