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NEWS

14 July 2011

Contact:


Alison Bell

07765 242686

[email protected]

Last Call for events during Clan Currie weekend celebrating Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich and Scotland’s bardic heritage (22 – 24 July)

Final bookings are now being taken for an important symposium on the history and literary heritage of the MacMhuirichs, Scotland’s longest-lived Bardic dynasty. The symposium, on Saturday 23 July 2011, will be led by Professor Hugh Cheape and is part of a weekend of celebrations dedicated to one of Scotland’s greatest bards, Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich (1370 – 1438). The MacMhuirichs, a name later anglicized to ‘Currie’, 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 in the Royal Scots Club, will bring a new perspective to the role of the MacMhuirichs in Scottish literary history. Featured speakers include Dr John Purser of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Dr Donald William Stewart of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and University of Edinburgh, Dr Wilson McLeod, of the Celtic and Scottish Studies department of the University of Edinburgh, Dr David Caldwell, National Museums Scotland, and Robert Currie, FSA Scot and President of the Clan Currie Society.


Symposium delegates will also have the opportunity to win a deluxe presentation bottle of Limited Edition Somerled Islay Premium Single Malt Scotch Whisky, generously donated by Captain WG MacDonald Scotch Whisky, during the event.


Professor Hugh Cheape said: “This is an appropriate place and time to mark the achievements of one of the greatest of Scotland’s medieval poets. We know that such a distinguished gathering of speakers will do honour to Lachlan Mòr and the MacMhuirichs as a famous dynasty at the symposium in July.”


The weekend events begin with the installation of a commemorative stone being unveiled in the Makars’ Court of the Scottish Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh, on Friday 22 July at 11am, to which everyone is warmly invited. The stone, sponsored by the Clan Currie Society, is dedicated to one of clan’s most celebrated Bards, Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich.


A celebration dinner and evening of traditional music will follow the installation of the Makar’s Stone on Friday 22 July in the Royal Scots Club (tickets must be reserved in advance: £25). A superb line-up of artists will be led by Hazen Metro of the popular Scots band, Ord Bàn.


Clan Currie Society President Robert Currie said: “Everyone is invited to join the celebration dinner at The Royal Scots Club on Friday evening. The ticket price covers the cost of a delicious meal followed by live music from top-notch musicians in a fabulous setting! It will allow everyone to strike new ideas and connections as we plan towards the next event!” Advance reservations may be made by contacting the Society at [email protected].


The unveiling of the Makar’s Stone for Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich will take place on the eve of the 600 anniversary of the Battle of Harlow. It is said that Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich’s Harlaw Brosnachadh, or ‘Incitement to Battle’, was delivered by him on the eve of the Battle of Red Harlaw on 24 July 1411 to inspire the army of the Lord of the Isles to victory in the following day’s battle. The first lines of MacMhuirich’s war poem, The Harlaw Brosnachadh, have been etched on the stone.


To mark the occasion, Simon Chadwick, a clarsach player specialising in the medieval Gaelic harp music of Scotland and Ireland, will play a number of medieval ceremonial harp tunes, including "The Battle of Harlaw". RSAMD graduate, Hazen Metro, will play the bagpipes to open the ceremony.


Robert Currie, President of the Clan Currie Society in New York, commented: “It is going to be a great weekend for everyone interested in Scotland’s Gaelic heritage. It begins with an open invitation for everyone to attend the unveiling of the Makar’s Stone on Friday 22 July. The Friday evening will be an opportunity for everyone to enjoy dinner followed by a programme of live music from first-class traditional musicians.”


“On Saturday, the symposium offers an opportunity to hear a superbly distinguished group of Scottish historians celebrating Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich, an occasion which is at the same time humbling and thrilling. Shedding new light on the seldom heard story of the literary heritage of our country, I look forward to learning from all of them. It’s a date not to be missed for anyone interested in the medieval history and literature of Scotland and, in particular, the Lords of the Isles.”


