Young lad laments stolen bagpipes

Surely you’ve heard the story about the bagpipe player whose car was broken into. When he returned to the vehicle where he’d laid his instrument, sure enough there was another set of bagpipes in the car.

Kieran Prince has heard this joke and plenty of others like it.

“I think it’s funny,” said Prince, 21, of Port Orchard, a student at the University of Washington who’s played the bagpipes since he was 8 years old. “They are to a certain degree kind of obnoxious because they’re so loud.”

Even his fellow pipers in the Clan Gordon Pipe Band of Tacoma have a laugh at their own expense. “Its all in good fun though,” he said.

Prince wasn’t laughing, however, when he found his car window smashed out the morning of Jan. 2 and the century-old set of bagpipes that had been in the back seat gone.

His car was parked on McCormick Woods Drive, according to a Port Orchard Police Department report. The police are investigating the theft of the bagpipes, which Prince describes as irreplaceable.

The pipes belonged to Jack Montgomery, Prince’s mentor and a member of 60-year-old the Clan Gordon band. They were passed down to Montgomery from his late father.

“They’re totally priceless for me and for Jack especially,” said Prince (the young lad second from right in the photo below). “Had they been my pipes, its still horrible but more tolerable than not belonging to me and having been his dad’s.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Kieran Prince since about the time he took up the bagpipes. On Christmas night, Kieran and friends showed up at our doorstep, him playing “Amazing Grace” and another tune that had us all dancing a jig arm in arm.

I know nothing about playing the bagpipes, except what Kieran’s explained to me, from which I gather it’s darned complicated. There’s the big leather bag one must keep inflated with air one blows into it. One must pump the air from the bag tucked under one’s arm into the the “drone” pipes that stick out above one’s shoulders. The melody is played on the “chanter,” with finger holes, rather like a recorder. Beside maintaining the air, the drone and the melody, one is usually marching in step with an ensemble of other pipers and drummers … in a kilt. No small feat.

“It’s a complicated instrument for sure,” Kieran said.

Kieran took up the bagpipes to please his mother, Fiona Prince, and Grandma Dorothy Russel of Bannockburn, Scotland. He started just picking out the melody on the chanter, later graduating to the full set of pipes. “At that age when you’re young you’re sort of a sponge,” he said.

Now, he’s fully invested in the art of piping and proud of his Scottish heritage.

Kieran (on the left in the photo below) is one of the youngest members of the Clan Gordon band. He plays with the band in parades, at highland games and at the annual Tartan Ball, hosted by the band in Puyallup.
Rather than giving him a hard time about his unusual choice of instrument, Kieran’s friends are totally into it. “When I break them out. Everybody’s really excited about it,” he said.

Kieran is hopeful the police can trace the pipes, which are in a black sack and have the Clan Gordon emblem on them. He is offering a reward of $400 for their return — no questions asked.

Anyone with information can call the Port Orchard Police Department, (360) 876-1700 on case number D16-000015, or contact Kieran directly,, (360) 710-2228.

Here’s one more video of the band at the Mt. Vernon Highland Games.

One thought on “Young lad laments stolen bagpipes

  1. “They are to a certain degree kind of obnoxious because they’re so loud.”

    ‘Reminds me of my favorite Paul McCartney song, “Mull of Kintyre” – one of his Wings colleagues bet him he couldn’t compose a waltz utilizing bagpipes…

    He did, and in the summer of 1977, while he was living in Scotland, he contacted the local Campbeltown Pipe Band and asked if they would send half a dozen pipers to do their part in the recording studio – emphasis on the word, “in”.

    The callee indicated to Mr McCartney that he might rethink recording pipes indoors, as they are (ahem) quite loud. So they recorded the band out of doors.

    Good move.

    YOUTUBE has several versions of it, if you are interested.

    I hope Mr Prince’s ‘pipes are returned to him.

    Good luck, Lad!

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