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Scotland’s biggest Gaelic cultural festival Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd) returned to Dunoon for the eighth time last Friday.
The eight-day festival kicked off with a special celebration honouring Scotland’s Year of Young People, with an official opening by Councillor Robin Currie in the Queens Hall. Co-hosted by young Gaelic student Padruig Morrison, 22, the ceremony heard from An Comunn Gàidhealach’s president Allan Campbell before traditional groups SIAN and Beinn Lee took to the stage for an evening of lively music.
In his speech, Allan Campbell remarked on the death of the late John Macleod, who was president of An Comunn Gàidhealach for ten years, reiterating the appreciation for everything John did as president and for Gaelic in general.
In an exclusive announcement, he revealed An Comunn Gàidhealach, organisers of The Mòd, will establish an annual lecture in John’s memory. The first annual John Macleod Memorial Lecture will take place in January 2019 at the University of Edinburgh, where John studied law. The lectures will be hosted by the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies and, in a nod to his enthusiasm and encouragement of young people in the Gaelic community, the lectures will always be delivered by speakers under 30 years of age.
The news is fitting for this year’s Mòd, which celebrates Scotland’s Year of Young People with a special programme of fringe events and an opening ceremony showcasing the Gaelic community’s young talent.
In his speech, Mr Campbell reminded everyone of the importance of keeping Gaelic cultural heritage alive, highlighting the important contribution the National Mòd makes to Scotland. ‘The future of Gaelic is dependent on the confidence and opportunities which we provide for the young people who will succeed us,’ he said.
Earlier in the day, the prestigious Gaelic Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to Eilidh Cormack, 22, of Portree. The award, presented by Michael Russell MSP, celebrated how much Eilidh has accomplished within the Gaelic community at such a young age and the bright future ahead of her.
Eilidh, who won the women’s Gold Medal on her first competition attempt aged just 18 in 2014, is a singer in musical group SIAN and performed in this year’s opening ceremony.
Adverse weather conditions meant the annual torchlight procession which traditionally opens the Royal National Mod was cancelled following deliberation with local emergency services.
John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: ‘We are delighted to kick start this year’s Royal National Mòd and are excited to showcase Scotland’s best Gaelic talent once more.
‘The announcement honouring the late John Macleod is something we have been working to bring to fruition for some time and we cannot think of a more fitting tribute for a man who offered so much to the Gaelic community in his time.
‘This year, we are celebrating young people in our community and we aimed to reflect this with our opening ceremony performers and co-host as well as the deserving Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award recipient. Eilidh Cormack is an exceptional talent. We are certain she has a bright future and that her role as Gaelic Ambassador of the Year will inspire others to follow in Eilidh’s footsteps.’
Gaelic Ambassador of the Year Eilidh Cormack said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded with the Gaelic Ambassador of the year at the Royal National Mòd. I wasn’t expecting it, especially being so young. It’s going to encourage me to not only look back and appreciate what I’ve been doing and what the Mod have recognised, but also encourage me to keep doing it for years to come.’