By Loraine Ritchey
Divided by Culture by Loraine Ritchey April showers- but at the time of writing the showers are of the white variety and our winter is still in full swing.In fact here in Ohio we have had days where we have been snowed in!This is what happened to me over a weekend so “channel surfing” became the sport of a Sunday afternoon.My journey took me to “Out of Ireland” on the local PBS station billed as IRISH personalities, entertainment and events only to have the presenter Fiona Kennedy of “Tartan TV” the question "what do you love about being "Scottish?" to model Kirsty Hume. I thought my brain might be as plugged as the roads outside so I double-checked.Yes! this Scottish TV program was under the auspices of “Out of Ireland”.Readers of this column will know that for many years I, and others, in Highland have tried to educate dancers and readers in the differences between the two art forms.So I was chagrined and disillusioned to see that the well-respected PBS channel had decided to put Scotland in “Out of Ireland”, unless of course they were changing the premise to “Outside of Ireland”.The matter may have ended there if I had not been confined to the house, instead I e-mailed “Tartan TV” as to why their Scottish program had been “bundled” with an Irish program.I received the following: “We certainly provide our program "Tartan TV" to the station and it seems to take "Out of Ireland" too. We have no say over where the station schedules the show. They may promote one show in connection with the other.”(Robert Sproul-Cran ) I then contacted PBS a spokesperson, who wished to remain off the record “well no one really knows the difference around here between the cultures and the Irish programs get the viewers we bundled it so it would get the numbers"Oh! Dear after all my hard work in promoting Highland dancing and no one really knows the difference; my mood was as gray as the sky outside. As with gray clouds there is sometimes a silver lining and my questions to “Tartan TV “ have enabled me to bring to readers another Scottish resources which is definitely “outside” of Ireland”. Robert Sproul-Cran tells “Dancer”: “Tartan TV is a fast-paced, upbeat travel entertainment series on all things Scottish: scenery, celebrities, Celtic music, castles & battles, crafts & customs, food & drink, and, lest we forget golf.Amazingly, the Scots are the fifth largest national group in the US – with more than 34 million!Hundred of thousands of Scots-Americans are joining Scottish societies, visiting Highland Gatherings, taking part in Tartan Day in New York, Chicago, Washington and across the country.But till now there's never been a series devoted to connecting Americans with their Scottish roots. The American Declaration of Independence was based on the Scottish version written 300 years earlier.Over three quarters of US Presidents have Scottish blood.The Scots helped create America – throughout the country, Scottish culture and traditions have been kept alive in ways which are often not recognized.Indeed the opening program, set in New York City, is a vibrant celebration of our shared cultures as seen through the eyes of Sean Connery. But Tartan TV is not just for the “Macs”.Its appeal extends to anyone interested in this eccentric, lovable country and its connections to America and Americans.Want to see Robin Williams running the hill race at a Scottish Highland Games?Care to join Ewan McGregor and Billy Connolly relaxing with the friendly Scots?Researched and produced in Scotland specifically to appeal to the US market, Tartan TV takes us into the heart of this beautiful, ancient land, and into the soul of its warm and hospitable people. Fiona Kennedy, one of Scotland’s best-loved singers and broadcasters, hosts the programs from outdoor locations across the land, sharing her love of her country and taking viewers on a joyful journey of discovery.As one viewer put it:“Her joy is obviously not contrived or scripted anyone can see that she loves this magnificent place and can’t wait to share its secrets with the world.The stations carrying the show are listed on the Tartan TV web site www.tartan.tv. Just click the link "Tartan TV airing on PBS stations nationwide" on the bottom right of the homepage.” It seems that the Scots are promoting their culture through the world electronic media; now if only we in the USA can at least get the countries straight it would be a big help.How many times have Highland dancers heard “ Oh you do that Riverdance dancing”!We are not entirely blameless. How many times have Scottish dancers along with pipe bands been the featured entertainment for “St Patrick’s Day”?The green that is foremost in our minds on that day is the colour of the dollar we get paid on that night. I, too have been guilty of having a “dancing daughter” dance the O’ Flora, the O’Lilt or the Washerwoman Jig at those St. Patrick night events without clarifying to the audience they actually seeing a Scottish performance.The crossover culture came back to haunt me on that snowy Sunday afternoon and hopefully I will be able to help clarify the culture (at least dancing wise) as a penance for past performance sins.
As always for Questions and Comments, I can be reached at
Loraine Ritchey, 1127.W. 4th Street, Lorain, Ohio, 44052.