Lochaber teacher wins traditional gold medal

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It was a successful Royal National Mòd for the head teacher of Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar.

John Joe MacNeill, originally from Barra, won the Traditional Gold Medal.

The 33-year-old also finished fourth in the Gold Medal competition and won the Margrat Duncan Memorial Trophy with Lochaber Gaelic Choir.

The all-star choir was conducted by Rachel Walker, a music tutor at West Highland College UHI, who won the ladies’ Royal National Mòd Gold Medal on Wednesday evening.

The men’s Gold Medal was won by Alasdair Currie from Islay, however, John Joe says he will will try to win that next year when the Mòd takes place in Dunoon.

The Barra man also narrowly missed out on the Lovat and Tullibardine Shield by two points with Oban Gaelic Choir, who he also sings with.

Speaking the morning after winning the Traditional Gold Medal, John Joe, who also conducts Lochaber children’s Gaelic choir, said: ‘I am in shock, but I am delighted.

‘I have not had much of a holiday and am looking forward to Saturday and Sunday to relax. It’s great to win the traditional Gold Medal for Lochaber, but also for my own home town of Barra.

‘I left the stage thinking I messed up a fair bit, so I am really pleased I got the most points.’

To win the traditional gold, John Joe had to first qualify for the event, which he did by winning the morning competition and taking home the Lochaber Rotary Club Trophy.

He then had to sing two songs in the evening, one of which was written by a distant family member.

‘The other song was one I have loved all my life,’ he added.

When asked if he thought he would win, he said: ‘Not at all. I was very taken aback.’