Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd), Scotland’s premier festival celebrating Gaelic linguistic and cultural heritage, will this year travel to the Western Isles for the fifth time in its 120 year history, last visiting the Islands in 2005.
The eight day celebration of Gaelic music, dance, drama, arts and literature, running from Friday 14th until Saturday 22th October, is set to attract thousands of participants and embrace the entire community of the Islands including Lewis, Harris, Benbecula, Barra and the Uists.
Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, the world’s oldest and most respected Gaelic organisation, The Royal National Mòd is a competition based festival which attracts competitors from Gaelic communities throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Canada and the USA and is considered the biggest event of the Gaelic calendar.
John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach said: “We are delighted to be taking The Mòd back to the Western Isles this year; an area which has a strong history of delivering a fantastic event for participants and spectators alike. The local organising committee has worked tirelessly to ensure this year’s event is a great success and has a spectacular array of fringe activities; I’d urge people to some along and see what the Mòd has to offer.
“We have already had a fantastic response from people of all ages signing up to take part in the competitions this year and have had entries from as far a field as Canada, United Arab Emirates, California and Virginia.”
The Royal National Mòd offers a huge range of opportunities for people to compete, from fluent Gaelic speakers to those in the fledging stages of learning the language.
The fringe activities offer an annual opportunity for Gaels and non-Gaels to gather and renew old friendships as well as forging new ones. Activity for this year includes ceilidhs, open stage music evenings, road dances each evening, historical exhibitions, ‘come and try’ musical workshops, and the annual Angus Macleod memorial lecture.
The festival kicks off on Friday 14th October with a grand opening ceremony taking place in the early evening followed by a traditional energetic ceilidh at night to get visitors in the mood for the week long competitive festival.
Competitions begin on Monday 17th October, kicking off a week filled with Gaelic music, song, dance, drama, sport and literature.
Children’s competitions take place at the start of the week and nearly 1,700 children from across the country taking part. The Traditional and Gold Medal qualifying rounds take place on Wednesday 19 October with the finals on Thursday 20 October.
The coveted Lovatt & Tullibardine and Margrat Duncan titles will be awarded on Friday 21 October before the final concert takes place. The grand finale of the 2011 Royal National Mòd will take place on Saturday 22 October when the Massed Choirs will gather and parade in Ceàrnag Phearsabhail (Perceval Square), led by local Pipebands.
2010 saw the Mòd come to Caithness for the first time; the successful event saw HRH The Duke of Rothesay visit and present the two winners of the Mod Gold Medal competition, Joy Dunlop and Iain MacLean, with their prizes. Over 2,000 competitors took part in the 2010 Royal National Mòd and with thousands of visitors travelling to Caithness during the event.
Alex MacDonald, Convener, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Local Organising Committee Mòd nan Eilean Siar 2011, said: “As Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and of the local organising committee of Mod nan Eilean Siar 2011, I am delighted to have the opportunity of welcoming the Mod back to the Western Isles for the 5th time in its history. There is no more appropriate setting for this week-long celebration of Gaelic language and culture than the Gaelic heartland of the Western Isles.
“Gaelic is embedded in the very fabric of these islands, with a population that celebrates the language in all aspects of daily life: in the home, workplace and in the community. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is proud to support the Gaelic language and will do everything in its power to retain and promote its rightful place at the heart of Scotland’s rich cultural heritage.”
Phil Preston, Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne, (CalMac) said:”The Royal National Mód is one of the highlights of CalMac’s year, and we are particularly excited to be coming to Stornoway which is such an important part of our network. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet and engage with people from across our area, and look forward to welcoming them to our vintage MacBrayne’s bus, which was such a hit in Thurso last year.”