Shinty’s Heroes to storm Kinlochleven in Blas 2017

Hugh Dan MacLennan and Gary Innes
Hugh Dan MacLennan and Gary Innes

Issued by Blas Festival

Shinty’s connections with Argyll and the Ballachulish, Glencoe and the Kinlochleven areas will be under the spotlight when the acclaimed Glòir nan Caman - Shinty’s Heroes show returns to the Blas Festival. Wednesday 6th September will see Hugh Dan MacLennan and Gary Innes joined by Allan Henderson, Iain MacFarlane, Ewen Henderson, Ewan Robertson and Duncan MacGillivray in the Leven Centre at Kinlochleven High School.

There is hardly a Highland, or even Scottish family or community which wasn’t touched, or isn’t still affected, by the tragic events of World War I and this area of Argyll suffered as did many others.  Shinty’s Heroes - which has been performed in a number of shinty-playing areas since 2014 - uses music, storytelling and song to highlight the impact shinty players had on the war and vice-versa, the devastating legacy the war left in terms of sporting activity and the communities the departed left behind. 

Shinty has long held an important role in Scottish and particularly Highland communities and was played by Highland Regiments during both World Wars.  Shinty’s Heroes uncovers some of the stories of these players through visual images, stories, songs and music a number of which will be seen for the first time in this new version of the show. 

At the centre of the 2017 event is a tribute to Pipe Major Willie Lawrie of Ballachulish, composer of the well-known tune The Battle of the Somme, who died in November 1916.  His pipes are displayed in the Regimental Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at Stirling Castle.

In addition to hearing about PM Willie Lawrie, the show will tell gripping and moving stories of Dr Johnnie Cattanach, generally regarded as shinty’s greatest ever player, who died at Gallipoli; Dòmhnall Ruadh Choruna and the Great Gaelic song An Eala Bhàn; the Paterson of Beauly pipes from Festubert and an account of the 1913 and 1914 Camanachd Cup Finals.  Many of the players who appeared in these matches never returned from the war.  There will also be the tale of the three Ballachulish Musketeers who did return from World War 2 in an extraordinary adventure; a story featuring audio of the heroes themselves.

Former Scottish shinty captain, accordionist and Mànran star Gary Innes, now the presenter of BBC Scotland’s Take the Floor Scottish dance music programme, is the musical director and will present the show along with broadcaster, commentator and shinty historian, Hugh Dan MacLennan. 

Hugh Dan said: “The impact shinty players had in the Great War and vice versa is a fascinating tale that deserves to be told.  Not a lot of this is known beyond the families concerned and not known even in some communities.  In Kinlochleven, we’ll be building on the success of previous WW1 commemoration shows which have been performed from Skye to Glasgow and everywhere in between.  It’s shinty’s way of paying tribute to those who died in the wars, and telling their stories in a slightly different way - through the eyes, stories and tunes of shinty-playing communities.  One of the best pipers in the world, Duncan MacGillivray of Calrossie, will play the Beauly Paterson pipes which were returned from the Battle of Festubert and have since been played worldwide.  We are delighted to have the support of shinty’s ruling body, the Camanachd Association and Fèisean nan Gàidheal for Shinty’s Heroes.”

The full festival programme is now available at where full details of all events and how to buy tickets can be found.

28 Aug 2017
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