Abercairney House (2)

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ABERCAIRNY HOUSE (2). Scottish, Strathspey. C Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABThe melody appears in Malcom M’Donald of Dunkeld's 3rd Collection, a volume dedicated to Miss Drummond of Perth. Abercairny was a gothic-style mansion located in the parish of Fowlis Wester, Perth and Kinross, on an estate held by the Moray family since the 13the century. A pipe pibroch called "Abercairney's Salute" was composed by Charles MacArthur in honor of a special event. James Murry (or Moray, 1705-1777) of Abercairny (a lovely property about four miles from Crief, Perthshire, on the borders of the Highlands) married Lady Christian Montgomery, daughter of the Earl of Eglinton. Lady Christian's sister, Lady Margaret, married Sir Alexander MacDonald of the Isles. The sisters and their spouses became quite close and visited back and forth, and Abercairny eventually became so fond of the Highland pipes that he extended repeat invitations to his brother-in-law's piper, MacArthur, who visited him at Abercairny. The pibroch was composed on the completion of Abercairny's new and spacious dining-room, the occasion of a grand dinner. Murray spoke: "The room and entertainment are not altogether complete; one thing is wanting to render them so, to some of us perhaps-Charles MacArthur, to animate the feast with his presence, and with the stirring notes of his great Pipe." Scots fiddler-composer Niel Gow composed one of his finest laments for Murray, "Auld Abercairney," when he died (see both note and tune "Niel Gow's Lamentation for James Moray, Esq., of Abercairny").

Another story is told of Abercairney in Peter Robert Drummond's Perthshire in Bygone Days (1879, p. 94):


For many years the house was famous for dance and song, and the young laird,
profiting by these circumstances, became a finished athlete. One night at a
supper party, while he was quite a youth, a neighbouring gentleman had indulged
so far as to be laid under the table, Culbert was in the house with his fiddle,
and it was mentioned that young 'Aber' should dance "Malcolm Rossie"; he consented,
but no swords were at hand, the poker and tongs were suggested, but the ready
terpsichorean, whilst they were searching in corners, drew the prostrate guest
from below the table, and spreading out his pliant limbs, he danced round him
like a kilted whirlwind.

Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String, 1971), perhaps understating the case, opines that James was "was one of those numerous products of the Scottish aristocracy in the eighteenth century who retained the common touch." In addition to MacDonald's volume, the strathspey appears in James Stewart-Robertson's Athole Collection (1884, p. 272).

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