Clan Donald Supports New Zealand Pipe Bands

At the 2017 National Pipe Band Contest in Nelson in March, the Grade 3 Champion Pipe Band was presented with a cash prize from the Clan Donald Lands Trust.

The Clan Donald Lands Trust is fully committed to supporting Gaelic culture in all its forms.

It was decided that the cash prize of $1,000, to be known as The Annual Harold McIsaac Memorial Prize, would be presented at the 2017 National Contest. In particular, to the Grade 3 Champion Band, and the money to be used to fund tuition for both piping and drumming. It was felt that the Grade 3 Bands needed greater help to improve their performance than the Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands.

Doug McIsaac, the son of Harold McIsaac, was honoured to be asked to present the prize.

Originally the prize was to be presented to the champion band after the Grade 3 contest. However the weather was particularly bad and instead Doug McIsaac had the opportunity to present the prize to Allister MacGregor, the President of the Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands’ Association, at the pre-contest lunch. The President Allister delivered the award at the Official Presentation.

The exceptionally bad weather was a surprise to everyone, as Nelson is regarded as one of the two sunniest cities in New Zealand.

The following is the speech Doug delivered at the lunch.

“Mr President.

It is my great pleasure to be here today, on behalf of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, Armadale, Isle of Skye, to present to you The Annual Harold McIsaac Memorial Prize. A sum of $1,000, to be awarded to the overall winning pipe band of the Grade 3 Championship.

A cheque from Clan Donald Auckland for $500 will also be sent to the 2nd and 3rd placed bands in the Grade 3 Contest.

Harold McIsaac, a highly qualified chartered accountant from Auckland’s North Shore, joined the Board of the Clan Donald Lands Trust some nine years ago, at a time when the Trust was sailing in uneasy waters.

Harold carried out a Jurisprudence examination of the affairs of the Trust’s 20,000 acres of business, and shortly after, the Trust was back in smooth waters.

Harold McIsaac was responsible for, among other things, the funding, establishment and direction of a Deer Processing Plant at Armadale on the Isle of Skye.

My brother Andy and I enjoyed a highly successful Father and Sons pilgrimage to the land of our forefathers. On this trip we experienced true Celtic hospitality and all things Scottish. Unlike what I have enjoyed listening to today, we also endured the worst piper in Scotland. Turns out, this piper is actually British, and had been piping to earn enough money for a return ticket to England. He had been piping for some 20 years.

Sadly, on the 28th of June 2014, our father passed away unexpectedly. The Trust’s promotion of this ongoing Memorial Prize, is a Memoriam to the love that Harold McIsaac had for Scottish Culture, pipers and pipe bands included.

I wish all the pipers in this special competition much success.

It is now my very great pleasure to present you with The Annual Harold McIsaac Memorial Prize of $1,000 to be awarded to The Grade 3 Champion Band at your Presentation Ceremony tomorrow.


The Scottish Society of New Zealand Pipe Band from Christchurch. The 2017 Grade 3 Champion Pipe Band.


The Scottish Society of New Zealand Pipe Band marching on.


The Scottish Society Pipe Band of New Zealand during the Street March competition.


The Scottish Society of New Zealand after receiving the Annual Harold McIsaac Memorial Prize.



Clan Donald Lands Trust’s Commitment to Gaelic Performing Arts

The ancient MacDonald Lords of the Isles saw it as their responsibility to support, encourage, and develop the Gaelic culture in all its forms. The Lords of the Isles built churches, supported monasteries, were patrons of dancing, clarsach playing (the traditional Gaelic harp), poetry and, of course, piping. For more than thirty years, the Clan Donald Lands Trust, in the name of great Clan Donald, has been pleased to carry on this important responsibility.

The Clan Donald Lands Trust’s flagship cultural competition, which marked its 30th anniversary in 2016, is its annual piobraireachd competition known as the Donald MacDonald Quaich. Perhaps the most prestigious piobraireachd competition in the world, the Donald MacDonald Quaich is named after the legendary Donald MacDonald. Born about 1750, Donald MacDonald was a pupil of the MacArthurs, the hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of Skye. He later moved to Edinburgh, establishing himself as a maker of Highland and other bagpipes. At that time, the premier award for playing of the piobaireachd was a Prize Pipe, awarded annually by the Highland Society of London, which Donald won in 1817.

In 1822, he published a book of piobaireachd, written in a staff notation of his devising, which has remained the basis on which subsequent editors of piobaireachd have worked. Without the work of Donald MacDonald, it is conceivable that much of the Highland musical heritage would have been lost.

In 2016, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Donald MacDonald Quaich, the Clan Donald Lands Trust launched the first annual Young Musician Scholarships. Prizes will be offered for the best young piper and player of the clarsach.

The Clan Donald Lands Trust also sponsors junior piping competitions at the Isle of Skye Highland Games and the Northern Meeting in Inverness. It funds local clarsach tuition, and has provided twelve clarsachs on long-term loan to local schools.

2017 also marks the beginning of an annual adult clarsach competition which will take place at Armadale Castle in concert with the Donald MacDonald Quaich.

In 2016, the Clan Donald Lands Trust awarded the first annual prize for the Best of Games North American Pipe Band. This $1000 prize is known as The Ellice and Rosa McDonald Memorial Prize.

In 2017, the Clan Donald Lands Trust will be adding similar annual prizes for pipe bands in Australia, to be known as The AWR MacDonald Memorial Prize, and in New Zealand, to be known as The Harold McIsaac Memorial Prize.

The Clan Donald Lands Trust is fully committed to continuing its support of the Gaelic performing arts, and looks forward to additional opportunities to recognise and support Gaelic artists.