MEMPHIS BAGPIPES - Return to the Gallowglass Pipers main page.

The power of pipes as instruments of war is well documented. Many a piper has saved his unit from certain destruction. Stories though embellished over time, have portrayed pipers in combat capable of inspiring colleagues to untold feats of courage. Thus this tale.

On the sun-beaten badlands in northwest India during the late 19th century, a ragged platoon of Highlanders seeks cover from sun small arms fire. Their young English officer, Webley revolver in one hand and a broadsword in the other, assesses the situation crouched behind a boulder. A few feet away lies his Sergeant Major. Both are keenly aware of the intended goal. A well-defended enemy fortification constructed of granite-hard, sun baked mud, a scant 400 yards distant must be taken.

The young officer rubs his eyes free of grit, and addresses his NCO: "Good God Sergeant Major! How can we seize that position with only 12 riflemen and a single piper?" The grizzled Sergeant Major, veteran of countless battles, unsheaths his bayonet and deftly locks it into place with a barely audible click. In an assuring voice he answers, "Och! Dinna worry yoursel' sir. Corporal MacDonnell's a verra good piper.".

Pat and Mick landed themselves a job at a sawmill. Just before morning tea, Pat yelled: "Mick! Mick! I lost me finger!"
"Have you now?" says Mick. "And joost how did you manage to do that?"
"I touched this big spinning thing here like thi.... Damn! There goes another one!"

Notable Piping Quotes
Twelve clansmen and one bagpipe make a rebellion. Sir Walter Scott

Some men there are love not a gaping pig; some, that are mad if they behold a cat; and others, when the bagpipe sings... cannot contain their urine. William Shakespeare

I enjoy them best from a great distance. Anonymous

The inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made object never equalled the purity of soundachieved by the pig. Alfred Hitchcock

They say that he (Nero) can play the aulos both with his mouth, and also with the armpit, a bag being thrown under it. Dio Chrysostom

They only have nine notes. Just how difficult could the pipes be to learn? aspiring piper

What are these men going to do with such bundles of sticks? I can supply them with better implements of war. Duke of Cumberland, reviewing Highlanders in his employ - 1745.

Music they (the Scots) have, but not the harmony of the spheres, but loud taurean noises, like the bellowing of beasts. Englishman, 1679

Thank God there is no odor. Oscar Wilde

"There's meat and music here", said the fox as he ran off with the bagpipes. Scottish axiom

Give the piper a penny to play and two pence to leave. English proverb

He screw'd the pipes and mak'd them skirl, till roof an' rafters aw' did dirl. Robert Burns

The best things written about the bagpipe are written on five lines of the great staff. Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE

If thy neighbor offend thee, give each of his children bagpipes. Scottish proverb

Out of the houses the rats came tumbling/ Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats/ Followed the Piper for their lives. Robert Browning - The Pied Piper of Hamlin (1842)

Golf is a game invented by the same people who think music comes out of a bagpipe. Anonymous

But canna get oot a richt note, for the bubblyjock swallowed the bagpipes. And the blether stuck in its throat. Hugh MacDiarmid

Many of them were Scotchmen in their plaids and their music was delightful. Even the bagpipe was not disagreeable. John Adams, US President

Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes. / I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes. Robert Service, poet

A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne, / And therwithal he broughte us out of towne. Geoffrey Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales ca. 1380

Nothing says despair like the skirl of a bagpipe. Frasier Crane - A.K.A. Kelsey Grammar

What amazing music... the music that drove men mad, that drove very civilized Scots, people, poets, and gentle farmers, drove them to do horrible, bloodthirsty things and to have horrible bloody things done to them. Garrison Keillor - A Prairie Home Companion

Pipers are generally clothed in scarlet and fine linen... fare sumptuously every day... and are courted and caressed by every body, especially by the Ladies, who would prefer a Piper to a Prince. Captain Robert Menzies - The Bagpipe Preceptor, published in 1818

An accordian is just a bagpipe with pleats. seen on T-shirt

The loud bagpipe is their chief delight; stringed instruments are too soft to penetrate the organs of their ears, that are only pleased with sounds of substance. Thomas Kirk, 1679

To those who know not the pipes, the feel of the bag in the oxter is a gaiety lost. The sweet round curve is like a girl's waist; it is friendly and warm in the crook of the elbow and against a man's side, and to press it is to bring laughing or tears. Neil Munro

When you've heard one bagpipe tune, you've heard them both. Jack Finney, author

The bagpipes - they are screaming and they are sorrowful. / There is a wail in their merriment, and cruelty in their triumph. / They rise and fall like a weight swung in the air at the end of a string. Hugh MacDiarmid, poet

