OT: 24 June 1916 – John Grant “Pipe Music of the Clan MacKinnon”

The Oban Times, 24 June, 1916

Pipe Music of the Clan MacKinnon

27 Comely Bank Street, Edinburgh, 19 June, 1916

Sir,–I have much pleasure in replying to your correspondent “Broadford’s” query on the above. Highland collections of bagpipe music, ancient or modern, contain no piobaireachd belonging to this ancient and valiant Clan; and, moreover, of the numerous histories of the Highland Clans, there is no mention of a piobaireachd directly pertaining to the Clan MacKinnon.

I give here the names of some pipe tunes of the lighter type, viz.:–“ MacKinnon’s Strathspey,” composed by W. MacKinnon, and “MacKinnon’s March,” composer unknown, which will be found in Ross’s collection of pipe music, pp. 228 and 229 respectively; “Allan MacKinnon’s Reel,” and the “Ronald MacKinnon’s Jig” will be found in “MacKinnon’s Collection,” pp. 41, 58 and 59 respectively. The jig was composed by W. Ross. 1st Scots Guards. The composers of the other two are unknown. Then, in “Logan’s collection,” part VII., p. 16, will be found a tune called “Miss Edith MacKinnon’s Strathspey,” composed by J. Stewart. There may, doubtless, be more marches, etc., in some of the other collections of pipe music of the “Ceol Aotrom” type, but as I have several large collections with some of my friends on loan, I cannot quote more at the moment. If I can find more I shall be pleased to communicate further.

Regarding “Ceòl Mòr,” or the great music, it is rather mysterious that there is nothing recorded as to this clan. The Clan MacKinnon can be traced very far back, and is one of the most ancient of the Gael. The MacKinnons fought at Inverlochy and Auldearn under Montrose. John Dhu MacKinnon fought for King James at Sheriffmuir. The Clan also fought at Culloden in 1745. When the Chiefs of other Clans had their pipers at all the above-named battles, it is hardly possible that so ancient and honourable a clan as MacKinnon were devoid of their pipers to discourse their martial music to the Clan in the time of war. There are piobaireachdan still on record called “The Battle of Sheriffmuir,” “The Battle of Auldearn,” and “The Battle of Inverlochy.” As one who has studied piobaireachd for many years, I am of the opinion that every clan who fought at the before-mentioned battles have a certain claim to the tunes of that name, though no clan can claim them entirely. It cannot, however, be overlooked that in a case such as the piobaireachd called “The Battle of Sheriffmuir,” composed by Finlay Dubh MacRae, the Clan MacRae have a more direct claim to that tune than any other clan present owing to the fact that it was composed by a MacRae, but, strictly speaking, such tunes are really neutral and pertain to all clans present. If the mistake and intricate web of history in connection with Clan piobaireachd were undone and brought more to light, I feel certain that the Clan MacKinnon have piobaireachd to their credit; and it is quite possible that of the many nameless piobaireachd which we still have on record, in this group may lie the “Ceòl Mòr treasures of the Clan MacKinnon.”–I am, etc.,

John Grant,
Author of Piobaireachd: Its Origin and Construction.