Annual Clan Currie Gathering and MacMhuirich Symposium to be Held in Antigonish, Nova Scotia

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Clansfolk to Participate in the 150th Anniversary Antigonish Highland Games

An important symposium on the history and literary heritage of the MacMhuirich bardic dynasty takes place in Antigonish, Nova Scotia on Thursday, July 11, 2013. The symposium takes place as part of a weekend of celebrations dedicated to Scotland’s greatest bardic dynasty, the Clan MacMhuirich or Clan Currie. The MacMhuirichs, a name later anglicized to ‘Currie’ and in some parts of Scotland as ‘Macpherson’, ‘Murray’ and even ‘MacMillan’, served for over 700 years as professional poets to the Lords of the Isles, and later to the MacDonalds of Clanranald.

The MacMhuirich symposium, being held at the Claymore Hotel in the village of Antigonish will bring a new perspective to the role of the MacMhuirichs in Scottish literary history as well as their influence on Gaelic Canada. An afternoon field trip is also being planned to the Hector Heritage Quay and Museum in Pictou, Nova Scotia to tour a full-size replica of the sailing ship, Hector which brought the earliest Scottish settlers to Nova Scotia or “New Scotland” in 1773. The day concludes with a dinner in Pictou followed by an evening ceilidh at the deCoste Center. On July 12, symposium attendees have the option to take a field trip to the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s for a tour and luncheon. The college is celebrating their 75th anniversary in 2013.

In addition to the Symposium and field trips, clansfolk will rally at the Antigonish Highland Games on July 13 and 14 which celebrate their 150th anniversary this summer. Clan Currie is proud to be a Gold-level Patron of the Games this summer.

The prestigious program for the Symposium will chaired by the Rev. Dr. David Currie, Chaplain of the Clan Currie Society joined by an “A-list” roster of speakers including Prof. Simon Innes, Dept. of Celtic Culture and Languages, Harvard University, renowned Cape Breton author, Sheldon Currie, Lewis MacKinnon, Executive Director of Gaelic Affairs for the Government of Nova Scotia and Angus MacMillan, Clan Currie historian. Past participants have included Dr. Michael Newton of St. Francis Xavier University, Canada, Dr. Alan Titley of University College Cork, Ireland, Dr. Willie Gillies formerly of Edinburgh University’s Department of Celtic and Dr. Hugh Cheape of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Robert Currie, President of the Clan Currie Society in New York, commented: “Nova Scotia is a most appropriate place to mark the achievements of Scotland’s greatest bardic dynasty. We know that such a distinguished gathering of speakers will do honour to the MacMhuirichs at the symposium in July.”

The 2012 gathering took place on the island of South Uist. As part of the gathering, clan members built a monument commemorating the MacMhuirich/Currie bards who served the MacDonalds of Clanranald at the site of the last bard’s home in Stilligarry.

The MacMhuirich Symposium on July 11 is a date not to be missed, not only for anyone interested in the MacMhuirichs, but also for people interested in the history and Gaelic literature of Scotland during the medieval period and, in particular the Lords of the Isles. The program is being offered free-of-charge with a suggested donation of $10. Additional fees will apply for the two field trips.

A warm invitation is extended to all clansfolk to attend the symposium, field trip and all the events over the Antigonish Anniversary Weekend of July 13 and 14. For further details and information on how to register for the program, visit http://www.clancurriegathering.com.

For more information contact Robert Currie (USA) at 908-803-4043 / clancurrie(at)mail(dot)com.

Editor’s notes:

1. About The Clan Currie Society

The Clan Currie Society, an American-based, international, non-profit cultural and educational organization, 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 - the annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island (which was the largest attended Tartan Day event in the world in 2012), and the MacMhuirich Academic Symposium. The Clan Currie Society is the Title Sponsor of the National Scottish Harp Championship of America.

The Clan Currie Society is a founding member of the NY Tartan Week Alliance, formed in 2013 to provide oversight and coordination for the major anchor events which make up Tartan Week in Manhattan. In addition to the Ellis Island program, these events include the “From Scotland with Love” fashion show, Whisky Live and the Great Scots tribute dinner hosted by the National Trust for Scotland – USA Foundation.

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 Conservatoire of Scotland and the Private Bill Millin Memorial Scholarship for Bagpipe administered by Lyon College of Batesville, Arkansas.

To mark the 40th anniversary of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland's Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, the Society has established the "Duais Clann iMcMhuirich" bursary which will be awarded on an annual basis to a deserving student of Gaelic history and folklore.

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 organization is a respected producer of outstanding programs 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 bards on South Uist.

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.

The Society has spearheaded the construction of two permanent clan monuments in Scotland. A MacMhuirich Memorial Cairn has been built adjacent to the ruins of Bale nam Bàrd, the medieval home of the MacMhuirichs on the Island of South Uist. A memorial stone, commemorating the bard Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich, has been installed at Makar’s Court alongside the Scottish Writers Museum in Edinburgh.

2. About the Hector Heritage Quay and the Ship Hector

The Hector Heritage Quay is one of Nova Scotia's major cultural tourist attractions. Through the depiction of the story of Scottish migration to the New World, the Hector Heritage Quay introduces visitors to the history and culture of the area. A series of imaginative and informative displays retell the story of the Ship Hector voyage in 1773. The centerpiece of the attraction is a full scale reproduction of the ship Hector. This three masted, fully rigged ship is found on Pictou's historic waterfront. Visit http://www.shiphector.ca for additional information.

3. About the Gaelic College

The Gaelic College was founded in 1938 by Rev. A.W.R. MacKenzie as a school devoted to the study and preservation of the Gaelic language and Celtic arts and culture. Situated in the heart of one of the earliest Scottish settlements in Cape Breton, the College began as a school of Gaelic language in a small log cabin overlooking St. Ann's Bay.

From its humble beginnings, this unique institution has expanded and gained an international reputation for its contribution to the maintenance and preservation of the language and culture. The only institution of its kind in North America, students of all ages and ability travel here from around the world to study. Our top calibre instructors offer programs in Scottish traditional disciplines including Gaelic language and song, music, dance and crafts. For further information, visit http://www.gaeliccollege.edu.

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Robert Currie
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