Blackthorn members pipe up for latest gathering

THE Blackthorn Pipers held a gathering held at Thyme Square, Dromore on September 26.

The gathering opened up with the Fear an Tighe, Michael McBride welcoming everyone to the venue after the break for the pipe band season. He particularly welcomed those who were attending for the first time and said that he hoped they would enjoy the gathering and spread the word to friends.

Michael then went on to play a few tunes to get the evening going. These included Cullen Bay and the 6/8’s, Duncan Johnston, Sweet Maid of Mull and Rab’s Wedding.   

Ryan Cupples-Menendez was the next musician to take the floor but before he struck up, the audience were informed of Ryan’s achievements at the Cowal Gathering in Scotland in August this year.

He played in the 15 years and under march, strathspey and reel competition and gained an amazing 6th place. Quite remarkable when one considers that he was only 10 days passed his 11th birthday.

Ryan then went on to play with his usual flair, a slow air written by his dad, Glenn Cupples, called Azies Air, followed by the 6/8 marches Angus MacKinnon and Mrs Lily Christie.  The hornpipes were next, Itchy Fingers and Outward Bound followed by the jig, The Mason’s Apron.  

Paddy Martin, one of the newcomers, was next to take to the floor. Paddy is from Dundalk and had brought along his Highland Bagpipe along with a traditional wooden flute. He played his pipes first and warmed up with Farewell to the Creeks and Redford Cottage. He then played an MSR,

John MacFadyen of Melfort, Dora MacLeod and Mrs MacPherson of Inveran. Paddy then treated us to a pipe tune called the Bonnie Hoose of Airlie on the flute. I think it is fair to say that he had the gathering in the palm of his hand with the music he produced. You could have heard a pin drop during his rendition on the flute. When he finished, he justifiably received rousing applause.     

We then had our usual break approximately half way through the gathering which gave us a chance for a chat and vegetable broth.

The second part of the night got under way with Sid Moore playing some big MSRs. The marches included The Argyllshire Gathering, Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban, The Hills of Kintail, The Knightswood Ceilidh, Strathspeys, Ewe with the Crooked Horn, Arniston Castle, Caberfeidh and Maggie Cameron.

The reels were Pretty Marion, MacKay from Skye, Major David Manson and Roderick MacDonald. Sid didn’t stop there; he went on to play a selection of hornpipes and jigs such as Chasing Shadows and Donald MacLeod to name but a few.

Scott Wallace then came to the floor, warming up with John MacDonald of Glencoe. A quick tune of the drones and into the big strathspey, The Cameronian Rant and the reel, The Rejected Suitor. Scott then played Seonaidh’s Tune by Fred Morrison, Susan MacLeod as a strathspey then as a Waltz which was well received.  

This brought everyone nicely to the spot reserved for the Blackthorn Piper, this time being Blackthorn Pipers’ Society Secretary, Andy Wilson.

Andy introduced the first of two 2/4 marches he was going to play. The first was composed by himself in honour of the Blackthorn Piper’s Society and bearing that name. The second, he explained, was called The Sharpshooters composed by his late uncle, also called Andy Wilson. Both marches were well received by the society.

He then went on to play a selection of traditional reels of Scottish Gaelic origin. Andy then played ‘Adosatoni’ a hornpipe that gradually gets faster (accelerando), finishing the set with the jigs Donald McLean, Alex MacDonald and The Whitby Roundabout.

The Piobaireachd for evening was the Lament for Mary MacLeod (The Skye Poetess), which he introduced nicely by telling the story of who she was during the 16th/17th Centuries and how the tune came to be composed by probably the greatest piobaireachd composers, the MacCrimmons from the Isle of Skye.

Mary MacLeod was the Bardess and Nurse to several Chiefs of Dunvegan. She was banished to the Isle of Mull for some bard offence committed at the stately Halls of Dunvegan and she requested whilst on her death bed to be buried face down when she died so that she may rest in peace.

To finish the night, the Fear En Tighe thanked all the players and for everyone who attended. The next gathering will be October 24 at 7.30pm.