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Robert B. Nicol


From the CD Booklet " Masters of Piobaireachd Vol.1 "

Robert Bell Nicol was born on December 26 1905 in the parish of Durris in Lower Deeside. His father, from Banchory in Aberdeenshire, was a fishing ghillie on the Dee and his mother was from Moidart, and a Gaelic speaker. He began piping at the age of seven. He was first tught by a piper MacKellar, a pupil of John MacDougall Gillies. MacKellar was killed in the First World War. Nicol then received instruction from Charles Ewen, Aberdeen.

He was appointed piper to Lord Cowdray, Dunecht before moving to Balmoral and Royal service in 1924. He lost an eye in a shooting accident in 1926. For many years he stayed in the bothy at Invergelder, Balmoral, spending most weekends at Kilcluny Cottage, Durris.
After the death of his mother he and his sister Jean moved to Mill of Cosh, Girnock near Ballater and later to Blacksmith's Cottages, Birkhill, his retirement home. He died an april 4 1978 aged 72.

At Balmoral, at least in his later years, his employment was as a fishing ghillie on the Abergeldie beat of the Dee. Later in the season he was on the hill involved in grouse shooting and towards the end of the year in hind stalking. When no longer so fit for the hill he worked during the shooting season in the game larder.

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