Names of pibrochs in pre-1820 sources without music notation

This page contains literatim transcriptions from original documents. The Gaelic and English names of pibrochs gathered here are often surprising. I chose 1820 as a milestone because in that year Donald MacDonald’s book (D1) began to have a stabilising influence.

Only tune titles and basic contextual information are transcribed. I have carefully proofed the readings against the original so that this page can serve as a reliable reference until such time as facsimile images are made available online. Everything in square brackets is editorial. When an identical spelling recurs, I transcribe it once and give the number of instances in square brackets (in 1785, for example, the set tune recurs 24 times).

If anyone could supply transcriptions or images of other records with the names of pibrochs from before 1820, we would be delighted to hear from you. These documents contain fascinating information besides the variant tune titles and digitising them would form a valuable addition to the source material available to players and researchers of pibroch.

Barnaby Brown, 12 January 2016, rev. 29 March 2020


1666-1690s The Wardlaw Manuscript

Location: NLS, MS.3658, p. 249


Fuoris Pooge i spoge i Rhī. I got a kiss of the Kings hand  [PS 213]


1778 Western Fencibles Order Book

Location: Canna House Archive, Isle of Canna

Glaisvair  [PS 132]
The Troop
Boadachnabrigishin  [PS 2]
Gillychristie  [PS 170]
MollachdephitMahary  [PS 67]
Glasgow July 26th 1778


1783 Circumstantial Account

Location: NRS, GD248-27-2-49 (Seafield papers)

CIRCUMSTANTIAL Account of the Exhibition on the Highland Great Pipes, in Dunn’s Assembly Rooms, on Wednesday October 22. 1783.

Clanranald’s March [3 times: twice solo, once played by 12 pipers simultaneously]  [PS 203]
Pibroch na Park  [PS 21]
Macgregor’s March  [PS 13]
Failt a Fryince [2 times]  [PS 173]
Macintosh’s Lament  [PS 200]
Coag na Skee  [PS 204]
Failt a Vainarich
Cowe Abercharnag  [PS 315]
Failt Abercharnag  [PS 186]

The musicians then marched round St Andrews Square, twelve in number, all playing the same piece, Clanranald’s March [PS 203]


1784 Scots Magazine report

The Scots Magazine, 46 (Oct. 1784), pp. 552–3.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19. the annual competition for prizes, given by the Highland Society of London to the best performers on the ancient martial Highland Great Pipe…

To bring the merit of the candidates to a nearer comparative view, the second part of the trial consisted of one piece, called Glassviar, a much admired composition, but difficult of execution, prescribed by the judges to be performed by each of the competitors in succession. …

Plan of the Competition

Molladh Mari, or, in praise of Mary  [PS 067]
Cumhadh an aon Mhic
, or, Lamentation for an only son [2 times]  [PS 15]
Piobrachd mhic Dhonail Dhuibh, or Cameron’s March  [PS 162]
Glasmhear, a principal piece  [PS 132]
Sliamh an t’ Shirreadh, or, Sherriff-Muir  [PS 229]
Cean drochaid morre  [PS 171]
Marshall mhic Allain, or, Clanranald’s March [2 times]  [PS 203]
Failte a Phrainse, the Prince’s Welcome  [PS 173]
Failte Mhaircais, the Marquis’s Welcome  [PS 157]
Cean drochaid bige [PS 169]
Colladh a ruin  [PS 201]
Suan agus Lagan, Stewart’s March  [? Suarachan PS 193 or PS 173]
Failte Shir Shenmais, Sir James’s Welcome  [PS 210]


1785 Plan of the Competition

Location: NLS, Acc. 7451, box 19, folder 3, item 1. Reproduced in Piping Times, 19/6, p. 9.

In Dunn’s Assembly Room. / Ancient Martial Music. / Plan of the Competition for Prizes… 30th August, 1785.

