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A Tribute to Angus McGillveray

In 1994 Angus McGillveray edited and printed a selection of Scottish songs from the various 'Rebel Ceilidh Song Books' published in the 50's and 60's. Following his death in 1996, SNP HQ reprinted further copies of 'The Rebel Ceilidh Song Book' and a new edition is planned for the near future. Meanwhile, in tribute to Angus McGillveray, the songs will appear, week by week, on 'Flag in the Wind'.

It was aye a pleasure to meet Angus McGillveray - for a crack, a dram or a song - he was always great company. He had a deep love and knowing of his beloved Scotland and was an example of the best in the Scottish Nation and Scottish Nationalism.

"With the death on 4 November 1996 of Angus McGillveray the Nationalist Movement has lost one of its most engaging and best know members" - so wrote former SNP National Chairman, William C Wolfe.

Billy Wolfe was right. Angus McGillveray was a Party institution and was probably better know to rank and file members of the Scottish National Party than many of the Party's National Office Bearers. To many Angus was the SNP.

From 1964 onwards Angus, until his retiral in 1995, ran the SNP Publications Department and through the weekly draw, Alba Pools, he helped raise the necessary siller to finance the rise of the modern SNP. On a personal note I well remember in the 60's going round my then SNP Branch members every Friday night selling Alba Pools and the Scots Independent (the weekly). The profits from both kept the Branch going financially - Jumble Sales were a bonus!  Angus McGillveray well knew the need for a sound financial base if the SNP was to make political progress - Alba Pools provided that base.

Angus joined the Party in 1952, at the age of 21, and was to devote his whole life to the Cause of Scottish Independence. Scottish Culture lay at the heart of his Nationalism - song, music, dance and literature. He was himself a gifted artist and through his great interest in piping became a friend of the late Seumas MacNeill.

Angus, ably supported by his wife Jean, ran the Publications Stall at every SNP Annual National Conference and all meetings of the Party's National Council. His stall was the essential first stop for many Delegates. He believed in service and the last time I met him, he was still manning the stall in spite of being retired!

He died in the house in which he was born - Durmaglass (in honour of his McGillveray forebears). His loss was mourned by all who knew him as the overflow at his funeral in Falkirk Crematorium clearly testified.

His love and knowledge of Scottish song was reflected in the editions of 'The Rebel Ceilidh Song Books' and the very least we can do in memory of Angus McGillveray is to keep his work available.

As William C Wolfe wrote "Angus McGillveray's life work is unfinished. It lives on, inspired by his example, and his love and spirit also endure, in the hearts and minds of al who know him". How true - we hope that our small tribute will both remember Angus McGillveray's contribution to the National Cause and help speed the day when his dream of Scottish Independence is achieved. As that great opponent of the incorporating Union of 1707, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, wrote "Let who will make the laws of a nation so long as I am permitted to make her songs". It  is no coincidence that the rise of the SNP from the 60's onwards marched hand in hand with the Scottish Folk Song Revival. Angus McGillveray fully played his part in that forward march.

The day when the Saltire flies over a free Scotland will be the finest tribute to all those, who like Angus, devoted their lives to that ideal. Meanwhile we reprint, as a setting for the songs, Angus McGillveray's preface to his 1994 edition of 'The Rebels Ceilidh Song Book'.

Peter D Wright

 

 


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