The U.S. National Mòd, or Mòd Naiseanta Aimearagaidh as it is known in Scottish Gaelic, is an annual three-day celebration of Gaelic song and culture in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The Mòd is built on a series of competitions in song, poetry and storytelling but also includes workshops and a unique distance learning competition for participants. The Mòd is held at the Ligonier Highland Games in September.
What is a Mòd? Originally the word referred to a court held by a Highland chief 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 cultural event in Gaelic Scotland – was held in 1892 in the town of Oban.
Our story goes back to 1988, when the first U.S. National Mòd was held in Northern Virginia. Since those days the event has grown significantly and relocated to Western Pennsylvania. Each year the Mòd is held at the Ligonier Highland Games, which are attended by about 10,000 people, in the town of Ligonier, one hour east of Pittsburgh.
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 have distance competitions that test learners’ skill in reading, writing, translating and speaking Scottish Gaelic, and encourage original writing and poetry as well.
The Mòd also offers workshops on topics related to Scottish Gaelic culture as well as Gaelic song workshops. Past workshops have ranged from discussions of the works of important Gaelic poets and tutorials in Gaelic drama to panel presentations on Gaelic-medium education and the relationship between Scottish Gaelic and Native American language movements. We offer basic Gaelic instruction as well.
Over the years, more than 100 people have participated in our competitions, with competitors traveling from as far as Manitoba and Massachusetts, Colorado and North Carolina, and even from Scotland and Nova Scotia to attend. Many have returned year after year to enjoy the competitions and other Mòd events.
The Mòd is sponsored by An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach, the American Gaelic Society, a nationwide organization for Scottish Gaelic learners. You can learn more about the society, a non-profit cultural organization, at www.acgamerica.org.
If you would like more information about the U.S. National Mòd, send an e-mail to Michael Mackay, chairman of ACGA’s Mòd Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Liam Cassidy, publicity director, at email@example.com.