The Royal Scots Cap Badge

 

Dispraise Of MacLeod

 

This tune arose from an incident in the long-standing MacLeod/MacDonald feud that occupied so much of the time, energy and resources of both clans over a period of a century. It is linked to one of the last battles of the feud, a series of skirmishes actually.

 

This took place in Carinish, North Uist, in 1601: a raid by MacLeod forces that surprised Clan Ranald MacDonald's, followed later by a counter-attack that surpised the raiding MacLeod's as they savoured their spoils on the beach before embarking for home. The MacLeod's were decisively defeated and only a few survivors, including Chieftain Ruaridh Mor, escaped.

 

Three weeks after the fighting, Donald (MacIain 'ic Sheumais) Macdonald of Eriskay and his men were caught in a storm as they were sailing to Sleat to report to Donald Gorm, on the events at Carinish. They were forced by the fierceness of the gale to seek refuge at Rodel, Harris, where MacLeod himself happened to be.

 

MacLeod received them as guests, gave them food and drink and provided shelter in accordance with the customary code of Gaelic hospitality. After supping at MacLeod's table, the Macdonald's sheltered in a kiln nearby. At some point in the night they were told by a page named MacCrimmon that the wind is now fair. The Macdonald's took that as a warning and instantly made off in their vessel. As they looked back, they could see a fire consuming the kiln they had occupied.

 

Some claim that the piobaireachd Dispraise of MacLeod was struck up by a MacDonald piper as their vessel left the shore. A more likely story is that the tune was composed by Donald Mor MacCrimmon as a curse on those who broke MacLeod of MacLeod's commitment to Gaelic hospitality as the words of the song start out with the admonition ‘my shame is upon you’.

 

Exit Dispraise Of MacLeod and return to the General Piobaireachd Stories

 

 


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