Duntroon Castle

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DUNTROON CASTLE. AKA and see "Glen Where My Love Is (The)," "O but Ye be Merry," "Rejected Suitor (The)." Scottish, Bagpipe Reel. A Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCD (Hunter, Martin): AABBCCDD (Skinner). zThe tune is attributed to Donald MacPhedran. Skinner notes the piece is a "Pibroch March or Reel." Duntroon, or Duntrune, Castle was the home of the Campbells of Duntrune until 1729, when it came into the possession of the Malcolm family. At present it is the home of Robin Neill Malcolm, chief of Clan MacCallum/Malcolm. It is a Norman-style castle dating from the 12th century, guarding Loch Crinan, looking out on the Sound of Jura. A ghostly piper has haunted the castle from the 17th century to the present. It seems that an Ulsterman named MacDonnel Coll Ciotach, known as "the Left-Handed One," ravaged the lands of the Campbells from Kintyre northwards, until reaching the stronghold of Duntrune. Knowing the esteem given to the musician class of the time, MacDonnel sent one of his pipers to scout the fortress in disguise as an itinerant musician. The piper was admitted to the fortress, but recognized as a spy and immediately imprisoned in one of the turrets, albeit along with his instrument. Realizing the strength of the castle and in fullness of his mission, the piper sought to warn MacDonnel's Irish forces, whose ships had approached to anchor on the Loch. He chose a pibroch called A Choll o Mo Run, "The Piper's Warning (to his Master)," and hearing and recognizing the air, MacDonnel was warned and sailed away. The Campbells, meanwhile, were furious that their chance of revenge had slipped away, and took their anger out on the unfortunate piper, cutting him to bits, starting with the fingers of both hands. Since then the ghostly piper's pibroch can be heard at times in the castle, strange knockings are heard, and objects fall for no reason. In 1910 the castle underwent renovations and the fingerless skeleton of a man was found concealed in the old walls. The remains were given a "Christian burial" by the laird at the time, a clergyman, but this did not stop the otherworldly music or other happenings. In the 1960's the kitchens of the castle were modernized and a pair of skeletal hands were uncovered by workmen under the kitchen floor.

Christine Martin (2002) says the tune is a very popular pipe reel frequently played by fiddlers in competitions, often following "Maggie Cameron's" (strathspey). Paul Cranford [1] finds that the tune was credited to MacPhedran in an 1876 piping collection (MacPhee), but concludes that McPhedran's contribution amounted to a new title and the two added strains. The first two strains of "Duntroon/Duntroon Caslte" are cognate with the tunes "Glen Where My Love Is (The)," "O but Ye be Merry," and "Rejected Suitor (The)."

Source for notated version: "As played by" Arthur S. Robertson (Shetland) [Hunter]; fiddler Jean-Ann Callender (Aberdeen) [Martin].

Printed sources: Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 233. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle, vol. 3), 1988; p. 40 (appears as "Duntroon"). Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 90. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 53 (appears as "Duntroon").

Recorded sources: Green Linnet SIF 3031, The Tannahill Weavers - "Passage" (1984). Olympic 6151, Arthur S. Robertson - "Scottish Traditional Fiddle Music" (1978). Rounder 7001, Joe Cormier - "Scottish Violin Music from Cape Breton Island" (1974).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [4]




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