Published: September 10, 2019

A dynasty of Speirs pipers

There are few if any piping families spanning four consecutive generations as successful as the Speirs of Edinburgh.

Iain Speirs – with two Glenfiddich Championships, six Silver Chanters and two Northern Meeting Clasps (to name a few so far) – is of course a household name as one of the world’s elite solo pipers, and his father, Tom, was at the top of the solo world for much of the 1970s and ’80s, with a multitude of achievements that included the Northern Meeting Highland Society of London Gold Medal and Clasp, and currently an in-demand solo judge.

The piping patriarch of the family was the late John “Jock” Speirs, one of the most celebrated characters in the solo piping world, renowned for his contributions to the art, his service in the military and as one of the great reedmakers of his era.

And now Iain’s son, John, is an up-and-coming piper and a student at Stewart’s Melville. John started lessons on a mini practice chanter in his crib.

Along with Iain’s brother Gregor, himself an accomplished piper who has played with Grade 1 bands and competed in top solo competitions, the 2014 Speirs group of pipers assembled for a photo to emulate the photo they took in 1983 after Tom Speirs captured the Rothiemurchus Trophy for the Clasp at the Northern Meeting.

“It was always my dream to follow in my dad’s footsteps by winning the Gold Medal and Clasp at the Northern Meeting,” Iain Speirs said. “He would have never let me forget it if I hadn’t. I occasionally remind him that I was a few months younger than he was when I won the Clasp. I thought we’d lost this photo of my dad, grandfather Jock, brother Gregor and me, which was taken following his win in 1983. It was in our thoughts when we took a photo, also with Gregor and with my son John following my win in 2014.”

Iain Speirs will be competing for his third Glenfiddich Championship at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl, Scotland, on October 26.

Thirty-one years on, the Speirs tradition of solo piping excellence is obviously in great hands.

Speirs pipers, 1983 (L-R): Tom, Iain, Gregor and Jock.
Speirs pipers, 2014 (L-R): Iain, John, Gregor and Tom.

 


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