Royal National Mòd officially begins in Lochaber

A leading teacher and musician who has 'dedicated her life to the Gaelic cause' was today presented with a prestigious honour on the opening day of the Royal National Mòd.
Picture: Royal National ModPicture: Royal National Mod
Picture: Royal National Mod

Janet MacDonald, who has devoted decades to promoting the Gaelic language and culture, was recognised the Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award.

Organisers of this year’s event, which has attracted 3,600 entries – the highest in a decade – said Ms MacDonald had had a “profound impact” through her teaching career and long association with Mull’s music scene.

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Ms MacDonald, from Tobermory, won the coveted gold medal in Inverness in 1984, but before that, she competed in numerous local and national Mòds, and was a member of the Sound of Mull group.

John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “Janet MacDonald has dedicated her life to the Gaelic cause and we are delighted to see her awarded the prestigious Gaelic Ambassador of the year award by the Scottish Government.

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“Her contribution to the Gaelic cause through education, performance and in helping the organisation of local and national Mòds has made her a real influence for Scottish Gaels of all ages – her impact has been profound.”

Previous winners include musician, Julie Fowlis, broadcaster, Kirsteen MacDonald, and the principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Professor Boyd Robertson.

The eight day festival was officially opened yesterday evening by Kate Forbes, the SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, with the traditional torchlight procession making its way down Fort William’s High Street, led by John Swinney, the deputy first minister, and Allan Campbell, president of An Comunn Gàidhealach.

The opening, which marked the return of Scotland’s biggest Gaelic cultural festival to Lochaber for the first time in a decade, also saw performances from Gaelic folk group Na h-Òganaich, and former gold medallists Robert Robertson and Ross Wilson.

In his presidential address, Mr Campbell emphasised the value of Gaelic culture in Scotland, and its importance to the country’s heritage. He encouraged all of Scotland to take pride in the culture, and spoke of the impact that the recent expansion of Gaelic education has had.

The Mòd will see over 200 competitions and events in highland dancing, sport, literature, drama, Gaelic music and song, with Gaelic speakers of all levels competing.