Mòd Ligonier Puts US Spotlight on Scottish Gaelic Song, Language

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Scottish Gold Medalist Alasdair Currie sings at Mòd Ligonier and the Ligonier Highland Games.


Scottish Gaelic song, story and poetry rang out at the Ligonier Highland Games this year when ACGA held its latest Mòd — a day-long competition in Gaelic language arts and tradition. The popularity of the Mòd — ACGA has held one in Ligonier each year since 1995 — demonstrates how important Gaelic song is to learning, teaching, and promoting Scottish Gaelic in North America.

Mòd Ligonier, held at the games Saturday, Sept. 22, featured singers, musicians, storytellers, a Gaelic choir, and special guest Alasdair Currie, winner of the 2017 men’s gold medal at the Royal National Mòd in Scotland. Alasdair and Mike Mackay, ACGA president, adjudicated the competitions.

AA Scottish Gaelic song competition will be held as well at the Central Virginia Celtic Festival Oct. 27, held in Richmond. That competition is sponsored by the Learned Kindred of Currie and Currie Family Cultural Tent.

The US National Mòd is expected to return next year in a larger format, and perhaps in a new location. Contact Michael Mackay for more information or if you would like to help with the event.

The results of Mòd Ligonier 2018 competitions are as follows:

Bàrdachd (poetry recital):

First place, Anne Alexander; Second place equal Cam MacRae and Hilary Rosado

Sgeulachd (storytelling):

FFirst place, Cam MacRae; Second place, Hilary Rosado

Sight reading:

First place, Hilary Rosado; Second place, Cam MacRae, Third place, Anne Alexander.

Open song:

First place, Anne Alexander; Second place, Hilary Rosado; Third place, Sharon McWhorter

Combined (one prescribed, one self select song):

First place Anne Alexander; Second place, Mary Wake

Accompanied song:

First place, Carol Kappus, Second place, Anne AlexanderK

Còisir (choir):

Còisir Ghàidhlig Ohio

Harmonized singing:

First place, Sharon McWhorter and Anne Alexander.

Photo of Alasdair Currie, top, by Michael Mackay; Photos of Mòd competitions and competitors (Còisir Ghàidhlig Ohio, upper left, seated, Cam MacRae; lower right, standing, Sharon McWhorter) by Thomas Ashby McCown.

Cracking the ‘Halloween Nut’ in North Carolina: A Free Public Event

Samhain

You may be aware that Halloween is derived from the Gaelic (and more broadly, Celtic) festival of Oidhche Shamhna and Samhain. The festival, with its pre-Christian roots, commemorated the last phase of the harvest season, ancestors, and the end of the old (agricultural) year. But how much do you really know about the Samhain customs and beliefs of the Scottish Highlanders?

To dig past the commercial trappings of the modern holiday (and modern misconceptions) and get at its roots, plan to attend a free public lecture at the University of North Carolina Oct. 26 called “A’ Cnagadh Cnù na Samha: Cracking the Halloween Nut: Sensing and Making Sense of a Scottish Highland Calendar Custom.” The lecture will be delivered by Dr. Tiber Falzett, the inaugural visiting lecturer in Scottish Gaelic Studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Dr. Falzett will explore the unique and universal aspects of Halloween folkways among Scottish Highlanders in North America and in Scotland, using field recordings of custom and belief within Gaelic-speaking communities, newspaper editorials, and song compositions. Together, these Gaelic voices will bring to life the cultural significance of Halloween for Highland immigrant communities, providing valuable insights into the reasons for Halloween’s near-universal appeal.

Learning more about the Gaelic customs of Oidhche Shamhna will help attendees compare Halloween’s many divergent re-interpretations as it has become popularized around the world. It will also help Gaelic learners and speakers reconnect with the holiday as Scottish Highlanders and their descendants in North America celebrated it yesterday and today.

The lecture is scheduled for 6:30 pm to 8 pm in UNC’s Kenan Music Building, room 1201, at 125 S. Columbia Street in Chapel Hill. There will be a celebratory reception afterward.

The lecture also celebrates the the first Scottish Heritage USA Scottish Gaelic Visiting Lectureship at UNC, a major step in advancing Scottish Gaelic Studies in the United States. The lectureship is funded by Scottish Heritage USA and is the result of a two-year campaign by the Scottish Gaelic Foundation of the USA or Gaelic USA.

