Pilgrimage to Invergarry Castle by Alasdair MacDonald Banks.

A 10 year-old boy recalls the June night when a piper played again at the Castle on Creagan an Fhithich (The Raven’s Crag).

The last rays of sunlight were fading on the jagged ruins of Invergarry Castle when the sound of the bagpipes was heard across Loch Oich.

I rowed the boat over the dark, quiet waters of the loch to the small stone jetty where I jumped ashore and made my way through the tangled undergrowth. I could imagine it in the old days when the piper rallied the clansmen for war and they must have taken the same path as I.

When I reached the Castle the people were already there grouped in twos and threes beside the old stones, most of them wearing the red and green Macdonald tartan and some with the white stripes of my own Glengarry kilt. Twenty-four people had made the journey from all over Britain, some from as far away as London, to this gathering of the Macdonalds in Glengarry.

There was a sudden hush as the loud, strong notes of the pipes broke out. It was a sad tune – “The Lament for Colonel Alasdair.” When the last notes died away, a bonfire was lit by two of the ladies, Miss Cunninghame and Lady Thornton, descendants of that famous Chief. Soon it was blazing and crackling with flames and sparks shooting skyward. The Castle was burned three times by the “redcoats”; that is why it is a ruin today. This fire was different.

But time passes and the people began to straggle away along the path through the trees. For the last time the piper began to play: I fell into step behind one of a kilted bodyguard for Miss Cunninghame, the lady who owns the Castle. It felt wonderful to be marching along to the sound of the pipes in the growing twilight. As we rounded a bend in the narrow path I took my last look at the Castle outlined by the glowing embers of the fire. It looked dark and forbidding.