Every picture tells a story

Musician Fergie MacDonald in the blackhouse beside his home at Mingarry. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F02 Fergie Macdonald 04
Musician Fergie MacDonald in the blackhouse beside his home at Mingarry. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

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Such is the reach of Moidart accordion supremo Fergie MacDonald that world renowned bands are even showcasing him in their promo photographs.

While perusing the leisure section in last week’s Lochaber Times, the eagle-eyed Ceilidh King spotted a photograph of Runrig, used to promote the band’s weekend special on BBC Alba, which showed founding member Calum MacDonald (no relation) holding a copy of Fergie’s 1966 Scottish chart topping Loch Maree Islands EP.

Now a Highland anthem, the song itself was written by Kenneth Mackenzie from Poolewe in Wester Ross who gave Fergie permission to make the original recording. Not regarding himself a singer, the Acharacle musician reluctantly put his own vocals to it and the rest is history.

‘I could hardly believe it when it went to number one back then and I was equally stunned when I saw Calum with it in the paper,’ said Fergie.

‘Who would have thought that all these years later the EP would be featuring on a Runrig photograph. It was really humbling actually and I really would like to know how it came about.’

No sooner said than done.

The Lochaber Times contacted Calum who told us: ‘I know Fergie well and the story of the EP photo is quite straightforward.

‘When we were organising the promo photos for our final album, The Story, we decided we would all bring along a prop – an instrument or a book, or a record, or any item at all that was significant in our past.

‘The Fergie EP Loch Maree Islands was one of the family favourites from way back. It was a big hit in the island homes in the 60s, so I took it along.’

Fergie, who composed The Runrig Jig in the mid 90s in honour of the band, watched the BBC Alba extravaganza, which featured Runrig’s farewell concert at Stirling Castle, over the weekend.

‘I was nearly in tears,’ he said.

‘Congratulations to Malcolm, Rory, Calum, Donnie, Bruce, Iain, Pete, Brian, etc who staged a farewell show that will be remembered for years to come.

Fergie also gave a special mention to Runrig lead guitarist Malcolm Jones, who he described as ‘the best lead guitarist ever, with a great generosity of spirit’.

Eleven years ago Fergie underwent open heart surgery and Malcolm, who had the same procedure a few months earlier, called the Acharacle musician regularly to offer words of comfort.

‘On the lead-up to my surgery I was quite apprehensive and he must have understood the stress and anxiety I was experiencing,’ explained Fergie.

‘He telephoned me on many occasions with words of comfort in an effort to keep up my spirits. How about that, what a thoughtful gentleman, I will always be grateful to him.’

Runrig played their final concert in 2018 but Fergie has an offer for them if they ever decide to have a reunion.

‘They will soon celebrate 50 years since playing their first gig, how wonderful it would be if they did a one-off reunion show. You must consider this boys and give us another great night. I will compose another jig for you all,’ he added.