Character of the Mòd: Dana says aloha to Lochaber

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Although many states in the US have strong ties with Scotland, Hawaii is probably not one that immediately springs to mind.

It was a bit of a surprise then to stumble upon one of the island’s natives avidly watching the waulking songs competitions at the Mòd in Fort William.

Dana Tomasino, from Honaunau or ‘The Big Island’ on Hawaii, was found sampling waulking songs in Duncansburgh church on a rainy Lochaber afternoon last week and, without fear of asking the obvious, the Lochaber Times wanted to know why she was here.

‘I’ve just arrived from Mull,’ she explained. ‘I had spent some time on the island after volunteering in Oban for a week and caught some of the Mull Mòd. I then met the Mull choir who I befriended, even getting to sing at one of their rehearsals.

‘They said they were heading up to Fort William to compete in the Royal National Mòd so I thought I’d come along.’

Dana’s chance encounter with the Mull choir is the latest in a line of adventures she has found herself in after setting off from Hawaii in April on a trip around the world. The 45-year-old has travelled across the US, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway before finding her way to the West Highlands of Scotland.

When asked about her experience of the Mòd, Dana said: ‘I’ve always been interested in Celtic culture, but I didn’t really know much about Gaelic. So its very intriguing, it’s such a different language. I’m a singer myself so I’m enjoying the musical aspect of it all.’

Dana said she was proud to watch the Mull ladies choir win their competition, especially since their winning song was the one which she sang with them at rehearsals.

‘Their winning song was my favourite that I practiced, it’s been stuck in my head since,’ Dana added.

After spending almost the full week at the Mòd, Dana reflected on its importance, saying: ‘There is actually a lot of similarities between the Gaels and the indigenous Hawaiians and the way they are resurrecting and celebrating their ancient language and culture.’