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Earl Of Ross's March


Iain MacDonald, XIth Earl of Ross, and Lord of the Isles, surrendered the earldom of Ross on 10th July 1476; the earldom was thence forward inalienably annexed to the Crown. In 1493 MacDonald's other title, Lord of the Isles, was assumed by the King and lingers yet in honors attached to the present Prince of Wales.


However, the dream of a quasi-independent Lordship of the Isles lingered in the Western Isles for many generations. One source (Poulter and Fisher, 1936) attributes the tune to Donald Mor MacCrimmon who lived in the period 1570-1640. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the composer was an earlier MacCrimmon. The hero celebrated forfeited the earldom 94 years before Donald was born.


A thought that comes to mind is whether this is one of the ancient tunes that may have grown over a period of time. It is not beyond credibility that ne of Donald's progenitors may have composed the original melody that subsequent generations expanded until Donald put the final touches to the piobaireachd we now know as the Earl of Ross's March. Or, the inspiration for the piobaireachd could have been a bard's tale or poems and songs inspired by the demise of the Lordship, of which there must have been many as known Gaelic cultural practices indicate.


Speculation about the unknown and unknowable can lead to wild surmises about things that never happened, but, the mind does have a tendency to wander down uncharted lanes of thought.


From Andrew Wright, 13-09-05:

“The Earl of Ross's March is also known as Kieundize - a corruption of the Gaelic Ceann na Deise or heads of corn. I think this is how it was titled in the Gesto book or the Gesto manuscript which was lost. It is named as such in the music of Simon Fraser. If Fraser was correct, it could be a harvest tune perhaps something akin to Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks, although there is no relationships in the melody or the structure of the tunes. Perhaps it was an old tune renamed. There are many tunes with two names - occasionally they contradict each other - a tune may be called a Salute by one and a Lament by another”.


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