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Update on the Clan Currie Society


NEWS

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

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 and Friday, July 11 – 12, 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 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. 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. Members of the public are cordially invited to attend this event.

In addition to the two-day symposium, clansfolk will rally at the Antigonish Highland Games on July 13 and 14 which celebrate their 150th anniversary 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 Clan Currie historian Angus MacMillan. 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 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. On July 12, symposium attendees have the option to take a field trip to the Gaelic College in St. Anns and to the Hector Heritage Quay in Pictou.

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 www.clancurriegathering.com.

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

Commissioned to mark the 10th Anniversary of Tartan Day on Ellis Island in New York in 2011, the Society 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 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. To mark their 40th anniversary, the Society announced the "Duais Clann iMcMhuirich" bursary which they will give on an annual basis to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland's Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye.

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.   The Rev. Dr. David A. Currie

Dr. Currie began teaching church history at the Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME), the Boston campus of Gordon-Conwell, in 1998 and joined the faculty full-time as Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program in 2005. To all of his work, at each Gordon-Conwell’s campuses and elsewhere, Dr. Currie has brought a passion to nurture thinking Christian leaders. This passion has grown out of over a quarter century of ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA), including 15 years as the organizing pastor of a new church development.

Dr. Currie’s research interests include the history of evangelicalism, particularly in Scotland, South Africa and China; pastoral theology; worship; preaching; spiritual formation, particularly for clergy; mentoring; and discipleship. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Ecclesiastical History from the University of St. Andrews in 1991.

Dr. Currie’s personal interests include Steeler football; running; tennis; theater; hunting, particularly with a bow and arrow; cooking; golf; hiking; canoeing; and Scottish games. He also remains connected to his Scottish roots as chaplain for the Clan Currie Society.

3. Alex Currie

For some today who love the Scottish pipes, Alex Currie is an anachronism from a bygone era, but to those who know his story, he was the last of the true Scottish pipers. “As far as I’m concerned, the most important piper I ever met was Alex Currie from Cape Breton,” said pipe maker Hamish Moore. “He was part of that MacMhuirich (Currie) tradition of the bards and the pipers. They were a very important clan in that respect. And very important culturally with respect to the arts. I think it’s just part of the clan’s heritage that’s been passed along, that very high cultural awareness that exists in certain families. That is, it’s been passed down from generation to generation.”

“Not only did his style of playing reflect an undiluted Gaelic oral tradition dating back to 19th century South Uist, but his knowledge of tunes – some locally composed and others forgotten in Scotland – was unmatched by many of his contemporaries.”

He was a living representation of one of the many different styles that existed in Cape Breton among the highland immigrants and their descendants – styles that have disappeared from the piping landscape of Cape Breton. Not long before his death, Currie was honored for his contributions to traditional piping during the Celtic Colours celebration at the Gaelic College in St. Anns, Nova Scotia.

The Clan Currie Society dedicated their first Scottish heritage scholarship in 2006 in memory of this exceptional musician and clansman.

See also: http://www.clancurrie.com/press_archive/2006_12_19.html


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