Several wild Scots followed them and they were naked except for stained shirts and a certain light covering made of various colours. Monseur Jean de Beayque, 1549

Nowhere beats the heart so kindly as beneath the tartan plaid. WE Aytoun

And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune / Then the piper will lead us to reason. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven

To the make of a piper go seven years of his own learning and seven generations before. If it is in, it will out, as the Gaelic oldword says; if not, let him take to the net or sword. At the end of his seven years one born to it will stand at the start of knowledge, and leaning a fond ear to the drone, he may have parley with old folks of old affairs. Playing the tune of the "Fairy Harp", he can hear his forefolks, plaided in skins, towsy-headed and terrible, grunting at the oars and snoring in the caves; He has his whittle and club in the "Desperate Battle", where the white-haired sea-rovers are on the shore, and a stain's on the edge of the tide; or, trying his art on Laments, he can stand by the cairn of kings, ken the colour of Fingal's hair, and see the moonglint on the hook of the Druids! Neil Munro

This old barbaric music has magic in it. It transforms the Gael. It reawakens in the depths of their being, even in this... century, impressions, moods, feelings inherited from a wild untamed ancestry for thousands of years, and thus gives them, more than strong wine, that strength of arm and that endurance of soul which makes them invincible. Michael MacDonagh, 1916

I am the first piper who calls the sweet tune. Jethro Tull - The Whistler

The man of the pipes is worth seven men of claymore and targe. Poor would be their work were it not for his breath, that puts iron into their hearts and strength in their arms. Nimmo Christie

Hamish was staggering home from the pub with a pint of whisky in his back pocket when he slipped and fell hard onto the street. Struggling to get back on his feet, he felt something decidedly moist running down his leg.
"Please, Lord", he implored, "please let it be blood!"

A fellow enters a pub in Belfast with a plastic bag under his arms. The bartender asks him, "And what might that be you're carrying?"
"About 12 pounds of semtex", replies the fellow. Says the bartender, "Glory Be! I t'ought it was a bagpipe!"

Two Scotsmen, Angus and Seamus, have grown up in the same village together. They were pals all their lives, even married a pair of sisters, and lived just down the street from each other. But now, Seamus is on his deathbed, surrounded by friends family.
He calls, "Come 'ere Angus. I hae a request for ye." Angus goes to his friend's bedside and kneels. "Angus, we been friends all our lives, and now I'm dying 'ere. I hae one last request fir ye." Angus burst into tears: "Anything Seamus, anything ye wish. It's done."
"Under me bed is a box containing a bottle of the finest whisky in Scotland, bottled the year I was born, it was. After I die, and they place me in the cold ground, I want you to pour that fine whisky over me grave so it might soak into me bones and I'll be able to enjoy it for eternity."
Angus is overcome by the beauty and Scottish sentiment of his dying friend's request.
"Aye, tis a fine thing you ask of me Seamus, and I shall pour the whisky. But, might I first strain it through me kidneys?" Twas rather a rainy night when poor Bill Devlin crashed his car into Father Murphy's - when the latter was stopped for a red light. Bill ran to Father Murphy's aid, and Father sharply rebuked him: "Bill, you nearly killed me!"
"There, there, Father," replied Bill, in tones of remorse, "Don't you be worryin'! Here's a bit o' whisky to warm and soothe you."
Father Murphy was calmed after he'd finished the pint, and said to Bill, "Well, now, I've been taking this all for meself, and you were in a collision as well, even if you did cause it. Would you be wanting a bit o' this for yourself now?"
"Oh, no t'ank you, Fadder, keep it for your trouble. I'll just stay here and wait for the police."

Responses to The Question asked by women: "What is worn underneath your kilt?"

"Shoes and socks."
"Bare essentials."
"Nothing is worn. All parts are in perfect working order."
"Lassie, are your hands warm?"
"Well, I don't want to brag.. but this may be a turning point in your life."
"Nay lassie, it's as good as it iver was!"
"I'll bet you didn't know that I wear a kilt just to meet lasses like you."
"Does your husband know you ask strangers questions like this?"
"I can't say, but your imagination may be my best asset."
"Good girls don't ask.. but bad girls find out for themselves."
"How badly must you know?"

