Characters of Dance of the Goblin Pipers

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Curious MacAye

Curious MacAye

Far below the snow-capped peaks of Glencoe, lies the tiny highland village of Glentumpshee. A village of crofters, farmers and simple country folk. One such person is a ginger-haired laddie called Curious MacAye. Curious did not get his name because he was slightly curious, but because, when he was born, he had a green eye and a blue eye, and had thick red hair growing only on one half of his head – which was very curious in itself.

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Curious MacKay, like all children, goes to school, and has chores to do around the house and the family farm. He helps his mother to feed the pigs and chickens, milk the cows, and gather baskets of purple heather for his father to make frothy heather ale. It is also one of his chores to take a big hot bowl of porridge up to his grandmother each and every evening. Granny is very old, and lives in a lonely wee croft house at the foot of Glencoe’s Southern Pass, an ancient ragged pathway that leads high into the mountains and forests above.

Curious is always getting into trouble for his constant daydreaming and not doing his chores properly. Sometimes, instead of concentrating on what he is supposed to be doing, Curious pretends he is an mountaineer who climbs the tallest of peaks, or as a pirate captain sailing his ship out on the seven seas, or, sometimes, an explorer who travels paths no one else has travelled. However, when he does not pay attention, that’s when Curious gets himself into trouble.

Goblin Bandmaster

Bandmaster Goblin

At the head of the massed band of the Goblin Pipers marches the maddest goblin of all – Mullagatawny – The Goblin Bandmaster.  Mullagatawny became the bandmaster hundreds of years ago, after challenging the then bandmaster, an old but fearsome goblin by the name, Slippetyclinker, to a duel of the pipes. The duel was a fierce battle of bagpipe playing known as ‘the Stramash’, to see who would lead the Goblin Pipers from that day on.

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Mullagatawny and Slippetyclinker each climbed to the top of one of the two highest mountains in Glencoe and began the Stramash by playing a slow lament, which lasted a full day and night.  As each day passed, the songs they played became faster and faster. As they played, they danced wildly, leaping high in the air, hopping from foot to foot, and spinning around like tops, their kilts swirling up to their hairy green knees, and all the time their fingers picking out the tune. All the while, at the foot of the mountains, the Goblin Pipers danced and shrieked and howled at the moon, calling to Mullagatawny and Slippetyclinker to play even faster.

For a month, both played without rest. But after one ice-cold day, and an even colder night, when drips of ice formed like stalagmites on the droopy grey whiskers of Mullagtawny and the enormous bushy beard of Slippetyclinker, one of them began to fade. That night, when the moon slipped behind a dark storm cloud, and as the wind whistled and screamed down through the valleys and over the snowy peaks of Glencoe, Mullagatawny’s fingers and toes began to freeze. His nose turned blue and his breath froze his moustache solid.

For another hour he played on, but he knew he was going to lose the Stramash. Just at the very moment he was about to stop playing, he heard a voice behind him. The voice was strange but beautiful, high pitched and breathy, like the soft swish of snow falling from a roof. The words were almost sing-song, and it was quite the sweetest voice Mullagatawny had ever heard.

The voice said to Mullagatawney . . .

“I likes what you plays, and you plays it so fine, if I grants you one wish, will you always be mine?”

The voice belonged to none other than Esmerelda, one of the three witch-sisters who lived in Glencoe.  And the mountain that Mullagatawney had been playing on was hers. Luckily for him, she had loved the sound of the pipes, or would have put a spell on him the moment she saw him and turned him into a slug. Mullagatawny kept playing his tune, but nodded to Esmerelda. Esmeralda spoke again . . .

“If I grants you this wish, And allows you to leave, will you promise to come to me, each New Year’s Eve?”

Again, Mullagatawney nodded, and the deal was struck.

Esmerelda took a curly oak wand from inside her long purple cloak and twirled it slowly in the air, tracing wide green circles of light with its pointed end.  She began to sing to herself, repeating the same words over and over again, in a gentle voice that grew louder and louder as the spell grew.

Spindel Mee Wizzi Kam Zimmer Zee Zopp, Twistel Stik Fumble Grum Snigger Zee Snopp

The air crackled and lightening flashed across the sky as her voice grew to match that of the thunder that suddenly crashed and boomed. On the other peak, still playing his pipes, Slippetyclinker looked up at the swirling sky, his eyes wide with terror at the murky green clouds and the wild voice of Esmerelda. As Mullagatawney watched, not quite knowing what to expect next, a fork of emerald green lightening struck down at the other mountain, wrapped itself around Slippetyclinker and snatched him high into the clouds, never to be seen again.

So, Mulligatawny won the Stramash, became the Goblin Bandmaster and kept his promise to Esmeralda by bringing the Goblin Pipers up from the Kingdom of the Three Forests to play for her and her sisters at each and every New Year’s Eve Ball since then.

Over time, Mulligatawny fell in love with his ‘Sweet Esmeralda’, and despite her disappearance, hopes one day she will re-appear.

Stone Man

stoneman

The Hairy Hill Haggis

Haggis

WhiskyMac

Whiskymac

Witch Daphne

witch3

Witch Esmerelda

witch2

Witch Lottie

witch1
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