Baltimore-DC area Gaelic Learning Groups plan June 5 Picnic

CarderockTwo East Coast Gaelic Learning Communities plan to meet up on Sunday, June 4, from 1-5 pm, for a picnic and Gaelic hike at Carderock Recreation Area just outside Washington, D.C.

Gàidhlig Photomac, a group of Gaelic learners in the DC-Northern Virginia-Southern Maryland area, will join with Sgoil Ghàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhòir, the Baltimore Gaelic School, for càirdeas, ceòl, cluichean agus coiseachd (fun, music, games and walking).

The outing will start at 1 pm (try to get there a bit early), with a short class and a game, followed by the hike (which should be an easy one). We’ll learn appropriate Gaelic phrases and vocabulary on the way, and return for our picnic by about 3 pm.

This is the first joint event sponsored by the two groups, and a sign of growing interest in linking Gaelic Learning Communities throughout North America in social activities as well as language learning.

ACGA recently completed an initial survey on Gaelic Learning Communities and is looking for ways to actively support and encourage them and connect them.

For information on the picnic, visit Sgoil Ghàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhòir’s Facebook page, or the Meetup page of Gàidhlig Photomac.

— Liam Ó Caiside

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!

Report from 29th U.S. National Mòd

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Adjudicator Anne Lorne Gilles

The US Mòd was held on the last weekend of September, and we welcomed Anne Lorn Gillies, our adjudicator, as well as the Mòd gold medalists, DI Brown and Catriona MacNeil.  We had competitions in poetry, storytelling, unison singing, choir, and our biggest competition, the US Gold Medal.

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The 2016 Mòd Stage at the Ligonier Highland Games

About the choir: a local choir has been established in Ohio, called the Ohio Gaelic Choir, and they have visited the Mòd many times before. While they didn’t have another choir to compete with them, they performed two songs for the Mòd, and they received adjudication, encouragement, and advice from Anne.  Many people who heard them said they have really advanced through the years!

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Ohio Gaelic Choir

In the primary competition for the Mòd, at the end, Anne Alexander, who is also heavily involved in the Ohio choir, won the prize for the highest marks in the prescribed song category (one of the requisite competitions for the Gold Medal) and, finally, the Gold Medal itself.  James Ruff, from New York, the two prizes as well, for the men.  Congratulations to them both!

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The Mòd chair, Michael Mackay, said, “This is our 29th Mòd, and everyone who participated in the Mod exemplifies US learners – they are dedicated to the culture and language of the Gaels.  The competitors come here, not just for the chance to win prizes, but to advance and strengthen their Gaelic and without them, the Mòd would not be nearly as good as it is.  Anne Gillies has given them this advancement and strengthening to a very high standard, and we are much indebted to her.  We are also indebted to An Comunn Gaidhealach for the support they give us each year.

We can’t wait until the 30th Mòd!