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NEWS

17 June 2011

Contact:


Alison Bell

07765 242686

[email protected]

MacMhuirich symposium sheds new light on some

of Scotland’s greatest poets

Commemorative stone for Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich

to be unveiled at Makar’s Court

An important symposium on the history and literary heritage of the MacMhuirichs, led by Professor Hugh Cheape, leading authority on Scottish culture, takes place in Edinburgh on Saturday 23 July 2011. The symposium takes place as part of a weekend of celebrations dedicated to one of Scotland’s greatest bards, Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich (1370 – 1438).


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. 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 prestigious programme for the symposium will see Professor Hugh Cheape of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI (and formerly of the National Museums Scotland) joined by speakers 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, and Dr David Caldwell of the National Museums Scotland.


The MacMhuirich Symposium follows after the installation of a new commemorative stone to be unveiled in Makars' Court of the Scottish Writers' Museum in Edinburgh on the previous day, Friday 22 July at 11am – the public are cordially invited to attend this event. The stone, sponsored by the Clan Currie Society, is dedicated to one of clan’s most celebrated Bards, Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich.


The unveiling of the Makar’s Stone for MacMhuirich will take place on the eve of the 600 anniversary of the Battle of Harlaw. It is said that 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.


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.”


Robert Currie, President of the Clan Currie Society in New York, commented: “It is a great honour to have such an eminent group of Scottish historians come together to celebrate Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich - I am humbled and thrilled to have their input. They will shed important light on the seldom heard story of the literary heritage of not only our clan but our country, and I look forward to learning from all our speakers at this event.”


"The MacMhuirich Symposium on 23 July is a date not to be missed, not only for anyone interested in the MacMhuirichs, but also for people interested in the history and literature of Scotland during the medieval period, and, in particular the Lords of the Isles."


Robert explained: “It is intended that this will become an annual event, joining the ranks of other established symposiums contributing to the greater understanding of our literary heritage. As it grows and develops, hosted by cities and academic institutions across Scotland and beyond, there is also the potential for an associated research prize to be established.


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

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

Editor’s notes:

1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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 34 papers for peer-reviewed journals and has produced a number of reports for policy formation and planning towards public sector education.