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Sara Gore modelling Ellis Island Tartan at Dressed to Kilt, New York, 5 April 2011

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 unveiled 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 this week (Tuesday 5 April) at the annual Dressed to Kilt fashion event, part of New York’s Tartan Week celebrations.

The tartan was modelled at Dressed to Kilt by US television personality Sara Gore (of LXTV), wearing a dress created by couture designer Michael Kaye. The dress is being donated to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum as part of their permanent collection.

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 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.”

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. In particular, I hope 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 in Scotland, commissioned to celebrate the State Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on St Ninian’s Day last year, 16 September 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. 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.”

A picture of the Ellis Island Tartan is attached to this release. Picture caption is: US television personality Sara Gore modeling the Ellis Island Tartan, wearing a dress created by couture designer Michael Kaye. The dress is being donated to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum as part of their permanent collection. Photo credit: Stephanie McNiel