Tribute to Ellen MacPhee
Ellen MacPhee. A true and close friend, a superb piper and musician, one of (if not) the most radiant and positive human beings I have ever met, a caring chiropractor, a patient and giving teacher and quite simply an all round wonderful person.
I well remember the occasion when Ellen's Dad, Gerrard, approached me at The Gaelic College Highland Games, asked my name and announced that he would like to order small pipes for his two children, Ellen and John. The year was 1992, my first year on the teaching staff at St. Anne's College. The games were held on a Saturday and Gerrard generously invited us Moores as a family round to his yacht, moored in Baddeck, for Sunday morning breakfast to discuss all the options and details of the pipes he was to order. The wonderful family of MacPhees had sailed from P.E.I. to Baddeck in Cape Breton especially so that Ellen and John could attend the Gaelic College that summer.
Both Ellen and John went on to fully embrace the pipes and understand the style which I was promoting, so much so that I invited Ellen to teach several times at my Vermont school. From there she automatically was invited to The Pipers' Gathering in Killington where she was the most popular of teachers and incorporating her chiropractic knowledge into her classes for the benefit of all the pipers, who struggled with their scrunched up bodies and postural idiosyncrasies as a result of attempting to manage bellows, bags, drones and chanters.
My most abiding memory of Ellen though was again at The College on the occasion of us attempting to record a live concert that was to be made into the CD, The Piper and the Maker Volume 2. I had left my Mum back in Scotland with not long to live and it was Fin who was given the sad news from my father that Mum had died during the night before the concert. I remember Fin approaching me on the morning of the concert to relay this to me. It was, as can be imagined, a day of extreme sadness and a day of surreal demands on me. It was Ellen and another dear friend, Mary Janet MacDonald both of whom were never very far from my side to carry me through that day. In fact Mary Janet said to me in her inimitable way; "It's quite simple Hamish; your Mum just wanted desperately to be at the concert"
Ellen and Stephen O'Brien have three wonderful children, who along with her brother, Mum and Dad and the rest of her family will be quite simply devastated by their loss.
Ellen - my dear friend - you were one in many millions and will be so missed by so many people who's lives you touched for the best. The world is a poorer place without you.
I raise a glass to your memory.