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Salute On The Birth Of Rory Mor MacLeod


Was the tune Salute On The Birth Of Rory Mor MacLeod misnamed? Or does the title hark back to the birth of a MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan heir named Ruaridh?


The first Ruaridh, who was to become Sir Roderick Mor MacLeod, was the second son of Norman MacLeod, XIIth of Harris and Dunvegan. The probability of a birth Salute in his honour is remote unless a tune was so designated retroactively to please him after he assumed the Chieftainship in 1595.


Angus MacKay translated the Gaelic name of the tune – An ann air mhire tha sibh? – as Are you merrymaking? It is interesting that the Gaelic title makes no reference to any person, leaving endless room for speculation. The Gaelic title does, however, honour the sense of a common practice of merrymaking when a male heir was born to a Chieftain.


If the tune does honour either William, born in 1570 or his younger brother Ruaridh, there is a possibility that Iain Odhar or his son Padruig Donn could have been the composer.


However, nothing is simple in the oral jungle of piobaireachd. Iain Mor, XVI Chieftain of Harris and Dunvegan was born in 1595. His son and successor, Rory the Witty, was born in 1635. Either of these two first-born could have been the target of a Salute at their birth. If such were the case, either Donald Mor or his son Padruig Mor could have been the composer.


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