“Finally on Sunday we invite everyone to join us on a cruise to Inchcolm Abbey, the 12th Century Abbey and Monastery situated on Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth. We'll sail with the Maid of the Forth departing from Hawes Pier in South Queensferry at 10:30 AM - box lunches are available for purchase through the Royal Scots Club and advance reservations and ferry and admissions fees are required."


A warm invitation is extended to all events over the weekend of 22 to 24 July, including the unveiling of the Makar’s Stone, the celebratory dinner and traditional music evening on Friday evening and the cruise to Incholm Abbey (on Incholm Island, Firth of Forth) on Sunday. For further details and information on how to register for each event visit www.clancurriegathering.com.


For more information contact Alison Bell on 07765 242686 / [email protected] or Robert Currie on 001 908 803 4043 / [email protected].

Editor’s notes:

1. The Makar’s Stone, Makars’ Court, Edinburgh, 22 July, 11am; followed by Celebration Dinner and Traditional Music, The Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh, 22 July, 7pm (For reservations contact [email protected]).

The Makar’s Stone will be unveiled at the Makars’ Court of the Scottish Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh on Friday 22 July at 11.00am. The Clan Currie supported the erection of the stone through a donation of £2,500 to Edinburgh City Council. The detail of the stone is as follows:


Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich (c1370 – 1438)

A Chlanna Cuinn cuimhnichibh

Cruas an àm na h-iorghaile

(Translation: O Children of Conn, remember Hardihood in time of battle.)

[From the opening lines of his poem ‘The Harlaw Brosnachadh’ (Incitement to Battle) written in Scots Gaelic, 1411.)


The Makars’ Court at the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh celebrates the achievements of Scottish writers.


The unveiling of the Makar’s Stone will be followed on Friday evening by a dinner in the evening and live music from traditional musicians in The Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh. Reservations required; contact [email protected].


2. Condensed calendar listing:


The MacMhuirich Symposium; 23 July, The Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh.

This important symposium on the history and literary heritage of the MacMhuirichs, Scotland’s longest-lived Bardic dynasty, will be led by Professor Hugh Cheape. It will bring a new perspective to the role of the MacMhuirichs in Scottish literary history, featuring speakers including Dr John Purser of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Dr Donald William Stewart of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and University of Edinburgh, Dr Wilson McLeod, of the Celtic and Scottish Studies department of the University of Edinburgh, Dr David Caldwell, National Museums Scotland, and Robert Currie, FSA Scot and President of the Clan Currie Society. Reservations required; contact [email protected].


3. 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.


Commissioned to mark the 10th Anniversary of Tartan Day on Ellis Island, New York, the Society recently launched the Ellis Island Tartan. An everlasting tribute to everyone who passed through Ellis Island on their way to a new life in the United States of America, the “potentially world-beating tartan” (Scotsman) has received wide acclaim since its launch. It was featured on the runway at the annual Dressed to Kilt fashion event on 5 April 2011, part of New York’s Tartan Week celebrations.


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 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 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.


It is intended that the symposium will become an annual event, joining the ranks of other established symposiums contributing to the greater understanding of our literary heritage.


4. Professor Hugh Cheape


Professor Cheape has research interests including history, languages, museum studies and musicology, focusing on the significance of the bagpipes in wind instrumentation and culture. He was involved in developing the BA Scottish music and BA Scottish music - piping degrees for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He has written or edited ten books and a number of papers for peer-reviewed journals and has produced a number of reports for policy formation and planning towards public sector education.


5. Simon Chadwick


Simon Chadwick is a historical musician specialising in the medieval Gaelic harp music of Scotland and Ireland, based in St Andrews, Fife. Medieval Gaelic harp music is his specialism, including a medieval Gaelic harp version of the Battle of Harlaw tune. Simon’s harp is a unique and beautifully decorated replica of the 15th century Scottish harp or clarsach, said to have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. With its intricate polychrome designs and carved decoration, the replica harp is a faithful representation of one of the most important pieces of medieval West Highland art.