Click on this pic to see a glorious view from the natural amphitheatre in which the Skye Highland Games are held in Portree, Isle of Skye. This shot was taken in 1976 and shows Hugh MacCallum “on the boards,” likely playing in the piobaireachd event. Hugh was one of the premier competitors of his generation, an idol of mine when I was growing up, and the uncle and teacher of Willie McCallum, a premier player of my generation. Judging the event, from left to right, are three piping icons. Andrew Macneill of Oronsay was a pupil of Robert Reid’s and a wealth of piobaireachd knowledge. Though he never pursued a competitive career, he could have. He was a generous help to pipers who reached out to him, including myself and Bill Livingstone, though his sharp wit could be caustic. Angus MacPherson, centre, was the son of Calum MacPherson, a 19th-century giant of the instrument known as “Calum Piobaire.” Angus was a successful competitor and served for many years as piper to Andrew Carnegie, who lived for part of each year at Skibo Castle. Angus’s wife was Mrs. MacPherson of Inveran. He died the year after this photo was taken at age 98. At right is Donald Ross MacLennan, known as “DR.” He was half-brother to the great G. S. McLennan and a great player in his own right, winning both Gold Medals in 1956 at the age of 55. The Skye games was the first Scottish competition I ever played at as a teenager in 1974, so this scene holds a magical place in my memory.
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