Tartan Day on Ellis Island Returns April 10-12, 2015

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“Tartan Day on Ellis Island” – one of the nation’s largest Tartan Day celebrations - returns for its 14th annual observance from April 10-12, 2015 when the Clan Currie Society profiles the infamous pirate, Captain William Kidd, is presented in a new exhibition.

According to journalist Roddy Martine, Tartan Day on Ellis Island, "stands out as a beacon of what Tartan Day is all about: the emigrant ancestors of Americans who over 3 centuries crossed the Atlantic Ocean to create the world's greatest democracy."

“Tartan Day on Ellis Island” – one of the nation’s largest Tartan Day celebrations - returns for its 14th annual observance from April 10-12, 2015 when infamous Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd is presented in a new exhibition. The 2015 program has been made possible in part by a gift from ScotlandNow.com. Celtic Life Magazine is the official media partner of Tartan Day on Ellis Island.

While one doesn’t normally associate pirates (at least seafaring pirates) with New York City, they were plentiful in the 1600’s. Pirate money pulsed through New York. Here’s a vivid account of NY in the late 1600s from Edwin G. Burrows’ and Mike Wallace’s Gotham: “This boodling was worth a hundred thousand pounds a year to the city…Tavern keepers, whores, retailers and others flourished as buccaneers swaggered through the streets with purses full of hard money — Arabian dinars, Hindustani mohurs, Greek byzants, French louis d’or, Spanish doubloons.”

In addition to Tartan Day producer Robert Currie, the exhibition team includes lead researcher/writer Tim Siddons and historical consultants Allison Siegel and Annaline Dinkelmann.

“Tartan Day on Ellis Island” is produced by the Clan Currie Society – one of the country’s leading Scottish heritage organizations. The Ellis Island event is a highlight of NY Tartan Week – a city-wide festival of all things Scottish.

Celebrate Tartan Day with Music and Dance

A regular feature of all the Tartan Day on Ellis Island celebrations will be music and dance and the 2015 program will be no exception. Tartan Day on Ellis Island will play host to some of the finest Scottish entertainment in New York City, including the Rampant Lion Pipe Band, Jerry Dixon, the Piping Pirate, the New York Celtic Dancers, and John the Kilted Juggler. Currie adds, “There may even be a few pirates lurking about the island.”

Inside the exhibition area, attendees can watch kilt maker Bonnie Green demonstrate the care and patience needed to fashion Scotland’s national dress while listening to traditional Scottish tunes performed by fiddle and guitar duo, Amy Beshara and Max Carmichael. Members of the Wall Street Walks team will hold storytelling telling sessions about Captain Kidd’s time in New York and his ghostly appearances.

World Premiere of New Pipe Tune

On Sunday, April 12, park guests will be able to witness a rare treat when 2014 Young Scot award-winner Craig Weir performs the world premiere of a new pipe tune entitled, “The Immigrant’s Lament.” The tune has been commissioned by the Clan Currie Society especially for the 2015 celebrations.

The "Immigrant's Lament" is a haunting tune which captures the essence of Scots emigrants that longed for their homeland far, far away. No doubt countless numbers of Scots yearned for Scotland as they embarked upon a new life in a new world. Inspiration for the lament comes from John Watson Nicol's evocative painting, "Lochaber No More," which vividly captures the loss and despair experienced by a Highland couple as they leave Scotland with just their meager belongings.

The new composition is but the latest in a series of new music commissioned by the Clan Currie Society with Scots-based composers. Past works have included "Sea of Tranquility," to celebrate the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong by James Ross of Wick, "Christmas Card from Ettrick Bay," composed by Jason Sweeney of Coatbridge and "Balmoral Snow," to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II, composed by Steve Gibb originally from Inverness. These tunes can all be watched on Clan Currie's YouTube Channel.

Visit http://www.tartandayonellisisland.com for additional information. Follow exhibit plans and preparations on Facebook (facebook.com/tartandayonellisisland) and Twitter, @ClanMhuirich.

About Captain Kidd

Captain William Kidd was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd's fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial. His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers.

Born in Dundee, Scotland in 1645, Kidd emigrated to lower Manhattan, or rather New Amsterdam in 1691. His story checks off all the boxes for a great Ellis Island exhibition – pirate, Scotsman, immigrant, New Yorker, colorful history – it’s got it all. And treasure hunters have been searching for Kidd’s treasure chest throughout the NY area on the Jersey shore, Gardiner’s Island and even up the Connecticut coast.

