PERTH ROYAL NATIONAL MÒD: Island success as festival in the Fair City gets in full swing

Sir E Scott Choir enjoyed choral success. Pic Elaine Livingstone

The Royal National Mòd is in full swing in Perth, with the festival of Gaelic music and culture marking its first full return since the pandemic.

The event is being hosted by the Fair City for the first time in 18 years and competitors have travelled from across Scotland and beyond to take part.

Today (Tuesday 18th October) the junior choir from Sir E Scott School in Harris sang for success, winning all three choral competitions convincingly.

They took eight trophies across the choral unison Puirt-à-Beul and Choral Harmony competitions for 13-18 year olds.

Layla Orr-MacIntyre from Lochaline and Declan Cumming from Oban gave stunning performances to take home the girls and boys James McPhee Memorial Medals.

Yesterday (Monday) saw junior soloists awarded, including Layla Orr-MacIntyre from Lochaline and Declan Cumming from Oban who took home the girls and boys James C MacPhee Memorial Medals.

Oban High School S5 pupil Aisling MacLean Duncan was named winner of the Provost of Falkirk Medal and in the junior Gaelic choirs competitions, Falkirk Junior Gaelic Choir swept the board.

Falkirk Junior Gaelic Choir won a total of nine prizes

In the the junior piping on Saturday 12-year-old Seonaidh Forrest from Camuscross in Sleat came out on top in the 15 years and under Pìobaireachd competition.

Portree High School pupil Seonaidh Forrest won the 15 years and under Pìobaireachd competition

At the opening of the events last Friday organisers An Comunn Gàidhealach announced the Gaelic Ambassador of the Year.

The annual Scottish Government honour is, this year, being awarded to John Urquhart – a presenter, writer, lecturer and prominent figure in the Gaelic community.

John Urquhart with his 2022 Gaelic Ambassador Award, designed by Glasgow based stained glass artist, Elizabeth Skea

Mr Urquhart, who is from Harris and lives in Skye, grew up with Gaelic as his first language, and has presented BBC radio programmes such as Caithris na h-Oidhche and Car mu Chnoc, and TV programmes such as the BBC’s Mòd coverage, Dòtaman, Brag, Around Scotland, The Ice Cream Van and Beag air Bheag.

In the 1990s John also wrote Gaelic lyrics for rock songs for the bands 101 and Mise Mise.

He served as a Church of Scotland Minister for 12 years and translated many articles, books, and English hymns into Gaelic.

He was also part of the team which translated the New Testament from Greek into Gaelic.

A torchlight procession to open the festival

Aside from the regular competitions – which include the Gold medals for singing which get underway on Wednesday – fringe events are also taking place throughout the city.

Tonight (Tuesday) emerging Gaelic harmony collective Binneas will host a concert at St John’s Kirk, performing Celtic songs and choral arrangements by Mary Ann Kennedy, Sileas Sinclair and other celebrated Gaelic choral arrangers.

Darren MacLean, Màiri MacInnes, Arthur Cormack and Ceitlin Lilidh perform on stage during the Mòd 2022 opening concert at Perth Concert Hall

James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “Today’s programme is full of fantastic opportunities for young and emerging musicians.

“The junior competitions are an extremely important part of Mòd week; they showcase breakthrough talent and give a platform to the future of Gaelic culture and song.”

The Royal National Mòd runs in Perth until Saturday 22nd October, and is expected to generate a £1 million economic boost in the process.

Pictures, Elaine Livingstone