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 has over 3,000 members worldwide that gather via the Society’s website and at special events and clan gatherings.
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 Society’s signature events include The Pipes of Christmas – a musical celebration of Christmas performed on bagpipes and brass, harp and fiddle, and organ – the annual MacMhuirich Symposium, and the annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island.
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 Laebhar 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 produces a number of highly successful programs, including The Pipes of Christmas, Tartan Day on Ellis Island, and a Burns Night dinner dance. Clan Currie has also partnered with Sir Sean Connery and Friends of Scotland to help produce their popular “Dressed to Kilt” fashion fundraiser, the “Miracle on Madison” fundraiser for the Children’s Aid Society of New York and the National Theatre of Scotland’s New York premiere of “Black Watch” among others.
The Society’s 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 Private Bill Millin Memorial Piping Scholarship administered by Lyon College in Batesville, AR; and the Col. William McMurdo Currie Memorial Scholarship for the Clarsach (Scottish Harp) administered by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. These scholarships are awarded annually to deserving young students. Plans are now underway to institute several additional scholarships for students wishing to further their studies in music, poetry, and dance.
In honor of the clan’s Bardic heritage, the Clan Currie Society is also the Title Sponsor for the Scottish Harp Society of America’s National Championship. The harp or clarsach was the instrument of the bard. The Society also produces the Harp Glen – a festival of the Scottish Harp at the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA – and participates in over a half dozen Scottish Highland Games in the US, Canada and Scotland. The Society also sponsors the annual Ladies Caber Toss Competition at the Cowal Highland Games in Scotland.
Clan Currie is now venturing into the field of documentary filmmaking and traveling exhibition production with a concentration on Scottish history and the arts. Past exhibitions have included, “A Celebration of Tartan,” “The Life and Legacy of John Muir,” “Scotland’s Gifts,” and “Loyalty and Rebellion: The Jacobites and America.” The Society received one of its many Telly Awards for production excellence for “The Crafter’s Song”, their 2003 documentary film on National Tartan Day narrated by Academy Award-winning actor, the late Cliff Robertson.
To commemorate their 10th annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island, the Clan Currie Society commissioned the design of the Ellis Island Tartan. The tartan is intended for the descendants of all whose ancestors came to America through Ellis Island regardless of ethnic origin.
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.
The Society has been recognized as the Honored Clan at a number of Highland Games and gatherings, including the Brodick Games on the Isle of Arran, the Bute Games on the Isle of Bute, and the Bonnie Brae Scottish Games in Millington, New Jersey.
The Arms of the Society were granted by the Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh, Scotland on June 30, 2006. The star, or mullet, is a heraldic symbol frequently found on individual Currie family coats of arms in Scotland. The thistle wreath, or chaplet, represents the international community the Society has created in “promoting Scottish heritage in general and Clan Currie heritage in particular, involving domestic and international matters.”
The Arms of the Society are a trademark and service mark of the Clan Currie Society, Inc.