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After eight days of competitions, performances and festivities, the Royal National Mòd says goodbye to current host, Lochaber.
Scotland’s biggest Gaelic festival has been hailed a huge success, with a record number of participants leaving a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. Thousands of Gaels and supporters made their way to the festival to enjoy all that the Mòd has to offer, with somewhere in the region of up to £2.5m expected to have been generated for the local economy.
Officially closing on Saturday (October 21), the final event took place on the streets of Fort William, as the massed choir made its way along the High Street for a final sing-a-long. Representatives from 2018 host town Dunoon were present for the ceremonial handover. The Gaelic festival will return to Dunoon for the eighth time next year, taking place from October 12-20, 2018.
Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, the event is the biggest and most important festival of the Gaelic language in the world. This year saw a rise in under-18s competing in traditional singing events and literature events, with at least 200 more entrants than the previous year. The rising interest in the festival and traditional Gaelic culture bodes well for future events and the Mòd’s continued success.
The top prizes this year went to Alasdair MacMhuirich and Rachel Walker in the Gold Medal competition; John Joe MacNeil and Hannah Knight in the Traditional Gold Medal and Ishbel Campbell and Coinneach MacLeod took home the Silver Pendants.
Claire Frances NicNìll was awarded this year’s first ever Charlie MacColl Memorial Award, for achieving the highest mark in Traditional Singing (ages 16-18), and Mary Sophia Morrison scooped the new Angus Nicol Memorial Quaich.
In the choir competitions; Back Choir won the Lorn Shield, and Bùrach scooped the Sheriff MacMaster. On Friday, Lochaber Choir were presented the Margrat Duncan Memorial Trophy; and the Lovat and Tullibardine was won by Dingwall for the second year running.
John Morrison, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach said: ‘What a fantastic year it’s been for the Royal National Mòd in Lochaber. To welcome the highest number of participants in a decade is special, and shows the strength and importance of Gaelic Culture. The level of competition has been outstanding.
‘I’m delighted to welcomed so many new faces among the familiar ones this year, and we hope they’ll be returning to join us in Dunoon next year.
‘It’s encouraging to see so many young entrants and winners this year, and the quality of competition has been magnificent. I’d like to extend our gratitude to everyone involved in running this year’s Mòd, and particularly to the local organising committee, and all of our volunteers and sponsors. Planning is already under way for Mòd 2018 in Dunoon and we look forward to seeing everyone there.’
Councillor Alister Mackinnon, chairman of The Highland Council’s corporate resources committee and chairman of the Gaelic strategic implementation group said: ‘The Royal National Mòd in Lochaber has been highly successful. I believe the Mòd provides a platform for Gaelic and cultural development to the community. It is hugely important nationally as a means of raising the profile of Gaelic’s role in our heritage. The Lochaber Mòd has proven that Gaelic is a thriving, living, modern language.
‘The Mòd is central to Gaelic development as it supports education, broadcasting – including new media – the creative industries and adds greatly to the economy of the area where it is being hosted.
‘The numbers of competitors are increasing and this was evident earlier this week, especially participation from the youth sector. They are our tradition bearers of the future.’
Councillor Mackinnon, continued: ‘Fort William and the Lochaber area has proven once again that it is an ideal location to host the Mòd. It is also rewarding to see a high percentage of local Lochaber input winning highly credible results in the major competitions.
‘On behalf of Highland Council, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all the competitors, the local organising committee, An Comunn Gàidhealach, and all the volunteers for their hard work to ensure that Mòd Lochaber was a huge success.
‘S math a rinn sibh!’
Paul Bush OBE, director of events at Event Scotland said: ‘We are delighted to see the Royal National Mòd enjoy another successful year celebrating Gaelic culture. Lochaber has been the perfect host in 2017, Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, helping to reaffirm Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for events.’
Brian Fulton, CalMac’s director of community and stakeholder engagement said: ‘The 2017 Mòd in Fort William has been a great success and we congratulate everyone associated with it for putting on such a memorable and enjoyable event. The Mòd is a highlight of our year and the 2017 event fully lived up to the very high expectations we had for it.’