While Kidd the man left New York in 1696, his historical DNA and even a bit of ectoplasm can still be found throughout the Wall Street area. Ghost hunters have encountered the Captain in the churchyard of Trinity Church, his old haunt at Fraunces Tavern and near the site of his home near what is now the corner of Pearl Street and Hanover Square.

He might even show up on Ellis Island as rumor has it he made an appearance just a stone’s throw away on Liberty Island. In 1825, two U.S. Army soldiers, Sergeant Gibbs and Private Woods, thought life had dealt them a winning hand. They were assigned to Fort Wood on Bedloe’s Island (later renamed Liberty Island in honor of the Statue of Liberty). They spent their spare time at night hunting for buried treasure. When they opened a heavy metal box, Captain Kidd’s spirit emerged. They fainted. When they regained consciousness, all they had was an empty box.

About Tartan Day on Ellis Island

Tartan Day on Ellis Island is one of the principal Scottish heritage events in the United States. Playing host to literally thousands of domestic and international visitors each day, it is the largest Tartan Day celebration in the world. Ellis Island is a fitting place to observe Tartan Day. The island and its historic buildings represent America's "Golden Door."

From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Although many Scots arrived during the colonial period of our history – helping to build the new nation - an additional half-million Scots came through Ellis Island. It has been estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor's entry into the United States through Ellis Island.

Describing the annual program, noted Scottish journalist and author Roddy Martine reported that of all the Tartan Day events held in the United States, the Ellis Island observance has, "stood out as a beacon of what USA Tartan Day is all about: the emigrant ancestors of ordinary Americans who over three centuries crossed the Atlantic Ocean to create the world's greatest democracy."

Tartan Day on Ellis Island is produced by the Clan Currie Society - one of the preeminent Scottish heritage organizations in the United States. The Society began their successful collaboration with the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 2002 in the coordination and sponsorship of their first Tartan Day celebration.

Clan Currie's 2011 exhibition, "A Celebration of Tartan" will be on display in Los Angeles, CA as part of the LA Tartan Day program. Visit http://www.saintandrewsla.org/events/tartan-day/ for additional information.

About Tim Siddons

Exhibition researcher Tim Siddons has two passions are writing and history. After gaining his undergraduate degree, Masters and PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh, he remained in Scotland’s capital, where he was Deputy Editor of Scottish Field and Scots Heritage magazine for five years – it was research for an article in Scottish Field that sparked his interest in Kidd and his fascinating story. Tim currently lives in England and publishes his own magazine but, whilst he has a beard and likes the idea of treasure hunting, he concedes that his general fear of violence and susceptibility to seasickness means that he would make a terrible pirate.

About Craig Weir

Known as one of the hardest working pipers in Scotland, Craig Weir has been involved in a large number of major piping events since learning to play from the age of 8. He has performed for many dignitaries, including HM The Queen, the Dalai Lama, Princess Anne, The Duchess of Cornwall, Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond. He has appeared on stage with a number of headline musical acts as well as at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

Aside from performances in the UK, Craig has also played in Ireland, Switzerland, China, Belgium, The Faroe Islands and Germany with events in the USA, France and Italy lined up in 2015.

Craig’s profile has led to him receiving numerous awards including a Dundee Hero Award in 2012 for Performer of the Year. Last year, Craig was the deserving winner of the Arts Award, sponsored by Creative Scotland, at the renowned Young Scot Awards. The Young Scot Awards showcase Scotland’s finest young talent and celebrate young people’s inspirational achievements throughout the year. The Awards highlight the hard work of young Scots and recognize their dedication and determination to make a positive impact on the lives of others in their community.

About National Tartan Day: April 6

President Woodrow Wilson said of the Scots, "Every line of strength in American history is a line colored with Scottish blood." The contribution of the immigrant Scots upon North America is massive and these people have remained proud of their heritage.

However, unlike the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day, Scottish-Americans did not have a national day of identity and celebration. The concept of Tartan Day began in Nova Scotia in 1986 and soon was celebrated across Canada. Australia began marking Tartan Day in 1996.

In 1998, National Tartan Day was recognized in the US when the Senate passed a resolution recognizing April 6th as National Tartan Day. This was followed by a resolution, which was passed by the US House of Representatives in 2005.

The date commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, which asserted Scotland's freedom over English territorial claims, and may have been an influence on the Declaration of Independence.

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