Literature Day at the Royal National Mòd

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The adult competitions begin today (Wednesday 19th October) at this year’s Royal National Mòd in the Western Isles.

Commonly known as ‘Literature Day’ at the Mòd, competitions including drama, poetry and storytelling will take place throughout the day.

The day will also see adult competitions in singing across various venues around Stornoway, with the coveted Gold Medal and Silver Pendant competitions being held in the Lewis Sports Centre.

In both the Silver Pendant and Gold Medal finals, competitors are required to sing two songs, one prescribed and one of their own choosing.

In the prestigious Gold Medal finals in Oban last year, D-I Brown won the men’s title, with Catriona MacNeil winning the ladies’.

This year’s Gold Medal final will be broadcast live on BBC Alba from 19.30.

Fringe events will continue at the Mòd today, and the annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will be given by the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP.

Taking place in the Council Chambers in Stornoway, the lecture will look at ‘The Place of Gaelic in a Modern Scotland’.

Mr Swinney MSP is Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and has responsibility for Gaelic Policy, the lecture will provide the opportunity to hear how the Deputy First Minister sees the future of Gaelic and Gaelic speaking communities.

The annual lecture commemorates the life and work of the late Angus ‘Ease’ Macleod MBE and is organised by the Islands Book Trust and Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc in conjunction with Angus Macleod’s family.

Elsewhere in the fringe, ‘Manifesto, Mòds and Movies’ at the Caladh Inn will explore the history of An Comunn Gàidhealach, organisers of the Royal National Mòd, through its publications and unique footage filmed in Harris in 1941.

‘Gach Sgeul’ will take place in Ness today as leading Gaelic storytellers and traditional musicians entertain the crowds with tales and music that has been handed down through the generations.

With the Clarsach competitions beginning today, Comunn na Clàrsaich (The Clarsach Society) have welcomed the increasing interest in clarsach playing in Scotland and beyond.

Celebrating their 85th anniversary, the society reported a 20% increase in competition entries from the last time the Mòd was held in the Western Isles in 2011.

Fifteen different competitions are being contested this year with a good number of junior and adult competitors coming from island communities, including an adult harp ensemble.

The clarsach competitions will take place today at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

The Gaelic Books Council has also announced its Gaelic New Writers Awards for 2017 at today’s ‘Literature Day’.

In a collaboration between the Gaelic Books Council and the Scottish Book Trust, the programme is open to Gaelic writers of various genres, with two winners receiving grants of £2000 each, expert advice and support for their work.

John Morrison, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “We’ve had a great start to the week with the children’s competitions, and we’re excited to start the adult competitions today at the halfway point of this year’s festival.

“The clarsach competitions are always an attractive spectacle, and with two of the most prestigious awards taking place this afternoon, we know there will be some fantastic performances. I’m sure the adjudicators will have their work cut out making their decisions.”

Jennifer Port, Convenor of the Clarsach Society, said: “It is really encouraging to witness a resurgence of interest in the clàrsach in recent years, particularly amongst the younger generation.

“The clàrsach is said to be the oldest of all the traditional instruments of Scotland, and we are delighted that there are so many opportunites at the annual Royal National Mòd to take part in a variety of competitions - solo, duet, accompanied singing, composition, and ensemble playing.

“It is particularly encouraging to see a resurgence of interest in the Gaelic heartland of the Western Isles and I am sure this will be further developed now that there is a Gaelic-speaking harp tutor permanently based in Lewis.”