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Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1061853455000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1124055160000
Does anyone have a family history on Donald MacQuarrie
known as "The Great Piper". He is the son of Laughlin MacQuarrie Isle of Rum. He married Catriona MacIsaac from the Isle of Muck.
At one time Donald lived on the Isle of Rum but his family left at the time of religious persecutions.
On the 1765 Census of Eigg, he is listed on "Laigtown. His son John was 12 years old at the time of the census. It is John MacQuarrie who came to Pictou and then located in Little Mabou, Inverness County, Cape Breton. He married Sarah McCormick who was also from the Isle of Eigg.
Would appreciate any help.


Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Jenny (View posts)
Posted: 1113432204000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Macquarrie
There may be some confusion here, but he is aparently an ancestor of our Macquarrie (Arisaig, Nova Scotia) family. It is entirely probable that there is a connection here. Below is an article on my grandfather that may be of use to you or check the following website.

By Scott Williams

Antigonish County residents and the piping community of Eastern Nova Scotia paused for a few moments in mid November to mark the passing of one of the region’s best known and most respected Highland gentlemen.

A farmer, fisherman, carpenter, and boat builder, Angus Allan Macquarrie was keenly active in his church, community, and regional affairs. Angus was very proud of his Scottish heritage. A Gaelic speaker, bagpiper, and fiddler, he was a devoted supporter of Highland culture and tradition.

Angus Allan Macquarrie was born in Doctor’s Brook, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia on January 27th, 1918, the son of piper Angus Hector and Mary Elizabeth (Gillis) Macquarrie. His grandfather, pioneer John, a noted piobaireachd player in his own right, died when Angus Hector was only twelve years old.

In 1889, when Angus Hector was in his mid twenties, he took his mother back to Scotland, staying for more than a year. It was there that he learned more of his family’s piping tradition and picked up a large repertoire of tunes which he brought back to Nova Scotia.

Exposed to the music of his ancestors from birth, Angus Allan’s love of the pipes was evident by the time he was four years old when he used to march around the house with a set of mock bagpipes under his arm, the alder drones extending skyward over his left shoulder, a make-believe chanter in his hands, humming the tunes he heard his father and uncle Dan play so often. Growing up to be both a piper and a fiddler, Angus was able to trace his piping lineage back through nine generations to the Hebrides of Scotland.

First and foremost to Angus were his family and his livelihood as a fisherman. Even though his days were labour-filled, when summer came, he was known to take a few hours off, dress in his kilt, grab his pipes, and head into town to take part in the Antigonish Highland Games. Spectators were often heard to comment in amazement on the sweetness of the music he produced with his big, strong hands, callused from years of hard work. Though he did not compete often, in 1943, he placed first in the Amateur Strathspey and Reel, and placed second in the same event in 1944.

In his early years, Angus, along with his brother John Stephen, Joe ‘Miller’ and Jay MacDonald, began playing at dances and picnics. Later, he played the pipes and the fiddle as a member of ‘The Highland Four’ which also featured his friends Jay MacDonald, Wilfred Gillis, and John ‘Roddie Angus’ MacDonald. The group was popular throughout the region at dances and concerts and in the late 1940s frequently performed live on CJFX Radio.

Pipe music was different in those days, Angus would often say. The notes might be the same, but the tempos and rhythms were different. He talked a lot about the old style of piping, piping for step dancing, and for the Four-Hand Reels and the Eight-Hand reels, 4s and 8s, he called them, that were danced at the picnics, dances that ended with the piper encircled by sweat-drenched dancers.

In 1946, Angus was a founding member of the Antigonish Highland Society Pipe Band formed under the direction of Pipe Major Herman Beaton of Brierly Brook.

In the spring of 1966, the band dropped the name of the Antigonish Highland Society altogether and became the Antigonish Legion Senior Pipe Band. It was late that fall that I was to join Angus and the others in the pipe section of the Senior band, then under the direction of Pipe Major Jim MacLellan.

The highlight of 1967 was the band’s performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. As Warden of the County of Antigonish, it was Angus’ pleasant task to escort Her Majesty to Arisaig where the HMS Britannia was waiting and to present her with a large, freshly caught salmon, packed in ice in a large wooden box made especially for the task.

In 1970, the senior band placed second in the Maritime Senior Pipe Band Championship and took part in the very first Antigonish Highland Games Pipe Band Tattoo. As the Antigonish Legion Junior Pipe Band rose in prominence, the senior band declined and disappeared by 1971. Angus, however, remained a devoted fan and supporter of piping in Antigonish.

