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Thurso Mod 2010 Index

Royal National Mòd

2007 Lochaber MOD

2008 Falkirk MOD

Royal National Mòd
Thurso 2010 Bid

The Royal National MOD
by Myrtle Gillies

Myrtle Gillies has prepared this item in connection with a bid by a Caithness group to bring the MOD to Caithness in 2010 where it would use Thurso as its main base but would undoubtedly spread across the county particularly to Wick for venues and all parts for accommodation with anticipated contestants, families and visitors possibly reaching as high as 12,000 visitors over the week of the event.  This item gives some history and information on the scale of the event that has grown ever larger over the years and is one of the biggest events in any area chosen to be the host.

THE ROYAL NATIONAL MOD (Mod means Annual Gathering)
The first mod was held in Oban in 1892, a year after the establishment of the Gaelic Society, An Comunn Gaidhealach in 1891.

The reason for the establishment of An Comunn Gaidhealach was the great concern felt by a number of intellectual Gaels about the drastic decline in Gaelic language and culture arising from the Education Act of 1872. The Act had banned the use of Gaelic in Schools because it was regarded, and I quote, “as a deterrent to economic and social advancement”. Children heard speaking Gaelic even in the school playground were beaten – sometimes quite savagely. My own family were an example of the consequences of this policy. When my Father and his sister were born to native Gaelic-speaking parents, the parents decided only to speak English in the home so as not to disadvantage their children when they went to school. Later, when my grandfather moved to a job in Mull where the ban was not so rigidly applied, this was thankfully rectified and my Father became a noted Gaelic singer, competing at many Mods.

Only in 1918 was a rather wishy-washy clause added to the Education Act reversing the policy. But by then grave damage had been done and Gaelic has struggled for survival ever since.
The earliest Mods were one-day affairs involving a few dozen people. Over the years the mod has grown steadily being held each year except during 1914 –18 and 1939-45. It was granted a royal charter in 1992 to commemorate its centenary, and has since been known as the Royal National Mod. It is held in a wide range of venues, the furthest south being East Kilbride in 1975 and the furthest north so far being Golspie in 1976 and again in 1995.

These days the Mod takes place over a period of 9 days, starting on a Friday evening in mid October with the formal opening ceremony and reception for the great and the good of Gaelic and the host community.

Saturday is devoted to instrumental competitions, including piping, fiddling, accordion, piano and keyboard.

The annual mod shinty match also takes place on Saturday.

Saturday concludes with a fiddlers’ rally of fairly mammoth proportions.

There is a Gaelic Church service on Sunday afternoon.

Monday is devoted to a wide range of competitions for children who are learning Gaelic – kids who are not native speakers.

Tuesday is dedicated to children who are native speakers of the language. On both these days, competitions include literary and oral classes as well as a number of solo, group and choral singing classes. Both Monday and Tuesday culminate in prizewinners concerts in the evening.

The rest of the week is mostly dedicated to Senior competitions.

Wednesday sees a whole day of Clarsach competitions (both junior and senior).

There are a number of solo singing classes including qualifying rounds for the Gold Medals, Traditionals and Silver Pendants competitions.

There is also a competition for drama groups.

Thursday sees a variety of oral classes.
Thursday is also the big day for solo singing with the Finals for the Gold Medals, Traditional Medals and Silver Pendants with classes for ladies and gents in all three..
The rural Choirs competitions also take place on Thursday.
The day ends with the Rural Choirs Concert.

Friday is devoted to competitions for the Town or Area Choirs and Choirs from outside Scotland.
There are also classes for Quartets, Duets and Folk Groups and for precenting ( leading unaccompanied psalm singing).

The Grand Concert brings Friday’s programme to a conclusion.

On the final Saturday forenoon there is the massed choirs parade through the town led by at least one pipe band – quite a spectacle.

This culminates in massed choral singing involving several hundred choristers. An appropriate conclusion for one of the top cultural gatherings in Scotland.

Throughout the week there are a number of official and semi-official ceilidhs and a number of exhibitions and presentations.

But we should not forget the Mod Fringe
As at the Edinburgh Festival, the Mod has a large programme of fringe events.
All the bars and any other suitable venues in the town will be taken over by bands, singers and groups from all over Scotland as part of the fringe.

Finally, just a few Mod statistics:

  • There are over 100 competitions for junior competitors

  • Around 60 competitions for seniors

  • Around 30 junior choirs compete at the mod

  • Up to 40 senior choirs

  • The greatest number of competitions in any one day take place on the Tuesday when anything up to 18 separate venues are required.

  • Last year, at Dunoon, twelve of the competitions over Monday and Tuesday each attracted more than 30 entries – 2 of these classes had 48 entries each.

  • A total of 42 adjudicators and judges were employed during the course of mod week last year in Dunoon

  • There were 7 piping judges, 15 other music adjudicators and 20 Gaelic adjudicators. Gaelic adjudications are given for all literary, oral and singing competitions.

This year’s Mod (2007) is in Fort William; next year’s (2008) in Falkirk – a first for my home town.

In 2009 the MOD returns to Oban.

We await the decision for the place to hold the 2010 Mod. The announcement is expected to be made in Fort William at the 2007 MOD taking place in October.