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IOMAIN Cholmcille, the international shinty-hurling competition for Scottish Gaelic and Irish speakers, will be held in Fort William this year, marking 10 years of the most successful sporting event in Gaelic in Scotland.
The event will be held as part of the Royal National Mòd, Mòd Loch Abair on October 14, 2017, at An Aird.
The competition is unique in that all the players must be fluent in Scottish Gaelic or Irish and that they must use the language on the park. This is the first term that the competition has been held as part of the Mòd in its long history. Iomain Cholmcille was first held in Oban in 2007 as part of the Fèill Chaluim Chille. Since then, it has been held in Connemara, Donegal, Skye and Glasgow.
It has grown from one game between Alba, the Scottish Gaelic team, and Micheál Breathnach GAA to take in Fir Uladh from the North of Ireland and Na Gaeil Òga from Dublin. It has also now included a competition the Gaelic-speaking women of both countries, with the Còrn Sgàthaich played every year.
This year, there will be a youth competition for Lochaber youngsters where they will learn Gaelic while playing the game of the Gael. They will also have the opportunity to learn some hurling skills with coaching from representatives for the two competing Irish teams at An Arid in the morning.
Eògh Stewart, who has been the Scottish co-ordinator for 10 years, said: ‘We are delighted to be taking Iomain Cholmcille X to Fort William at the same time as the Royal National Mòd is in Lochaber. We are placing our fantastic event at the centre of Gaelic’s cultural heart and it is a great opportunity to learn from each other in language and sport.
‘There are many exciting things happening in Ireland right now in terms of trying to secure language rights and we hope that Scottish Gaels will gain some encouragement from our Irish guests. Iomain Cholmcille has been very successful in encouraging young men and women to engage with Gaelic and speak it again over the years and we hope that this continues to go from strength to strength.’
James Graham, Mòd development manager, welcomed the new partnership saying: ‘An Comunn Gàidhealach are delighted to host the international shinty-hurling competition for Scottish and Irish Gaels. There could be no better stage to host the competition that at the Royal National Mòd, Scotland’s largest Gaelic arts festival. It is also fitting that the competition takes place in Lochaber, a traditional heartland of shinty with a rich history. The competition is culturally important to both Irish and Gaelic languages in helping to strengthen the links between the Gaelic-speaking communities of both countries.’
The Royal National Mòd always holds a competition for shinty every year, and this has not been neglected. The Mòd Cup for local teams will be held on the same day at another venue TBC in the area. All in all, it will be a fantastic festival of shinty across Lochaber.
Iomain Cholmcille receives support from Colmcille, a partnership between bòrd na Gìadhilg and Foras na Gaeilge which seeks to strengthen and develop connections between Gaelic-speaking communities and individuals in Scotland and Ireland.
Iomain Cholmcille will be working in partnership with An Comunn Gàidhealach, the local Mòd committee and Fort William Shinty Club on this project.