30th US Mòd to Feature First ACGA Fèis

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This year will be the 30th Anniversary of the U.S. National Mòd or Mòd Naiseanta Aimeireagaidh, an event born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1988, when An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach launched what was then called Mòd Virginia at the Virginia Scottish Games.

The event will take place over four days this year, from the evening of Thursday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 24, at Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

We’ve grown from small beginnings, adding competitions over the years and expanding to cover Scottish Gaelic language arts such as poetry, storytelling and drama as well as song. And we’re still growing. This year we will be adding special competitions to mark our 30th anniversary. Most important, we’re adding an entire new event that broadens focus on Gaelic culture beyond language arts alone and competitions: the First ACGA Fèis.

What is a Fèis, and how is it different from a Mòd? Both feature Gaelic song and music. Both provide opportunities to develop skills in the Gaelic arts. But while mòdan or mòds feature competitions, fèisean do not. A fèis includes classes and workshops, rather than competitions. By adding a fèis to our Mòd, we can open doors to those who want to learn about Gaelic culture, learn to play a tune, or sing a song, without entering a competition.

In Scotland, the Fèis movement got its start in the 1980s. Today there are 47 local fèisean throughout Scotland, focused on local needs and providing infor- mal education.

The First Annual ACGA Fèis will be held all day Friday, Sept. 22, at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, which has been home to the U.S. National Mòd since 1995. That means participants will be able to arrive Thursday night, Sept. 21, for dinner and an opening event at the Village. We’re still planning our day-long program for Friday, but it will certainly include presentations on Gaelic tradition, song and instrumental workshops.

Keep an eye out for more information about this year’s adjudicator, online registration, and the Fèis and Mòd program, soon. ACGA members receive an electronic newletter, An Cuairtear Ceòlmhor.

South Uist’s Mary MacMillan joins instructors at Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Week

mary_macmillanWe’re delighted to announce Mary MacMillan, Gaelic teacher and singer from South Uist, will join us this year as an instructor at the Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week.

Mary taught at the 2010 Gaelic Week and now she’s coming back by popular demand. This week’s program runs from Sunday, July 2 through Friday, July 7, 2017 at Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, North Carolina. (Register here).

Mary MacMillan was born and raised on the island of South Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland. Scottish Gaelic is her first language. She has been singing Gaelic songs all her life and was a regular singer at the local Uist Mòd and cèilidhs from the age of five. As a teen, she competed and sang nationally.

Mary now has a career teaching in Gaelic medium education. Gaelic singing is an important part of her life and she regularly sings at cèilidhs and festivals throughout Scotland and Ireland. She is also an experienced fèis tutor. In 2007, she won the Traditional Singing Gold Medal at the Lochaber Mòd and the following year she was runner up in the Pan Celtic Festival in Donegal Town, Ireland.

Mary sings many songs collected from South Uist tradition bearers, and she is interested in a wide range of contemporary and traditional songs. She is one of the singers featured along with Seumas Campbell, Margaret Callan, and her younger brother Gillebrìde MacMillan,  on the CD “An Lorg nam Bàrd: In the Footsteps of the Bards: Traditional Gaelic Singing from the Uists”. Mary has also sung with the renowned waulking group “Bannal.”

Mary joins two other instructors, Angus MacLeod of Cape Breton and Alasdair Whyte of the Isle of Mull.

We are delighted to welcome Mary back to Beinn Seanair!