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MacCrimmon Will Never Return

The piobaireachd MacCrimmon Will Never Return was composed by Donald Ban MacCrimmon, circa 1745. He is said to have had a premonition about his own death. As it so happened he was killed, almost accidentally, at the Rout of Moy, 1746, a night skirmish in which he was the only man to fall that. He was buried in Lagganbridge churchyard with full Highland honours. His own composition was played at the graveside, followed by Lament for the Children.

In one of those eerie stories so common to the Gaelic world, it was said that MacCrimmon was seen in Inverness the day before his death by a friend who said that ‘the shade of death was on him.’

His death inspired two works of Gaelic art: The magnificent piobaireachd, Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon, composed by his brother Malcolm, a tune that is truly one of the glories of Gaeldom. And, a poem composed by his sister that is sung in the Highlands to this day.

Here is the opening verse of the poem as translated from the Gaelic by Professor Blackie in the 19th century :

Round Cuillen's peak the mist is sailing,
The banshee croons her note of wailing;
Wild blue eyes with sorrow are streaming,
For him who will never return, MacCrimmon.
No more, no more, no more forever,
In war or peace shall return MacCrimmon.


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