Before coming to UNC this fall, Falzett, a fluent Scottish Gaelic speaker, lectured in the Department of History at the University of Prince Edward Island. He previously lectured at St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he taught courses on the folklore and ethnology of the Gaelic communities of Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

For more information, visit the lecture’s event page on Facebook.

ACGA ‘Mini-Mòd’ Coming to Ligonier Sept. 21-23

Celebrating after a recent ACGA Mòd in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Join us this year Sept. 21-23 in Ligonier for a "mini-Mòd" as we prepare a bigger event for 2019.
Celebrating after a recent ACGA Mòd in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Join us this year Sept. 21-23 in Ligonier for a “mini-Mòd” as we prepare a bigger event for 2019.

ACGA’s National Mòd in Pennsylvania is on hiatus for 2018 as we re-tool for an expanded event in 2019, but we’ve gotten a large number of inquiries and requests to get together in Ligonier again this year, to have a smaller, informal Mòd.

We just can’t let the year go by without keeping the tradition of singing, storytelling, poetry, and good times going in some form! We are very fortunate to have Alasdair Currie, the An Comunn Gàidhealach Royal Mòd men’s Gold Medal winner from 2017, come visit us for the event – and the women’s Gold Medalist, Rachel Walker, is working with us to come over at a future date! 

We will be in Ligonier , Pennsylvania, Sept. 21-23, 2018, just like always, but we’ll be gathering on Friday at a nearby hotel, and anyone who wants to come to the Mòd can find accommodations in the area — whatever works for your budget! More details to come soon!

Gaelic song competition Mòd nan Lochan Mòra to be held June 8-10

The premiere Scottish Gaelic song event of the Midwest — Mòd nan Lochan Mòra or The Great Lakes Mòd — returns to Akron, Ohio, June 8-10.

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This year’s adjudicator will be Seumas Greumach (James Graham) of Sutherland, Scotland, winner of the men’s Bonn Òr a’ Chomuinn or Gold Medal at the Royal National Mòd. James has been an instructor at ACGA’s Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week and a guest at the ACGA US National Mòd.

Mòd events will include singing competitions, storytelling, poetry recitations, and a workshop. This year we have some exciting events, including an all new competition — a Folk Band Challenge. You don’t need to already have a folk group; any singer or musician can learn the prescribed piece and we will randomly select groups to compete together.

Kids are especially welcome to come take part in the Mòd. We have a competition for Youth age 14-17, and one for children 13 and under.

Please email Anne Alexander at tinwhistle_aa@yahoo.com for complete information, including the registration form.

Registration Open for 20th Annual Gaelic Song and Language Week

BeinnSeanairThey say time flies, but it’s still hard to believe we will be gathering in North Carolina this July for the 20th Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week, held from July 9 to 13 in Banner Elk, just before the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 12-15.

Every year since 1998, An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach has held a week of classes taught by some of the finest Gaelic singers from Scotland and Nova Scotia, and some of the finest Gaelic language teachers from Scotland, Canada and the United States.

This year we will welcome Margaret Bennett, folklorist, Gaelic singer and teacher, and we’ll welcome back Catrìona Parsons and Jamie MacDonald. We look forward to spending a week with them at Lees MacRae College in Banner Elk, in the mountains of North Carolina.

Lodgings are provided at the college’s “Virginia” dormitory, with check-in the afternoon of Sunday, July 8. Meals are provided through the college, though students may opt to eat off-campus in Banner Elk or other nearby towns as well (see the registration form).

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The week is an unparalleled opportunity to dive deep into Scottish Gaelic song and language, with classes at three levels for learners ranging from absolute beginners to fluent speakers. Students can mix and match classes and teachers and subjects as they please.

The week also features special events such as sessions on Highland folklore, movies in Gaelic, hiking and evening cèilidhs and song sessions. We hold a popular silent auction. In recent years we’ve had sessions on dance, types of songs and songs from specific islands and regions.

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games — now celebrating their 63rd year — follow the event. The Grandfather Mountain games feature the North Carolina Provincial Mòd, a competition in Scottish Gaelic song judged by our Song and Language Week instructors.

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We hope you’ll join us! Tiugainn leinn! For more information, go to the Events section this website and the Grandfather Mountain GSLW page. To register, click here.