Over the following decades, though he no longer played at the Games himself, other musicians who did often found their way out to the Macquarrie home for a ceilidh after the competitions and concerts in town had finished. Son Marcie remembers fiddlers such as Dan R. MacDonald, a relative, or Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, or pipers such as Bill Magennis, Bob Worrall, Barry Ewen, or Dr. Angus MacDonald at the house. On one occasion, Angus entertained several members of the Edinburgh Police Pipe Band whom he had taken fishing during their visit to Nova Scotia.

Angus was always on hand to encourage the efforts of his family and other young pipers, drummers and dancers. His son Marcie became a piper. His daughter Janice went on to win international acclaim as a Highland dancer, dance teacher and choreographer.

In November, 1996, the Piobaireachd Society of Antigonish was formed, and Angus was a founding member. It was at his suggestion that the Society began sponsoring Pipers’ Memorials throughout the County, honouring the memories of pipers of bygone days, first in South River, then in his own parish in Arisaig, and last June in Maryvale.

As the young pipers of Antigonish town and county and beyond came to perform at the Society’s monthly recitals and the Pipers’ Memorials, Angus was always on hand to give them words of encouragement. He watched and listened with pride as this new generation of pipers learned and performed piobaireachd, the ancient classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe, the music of his fondly remembered and distinguished ancestors, and the young pipers responded by playing their best ‘for Angus’.

Angus was devoted to his ‘bride’ of 57 years, Jennie (Gillis), his nine children, and his numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Two of his grandsons, Hector Macquarrie of Halifax and Jonathan Grady of Summerside, PEI are excellent young pipers and are consistent prize winners, carrying on the tradition of which Angus was so very proud. Angus was keenly interested in their music, and would often sit with the boys on their visits to his home in Doctor’s Brook going through his collection of old pipe music books, giving them tunes his own father and grandfather used to play.

Angus made seven trips to Scotland over the years, some of them accompanying his daughter Janice when she went there to claim world honours. In August, 2002, Angus made his final trip back to Scotland, to support his grandson Hector as he piped his way to several prizes, and to visit once more the Isle of Eigg from which his ancestors left to settle in Nova Scotia. Angus’ father had placed a stone on the cairn of his ancestor, Donald Macquarrie, Am Piobaire Mor, the Great Piper of Eigg, in 1889 and Angus first placed another stone on it himself nearly a hundred years later, in 1972. He was there too as his son and grandson added their stones to the cairn in 2002. When young Hector won first prize and the Lamont Shield for his march at Cowal, Angus had a smile on him that spread from ear to ear.

At the age of 84 years, Angus passed away at the QE2 Health Science Centre, Halifax, following a brief illness, on November 9th. His death was a peaceful one, with his beloved family members present, and with Hector playing the ‘old tunes’ on his chanter for hours on end during his final few days.

The funeral mass took place in St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Arisaig on November 13th. Pipe Major Doug Boyd piped the remains into the church playing "50 Years of Bliss", a march composed by the late Arisaig fiddler, Wilfred Gillis to mark Angus and Jennie’s 50th wedding anniversary. At the end of the mass, Kendra MacGillivray on violin and Doug Boyd on pipes played grandson Hector’s composition, "Angus Macquarrie’s Reel". Grandson Jonathan played "Flowers of the Forest" at the graveside. Andrea Boyd, John MacPhee, Hector and Jonathan played selections on the pipes at the reception which followed in the community hall.

A few short days later, Jonathan played his own piobaireachd composition, "A Farewell to My Beloved Grandfather", believed to be the first piobaireachd ever composed in Antigonish, at a meeting of the Piobaireachd Society of Antigonish. All in all, it was a fitting musical send off to one of Antigonish’s most highly respected Highland gentlemen.

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1113774744000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1124055160000
Thank you so much for your reply and the wonderful story of your grandfather. Can you send me a note directly to my e-mail address
We are definately from the same family. I am very happy to have found you. Please reply as soon as possible. I will gladly share what I have with you. We are cousins for sure.
Jackie (MacQuarrie) Gallant

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Miles MacEachern (View posts)
Posted: 1114204826000
Classification: Query
Hello Jenny
I read your reply to my cousin, Jackie's MacQuarrie family query and the charming story of the marvelous piping tradition.
I think I know the family connection. Donald, the Great Piper of Eigg had a son named Lauchlin. I think that Lauchlin had a son Donald who had a son John. Is that John the one your family calls the "pioneer"? Pioneer in Antigonish?