Magistrate: Seumas, you are sentenced to 29 days in jail. Is there anything you would like to say on your behalf?
Seumas: Yes, Your Lordship. What if I called you a "son of a bitch"?
Magistrate: I would be forced to supplement your sentence with a substantial fine and order additional time in jail.
Seumas: Your Lordship, what if I think the same instead?
Magistrate: In this country there are no laws governing what a man may think.
Seumas: I am quite pleased to hear that Your Lordship. I think you are a SOB

A clan chief regularly employed a local piper to play during his elaborate suppers. On one such occasion the piper, Hamish, was overlooked as to his usual dram before commencing play. To revenge the chief, the piper provided a bad example of his art. This caused the chief to rebuke Hamish harshly, and demand explanation.
"The pipes play verra, verra hard this evening", explained Hamish.
"Tell me what shall soften them?" queried the chief.
"Och, whusky. Only whusky shall help sir".
With a wave of the hand, a servant was quickly sent for a glass of the aforementioned spirits which Hamish hastily downed his throat.
The chief was infuriated. "Hamish! You scoundrel! Did you not say it was for the bagpipes?"
"Aye sir. But these pipes are most peculiar. They prefer the whusky to be blawed in."

"Much may be made of a Scotsman if he is caught young." - Dr Samuel Johnson

A Scot, carrying a huge suitcase, has been riding a London bus for several miles along its route, all the while attempting to avoid the ticket collector. Finally, the conductor manages to corner him and tells him to pay up: "You've been on for five miles - that'll be 50p. And 10p for your suitcase as well."
The Scotsman responds: "I hae not! I want a, ha' penny fare. I joost got on this verra moment." An argument ensues, with the ticket collector becoming more and more agitated. Finally, as the bus crosses London Bridge, the collector takes hold of the Scot's suitcase, and hurls it from the bus. It lands in the river and promptly sinks. The Scot stands in disbelief for a moment and then shouts to the ticket collector, "Not only are ya tryn' to overcharge me for the ticket, but now you've gone an' drowned me boy Hamish!"

Riley finds a Genie lamp and rubs it. The emerging Genie asks, "Master, I must grant you three wishes, what would you like?" Riley scratches his head, then answers "A bottle of Guinness that never goes dry". "Granted Master", replied the Genie as he produced the enchanted bottle. Riley was delighted and became deliriously intoxicated with this Guinness bottle for days. In a fit of sobriety he recalled he has two more wishes. He rubbed the lamp again and the Genie appeared. "Master, what would please you?" "You know that magic, never ending Guinness bottle?", he asks the Genie, "Well, for my final two wishes, I'd like another pair o' them"

A pensioner lived alone in Northern Ireland. His only son was in Long Kesh Prison, and the father didn't know anyone who would spade up his potato garden for spring planting.
The old man wrote to his son about it, and received his reply, "For Heaven's sake, don't dig up the garden, that's where I buried the guns."
At 4:00 am the following morning, a dozen British soldiers showed up and dug up the entire garden, but found no firearms. Perplexed, the man wrote his son telling him what occurred and asking him what to do next.
His son's reply: "Plant the potatoes father."

Scottish tourist to taxi driver: "How much is it to the airport?"
Taxi driver: "That's five pounds twenty."
Scottish tourist: "And the luggage?"
Taxi driver:"The luggage, of course, is free."
Scottish tourist: "All right, just take that stuff along. I'm walking."

Once upon a time in the kingdom of Heaven, God went missing for seven days. Eventually, Michael the Archangel found Him. He inquired of God, "Where were you?" God released a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds; "Look what I'm creating". Archangel Michael looked puzzled and answered, "What is it?" God replied, "it's another planet but I'm after putting lifeon it. I've named it Earth and there's going to be a balance between everything on it. For example, there's North America and South America. North America is going to be rich and South America is going to be poor, and the narrow bit joining them - that's going to be a hotly contended spot. Now look over here. I've put a cold continent in the north and another one of warmth in the south. And then the Archangel spoke, "What's that green dot there?". And God said "Ahhh, the Emerald Isle - a very special place. That's going to be the most glorious spot on Earth with beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, and an exquisite coastline. The people there are going to be great and they're going to be found traveling the world. They'll be playwrights and poets, singers and songwriters. And I'm going to give them this black liquid which they're going to go mad on and for which people will come from the far corners of the earth to imbibe. Michael the Archangel gasped in wonder and admiration, but then proclaimed: "Hold on, what about "balance", you said there was going to be a balance.
God replied wisely. "Wait until you see the neighbors I'm going to give them".

It happened at a pub that a dear old lady from beyond the Tweed spied a Scottish piper, with his instrument of torture, and begged for a tune. For a solid hour the Highlander marched up down performing. "Dear me," said a nervous lady, "I suppose it's very fine, but it does sound a little like an air raid siren, doesn't it?" "No madam," replied an exasperated pub patron, "it sounds like an air raid."

