Royal National Mod

Royal National Mod
The Royal National Mod
Location(s) Scotland
Years active 1892 - present
Date(s) October
Genre Folk music, Traditional music, Choral music, Spoken word

The Royal National Mod (Scottish Gaelic: Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail) is the annual national mod, a festival of Scottish Gaelic song, arts and culture.

The Mod is run by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Gaelic Association), and includes competitions and awards.



The Mod was founded by An Comunn Gàidhealach. St Columba's Church, Glasgow also greatly influenced the Mod's inception when, in 1891, its choir was invited to give a Gaelic Concert in Oban, presided over by Lord Archibald Campbell.[1] The concert was a huge success and was attended by most of the nobility, including Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife. After the Concert the Choir were entertained to supper at the Alexandra Hotel, and a description of the entertainment is given in one of William Black's novels.[1] This concert was the prelude to the Gaelic Mod, the first being held at Oban the following year, when St. Columba Choir were successful in the Choir competition.[1]

The Mod has been held most years in October since 1892. The only years in which the National Mod was not held were the war years of 1914-1919 and 1939-1946. The "Royal" was not originally part of the name. It is still the practice of the St Columba's Church to send a Concert Party to start off the fund-raising when the Mod visits Oban. As well as winning the premier Choir competition for the first three years, the church has also had many Mod Gold Medallists over the years.


The Mod largely takes the form of formal competitions. Choral events and traditional music including Gaelic song, fiddle, bagpipe, clarsach and folk groups dominate. Spoken word events include children and adult's poetry reading, storytelling and Bible reading, and categories such as Ancient Folk Tale or Humorous Monologue. Children can also present an original drama, and there are competitions in written literature. The Mod also runs an annual shinty competition, the Mod Cup, between the two shinty teams closest to the place where the Mod is taking place.

The winners of each day's competitions are invited to perform in the winners' céilidhs held every evening.

One of the aims of the Mod is "securing the future of Gaelic language and culture".[2]

Culturally, the Mod is comparable to the Welsh Eisteddfod.

The Mod Fringe

The Mod draws a large crowd, which leads local venues to put on various events in addition to the official Mod events. These events are collectively referred to as The Mod Fringe, analogous to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which began as a group of independent artists performing in Edinburgh at the same time as the Edinburgh International Festival.

To participants, the Mod is also an opportunity to meet with old friends and make new ones. The Mod is popularly known as the "Whisky Olympics",[2] considered "either a vicious slur or fair comment".[3]

Media coverage

BBC Scotland has traditionally broadcasts Mod highlights on both BBC Two and Radio nan Gàidheal.[2] Since its introduction in 2008, BBC Alba has provided coverage in Gaelic. Presenters have included traditional musician, Gaelic speaker and broadcaster, Mary Ann Kennedy and Gaelic broadcaster Cathy Crombie.[2]

Past and future festivals

The Mod is held each October, and has been held in locations throughout Scotland, both highland and lowland. Recent and future locations include:

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Encouragement to the Gaelic Mod" in The Highlander's Friend Chapter 9, Highland Cathedral, St Columba's Church of Scotland
  2. ^ a b c d "Mod 2002 - and 20,000 Gaels blow in for festival of music", by Murdo MacLeod and Fiona Stewart in The Scotsman. Published Date: 12 October 2002. Accessed 8 September 2009
  3. ^ "Whisky Olympics continue to thrive in a Mod-ern world", by Peter Ross in The Scotsman. Published Date: 19 October 2008. Access date 8th September 2009
  4. ^ "Mod News: Royal Seal of Approval". 1 Oct 2010. Retrieved 21 Sep 2011. 
  5. ^ Stornoway Gazette, 16 Oct 2008
  6. ^ Stornoway Gazette, 16 Oct 2009
  7. ^ Caledonian Mercury, 20 Feb 2010

External links

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