If that is correct then we are related.

Donald the Great Piper also had a son named John ( your Lauchlin's brother). This John was a pioneer in Inverness,county, Cape Breton and my cousin. Jackie and I descend from him.

I have a copy of the so called "Eigg Roll" , the 1764 census of the Small Isles which lists family number 27, Papists, living in Laig, Eigg as:

Donald McQuarry------------------ -56
Cathrina McIsaac--his wife----- -50
Lauchlin McQuarry--his son ---- 22
Donald McQuarry--his son ------ 16
John McQuarry --his son --------- 12
Cathrina McQuarry -his daughter--14

The Donald above is the Great piper.
Does this family connection sound right to you too?

Miles MacEachern, grandson of Mary MacQuarrie (daughter of Johnson MacQuarrie who was the son of Allan, son of Neil, son of John, son of Donald, the Great Piper)

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1140559432000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1163102871000
Jackie, we corresponded a few years ago concerning my grandfather and your grandfather being brothers in Codroy, Nfld. I have done more research on the whole MacQuarrie clan that you may or may not have acquired. Please email.Doug.

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1274878787000
Classification: Query

I am looking into this family also as my wife is a MacQuarrie desenandant from Donald (The Piper)MacQuarrie
Donald's grandson John, settled in Antigonish.

I would like information on the John MacQuarrie Married to Sarah MacCormack who settled in Colindale
John MacQuarrie, in Colindale may be an uncle to John MacQuarrie Antigonish

Bill Landry

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1280224481000
Classification: Query
Dear correspondant,
I just read that you had a copy of the 1764 Eigg Roll. I have an ancestor whose name happen to be Macquarrie James and I suspect his father coming from the isle of Eigg. Would it be possible for you to send me a copy of this Eigg Roll by the mail to : I would be very pleased and thank you so much for that.
Philippe Jolly

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1281717445000
Classification: Query
I'm interested in the Macquarries from the Isle of Eigg, because one of them might have been my ancestor (My Grand Mother's maiden name was Macquarrie, first name Renée).
Since you have a copy of the 1764 Eigg Roll, could you tell me if there were other Macquarrie families listed on. To my knowledge, Lauchlin (other documents say Lachlan) had three sons : Christian (b. 1771); Neil (b.1781); and Donald (b. 1788). I don't have anything about John's family. Do you know what happenned to their familes as well as the family of the other son of Donald "The great Piper" ?
I was told that at the end of the 18th century and/or the beginning of the 19th, some young men were forced to join the Army to fight the Napoleonic wars. One of them could have been my ancestor and it's the reason why I'm so interested in this topic.
Waiting for any answer.
Thank you.
Philippe Jolly
Col (FR) Army Ret.

Re: Donald MacQuarrie - The Great Piper - Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1296954651000
Classification: Query
Surnames: MacQuarrie
I am from the MacQuarrie line of John"Iain Taillear" MacQuarrie. He settled in Sight Point,Inverness County. I have heard reports that he came from Rumm,Scotland, but my uncles or aunts could not be sure. He had sons namely, Donald"Domhnull Iain an Taillear",John, Edward and Hector. My great grandfather is Donald who married Mary Burke and is buried in St Mary's Cemetery, Mabou,N.S. Donald turned cathoic when he married Mary Burke. His family disowned him at this time. There are a lot of MacQuarries in the Inverness and area swear thet they are not related because the Catholic macQuarries. His son Norman married Margaret Rankin. My mother was Mary Catherine who Married Donald Colin MacDonald.
On the querry of John MacQuarrie and Sara MacCormick, information can be found in MacDougall History of Inverness County Page 285 and in Mabou Pioneers Volume 1, page 796.

Any help would be a gold mine in locating my line of MacQuarries.

There is a meseum in Port Hastings,Cape Breton, that have a lot of information on MacQuarries also. I have a lot of information from there also.

Urban MacDonald, 1272 Arncliffe Place,Windsor,Ont, 1-519-944-9898, Fax 1-519-944,4478.

MacQuarries Isle of Eigg

Posted: 1401569866000
Classification: Query
2014 May
interested in the MacQuarries of Eigg'Antigonish

I believe my 3 great grandmother --Isabelle MacDonnell (MacKenzie) married into this family as a second marriage......just started her research so any help appreciated
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