AS part of the celebrations for Tartan Day 2011 on 6 April, the Clan Currie Society has unveiled a specially-designed Ellis Island Tartan commissioned to mark the tenth anniversary of Tartan Day on Ellis Island, New York.
The tartan was featured on the runway this week (Tuesday 5 April) at the annual Dressed to Kilt fashion event, part of New York’s Tartan Week celebrations.
The tartan was modelled at Dressed to Kilt by US television personality Sara Gore (of LXTV), wearing a dress created by couture designer Michael Kaye.
The dress is being donated to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum as part of their permanent collection.
Begins a spokesperson: “All those people whose ancestors passed through this golden gateway as they arrived on American shores – an estimated 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1954, of which half a million were Scots – and their relatives now have the right to wear the new tartan.
“An estimated 40 per cent of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island.”
The new tartan was recently commended in the United States of America’s House of Representatives when Congressman, Leonard Lance, asked fellow congressmen to join him in “congratulating Mr Bob Currie and the entire Clan Currie Society for the unveiling of this American tartan — the Ellis Island Tartan — and for their years of hard work honouring and recognising the contributions that Scots and Scottish-Americans have made to our great nation”.
Robert Currie, president of the Clan Currie Society in New York and originator of the tartan initiative, commented: “The Ellis Island tartan was not only designed for those whose ancestors arrived into the USA through Ellis Island, which in itself totals in the millions, but, frankly, all Americans who came to our country to start a new life regardless of ethnic origin.
“In this respect, it may just as well be considered the Immigrant’s Tartan or the American Tartan.
“In particular, I hope it will have a special place in the hearts of families of the half million Scots immigrants who landed here, especially as they now have the excitement of being able to wear a tartan which unites their families with the many others who passed through Ellis Island when they emigrated to North America.”
The tartan was designed by Matt Newsome, curator of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina. Newsome has designed over 30 tartans for a variety of clients including, universities, churches and individuals.
However, he is best known in Scotland for designing the St Ninian’s tartan for the Catholic Church in Scotland, commissioned to celebrate the State Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on St Ninian’s Day last year, 16 September 2010.
The 2011 observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island was one of the most successful for the Society with the national monument attracting in excess of 40 thousand visitors.
In addition to producing an exhibition on the many facets of tartan, the Society also gave visitors a sneak preview of the new tartan.
Currie observed: “The response to the Ellis Island tartan was overwhelmingly positive with many wishing to purchase tartan items on the spot. It is our hope that this new tartan will provide an important economic boost to Scotland’s tartan industry.”
Brian Wilton, director of the Scottish Tartans Authority, said: “As the first American footfall for millions of emigrants – including hundreds of thousands of Scots – Ellis Island plays an extremely important part in many family histories.
“It is entirely appropriate that all those whose American origins were born there should be able to celebrate and commemorate that momentous occasion by wearing the new Ellis Island Tartan.”
Robert Currie added: “The Ellis Island Tartan is an important contribution to the overall Tartan Day experience in America, as it speaks directly to the cause for – and roots of – the celebration.
“While new tartans are created every day, most are rather specific in their scope. But The Ellis Island Tartan is a vibrant, living and distinctive design that continues to expand and inspire while reaching a much larger audience.”
Notes for editors:
Each colour in this new tartan reflects upon the American experience.
• The blue represents the ocean that had to be crossed to reach the American shores.
• The copper-green is the color of the Statue of Liberty.
• The red depicts the bricks of the Ellis Island buildings where 12 million Americans took their first steps towards freedom.
• The gold is the golden door that is the United States of America and the dawn of a new life in America.
The Ellis Island Tartan is part of Tartan Day on Ellis Island, produced by the Clan Currie Society. The advisory panel for the exhibition includes Matt Newsome of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina; Dr. Hugh Cheape, of Sabhl Mor Ostaig and formerly with National Museums Scotland; fashion designer and tartan author, Jeffrey Banks; Brian Wilton from the Scottish Tartans Authority: George MacKenzie from the National Records of Scotland; and Alison Diamond from the Scottish Register of Tartans. Support for the exhibition has been generously provided by VisitScotland, Michael Kaye Couture, the Scottish Register of Tartans and Kinloch Anderson. The Clan Currie Society also acknowledges the support and cooperation of the National Park Service and specifically the staff at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument. See www.tartandayonellisisland.com.
About The Clan Currie Society
The Clan Currie Society, an American-based, international, non-profit cultural and educational organisation, is the preeminent Scottish-American cultural society in preserving and promoting Highland heritage at Scottish Games, ethnic festivals, as well as community groups and classrooms.
The Society’s signature events include The Pipes of Christmas – a musical celebration of Christmas performed on bagpipes and brass, harp and fiddle, and organ – and the annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island. The Clan Currie Society is the title sponsor of the National Scottish Harp Championship of America.
The Society’s annual scholarship program includes the Alex Currie Memorial Scholarship for Bagpipe, administered by the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts in Nova Scotia; the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Scholarship, administered by the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland; the Col. William McMurdo Currie Memorial Scholarship for the Clarsach (Scottish Harp) administered by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Private Bill Millin Memorial Scholarship for Bagpipe administered by Lyon College of Batesville, Arkansas.
The Society was originally formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1959, to further the knowledge and appreciation of the MacMhuirich (pronounced MacVurich) bardic dynasty. Today, the organisation is a respected producer of outstanding programmes and events to honor Scotland’s rich culture and ancestry.
The MacMhuirichs served for over 700 years as professional poets to the Lords of the Isles and later to the MacDonalds of Clanranald among other prominent Highland clans and families. The Red Book of Clanranald, one of Gaelic Scotland’s literary treasures, was penned by successive generations of the MacMhuirich family.
In more contemporary times, MacMhuirich poetry and short stories have been chronicled in Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica, Angus MacLellan’s Stories of South Uist, Thomas Owen Clancy’s The Triumph Tree (Scotland’s Earliest Poetry 550-1350) and An Leabhar Mor – The Great Book of Gaelic. The ancient and historic MacMhuirich name and its anglicized equivalent Currie can be found throughout the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
About the Scottish Tartans Museum
The Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina was founded by the Scottish Tartans Society in 1988. The museum was established to be a center of information on tartan, Scottish Highland Dress, and traditions within the United States. The museum features kilts and tartan specimens dating back to the 18th century. Over 500 tartans are on display, including tartans for clans, families, districts and other organisations. See www.scottishtartans.org.
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