‘S e Nollaig a th’ ann! Students release Gaelic Christmas song

A Scottish Gaelic Christmas song performed by a high school rock band is spreading not just throughout Scotland but worldwide.

“‘S e Nollaig a th’ ann! (It’s Christmas!”) was recorded by Làn Chomais, a Gaelic rock band from Greenfaulds High School, and released Dec. 7.

Làn Chomais (which means full of ability or power), recorded the song with the backing voices of 1,000 students from Gaelic language programs at schools across North Lanarkshire.

“This experience has been awesome and has given us an amazing opportunity to promote the Gaelic profile of North Lanarkshire while working at a professional level with hugely inspiring musicians,” said Emily Robertson, the band’s lead singer.

“We have been searching for a way to make people more aware of the fact that Gaelic is alive and well in our area,” said Kevin Rogers, a Gaelic teacher at the high school, located in Cumbernauld, northeast of Glasgow.

“We’re Gaels like anybody else who speaks the language and is involved in the culture,” he explains in the YouTube video.

‘S e Nollaig a th’ ann! is available to download on iTunes, Amazon, Google, and Spotify.

Click here to learn more about the Gaelic-medium education program at Greenfaulds High School.

ACGA President MacKay: “Stay in the Fight”

GaelicUSA, an organization working to endow a chair of Scottish Studies at an American university, interviewed ACGA President Michael MacKay about his own experience as a Gaelic learner and his views on Gaelic and the role of ACGA in the Gaelic world.


Of course, we think Mike is dead on target in discussing the importance of the language. Read the interview and form (and share) your own opinions. This quote from Mike, in particular, stand out as important to us, and to everyone around the globe working to keep Gaelic alive:

” We want to actively work with any and all groups that are leading efforts to educate their members about Gaelic, provide resources to those learning the language, and otherwise supporting Gaelic in their activities, to provide them whatever resources we can ourselves, to help get them in touch with other groups here and in Scotland, and to stay in the fight.”

Tapadh leat gu mòr, a Mhicheal. And many thanks to Michael Newton and GaelicUSA, also known as The Scottish Gaelic Foundation of the USA/Urras Gàidhlig nan Stàitean Aonaichte.

Great Lakes Mòd Celebrates Gaelic Song

Competitors at the Great Lakes Mòd!
Còisir Ghàidhlig Ohio – Ohio’s Gaelic Choir.

Mòd nan Lochan Mòra/The Great Lakes Mod kicked off this year’s North American mòd season at Akron, Ohio, in the middle of June.

Participants gathered Friday night for a pot-luck supper followed by sight-reading, storytelling, and poetry competitions adjudicated by Angus MacLeod, winner of the men’s Bonn Òr a’ Chomuinn at the 2014 Royal National Mòd in Scotland. Saturday saw the singing competitions, which included both a prescribed song competition and open competitions, and a performance by Còisir Ghàidhlig Ohio.

Mike Mackay came in first in the open song competition, followed by Anne Alexander, organizer of Mòd nan Lochan Mòra, and Sharon McWhorter, who tied for second. Hilary NicPhàidein took first in storytelling, followed by Mike; and Hilary and Cam MacRae tied in the poetry competition.

Adjudicator Angus MacLeod.
Adjudicator Angus MacLeod.

Cam placed first in sight-reading, followed by Anne and then Hilary. As is usual in mòd competitions, the adjudicator gave oral and written comments to all participants whether they were competing or auditing.

The North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd will take place at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 8, and the season will end with a flourish with the 30th annual U.S. National Mòd and first ACGA Fèis in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Sept. 21-24.

Keep an eye out for news about the U.S. National Mòd here an in the Events section of our website. Registration should open shortly.

And finally, don’t forget the Scotland’s Royal National Mòd, a ten-day annual event that this year will be held in Lochaber, Scotland, Oct. 13-21.

Gaelic Legends in the Landscape: A Weekend Course with Roddy Maclean

The Field Studies Council's Kindrogan Centre in the Scottish Highlands.
The Field Studies Council’s Kindrogan Centre in the Scottish Highlands.

The connection between the Gaelic language and the landscape of Scotland (and Ireland and Man) runs deep. “The land speaks to us through our language,” Ruairidh MacIlleathain or Roddy Maclean said in “Gaelic in the Landscape,” a study of place-names in the Northwest Highlands.

“The backbone of our place-name heritage is Gaelic and, for a better understanding of our landscape, it is necessary to understand our language,” MacIlleathain said.

The Gaels did not literally “create” their landscape when they named each beinn and gleann, allt and cnoc, but they did create a lens through which they perceived the landscape in which they lived and expressed their relationship to it.

Place names that translated or transliterated into English might leave a traveler bemused or indifferent can resonate with meaning for a Gaelic speaker, especially one who has lived in intimate contact with the local landscape and environment.

But landscape as perceived through the Gaelic language is about more than just moorland and machair. It’s the bedrock on which accretive layers of history and legend have been laid that tie people to place together in ways fast being forgotten.

MacIlleathain hopes to illustrate this connection in a weekend course June 16-19 in Kindrogan, Scotland. The Inverness-based Gaelic journalist (creator of the popular Litir do Luchd Ionnsachaidh podcast for Gaelic learners)  will take participants to locations associated with legends of Fionn MacCumhail and his warrior-band, the Fèinn or “Fingalians.”

Attendees will “explore some of these stories (through English translations) and visit places where they are rooted in our landscape in place-names, old manuscript records and oral tradition,” according to the course description.

The course includes visits to sites in Glenshee associated with the story of the doomed lovers, Diarmaid and Gràinne, as well as Aberfeldy, Killin (Finn’s Grave), and Glen Lyon.

More information on the program is available here from the Field Studies Council. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of the Gaelic language and culture and the Scottish landscape — and how truly intertwined they are.




30th US Mòd to Feature First ACGA Fèis


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.