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Colby-Sawyer College to Host Tartan Terrors on St. Patrick's Day: Traditional Celtic Music and Dance with a Comic, Modern Twist

NEW LONDON, N.H. — Get your plaid on – New London is about to be invaded by the Tartan Terrors when Colby-Sawyer College hosts this Celtic event for a festive Saint Patrick's Day performance that mixes comedy, dance, and music, and features a two-time world championship bagpiper.

The Tartan Terrors will perform on Wednesday, March 17, at 7 p.m. at the Sawyer Center Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and children, and free with a Colby-Sawyer ID. [This show is sold-out as of 3/15/10.]

The Tartan Terrors, once described as “the evil twin to Riverdance,” have taken the Celtic scene by storm, injecting humor, energetic dancing and boisterous bag-piping into their performances. This Celtic ensemble, made up of 14 singers, musicians and dancers, was created more than a decade ago by siblings and artistic directors Ellen and Ian Wilkes-Irmisch.

The group offers tradition with a twist, as Ellen Wilkes-Irmisch describes it in Rambles magazine: “It's historical dancing that's brought to life again, and we can all connect to that rhythm... It's very primal,” she said. “You don't have to analyze it, you don't have to think,” she insisted. “You just enjoy it and have fun.” In one popular Highland “Schwing” piece, the female dancers rip off their long kilts to reveal plaid mini-kilts and mix hip-hop or disco moves into their traditional Celtic choreography. In a satirical take on the old standard “Scotland the Brave,” a break-dancing sheep gets down to “Scotland Depraved.” And, of course, the English jokes flow: What's the difference between yogurt and England? Yogurt has an active culture.

Ellen and Ian Irmisch began this venture as little “terrors,” putting on plays in their family barn, and the name stuck. Now the Tartan Terrors perform around the world in venues ranging from Renaissance fairs, music festivals and college campuses to ballrooms and theaters, and as special guests for Queen Elizabeth II and President Clinton. The individual performers bring diverse backgrounds and talents to the Terrors from the worlds of theater, music, wrestling and even police work. Celtic Beat magazine hails them as “the heirs apparent to the (Celtic) mayhem.” In their high-octane performances, the Tartan Terrors impress and entertain people of ages, introducing Celtic tradition with modern finesse and fun.

To learn about other upcoming events visit

-Aynsley Doyle '13

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000