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The Groat

A groat was a silver coin offered at the christening of the heir of a titled person or a Chieftain. The tune celebrates the christening of an heir to MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan, perhaps circa 1570.

 

Another name associated with this tune is The Drunken Groat – which would reflect the exuberant merriment when a male heir to a Chieftain was born. The christening that followed often gave way to many salutes, including poems that were chanted to the newborn and to the Chieftain who sired him. Days of feasting ensued.

 

Some attribute this tune to lain Odhar MacCrimmon, in which case the MacLeod heir could have been either William, XIIIth Chieftain, born 1560 or his son John, XIVth Chieftain, born 1580 (nephew of Sir Ruaridh Mor MacLeod). Iain Odhar's son Padruig Donn is also a candidate for the title of composer.

 

Others credit the tune to Donald Mor MacCrimmon, born 1570. It is unlikely that Donald Mor would have composed a celebratory birth tune retrospectively. If Donald Mor did compose the tune on the birth of a MacLeod heir, it could have been for Iain Mor, born 1595, or, for Roderick, born in 1635, known later in life as Rory the Witty.

 

Such is the nature of oral history, given as it is to generating uncertainty. The weight of opinion seems to rest with Iain Odhar or his son Padruig Donn, Donald Mor's father.

 

In any case, the tune is a celebration of new life and should be played as such

 

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