Butter Fingers’ blog, 28th August, 2017

Lord Lovat’s Lament – a winning tune

I found it interesting that Lord Lovat’s Lament has proven to be such a successful tune for solo pipers this year. Andrea Boyd’s rendering of the tune won her the Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal at Maxville in early August while Sean McKeown also played the tune to win the Former Winners’ Piobaireachd there.

Quite a few competitors were asked to play the tune in the Gold Medal competition at Oban last week. Most played the tune ‘safe’ but Craig Sutherland was bold with his treatment, and it was he who took the medal.

Hogarth's depiction of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat.

Hogarth's depiction of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat.

The tune was composed by Lovat’s piper, David Fraser after the 80-year-old clan chief was beheaded for treason in London. Lovat (Simon Fraser) was, by most accounts, a rather nasty piece of work and was closely involved with the kidnapping of Lady Grange in 1732. On learning that his wife intended to produce evidence that he was linked to the 1715 Jacobite Rising, Lord Grange plotted with Lovat and Norman MacLeod of MacLeod to kidnap and expel her.

Sir John Baptiste de Medina's painting of Lady Grange (Rachel Chiesley) in 1710.

Sir John Baptiste de Medina's painting of Lady Grange (Rachel Chiesley) in 1710.

One day in the spring of 1732, Fraser and MacLeod beat her, bound her, and spirited her away. They moved her round the Highlands, before taking her to St. Kilda, where she was effectively imprisoned in desperate living conditions. In January 1740, letters she had written two years previously somehow reached her solicitor in Edinburgh. A rescue attempt was attempted but by then, Lady Grange had been moved. She went mad and died in 1745 on the Isle of Skye. Apparently, she is buried in the small graveyard at Trumpan.

The Piobaireachd Society website has an excellent recording of Donald MacPherson playing the tune at the Eagle Pipers' Society Competition in 1980. Listen to it HERE. Iain Speirs played the tune at Donald’s funeral in 2012.


It was a lovely day in Otago Street earlier today when I popped into the College. The Kelvin flowed majestically by – with no sign of any more footballers floating past after a night out. However, it is off to the Sneck I go in the morning.

The bench for the Northern Meeting Gold Medal looks interesting – could this be the first time that the judges (in the instance, Iain and Willie Morrison and Dr. Angus MacDonald) for this will confer will in the glorious language of the Gael? Tha, gu dearbh!

A casual glance at the bench composition elsewhere shows that the organisers have, in the main, done a pretty good job of ensuring that teachers aren't judging their own pupils. The 'A' Grade MSR may need some scrutiny, however.


Glenn Brown in Oban last week. He took the Senior Piobaireachd with Craigellachie.

I hear Glenn Brown has been voted in as the next President of the Competing Pipers Association (CPA). Twenty members turned up at the organisation’s AGM yesterday in Glasgow. Callum Beaumont was elected as Vice President.

Glenn Brown succeeds Cameron Drummond, who did not stand for re-election. Drummond has a busy job at Edinburgh's posh Fettes College in Edinburgh where he works as Piping Instructor. I hear that demand is so great that fellow Inveraray Pipe Band member, Alasdair Henderson has now been taken on as well.

The CPA was established in 1976.

Butter Fingers

 

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