Royal National Mòd Kicks Off in Style in Lochaber

Mallaig take home Mod Cup.
Mallaig take home Mod Cup.

The Royal National Mòd (Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail) opened on Friday night as Scotland’s biggest Gaelic cultural festival arrived in Lochaber for the first time in a decade.

Running until Saturday 21st of October, the Mòd will bring thousands of people to Lochaber as visitors and competitors make their way from across Scotland, the UK, and even the US.

Friday saw a torchlight procession through the streets of Fort William ahead of the official opening, with hundreds in attendance.

At the ceremony, the new President of An Comunn Gàidhealach, Allan Campbell, gave his inaugural president’s address. In his speech, Mr Campbell called for the Royal National Mòd to be acknowledged as a Scottish cultural treasure.

The opening ceremony included sensational performances by a former Mòd gold medallist Robert Robertson with Ross Wilson, and Gaelic folk group Na h-Òganaich completing the musical highlights.

On Saturday, the Mòd played host to the international Colmcille Shinty competition, which ended Alba 4 – 0 Fir Uladh.

In the football, Mallaig beat Sleat & Strath of Skye 6-1 and took home the Mod cup.

The main competitions also kicked off with young Gaels vying for medals in fiddle, piano, accordion, melodeon and bagpipes.

In the Fringe, Alexandra Hotel played host to a training session from The National Library of Scotland and Wikipedia – where locals could learn about the Gaelic site and how to edit it.

A foraging walk also allowed guests to explore the local area and discover Scotland’s natural larder of edible plants, fungi and berries, before the party kicked off in the evening with the Fiddler’s Rally, with performances from Gold Medallists Eilidh Davis and Alasdair Whyte.

Sunday brought a day of rest in Lochaber, with the Royal National Mòd hosting a Gaelic service at Duncansburgh Church, ahead of a Celtic praise – a celebration of praise with music and song from the Church Gospel Band and more.

Over the next six days, the Royal National Mòd will host the highest number of participants in a decade, performing in competitions for Gaelic music, song, drama, highland dancing and literature, with all levels of Gaelic taking part.

John Morrison, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach said: “This year’s Royal National Mòd has got off to a flying start and we’re looking forward to welcoming a record number of participants to Lochaber this year.

“It’s a joy to be back here after ten long years, and we thank the local community for such a warm welcome.

We have already seen some amazing performances, competitions and sport at this year’s festival, and we’re only three days in.

“The rest of the Mòd promises more exciting contests and performances, especially with the coveted Gold and Traditional Medal finals, and the Lovat and Tullibardine and Margrat Duncan awards later in the week.”