The Royal National Mod returns to Inverness for the first time in 17 years this week, and organisers are hopeful the 2014 event will go down as one of the busiest and best in the 122-year history of the annual celebration of Gaelic music and culture.
An Comunn Gaidhealach have had a bumper entry for the competitions, while the biggest-ever Mod fringe programme will be packed with some 100 extra events.
Allan Campbell, who is convener of the local organising committee, said the Mod would make its mark on the Highland Capital. “You can expect good-quality music, singing and performance across all sections, and we are looking forward to the biggest-ever fringe,” he said, anticipating what should be a hectic but enjoyable eight days.
The fringe programme includes everything from street theatre to shinty, but Allan picked out one event which he thought would be a notable cultural highlight.
On Wednesday the 15th Inverness Town House will play host to ‘Mac-Talla Cogaidh’ (Echoes of War). The production, which will commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, will put the poems and songs of Rev John MacLeod set to music by Erik Spence. Contributions from James Graham, Kirsteen Manzies and Dingwall Gaelic Choir should help make the event one of the centrepieces of the Mod fringe.
On the pub circuit a number of hostelries will be putting on entertainment day and night as part of the ‘Cearcall Ciuil’ programme.
During the day, street theatre and pop-up cafes will ensure the Mod leaves a very visible presence throughout the city.
“It’s important than everyone in Inverness, whether they are involved in the Mod or not, is made aware of and feels a part of the Gaelic language and culture festival,” Allan adds.
The Mod will also mark a fitting conclusion to a series of events held to mark the Year of Highland Homecoming.
AS FAR AS venues are concerned, Inverness can boast first-class facilities. The hub of this year’s Mod will be Eden Court Theatre — extensively refurbished and extended since the Mod was last in Inverness in 1997.
The theatre has also been home to the Inverness Mod — now the largest provincial mod in the country — for the last few years.
The Mod will effectively take over Eden Court for the week. Two theatres — seating 850 and 250 respectively — will play host to the major competitions. Other events are scheduled for the two cinemas and the various other small rooms located in the complex.
Away from Eden Court, Inverness High School, the Netley Centre and the Waterside Hotel will all be used for various competitions.
The Mod will open in some style tonight (Friday) with a torchlight procession through the town. Similarly, a march of the massed choirs will bring proceedings to a close next Saturday. On the same day Scotland’s shinty players take on Ireland’s hurlers at the Bught Park in the annual cross-code international. That event should dovetail nicely with the celebration of Gaelic culture which will have preceded it in the previous days, said Allan Campbell.
He added: “We’re grateful to all the sponsors and to the public for the support given to us over the past three and a half years. “And especially to the Inverness Common Good fund. It’s been clear that the Inverness city has been fully behind us all the way with staging the Mod.
“I’m confident that investment will repay dividends.”