Farquhar MacRae, musician; born November 26, 1925, died August 23, 2000

Farquhar MacRae epitomised much that was best in traditional Gaelic life. As a musician his skill with accordion and fiddle took him on to a world stage; he was a hillman and shepherd without peer; and his youthful prowess as a runner brought him acclaim on the Highland Games circuit.

Farquhar was brought up in Roshven in Moidart where his father, a Kintail man, was head shepherd on the estate. In due course he was to follow in his father's footsteps there, and

then he became estate manager

at neighbouring Loch Ailort,

where he and his elder brother, Donald, eventually ran a sheep farm. In later years Farquhar left farming and with his wife, Hettie, ran the Ardgour Hotel. For the past two years he was chairbound by illness.

The Moidart of Farquhar's youth was an area of Gaelic culture and few roads, where the traditional arts of song, story, and music were nurtured, and the MacRae household was at the centre of it. The family - three brothers and two sisters - formed the nucleus of what was to become the Roshven Ceilidh Band. In his book, The Highlands, the folklorist, Calum MacLean, described it as ''the most remarkable dance-band in Britain, a band that has to walk sometimes distances of over 10 miles on rough paths over high mountains, play until five or six in the morning, and then retrace its steps carrying fiddles, drums, and accordions until dawn sees them home''.

The fact that Moidart has continued to be a nursery of good music, producing such notable names as Fergie Macdonald in Mingarry

and the Macdonald pipers from Glenuig, must owe a lot to the band's willingness to tackle the hill tracks to bring music to the remote townships of the district.

In the early days Farquhar was on accordion while his brothers played the fiddles and his sister was on the drums, and he continued on the box when such notable fiddlers as Angus Grant from Fort Augustus, whose work brought him to Moidart, joined the band. It was to be a fruitful partnership that lasted for 40 years. In a spirit of friendly rivalry they decided to enter the National Mod fiddle competitions and ousted each other from top place so often that they decided not to be too greedy but leave the prizes to a younger generation. But they brought traditional West Highland fiddling to a wider world.

Individually or together, they found themselves in demand as performers or judges at musical festivals all over the world. From his base in Moidart, Farquhar visited Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, Canada, and the United States. He performed at the St Andrew's Night ball in Paris and three years ago he was invited to judge at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina. And throughout it all he remained the quiet, unassuming person he always was.

His funeral from St Fillan's Church in Glenfinnan last week reflected the immense and widespread esteem in which he was held. The long cortege of almost 1000 that followed Allan Macdonald's pipes and carried him to the grave at the head of Loch Shiel contained all the familiar names of Moidart, Ardnamurchan, and Kintail - MacColls, MacMasters, Hendersons, Macdonalds, Mack-enzies, Mathesons, MacRaes.

But there were also friends from the whole of the Gaelic Highlands, from the Butt of Lewis to the Rhinns of Islay, and from as far afield as France and the US.

It was a moving and heartening ceremony - heartening because the presence of so many young people gave assurance that this corner of Gaeldom still lives, largely because of the example and efforts of people such as

Farquhar MacRae.

He is survived by his wife,

Hettie, three children, and three grandchildren. A chuid de

Pharras dha.