Register now for ACGA’s Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Week


Registration is now open for the 2019 ACGA Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song & Language Week, a five-day intensive exploration of Scottish Gaelic song, language and culture in the western mountains of North Carolina. This year’s program will run from Sunday, July 7 through Friday, July 12, followed by the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd.

Go to the GS&LW landing page for detailed information and to our online registration form.

The GS&LW returns to Lees-MacRae College for its 21st year, featuring instructors James GrahamTiber Falzett and Jamie MacDonald. James is a native of Scotland and winner of the men’s gold medal at the Royal National Mòd, while Tiber hails from Prince Edward Island and is the visiting lecturer of Scottish Gaelic Studies at the University of North Carolina. Jamie is a native of North Carolina with a Ph.D from the University of Edinburgh. He is a founder of the GS&LW week, a frequent teacher at the event, and organizer of the North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd that takes place during the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

All three will offer instruction in Scottish Gaelic song and language, with classes running from Monday morning through Friday at noon. Lessons will be available for everyone from beginners to fluent speakers. There will be workshops as well focused on specific aspects of Gaelic culture, whether dance, music, song or story. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an exceptional program.

Òran Bagraidh: Reimagining a song and a language

It’s well-known, or should be, that Scottish Gaelic was once spoken well beyond the Hebrides and Highlands, as far south as the Scottish borders during the Middle Ages. That’s been obscured by history and historical myth-making that sought to de-emphasize the role of the Gaels in Scotland (how many times have researchers heard “Gaelic was never spoken here” from people in parts of Scotland pocked with Gaelic place names, and in some cases where Gaelic was alive within living memory or just beyond it? The answer, too many times.)

An ambitious artistic project last year attempted to leap and blur some of the dividing lines of history and revive a song called Òran Bagraidh, possibly a relic — the only one — of the Gaelic once spoken in Galloway in southwestern Scotland. Galloway. The song came to light in the book “From the Farthest Hebrides,” (MacMillan Company of Canada, 1978) a collection of songs edited by Donald A. Ferguson of Cape Breton and Aonghas Iain MacDhomhnaill, or Angus John MacDonald, originally of Knockline, North Uist.

(Although some of the songs in the book were later found to be inventions of MacDhomhnaill, scholars have given Òran Bagraidh “serious consideration.” Read this informative blog by Michael Newton for more background.)

Medieval Galloway was a place where many languages met — a form of Cumbric or Welsh, Irish or Gaelic, English and Norse. It’s fitting that the Òran Bagraidh project involved musicians and poets drawn from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. They met for a week-long collaboration at Barscobe House in Galloway last September, using the song as a “springboard” to explore “commonalities and differences between musical styles and languages, within the context of the historical diversity of Galloway.”

The group has since performed their version of Òran Bagraidh in concert and an album featuring the song and other original works by the artists was released February 2. The album, more information, and a longer video on the project is available on

Top Gaelic teachers, Musicians coming to Fèis Seattle 2019


ACGA Members & Friends: The Board of Directors of Slighe nan Gaidheal in Seattle would like to invite you to attend Féis Seattle 2019 this coming August in Olympia, Washington. 

From Aug. 13 to 18, Evergreen College will be filled with piping, singing, fiddling, clàrsach music, and the sounds of Scottish Gaelic.  Please join us for the classes, céilidhs, concerts, and “craic.”

Information about our stellar faculty and accommodation can be found at or on the Féis Seattle FB page.

The Fèis will feature Gaelic instruction from Catrìona Parsons, Frances Acar, Archie Campbell, and Rachel McPherson. Kathleen MacInnes will teach Gaelic song, and Rona Lightfoot will teach piping and some Gaelic song. Other instructors and presenters include harpist Ingrid Henderson, fiddler Ewen Henderson, and accordion and shinty player Gary Innes.

We would be overjoyed to forge new bonds of friendship with ACGA! 

Sincerely yours agus le meas,

Richard Hill, President Emeritus, Slighe nan Gaidheal

Mòd Ligonier Puts US Spotlight on Scottish Gaelic Song, Language


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.

Registration open for Mòd Ligonier; Islay’s Alasdair Currie to attend

Alasdair Currie
Alasdair Currie, 2017 Royal National Mòd men’s gold medal winner.

Registration is now open for Mòd Ligonier 2018, which will be held at the Ligonier Highland Games in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Sept. 22, and Sunday, Sept. 23.

Download the registration form in pdf format by clicking on the link below, choose your competitions, and return it to registrar Anne Alexander by email. You may bring payment to the Mòd on Sept. 22.

Mod Ligonier Registration 2018

Mòd Ligonier will feature competitions in Scottish Gaelic song, poetry, storytelling familiar to those who’ve attended ACGA’s U.S. National Mòd in years past. (The national Mòd, which celebrated its 30th anniverary last year, is on hiatus this year as we plan a larger gathering in 2019.)

We’re delighted to welcome as Alasdair Currie and our own Michael Mackay as adjudicators. Currie was born and raised on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, and lived on a farm called Ballachlaven at the north end of the island. He began singing and competing in mòds at a very young age. As a child he won the ‘Dunoon Observer Gold Medal’ for boy’s solo singing 10-12, the James C. Macphee badge for boy’s solo singing 13-15, and the open competition for boys aged 16-18.

In his first year competing as an adult at the Royal National Mòd, Currie won the Silver Pendant in Oban. He finished third in the Gold Medal competition the next year in Lewis and won the Gold Medal in Fort William in 2017.  He is one of more than 20 gold medal winners from the Royal National Mòd since 1998 who have attended the U.S. National Mòd and now Mòd Ligonier.

Alasdair studied bagpipes and small pipes at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, for three years, achieving a degree with distinction in Gaelic and Traditional Music and received tutoring from Christine Primrose, Arthur Cormack and Blair Douglas.

Michael Mackay
Michael Mackay, ACGA president

Michael Mackay
has been learning Scottish Gaelic since the late 1990s, and is now a fluent contributor to BBC radio and television programs such as Aithris na Maidne (The Morning Report) and Prògram Choinnich (Kenny MacIver’s morning show). 
He also, along with Liam Cassidy and Ed Bradshaw, created an Internet Gaelic news topic show, Gaelcast, and produced An Saoghal Againne, a Gaelic news program for Rèidio Guth nan Gàidheal, now archived and available on Mixcloud.

Mackay is president of ACGA. He has adjudicated at the North Carolina Provincial Mòd, connected with ACGA’s Grandfather Mountain Song and Language Week and the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Mackay has won the gold medal at the U.S. National Mòd several times, as well as getting several first place wins at the Royal Mòd in Scotland in prose competitions, and a second place in the Traditional Gold Medal competition.


This year, we won’t be staying at the Antiochian Village. Mòd attendees are free to choose lodging that suits their budgets in the Ligonier area. There are many hotels in the area, but it’s best to book early, as the Ligonier Highland Games draws thousands of people to the region.

We’ll be gathering on Friday night before the Saturday event, and the location and schedule should be available soon. Keep an eye on this page for more information!