How It’s New York:  Some of the best players in NY will be performing at the Pipes of Christmas in NJ and NY, including Chris Layer, who runs the Tuesday seisún at Swift, and is on this week’s podcast.  And the company will play “Lament for the Lost,” commissioned in 2001, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

How It’s (Irish)Scottish:  Highland Pipes!  Clairseach!  Kilts!  Clan Currie!   But if you want some actual Irishness, Bob Currie offers explains that the Curries used to be the O’Dalys from Sligo, and fled Ireland after a bard killed a steward with an axe (full story below).

There are Irish Christmas gigs all over town (and I’m not knocking them, see my piece on Mick Moloney’s Irish Christmas at Irish Arts Center)– but Scottish Christmas is more of a rarity.  So you won’t want to miss The Pipes of Christmas this weekend.  Put on by the Clan Currie Society, it’s a rousing concert that mixes piping, harp music, readings, fiddle– and tickets support a music scholarship program hich includes annual gifts to the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (both located in Glasgow,) the Gaelic College of Nova Scotia and Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas.

Though there’s a definite Scottish flavor (heck, Oban Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is one of the sponsors!) there will also be some content from Ireland and Wales.  Featured performers include Andrew Weir from the film “Braveheart,” fiddle champion Paul Woodiel, “Riverdance” piper Christopher Layer, Gaelic Mod champion harpist Jennifer Port of Golspie, Scotland, and the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band of Redlands, CA.

You can hear them on this week’s podcast!

The Summit, NJ concert is SOLD OUT (go NJ!) but there are still tickets available for this weekend’s concerts at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.  They are matinees, so you could go to one of them in the daytime and an Irish Christmas at night (if your eardrums hold up!  Chris Layer said, it’s a crash bang boom, concert for the hearing impaired!)

From their press materials:

For 2011, the concert will also feature a moment of remembrance for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “Lament for the Lost” will be performed by Pipe Major Scott Larson. Immediately following, the concert will segue into another beautiful piece of Scottish music with strong 9/11 ties.
“Angels from the Ashes,” composed by Blair Douglas (from the Isle of Skye), formerly of the popular Scottish band Runrig. Douglas wrote and recorded the piece as a fundraising vehicle for Glasgow – The Caring City (GTCC) to help GTCC raise funds to send care teams to work with the children of the NYC Fire Department and Port Authority Police officers who lost their lives on 9/11. In subsequent years, the continued success of this effort has meant that children and mothers of the departed have had the opportunity to enjoy holidays in Scotland as guests of GTCC.
Pipers from the New York Police, Fire and Port Authority pipe bands have been invited to perform with the company. A portion of the proceeds from the concerts will be donated to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Tickets Available Now

General admission tickets start at $50 and are available via mail order. A downloadable ticket order form can be found on the concert’s website and at smarttix or by phone at (212) 868-4444. Premium VIP seats are available at both venues through membership in the “Friends of the Pipes of Christmas.”

 Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, located at 921 Madison Avenue (at 73rd Street) on Saturday and Sunday, December 17 and 18 at 2:00 PM.

The Clan Currie Society is also the Title Sponsor of the annual National Scottish Harp Championship of America.

AND NOW:  How the O’Dalys Became the Curries!

The Curries, or MacMhuirichs as they were originally known in Gaelic
Scotland, actually started out as O’Dalys from Sligo. The O’Dalys were
one of the preeminent literary families in Ireland whose descent has
been well document back to Conn of the Hundred Battles in 177 AD.

So how did O’Dalys become Curries? In 1213, the famous bard Muireadach
O’Daly was staying at one of the homes of the chief of the O’Donnells.
After suitably wearing out his welcome, O’Donnell sent his steward to
fetch some rent from the bard. The bard could not stand the insult
(later referring to the steward as a ‘churl’ in a subsequent poem) and
lopped off the stewards head with a two handed claymore. Yes, Clan
Currie was actually started by an axe murderer.

After being chased all over Ireland by O’Donnell’s men, O’Daly sailed
east for Scotland. He eventually wound up as Chief Bard and Seannachie
to Donald of the Isles, the namefounder of Clan Donald.

The native Scots declared O’Daly as one of their own and named him
Muireadach Albannach or Muireadach of Scotland. The children of Donald
of the Isles became MacDonald’s and the children of Muireadach became
MacMuireadach, later MacMhuirich and finally Currie.

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.