What is a Mòd?

Enjoying Gaelic worksongs at an open waulking song demonstration at the U.S. National Mòd.

What is a Mòd? Originally the word Mòd referred to a court held by a Scottish Gaelic chief or lord for settling disputes over rent and other matters. Today it refers to a competition in Scottish Gaelic song, poetry and prose. The first modern Royal National Mòd, the premier Gaelic cultural event in Scotland, was held in 1892 in the town of Oban.

The Royal National Mòd is a huge event that moves around Scotland each year, drawing thousands of people for a week of song, language and music competitions. The U.S. National Mòd was established in 1988 along similar, if smaller, lines. There are provincial or local mòds throughout Scotland, and regional mòds in North Carolina and Ohio.

At the Mòd, participants may compete for prizes and awards in several categories of Gaelic song, in reciting Gaelic poetry and in storytelling in Gaelic. But many people attend for the fun, friendship and to share their interest in Scotland’s Gaelic culture. We also award special prizes for original poetry and literature in Scottish Gaelic.

The U.S. National Mòd has welcomed some of Scotland’s leading Gaelic singers, scholars and instructors as adjudicators or judges for its competitions. Since the 1990s, we have also welcomed the winners of the men’s and women’s gold medal competitions at Scotland’s Royal National Mòd, thanks to a partnership with An Comunn Gàidhealach.