The band originally formed, so the sagas tell us, sometime in the Bronze Age as before this it was found difficult to form the chanter and drones from rocks, this band played together through the Iron Age and well into the Roman period. The Emperor Hadrian built his famous wall at a considerable distance from Kilbarchan so he didn’t have to hear them. The Roman Governor of Britannia, Agricola, was said to have heard the band tuning at Mons Graupius above the din of battle. The band escaped disguised as a group of Carthaginian acrobats. The drums were added shortly after this and the kilts shaved.
During the long dark ages known as The Dark Ages the band became solo performers and split due to artistic differences. Sanct Barchan persuaded them to reform but this was only due to the Viking scare. When the band was in action in Largs the collecting ladies managed to scare off a sizeable force under Magnus Ladylegs. He had unfortunately recruited his Viking warriors from the Aberdeen area and they ran screaming from the shoogly tins and pleading looks. They split again shortly after this citing wanting to spend more time with their families and maybe write a book.
The clamour for a reunion was ignored until Edward I of England stole and remodelled their epithet “The Racket of the Scots.” This was too much and the band reformed to play a series of concerts in aid of dispossessed lairds and orphaned bairns. The band accompanied William Wallace down MacDowal Street, Johnstone when he was invited to tea by Kenneth MacAlpin. They played for 30 minutes and were greatly appreciated by the crowd of drunks, guttersnipes and Manxmen before disbanding again.
The band was reformed in 1744 and practiced for a year in order to be ready for the marching off of the Kilbarchan Irregular Troops in 1745 to fight the Jacobites. Prince Charles Edward Stuart is said to have heard the band shortly before Prestonpans but thought it was Mackenzie’s bowels. Shortly after Seumas MacKellog invented Aw Bran and the troops became regular and were sent home.
In 1914 at the outbreak of war the band forsook their Saxe-Coburg-Gothe tartan and switched to a MacLeod of Brigadoon tartan to help relieve confusion over their allegiances during the conflict. The oompah player was sacked at this time also.
Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery said of the band in 1929 when he was Governor General of Brookfield, “I don’t know about the enemy but you certainly scare me!” and HRH the Prince Charles on one of his many visits to the Parish in the early 1960’s, just prior to the final disbanding, was pleasantly surprised at the sweet sounds emanating from the practice room but fled before he could visit the band as the shoogly tins were in the lobby. On a recent visit in late 2002 he approached a band practice but turned away before he entered the building. He was heard to mutter something about, “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old friend!” Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, was disappointed the band were no more as she had hiccups and was hoping for a cure. And so to the present, the band reformed in 2002 and goes from strength to strength. The modern band started with 2 members and no drummers but with a serious word of mouth campaign that has steadily grown to a full pipe and drum corps. In 2005 it was decided to buy a bagpipe in case of difficulties with the Trades Descriptions Act 1968. The band got “found out” by the RSPBA and began competing; they have steadily risen to Grade 4B. Kilbarchan Pipe Band is now mixing it with the big lads in the major piping tournaments but still enjoy getting on the street. We await the day when the youth take the lead, become world champions and allow the geezers to stay in the bar. The future of the band is in your hands……