March 19, 2020

Angus MacKay lives again in new book by Iain MacDonald

Iain MacDonald

Ringwood Publishing of Glasgow has started to take pre-orders for I Piped, That She Might Dance, the forthcoming book about Angus MacKay of Raasay, with the hope to launch officially at Piping Live! in August 2020.

Written by long-time pipes|drums contributor Iain MacDonald of Regina, Saskatchewan, the book tells the story of Angus MacKay from his own imagined perspective. While there has been a fair amount written about MacKay over the years, much of it stems from very scant original source material.

The MacCrimmon Legend: the Madness of Angus MacKay, by the late Alistair Campsie and published in 1980, used that material and his documented mental illness to discredit his legacy, and many articles about MacKay have focused intently on his substantive publishing and manuscript work, with a mention only of his sad demise.

Angus MacKay’s will from 1859. [Image copyright Iain MacDonald]
I Piped, That She Might Dance tells a more complete story and provides a more balanced view of the trajectory of MacKay’s life, while placing him squarely in the changing circumstances of early 19th century Britain. Using extensive source material from the period, including MacKay’s medical records and 19th century news coverage, the book imagines MacKay’s lived experiences.

Angus MacKay

A 2011 pipes|drums story described the return to Scotland of what was reputed to be Angus MacKay’s practice chanter. This chanter had been gifted to MacDonald by Winnie MacLeod, the wife of the late Pipe-Major Donald MacLeod MBE, and that summer the chanter was returned to Scotland to the collection of the National Museum of Scotland.

“The story started to take shape around the practice chanter, and I was inspired by Hugh Cheape’s 2008 presentation at Piping Live! on the piping traditions of the MacKays,” said MacDonald. “I tried to give Angus MacKay a voice to tell his story.”

The historical-fictional memoir is unique for the piping and drumming world, perfect for pipers and drummers who appreciate not only our past, but an entertaining and heartfelt good read.

The book will be in paperback for £9.99.

pipes|drums readers can look forward to exclusive excerpts from I Piped, That She Might Dance in the next few weeks.

Angus McKay  was born in Raasay, Skye, in 1813. He is heralded as one of, if the most, important Highland pipers in history, directly responsible for much of piobaireachd and light music as it is played today. His Highland Pipe Music initially included 61 piobaireachds, and he would later transpose another 183 tunes. He was Piper to Queen Victoria for many years, but suffered from mental illness in the last half-decade of his life, admitted at age 43 to the Crichton Royal Hospital in Dumfries, Scotland. He escaped on March 21, 1859, at the age of 46, and drowned trying to cross the River Nith.

He was named as one of the Greatest 20 Pipers in History in a 2014 pipes|drums feature.

Iain MacDonald is one of the piping world’s great contributors. He is the pipe-major of Grade 2 City of Regina, a band that he has led for more than 20 years. He was a member of Grade 1 Babcock-Renfrew under the legendary Pipe-Major Iain McLeod, played with Grade 1 Simon Fraser University for several years, and currently plays with Grade 1 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel). He has been a teacher of piping all his life, and started the Conservatory Pipe Band for young pipers and drummers, which has produced dozens of new pipers and drummers. A composer and arranger, he published a collection of music, Along The Way, and runs a piping supplies business,, (a pipes|drums advertiser).

Ringwood Publishing is a small, independent publisher, based in Glasgow, dedicated to publishing quality works of Scottish fiction and non-fiction.



Angus MacKay chanter to return to Scotland at Piping Live!
July 31, 2011


The Greatest 20 Pipers in History
December 21, 2014





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