Photographic Postcard of Lachlan Bàn MacCormick, Beinn na Coraraidh, South Uist, c. 1920s.


calum i. maclean, the highlands (inbhir nis: club leabhar, 1975)

Location: Uists and Benbecula
piping, gaelic culture, gaelic language and placenames

The Blind Piper

In Benbecula, where Calum Maclean had spent so many years collecting folklore, a ceilidh that he attended left an emotional and lasting impression upon the young collector:

"No mention of the tradition-bearers of Benbecula would be complete, if we did not include the grand old gentleman, the blind piper Lachlan Bàn MacCormick. As well as several traditional pipe-tunes, he recorded two tales and has more to tell. My most moving experience as a folklore collector was to have recorded from him. [At the time of writing] He is 92 years of age and his eyes have been completely sightless for the past eight years."

In his diary of 28 November 1949 Maclean recorded the ceilidh in some detail for not only was such work part of his duties as a professionally trained ethnologist but even more so because it was such a great social occasion and one which he would later recollect with pleasure.

Lachlan Bàn MacCormick (1859–1951) was a native of Creagorry, Benbecula, and later joined the 2nd (later 3rd) Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in 1889 when he was thirty years of age. He was called Lachie Bàn due to his very fair hair and complexion. While in the Camerons, he reached the rank of Pipe-Sergeant and would later serve in the Lovat Scouts. It is likely that after his demobilisation he returned to Benbecula and settled down to life as a crofter. In his day he was numbered as one of the best pipers in the Hebridean scene and was a competition prize winner as well as being a highly regarded instructor. A composer of merit, some of his tunes are still to this day part of the piping repertoire such as the catchy strathspey The South Uist Golf Club. MacCormick on more than one occasion would also take to the bench and, when not competing himself, would judge his fellow pipers in light as well as the classical music of the pipes at the games in South Uist and probably elsewhere.

Further information on the ceilidh and Calum Maclean's meetings with Lachlan Bàn MacCormick can be read here.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.