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Digital Subscriptions > The Oban Times & Lochaber Times > 20th October 2016 > Wonderful performances

Wonderful performances

Katrina’s MÒD


IT’S close to midnight on Friday October 14. The day is almost over, but at the Crown, a pub in Stornoway, there are still some 15 visitors reluctant to go home. They’re not finished celebrating the opening of the Mòd 2016. Beers, whiskies and vodka-lemonades are still being ordered in a town centre bar that has historical photographs on its walls.

A man with short hair looks around the pub with a determined look on his face. He’s been casually sitting on a bar stool most of the night drinking and laughing with the people around him. But now he’s on a mission. He sits up straight, clears his throat and starts to sing in Gaelic. Within seconds people start to join him – even the staff. The atmosphere in the pub has changed. People are suddenly standing closer together and some of the customers are putting their arms around each other. It’s clear to see and hear that the words in the songs are personal, spiritual and emotional at the same time.

This year marks the 125th Royal National Mòd, but it also marks my very first one. My name is Katrina Gillies Rasmussen and I’m doing a three-month placement at The Oban Times.

I’ve lived all my life in Denmark, but my mum’s from Oban. I’m working for the paper to get a better understanding of my Scottish roots.

I was extremely pleased when The Oban Times asked me to come to the Mòd – to be honest I was ecstatic. Because what better place is there to get an understanding of my roots than at the Mòd? As my colleague said: ‘Mòd week will be a crash course in Scottish history, culture and tradition.’

It didn’t take long for me to understand how important the Gaelic language and culture is, and how passionate the organisation, An Comunn Gàidhealach, is about preserving and developing it. One thing I quickly got an understanding of was how deeply integrated the Gaelic tradition is in our lives. It’s in our daily language, it’s on our road signs, it’s in our history books – and even in our pubs.

A big concern, as the president of An Comunn Gàidhealach, John Macleod, stated in his opening speech, is that there are not a lot of fluent Gaelic speakers anymore. In 1891, when the organisation was founded, there were more than 250,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, 6.3 per cent of the Scottish population. Today there are now fewer than a quarter of that number of fluent Gaelic speakers.

The numbers – at first sight – can seem depressing. But being here, for the very first time, I feel confident the Gaelic language, culture and tradition will not just vanish. I’ve met so many passionate people at this year Mòd who will fight to preserve the Gaelic tradition, because it’s part of who they are. They will continue to teach future generations the importance of the Gaelic language. I have truly enjoyed my first days at the Mòd and I’m really looking forward to the coming week.

Children produce superb renditions for Mòd magic

Emma Morrison, bronze, left, Alice Nic a’ Mhaoilein, gold, and Finlay MacLennan, silver.
Annabel Campbell from Sgoil MhicNeacail.
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Jessica Muir who took part in the fiddle competition.
Adjudicator Marie Fielding presents Lachlan Murdo Kennedy with the Robert MacCallum Memorial Trophy.
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