Cean Drochaid Beg. Head of the Little Bridge, or the Cameron’s Gathering. [PS 169]
Failte a’ Phrionsai’. The Arrival or WelcomeA Salute. [24 times] [PS 173]
Failte Shir Sheumais. Sir James M‘Donald’s Welcome. [PS 210]
Cumhadh Mhic an Leathain. The M‘Lean’s Lament. [PS 78]
Glais-mheur. A favorite Piece. [3 times] [PS 132]
Moladh Mharai’. A Piece in praise of Mary, or the Laird of M‘Lachlan’s March. [PS 067]
Comhadh Mhic Chruimean. The Lamentation of Patrick More M‘Crimmon. [PS 137]
The Grants March. [PS 52]
Piobrachd Ereanach. An Irish Pibroch. [PS 31]
Failte Shir Dheorsa. In Praise of the Laird of Callandar. [PS 55]
Teachd am Phrionsai’ gu Muideard. The Landing in Moydart. [PS 115]
Leannan Dhonail Chruaimeich. Donald’s Love. [PS 102]
Leannan Ghioll Chruaimeich. The Stern Lad’s Sweetheart. [PS 102]
Piobrachd Sliabh an t Sora’. Sherriffmuir, a Pibroch. [PS 229]
Cumhadh Eoin Ghairbh. Lamentation of Rough John. [PS 78]
Siubhal Mhic Allain. Clanranald’s March. [2 times]  [PS 203]
Piobrachd Mhic Dhonail Dhuibh. Cameron’s Gathering. [PS 162]
Cumhadh an Aoin Mhic. Lamentation for an only Son. [PS 15]
Cean Drochaid Mhoir. Head of the Great Bridgea Pibroch. [PS 171]
Sliabh an t Sora’. Shirriffmuir. [PS 229]
Moladh Mharai’. In Praise of Mary.[PS 067]


1804 Plan of the Competition

Location: NRS, NRAS2177/Bundle 2086

Plan of the competition for prizes … 24 July 1804

Fhuair mi Pog do Laimh an Righ. I got a kiss of the King’s Hand. [PS 213]
Failte Phrionsa. The Prince’s Welcome. [PS 173]
Bhiorlain Chael Chorrach. M‘Lean of Coll’s March. [PS 11]
Failte Siosalach Straghlais. Chisholm’s Salute. [PS 073]
Leanan Mhic Dhonail Ghruamaich. Grim Donald’s Sweetheart. [PS 102]
Failte Baile Duneidin. Town of Edinburgh.
A Ghlais-Mheur. A favourite Piece. [PS 132]
Failte Bhoisdail. Macdonald of Boisdale’s Salute. [PS 095]
Cumha Phrionsa. The Prince’s Lament.
Failte Dheors’ Oig. Young Georg’s Salute to the Duke of Argyll. [PS 055]
Cruinnach Mhic Dhonailduibh. Cameron of Lochiel’s Gathering. [PS 177]
Leanan Mhic Dhonail Ghruamaich. Grim Donald’s Sweetheart. [PS 102]

To conclude with the whole Pipers Marching round the Stage, Playing Cogadh no Sith, “Peace or War,” [PS 204]


c. 1809 Spanish John’s Memoirs

John Macdonell of Scotus (Eòin Spàinteach, or ‘Spanish John’) composed his memoirs shortly before his death in 1810. These were printed by a now elusive Canadian periodical in the 1820s. In 1931, they were published by William Blackwood and Sons (reprinted 1993) as Spanish John: Being a narrative of the Early Life of Colonel John M‘Donnell of Scottos. Written by himself. In this book, on page 42, Spanish John recalls an event at Achnacarry in 1746 as follows:

Took some refreshing rest out of which we were awakened at break of day next morning by all the Highland Bagpipes playing the general, Cogga na si [PS 204], having been alarmed by their scouts, who reported that the Duke of Cumberland had sent a much superior force by three different routes to surround them…

Niall MacKenzie, “The Jacobites’ “General”: Spanish John’s Evidence for the History of Military Bagpiping,” Scottish Tradition Vol. 25 (2000), pp 3 and 7.