Newcomers swell ranks at Blackthorn Gathering

WITH still more new faces putting in an appearance at the most recent Blacktorn Gathering in Dromore, organisers have hailed the monthly event as one fast becoming a magnet for anyone interested in piping.

The March gathering of the Dromore-based Blacktorn Pipers’ Society kicked off with one of the regulars, 10-year-old Ryan Cupples, joining newcomer Allie Hamilton (12) in a “magnificent” duet.

Both youngsters play for Clelland Memorial Pipe Band

“We had the well known hornpipe, Itchy Fingers, coupled with Outward Bound,” said the society’s Andy Wilson. “A great start to the night!

“Both pipers then went their separate ways and gave us 3/4 and 2/4 marches respectively.”

There followed Sid Moore of Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, playing a “superb” March, Strathspey and Reel followed by the hornpipe, Donald McLeod and the jig, The Judge’s Dilemma.”

Another St Laurence member, Kevin Rogers, joined the gathering, quickly getting the gist of the event and debuting with the Terry Tully arrangement of Dawning of the Day, among other things. ‘Fear En Tighe’, Michael McBride, next offered an ‘air’, The Liberton Polka or Caubeen Trimmed with Blue and a set of 3/4 Marches.

Society stalwart Glenn Cupples was hailed “an absolute delight to listen to” after his set.

Blackthorn Piper for the night was Ben Greaves,

“I have to say I enjoyed every note Ben played,” said Andy. “Ben started off with an air, then some seldom-heard 4/4 Marches, Muir of Ord, Hills of Alva and Bonnie Woods of Stirkoke.

“Up next was his March, Strathspey and Reel, Jennie Crothers, Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch and The Smith of Chilliehassie. He then entertained us with a set of Jigs before he played for us his Piobaireachd for the evening, The Vaunting.

“The Vaunting was composed around the late 17th Century by Ranald MacAilean Og for his pupil, who was sick and feeling himself dying at the time. The tune was composed as a lament and the pupil became insistent on hearing the tune before he died. The story goes, upon hearing the tune, he began to recover, and therefore the tune was named The Vaunting, boasting of his pupil’s recovery.

“Ben certainly played the tune like that and his bagpipe throughout the night was immense.

“A big thank-you goes out to all who played and also attended the gathering. It wouldn’t happen without you.”