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Glengarry's March

Glengarry's March, also known as Cill Chriosd, is reputed to have been played by Alasdair Dubh MacDonell, piper to Allan MacRanald MacDonell, as he marched around the burning church of Cill Chriosd (Gilchrist) in the year 1603.

 

The MacDonalds of Glengarry had lost the Battle of Strome to the MacKenzies of Kintail in 1602. Angus, heir to Donald Gruamach, 8th Chief of the Glengarry MacDonalds, had been killed in a preceding sea-battle on Loch Carron. In revenge, kinsman Allan MacRanald MacDonnell led a raid of MacDonald's into lands held by the MacKenzies in Easter Ross. The raid turned out to be a futile and costly venture for the MacDonalds; other than Allan himself, few survived to return to their home glen.

 

One of the less noble acts attributed to the raiders was the burning of the little chapel known as Cill Chriosd. Heather myth has it that the church was full at the time and that the entire congregation perished. In that scenario one can imagine the MacDonald raiders encircling the little church, shouting, cheering and hurling insults at the foe as the fire consumed them, while their piper played the Clan March in his parade around the little church.

 

If the victors told the story of the MacDonald raid, one can assume that they would put the worst possible shame on the raiders. Present-day research, however, has raised a question about the accuracy of that story. The suggestion now is that several adjacent buildings may have been destroyed and, if the church was burned, it was probably empty at the time.

 

In any case, the tune would have been played by MacDonnell's piper as the clansmen set off to raid MacKenzie lands. The two clans had been at each others throats since the demise of the Lordship of the Isles in 1493. The MacDonalds of Glengarry were caught between the MacKenzies to the north and east and the Campbells to the south. In the end they lost control of their traditional lands.

 

Exit Glengarry's March and return to the General Piobaireachd Stories

 

 


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