OT: 4 December 1915 – A.C. Whyte “The MacCrimmons”

The Oban Times, 4 December, 1915

The MacCrimmons

30 November, 1915

Sir,–In reply to your correspondent “Interested,” I may state that the MacCrimmons were hereditary pipers to the MacLeods at Dunvegan, and in that capacity had a grant of the farm of Borreraig, near Dunvegan. There they had a college for pipers which was the most celebrated of its kind in the Highlands of Scotland.

Donald Ban MacCrimmon, who was piper to MacLeod during the rising of 1745, was killed during the celebrated “Rout of Moy,” when MacLeod (who was on the Hanoverian side) attempted to capture Prince Charlie, who was the guest of Lady Macintosh at Moy Hall.

It was Donald Ban MacCrimmon who composed the things lament known as “Cumha Mhic-Criomain.” It is said this was composed by MacCrimmon shortly before he met his death, of which he had a presentiment. John Dubh MacCrimmon was the last of the race who held the hereditary office. It is told that in 1795 he had made up his mind to emigrate to America, and that he actually got as far as Greenock. His love for his native land was too strong for him, and he returned to Skye, where he died in 1882, at the advanced age of 94.

In Logan’s “Scottish Gael,” published in 1831, we are told “that a captain MacCrimmon died lately in Kent at an advanced age, and the descendent of these celebrated pipers is now a respectable farmer in Kent.”

In June of 1914 an obituary notice appeared in “The Oban Times” of Rachel MacCrimmon, St. Kilda, who was stated to be the last surviving descendent of the MacCrimmon pipers.

They are septs of the MacLeods of Harris, and their crest and tartan are the same as those of the MacLeods of Harris. It is difficult to determine when the first of the MacCrimmons settled at Dunvegan. Tradition relates that the first of them was a harper, and he may have lived there when the transition from the harp to the bagpipes took place in the stately halls of Dunvegan. The MacCrimmons stand out pre-eminent among those who made the “piob-mhor” what it is to-day–the most eloquent of all instruments to the Highland ear, and as long as there is a Gael left who can play a “port” their name will live enshrined in fame.–I am, etc.,

A. C. Whyte