The Piobaireachd Society: Introduction to the collection

The World Pipe-Band championships 2012 will be held on Glasgow Green next month on 11th August and so what better time introduce you to our piping archive collection?

Letter from the Secretary of the Society, D. J. Tolmie, on Piobaireachd Society headed note-paper (DC80/367)

As part of the papers of the Garscube estate the University of Glasgow Archives Services now hold, there is a large collection of correspondence and documents relating to the Piobaireachd Society (pronounced ‘pee-broch’ – ‘broch’ like ‘loch’) – a society formed for the promotion of piobaireachd playing, the classical music of the highland bagpipe, in 1903. The Society is still going today and you can follow them via their website.

This fantastic collection is full of original letters between the members of the society dating from its foundation in 1903 up to 1921. These letters give us a great insight into how the society worked, what they did, who was involved and also contemporary life in general.

The Garscube estate was acquired by the Colquhouns of Luss, Argyl & Bute, in 1558, before it changed hands into the Campbell of Succoth family in 1687. The collection mainly consists of Factor’s papers for Garscube as well as some material relating to estates in Edinburgh, West Lothian and Dunbartonshire. We were surprised to find, therefore, this particular (weighty) file of records about the Piobaireachd Society amongst general papers relating to the running of the estate. It was an enquirer, and a current member of the Piobaireachd Society, who enlightened us on why this collection should have come to us as part of the Garscube estate papers. According to him:

“It seems pretty clear how it came into being. Captain Campbell of Succoth was a very early member of the Piobaireachd Society. He owned the Garscube estate, and his estate manager, a Mr William Aitken, was conveniently on hand to do all the work of correspondence and record keeping.”

Letter to the Society, from John Grant, praising the Society and asking permission to dedicate to them a piobaireachd he is composing. (DC80/362)

The Piobaireachd Society promote the playing of traditional Highland bagpipe music and to do this, they have collected available piobaireachd manuscripts, published books compiling the music and they have published a book of modern piobaireachd. They have also recently developed a website where you can listen to sound files and keep up with the society’s efforts to encourage the understanding and playing of the music.

These activities follow on from the society’s past efforts in promoting probaireachd which we discovered from the correspondence in the archive collection. The society used the annual subscription (of £1.1s, or a Guinea) from each of its members to fund: the publishing of the music; competition prizes in various Highland Games; and the provision of piobaireachd lessons, to name a selection of their activities.

Stay tuned for a number of posts relating to the Piobaireachd Society and the interesting documents found in the collection!

If you would like to tell us what you know about the society, have any questions for us, or would like to visit us and view the collection, we would love to hear from you. Please contact the Duty Archivist and make an appointment.

Piobaireachd Society Rule Book from 1910 (DC80/689)

Categories: Archive Services

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7 replies


  1. The Piobaireachd Society: Music and Teaching « University of Glasgow Library
  2. The Piobaireachd Society: Highland Games « University of Glasgow Library
  3. The Piobaireachd Society: International admiration « University of Glasgow Library
  4. The Piobaireachd Society: Gaelic language « University of Glasgow Library
  5. The Piobaireachd Society: Elspeth Campbell « University of Glasgow Library
  6. The Piobaireachd Society: Royal Patronage « University of Glasgow Library
  7. Piobaireachd Society Club 21 placement « University of Glasgow Library

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