New York Tartan Week to Open with the Great Book of Gaelic
13 March 2012
Photo: The International Tour Comes to New York for
Tartan Day - Clan Currie Society president and Tartan Day producer,
Robert Currie and Malcolm MacLean, the exhibition's
New York, NY - "Tartan Day on Ellis Island" - the nation's
largest Tartan Day celebration - returns for its 11 annual
observance with the opening of "An Leabhar Mòr" (The Great Book of
Gaelic.) The exhibition, organized and produced by Pròiseact nan
Ealan, the Gaelic Arts Agency, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, opens on
Sunday March 31st and runs through to Sunday April 8th. The
exhibition celebrates the art and poetry of the Gaelic-speaking
people of Scotland and Ireland.
"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 will open NY Tartan Week - a
two-week festival of all things Scottish, including a Scottish
fashion show, whisky tastings and the annual parade.
"An Leabhar Mòr" is the 21st-century equivalent of the Gaelic
masterpiece, the "Book of Kells." It brings together the work of
more than 150 Gaelic poets, visual artists, and calligraphers.
Scotland and Ireland share a mythology, a rich music tradition,
languages and some very formative history. Irish Gaels, known as
Scoti, invaded Scotland in the 5th century and gave it their
"An Leabhar Mòr" as a book is an artwork in itself which
presents a major collection of Gaelic artwork. It renews and
highlights the cultural connection between Gaelic Scotland and
Ireland. At the same time it celebrates the diverse strands of
contemporary Celtic culture.
It is a beautiful book featuring poetry from every century
between the sixth and the twenty-first. It contains the earliest
Gaelic poetry in existence. One hundred contemporary visual artists
- in a variety of media - respond within its pages to one hundred
works of poetry spanning the ages.
It includes work by poets Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Maire Mhac an
tSaoi and by artists Allan Davie, Will Maclean and Rita Duffy among
others. The exhibition "An Leabhar Mòr- the Great Book of Gaelic"
is based on and inspired by this extraordinary book.
According to Malcolm McLean, the exhibition's curator and
designer, "An Leabhar Mòr" is all about making connections between
Ireland and Scotland, between literature and the visual arts,
between poetry and song, between Irish and Scottish Gaelic, between
one and a half millennia of Gaelic civilization and the
There is more to the Leabhar Mòr than its aesthetic value, or
its value as an introduction to Gaelic civilization. It is also a
Gaelic project without a trace of either cultural cringe or of
exaggerated assertiveness. How wonderful that this important
exhibition has found its way to Ellis Island - the Golden Door to
America for so many Scottish and Irish immigrants."
For Clan Currie Society president and Tartan Day producer Robert
Currie, the visit to Ellis Island is fortuitous and inevitable,
"The exhibition speaks to the heart of our Clan's rich Gaelic
history. For 700 centuries, MacMhuirich, or Currie bards trained in
Ireland and composed many gems of bardic verse for their Scottish
patrons. Indeed, out of the 100 poems selected for the exhibition,
three of them were written by members of the Clan Currie."
The International Tour Comes to New York for Tartan Week
"An Leabhar Mòr" has moved from strength to strength since its
initial publication in 2002. An international touring exhibition of
100 artworks featured in the book is still on the road a decade
later. Having completed a successful tour of Ireland in 2006-2007
the Great Book Exhibition has recently delighted audiences
throughout Canada and is currently working its way round an
extensive tour of North America.
In the Ellis Island venue, the exhibition "An Leabhar Mòr" will
feature, alongside the poetry and artwork, a series of contextual
panels of particular relevance to American audiences. Panels will
explore the meaning of Gaelic identity and culture with a special
emphasis given to Scots and Irish immigration to America. They will
show how the Gaelic gift for poetry and language has influenced
American music, ultimately giving birth to American country-western
The exhibition will be displayed adjacent to the Registry Room,
the Great Hall on Ellis Island on the museum's second floor. In
addition to Maclean and Currie, the Ellis Island exhibition team
also includes researcher/writer Marsha Lebby and Gaelic scholar
Michael Newton. Plans are also underway to establish an exhibition
annex at Poet's House on Manhattan's lower west side.
Starting on Friday April 6th (Tartan Day) and running through to
Sunday April 8th, Ellis Island will play host to some of the finest
Scottish entertainment in New York City, including the Rampant Lion
Pipe Band, a Celtic harp circle led by Mia Theodoratus, the New
York Metro Pipe Band and the NY Celtic Dancers.
Support for the exhibition has been generously provided by the
Gaelic Arts Agency, the Clan Currie Society and Scotland's
for additional information.
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