Sir Walter Scott, in one of his novels, best describes the height of a Highlander's happiness: "Twenty-four bagpipe players assembled together in a small room, all playing at the same time different tunes."

You are driving in the town one day, and see a member of the city council and a piper crossing the road. Which one do you run over first?
Answer: The councilman. Always business before pleasure.

How do you make a piper's eyes sparkle?
Shine a light in his ears.

Why 18 Holes on a Golf Course?
A fifth of whisky takes 18 holes to consume, that's why. The size of a wee dram averages to 1.42 oz. Eighteen of these drams = 25.6 oz, or a fifth sized bottle of whisky.

Q: Where do you put a capo on a set of pipes?
A: Preferably around the piper's neck.

Donald MacDonald from the Isle of Skye went to study at an English university and was living in the residence hall. After he had been there a semester, his mother came to visit.
"And how do you find the English students, Donald?" she asked.
"Mother," he replied, "they're such terrible, noisy people. The one on that side keeps banging his head on the wall and won't stop. The one on the other side screams and screams all night."
"Oh Donald! How do you manage to put up with these awful noisy English neighbors?"
"I do nothing. I ignore them and remain here in the room playing my pipes."

During a recent international sports meet, one of the Scottish track & field coaches was entertaining friends and colleagues in his hotel room. As so often occurs, the libations were used up before it was time to end the festivities.
After receiving directions to the nearest liquor store, the Scottish coach left the party to bring back more booze.
Arriving at the store, he noticed there were two men waiting in the queue. Both were dressed in olive-drab military fatigues, had heavy beards, and cigars in their mouths. He heard the first one order several bottles of various liquors. Upon being told the cost of his purchases, the individual told the proprietor that he was with "Fidel". The clerk produced a book and had him sign for his purchases. The other individual proceeded to order at least twice the amount of his companion. Upon receipt of his total, he also told the clerk that he was with "Fidel". By now, the Scot figured he was on to a very good thing.
He ordered numerous bottles of this, cigars, cigarettes, etc. Upon being presented with his total, he said that he too was with "Fidel". The proprietor replied that he could not be with Fidel.
"And why not?" demanded the indignant Scotsman.
"Because you do not have a beard and a large Cuban cigar." the proprietor replied.
At that, the Scot reached down, lifted his kilt and proudly proclaimed, "Secret Service!"

The Pope and Queen Elizabeth were standing on a balcony beaming at thousands of people in the forecourt below. The Queen says to the Pope from the corner of her mouth, "I bet you
a tenner I can make every English person in the crowd go wild with but a mere wave of my hand." The Pope says, "Impossible. No one can do that."
The Queen says, "Watch this Holy Father."
The Queen waves her hand and every English subject in the crowd goes beserk, waving their little Union Jacks and cheering madly. The Pope stands there thinking, "What am I ever going to do? I never thought she'd be able to do it." So he thinks to himself for a moment and then he turns to the Queen and says, "I bet you I can make every Irish person in the crowd go wild, not just now, but for the rest of the week, with one nod of my head."
The Queen snorted, "Impossible."
So the Pope headbutts her.

Q: How do you dramatically improve the aerodynamics of a piper's car?
A: Quite simply. Unfasten the Domino's Pizza sign.

A Texan swaggers into a pub in Ireland and clears his voice to the crowd of drinkers. He announces, "I hear you Irish are a bunch of hard drinkers. I'll give $500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back-to-back." The room goes very quiet and no one dares to take up the Texan's offer. One local even leaves.
30 minutes later the same gentleman who left shows back up and taps the Texan on the shoulder. "Is your offer still good?", inquires the Irishman. The Texan says yes and asks the bartender to line up 10 pints of Guinness. Immediately the Irishman tears into all 10 of the pint glasses drinking them back-to-back. The other pub patrons cheer wildly as the Texan sits astonished. The Texan gives the Irishman the $500 and says, "If ya don't mind me askin', just where did you go for half an hour?".
The Irishman replied, "Oh...I had to trip down to the other pub to see if I could do it".

A Scotsman is working at a sewage treatment facility. It's a warm day, so he takes off his jacket and drapes it over a handrail - where it slips off into a huge holding tank. He's just about to dive in when his mate shouts, "It's nae guid tae do that, the jacket's ruined."
He replies, "Aye, ah ken, but ma sandwich is in the pocket".

Sir Walter Scott wrote an epitaph about his favorite servant Tom Purdie:
"Here lies one who might be trusted with untold gold, but not with unmeasured whisky".

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