A’ Bhòilich or The Vaunting is a piece of ceòl mór, said to have been composed by Raghnall Mac Ailein Òig1.

The earliest written source for this tune is Donald MacDonald’s manuscript from the 1820s2. It remains a well-known tune to pipers, with written settings in many of the main 19th and 20th century pibroch collections3.

Late 18th and early 19th century tune lists give a number of variations in the title of this tune, with correspondingly different English translations4. The English title given with the c.1820 manuscript setting of the tune is ‘an intended lament’, and there is a story about Ranald composing the tune, to explain this title5.


John D. Burgess (pipes), ‘The Vaunting / A’ Bhòilich’, 1960, University of Edinburgh School of Scottish Studies tape SA1960.224.A1, online at Tobar an Dualchais.

A clarsach setting of this tune is included on my new CD, Tarbh.


1. The attribution to Ranald is from Donald MacDonald’s notes to his tunes (unpublished), 1826, NLS MS 1680. Online at piobaireachd.co.uk. ^

2. An intended lament, Donald MacDonald’s manuscript, 1826, NLS MS 1680, p.223-228. Online at piobaireachd.co.uk. ^

3. William Donaldson, ‘The Vaunting’, Piper & Drummer magazine , 2001-02. Online at pipesdrums.com. This paper presents editions of all of the early bagpipe settings of the tune. ^

4. Iain MacInnes, The Highland bagpipe: the impact of the Highland Societies of London and Scotland, 1781-1844, M.Litt thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1988 (unpublished), p.163-4. Online at cl.cam.ac.uk. ^

5. An Bhoalaich, or an intended lament, Donald MacDonald’s notes to his tunes (unpublished), 1826. NLS MS 1680. Online at piobaireachd.co.uk. ^