Oldest Higland bagpipes in existence to be played at clan meeting

The oldest Highland bagpipes in existence will be played at the clan gathering.  Picture: Jon Savage
The oldest Highland bagpipes in existence will be played at the clan gathering. Picture: Jon Savage
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The oldest Highland bagpipes in existence, and which rang out at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, are to be played for just the fourth time in 200 years.

The Faery Pipes of Kinlochmoidart, reputed to be more than 800 years old, are normally kept in a special case at the West Highland Museum, Fort William.

It is said that they are “enchanted” and have never been played on the losing side of a battle.

They will be taken out of the case for a clan gathering, the World Gathering of Macintyres, which takes place in Oban and Taynuilt next week.

At the clan’s banquet in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls on Friday, 20 July, the pipes will be played by Andrew Macintyre from Edinburgh.

They will be played again on Sunday, 22 July, by Ruaraidh Petre, nephew of Archie McIntyre, a descendant of the MacIntyres who formerly possessed them.

This time they will be in Glenoe, the ancestral lands of MacIntyres, at Loch Etive between Oban and Taynuilt. A ceremony will be held at a cairn to the chiefs of Clan MacIntyre.

In addition, the chief’s son will be at this gathering –the first time the family has returned to Scotland since emigrating to the US in 1822.

The pipes were handmade by a MacIntyre piper more than 800 years ago and are reputed to be the first pipes ever with two holes.

According to legend, the MacIntyre piper had made his own chanter, and then in a dream a “faery” came to him and said: “Heat up your poker until it’s white hot and pierce the bottom of your chanter side to side and it will make the sweetest sounding pipes in Scotland.”

These days, the chanter is the only part left of the original Faery Pipes and the holes do look as though they were burned in by a poker.

Dr Alison Macintyre, organiser of the gathering, said: “The pipes have been out three times in 200 years. The last time was at the 2008 MacIntyre banquet when they were played by Archie McIntyre.

“The West Highland Museum is being very gracious in letting us use the Faery Pipes.

“They are enchanted pipes and we are really excited to have them at the banquet and on the Sunday. We think that with having the Faery Pipes played at Glenoe with the son of the chief present, we should be able to stir up some ancestors.”

Other highlights of the clan gathering include attending Taynuilt Highland Games, hikes, ceilidhs, boat tours and Gaelic workshops.