The Oban Times, 13 February, 1937
Angus MacKay and Piobaireachd
Inveran Hotel, Invershin, 6 February, 1937
Sir,–Once again we have Mr. John Grant’s autobiography in the columns of your esteemed paper, dated January 23, and the Grant “Tree” again ostentatiously written for our perusal. Were it not for Mr. Grant’s last sentence, I would leave his self-praise alone, but now, I am replying to his letter in a way–although Mr. Grant professes to know what I have written, before he reads my letters–that he will not expect.
Mr. Grant makes a proud boast of his being a piper at Abercairny, “Thus following in the footsteps of the Mackays’.” Surely he is aware that being a piper at Abercairny, does not constitute a Grant becoming a MacKay, anymore than it would in MacPherson becoming a MacCrimmon, were he to be piper at Dunvegan Castle. Mr. Grant would not have been piper at Abercairny were it not for this circumstance. The position of piper was open at Cluny Castle and at Abercairny at the same time; I was offered both but refused Abercairny’s offer, preferring to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors who were taught their Piobaireachd by the MacCrimmons of Skye, long before Angus Mackay was in existence. Mr. Grant then took over the position which I had refused.
Mr. Grant accuses me of having dismantled Angus MacKay of all his greatness; on the contrary, if he will read my previous letter correctly he will find that the exact opposite is the true fact. It is very significant that on the same page as Mr. Grants letter appears a new march composed by Pipe Major Roderick Campbell, a respected friend of mine and a good Piobaireachd player. In it, Mr. Grant will find for his instruction, that the Toarluath movement is correctly written, the same as is published by the Piobaireachd Society and taught by their teachers, and as played by the leading pipers of the present day. There is therefore, little hope that “future generations” will adopt Mr. Grant’s alien method of writing Toarluath and Crunluath.
It matters little to me in what category I am placed by Mr. Grant. When he can emulate the record held by the family from whom I am descended, he will then be in a position to write with authority.
I am, etc.,