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On the back of a record-breaking year in Lochaber, the Royal National Mòd gets under way in Dunoon tomorrow (Friday).
The nine-day Gaelic festival was last in Dunoon in 2012 and it will benefit from three new venues this year – the Queen’s Hall, The Burgh Hall and Kirn Primary School.
With a lot of the locations positioned close together, organisers are excited about the centralised atmosphere that will create.
Speaking to The Oban Times about preperation for this year’s event, Mòd manager James Graham said: ‘It’s going really well. Lochaber was a bumper year last year that broke records, so obviously entries are slightly down this year, but in line with the other local Mòds this year.
‘Last year was so busy; it was unprecedented. But this year’s entries are healthy.’
James added: ‘[Dunoon] is really well prepared. We have three new venues: The Queen’s Hall has been refurbished and it’s completely brand new and remodernised. It’s far more effective for running events and far better facilities. I’m really excited about using that.
‘The Burgh Hall is another new venue, and we have Kirn Primary School, which is new. We have stunning venues with stunning churches that we have used previously. We are spoiled for venues.
‘It’s all quite central, which will create a good atmosphere.
‘It was last here in 2012. That was one of my earlier Mòds. The landscape has changed since then. They have a really well drilled local committee.
‘A lot of them were involved in the last Mòd and they are well informed about how it works. They have been a big help.’
‘Other than that,’ the Mòd manager added, ‘we have a really good fringe programme with lots of different events, such as a flagship concert on Tuesday in association with Scottish National Heritage. [It’s about] the revival of the Clyde – it’s a big event due to the Mòd being held in Glasgow next year.
‘We have something for everyone. There will be a foraging event for children who might not be competing in the Mòd on Saturday.
‘They will be going out in the locality, looking at plants and learning the Gaelic words for them. It’s aimed at people not necessarily wanting to compete, but still want to take part.
‘There’s a lot going on.
‘We are looking forward to it and I think everyone in Dunoon is as well. Everything is ready, I think everything is in place – we are just looking forward to it taking place now.
‘So much has to be done in the weeks and months before, as with any event, down to the detail.
‘All the main infrastructure is in place. Fingers crossed for decent weather, especially for the children’s events Monday and Tuesday with them running from venue to venue.’
The Mòd officially kicks off this Friday with a torchlight procession, however, the weather is worrying James.
He said the forecast is not looking great and if there is heavy rain he might be forced to cancel the event – but he added that it has never been cancelled in the past.
Regardless of the weather, thousands of spectators and competitors will descend on Dunoon.
The event will come to a close on Saturday October 20 with the massed choirs taking to the streets.
Last year, the Ladies Mull Gaelic Choir had a very successful Mòd, winning three awards.
The island woman won the Grampian Television Trophy for their performance in the rural choir ladies category.
However, it was Dingwall Gaelic Choir who won the Lovat and Tullibardine Shield, with Oban finishing second.
Islay singer Alasdair Currie won the Gold Medal, with the traditional gold medals going to the headteacher of Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar, John Joe MacNeill, and Hannah Knight of Càrlabhagh.