The Royal Scots Cap Badge

 

The Finger Lock

The Finger Lock was composed by Ranald MacAilean Og of Morar. He was born in 1662 and died in 1741. He is buried in St. Donan's Church on the Isle of Eigg.

 

To paraphrase Haddow:

“The tune may be based on a tale of a young lad who was careless about his piping and was stiff-fingered. He made a fool of himself at a wedding with too much drink. His teacher sent the lad out from the wedding celebration into the blackness of night. The lad wandered about and eventually came to a house with a light still burning. He was invited in by an old man who asked him if he had his pipe. He said he had. The old man told the lad he would teach him a tune that his teacher was learning but still didn't have the last part. By morning, the lad had the whole tune.”

“He was instructed by the old man to return to the wedding house and to play the tune as he neared the house. This he did. His master heard the tune, recognized the lad's fingering and said that the lad was playing the very tune he himself was still learning. He brought the lad back into the house to enjoy the festivities. After that incident the lad paid close attention to the pipes and picked up every tune immediately he heard it. The teacher then declared that the lock or glas had come off the lad's fingers and from that he called the tune the Glas Mhearu or Finger Lock.“

 

However, another version suggests that the tune is a betrothal tune that celebrates a Celtic tradition of the bridal pair locking fingers as they make their pledges of love eternal. In this scenario the tune should be played slowly to reflect deep feelings. The tune is also said to celebrate the Gaelic wedding practices of its time, that is, a time when even a three-day wedding celebration was considered too abrupt.

 

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