Highland games began 1,000 years ago as a means to recruit for the clan chiefs’ entourage, and Taynuilt’s honorary chieftain this year, Alison Hutchins of Dawnfresh, has gained an impressive retinue of champions.
In the contests to find the strongest man, who would have acted as the chieftain’s bodyguard, Lucas Wenta took the £ 800 prize for tossing the 150lb, 18ft long Taynuilt caber, which is judged on its completion of an imaginary clock-face, and throwing the 16lb Nant Stone the furthest.
In the local heavy events, Andrew Servant just clinched overall champion from Jona- thon Mackenzie, and Louis Macfarlane clinched the junior cup winning the welly over the bar and putting the riverbed stone.
In the running events, where the fastest men were used for delivering orders in battle and long- distance runners for rallying the clans, Michael Deason won the gents’ quarter-mile, halfmile and mile, and Alasdair Campbell of Luing was first gent through the tape in the six-mile hill race, and Clara Horswell the first lady. Storm Evans surged to first place in the ladies 100 yards sprint, while Lacy Peanny won the 220 yards and quarter-mile.
‘The true aristocrats of Highland Games have always been known to be the solo pipers,’ explains the programme: ‘The chieftains of old all had their own pipers. It is said ‘to the making of a piper go seven years of his own learning and seven generations before.’
Angus MacColl of Benderloch, himself descended from famous pipers, won the march, Strathspey and reel, and piobaireachd, but was beaten into second place in the jig by Kate Kimove of Nova Scotia. Emma Hill and Innes Munro, both of Connel, shared the piping trophy for best overall open junior.
Wherever Scots gathered, dancing was sure to follow. The chairman of the organising committee Andrew Gray said: ‘ We have got a new dance platform and we have doubled our capacity for entries. There was a great demand.’
The Highland dancing this year saw 77 competitors ranging from three to 23 years old. An organiser Isla Munro said: ‘Our entries are up on last year. It gets higher and higher every year.’
Some had travelled thousands of miles to compete: 11 dancers from the MacLeod Highland Dance Studio in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, visited on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ competing at Loch Lomond, Inveraray, and Taynuilt, before heading up to Lewis. More Highland dancers came from the Dunnett School in New Brunswick, including Katie Campbell, 16, who said: ‘The whole atmosphere is more fun and much more relaxed.’
‘ We are not the biggest, but we are a good, friendly, traditional Highland games,’ agreed Mr Gray, who is already looking ahead to next year’s games, which sees the world gathering of Clan MacIntyre, with 300 kinfolk expected to descend on the games after a week-long tour of MacIntyre country.
Left to right: Innes Jackson, Mitchell Leckie and Louis MacFarlane, who was eventually crowned champion, throw a smooth, round river bed stone in the junior local heavy events.
The Taynuilt Games’ hard-working kitchen volunteers, left to right Jessie Servant, Fiona MacFarlane and Sheena Davies.
Oban Pipe Band.
Runners start the six mile hill race, won by Alasdair Campbell of Luing (far left).
The solo piping competition attracted world class bagpipers.
Colin (left) and Tim McIntyre present the Clan McIntyre Trust’s award for hard work and achievement in Gaelic to Erin Higgins (left) and Bethan Neil in joint 2nd place.