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April 6, 2011 – Clan Currie Society Unveils the Ellis Island Tartan

April 6, 2011 – National Tartan Day

Ellis Island Tartan Unveiled for Tartan Day 2011

As part of the celebrations for Tartan Day 2011 on 6 April, the Clan Currie Society has commissioned a specially designed Ellis Island Tartan© commissioned to mark the 10th Anniversary of Tartan Day on Ellis Island, New York. The tartan was featured on the runway last night (Tuesday 5 April) at the annual Dressed to Kilt fashion event. NBC-TV personality and host of “LX-TV” and “First Look: NY,” Sara Gore wore a stunning new creation by Michael Kaye Couture.

Clan Currie will be donating the dress to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to become part of their permanent collection. Last weekend, Clan Currie produced and hosted their tenth annual “Tartan Day on Ellis Island” program featuring a new exhibition entitled, “A Celebration of Tartan.” Visitor numbers exceeded 30 thousand making this the largest attended Tartan Day event in the world.

All those people whose ancestors passed through this golden gateway as they arrived on American shores – an estimated 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1954, of which half a million were Scots – and their relatives now have the right to wear the new tartan. An estimated 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island.

The Ellis Island Tartan

The new tartan was recently commended in the United States of America’s House of Representatives when Congressman Leonard Lance asked fellow Congressmen to join him in “congratulating Mr. Bob Currie and the entire Clan Currie Society for the unveiling of this American tartan — the Ellis Island Tartan — and for their years of hard work honouring and recognizing the contributions that Scots and Scottish-Americans have made to our great Nation.”

The Ellis Island tartan seen during the weaving process.

Each color in this new tartan reflects upon the American experience. The blue represents the ocean that had to be crossed to reach the American shores. The copper-green is the color of the Statue of Liberty. The red depicts the bricks of the Ellis Island buildings where 12 million Americans took their first steps towards freedom. The gold is the golden door that is the United States of America and the dawn of a new life in America.

Robert Currie, President of the Clan Currie Society in New York and originator of the tartan initiative commented: “The Ellis Island tartan was not only designed for those whose ancestors arrived into the USA through Ellis Island, which in itself totals in the millions, but frankly all Americans who came to our country to start a new life regardless of ethnic origin. In this respect, it may just as well be considered the Immigrant’s Tartan or the American Tartan.

Sara Gore in the Ellis island tartan.

Sara Gore, cohost of NBC’s “LXTV,” is lovely in the new Ellis Island tartan. Her stunning couture dress was designed by Michael Kaye of New York City. Photo by Stephanie McNiel.

In particular, I know it will have a special place in the hearts of families of the half million Scots immigrants who landed here, especially as they now have the excitement of being able to wear a tartan which unites their families with the many others who passed through Ellis Island when they emigrated to North America.”

The tartan was designed by Matt Newsome, curator of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina. Newsome has designed over 30 tartans for a variety of clients including, universities, churches and individuals. However, he is best known in Scotland for designing the St. Ninian’s tartan for the Catholic Church of Scotland. The tartan was commissioned to celebrate the State Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on St. Ninian’s Day – September 16, 2010.



The 2011 observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island was one of the most successful for the Society with the national monument attracting in excess of 40 thousand visitors.

In addition to producing an exhibition on the many facets of tartan, the Society also gave visitors a sneak preview of the new tartan.

Robert Currie (left) and Matt Newsome (right) display the new Ellis Island tartan. Photo by Evan Goldman

Currie observed, “The response to the Ellis Island tartan was overwhelmingly positive with many wishing to purchase tartan items on the spot. It is our hope that this new tartan will provide an important economic boost to Scotland’s tartan industry.”

Brian Wilton, director of the Scottish Tartans Authority said: “As the first American footfall for millions of emigrants —including hundreds of thousands of Scots—Ellis Island plays an extremely important part in many family histories. It is entirely appropriate that all those whose American origins were born there should be able to celebrate and commemorate that momentous occasion by wearing the new Ellis Island Tartan.”

Robert Currie added: “The Ellis Island Tartan is an important contribution to the overall Tartan Day experience in America, as it speaks directly to the cause for—and roots of—the celebration. While new tartans are created every day, most are rather specific in their scope. But The Ellis Island Tartan is a vibrant, living and distinctive design that continues to expand and inspire while reaching a much larger audience.”

The Clan Currie Society is the copyright holder of the Ellis Island tartan. Proceeds from the sale of the tartan will benefit the Save Ellis Island foundation. Advance reservations are currently being taken to purchase items in the new tartan. Click here to be placed on the reservation list.

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