OT: 19 July 1930 – A. MacPherson “The MacCrimmons and a Monument”

The Oban Times, 19 July, 1930

The MacCrimmons and a Monument

Inveran Hotel, Invershin, Sutherland, 10 July, 1930

 Sir,–I would like to ask Mr. John Grant through the medium of your esteemed paper by what authority he is supported when he makes such a vague and unfounded statements regarding the MacCrimmons of Boreraig and their teaching. Mr. Grant states–

“I am quite sure that they, the MacCrimmons, did not know one hundred and ninety-five tunes.” and again he states,–

“One might endeavour to raise a memorial to a MacCrimmon who taught each pupil forty to fifty tunes, but the MacCrimmon who taught one hundred and ninety-five tunes never lived.”

 The Memorising of Piobaireachd
Seeing that Mr. Grant’s notions regarding Piobaireachd are so limited and easily disturbed, let me further puzzle his conviction when I tell him that even I myself learned over sixty Piobaireachd in the school in which I was taught; my teacher was then bordering on the three score and ten years, and often did I hear him say to his other pupils when amazed at his wonderful store of Piobaireachd,–

 “There was a day when I played a great many Piobaireachd, but even yet I can memorise and play six twenties (120).”

That being so, there is surely nothing wonderful in attributing one hundred and ninety-five Piobaireachd to the credit of the greatest masters that ever lived. Mr. Grant talks about one hundred and ninety-five Piobaireachd being equal to a minimum of so many thousand staves, bars and notes, and six hundred pages of music. It is, of course, extremely ridiculous to associate the MacCrimmons with such terms as staves and bars; they knew of no such thing, but certainly had their own method of recording, which could be done as briefly as the most modern style of the present day.

 An Assemblage of Pipers at the Dedication
I sincerely hope that Mr. F.T. MacLeod and his committee will receive the support they deserve in their laudable object so long overdue, and that in addition to what is already suggested as a suitable memorial, all lovers and players of Piobaireachd who possibly can will assemble on the dedication day at Borreraig, and prizes be given to the best performers of MacCrimmon Piobaireachd to commemorate the occasion. Mr. Grant need have no dubiety about the preservation of the Piobaireachd as the MacCrimmons played it; this is already assured, and when published by the Memorial Committee there will, I’m sure be no redundant A in the Toarluadh or Crunluadh to cast any reflection upon the great masters, who never taught such.

 In conclusion let me heartily congratulate and endorse all that Mr. Somerled MacDonald so concisely and correctly writes in his contribution of 25th June, as indeed he has done each time he put his masterly pen to paper; and let us hope that as much as possible of his undisputed knowledge will be acquired and noted while the opportunity presents itself, in order that at any future time when the rights of the Piobaireachd may be assailed, it will stand as a sure and firm defence.

A. MacPherson