Posted by: liamcassidy | August 19, 2017

Mòd & Fèis Registration Are Open!

Registration for the 30th US National Mòd and first ACGA Fèis, Thursday, Sept. 21-Sunday, Sept. 24, is open.

You may register online through the Mòd & Fèis registration page on the ACGA website (use the pull down menu under Events or click here).

Simply complete the form by choosing your options (from one night to three nights, single or double room, Mòd banquet & cèilidh and registration fees). The form will then tell you how much you owe and direct you to PayPal (you may use your own PayPal account or a credit card to pay).

Costs will vary depending on the options you choose. Registering for both the Fèis and Mòd triggers a discount. Rooming with a friend is the most economical choice.

This year, we are using one form for both registration and selection of workshops and competitions. Just check the Fèis workshops you’d like to attend (information on the workshops and Mòd is available under Events) and the Mòd competitions you plan to enter. This year we are introducing new group competitions, harmonized singing and accompanied singing, in addition to unison singing and our choir competition.

Once you register, you’ll receive confirmation and begin to receive additional information on the events. Keep an eye on the ACGA website for more information!

We hope to see you at the Fèis and Mòd Naiseanta Aimeireagaidh.

Posted by: liamcassidy | February 5, 2017

A Landmark Mòd and a New Event

This year will be the 30th Anniversary of the U.S. National Mòd or Mòd Naiseanta Aimeireagaidh, an event born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1988, when An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach launched what was then called Mòd Virginia at the Virginia Scottish Games. We’ve come a long way since then, welcoming literally hundreds of people and dozens of guests and adjudicators from Scotland and Nova Scotia.

We’ve grown from small beginnings, adding competitions over the years and expanding to cover Gaelic language arts such as poetry, storytelling and drama as well as song. And we’re still growing. This year we will be adding special competitions to mark our 30th anniversary. Most important, we’re adding an entire new event that broadens focus on Gaelic culture beyond language arts alone and competitions: The First ACGA Fèis.

What is a Fèis, and how is it different from a Mòd? Both feature Gaelic song and music. Both provide opportunities to develop skills in the Gaelic arts. But while mòdan or mòds feature competitions, fèisean do not. A fèis includes classes and workshops, rather than competitions. By adding a fèis to our Mòd, we can open doors to those who want to learn about Gaelic culture, learn to play a tune, or sing a song, without entering a competition.

In Scotland, the Fèis movement got its start in the 1980s. Today there are 47 local fèisean throughout Scotland, focused on local needs and providing informal education.

The First Annual ACGA Fèis will be held all-day Friday, Sept. 22, at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, which has been home to the U.S. National Mòd since 1995. That means participants will be able to arrive Thursday night, Sept. 21, for dinner and an opening event at the Village. We’re still planning our day-long program for Friday, but it will certainly include presentations on Gaelic tradition, song and instrument workshops.

Having the Fèis Friday will also give us a chance to hold one or two of our competitions that day, perhaps making for a slightly less hectic Saturday! We’ll have our schedule, and information about registration and costs, available soon. If you have a special interest you’d like to see featured at the Fèis (for example, instruction on a particular instrument, dancing, workshops on history, storytelling, or other topics, etc.), please let us know.

We expect to welcome more old friends, new friends, and special guests to the Mòd and Fèis in September, including last year’s Gold Medal winners at the Royal National Mòd in Scotland, Eachann MacEachairn and Carol Maclean. We hope you will join us! Registration information and details on our program will be available here and on the ACGA website soon. Tapadh leat gu mòr!

Posted by: liamcassidy | May 22, 2016

US Mòd Registration Opens Online


Registration for the 29th U.S. National Mòd is now open on this website and ACGA’s website.

You may complete the process by filling out two online forms: The first to register as a competitor and choose competitions, and the second to reserve and pay for lodging at the Antiochian Village and to reserve and pay for the Mòd Banquet Sept. 24.

Complete the Competitor Application using this online form.

Make your Lodging and Banquet reservations using this online form.

We’ve worked hard to streamline and improve the Mòd registration process this year based on recommendations of attendees last year.

Using the forms above, you’ll be able to register for the competitions of your choice, reserve lodging and make a banquet reservation online, pay all fees using Pay Pal or a credit card, and you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation detailing your choices.

With registration confirmation, you’ll receive access to Mòd materials on our website, including this year’s prescribed songs for men and women, as well as other songs and materials you can choose to learn and use at the Mòd. We hope to see you there!

Please send any questions about U.S. Mòd registration to Micheal MacAoidh at

We also hope to see you at Mòd nan Lochan Mòra, the Great Lakes Mòd,  June 24-June 26, 2016 in Akron and Wellington, Ohio. Registration is now open. Please email Anne Alexander at for complete information.



Posted by: liamcassidy | December 12, 2015

Anne Lorne Gillies to adjudicate at 2016 US National Mòd

Dr. Anne Lorne Gillies, photo courtesy Kevin Bree

Dr. Anne Lorne Gillies, photo courtesy Kevin Bree

Scottish Gaelic singer, writer and activist Dr. Anne Lorne Gillies will judge the song, poetry and storytelling competitions at next year’s U.S. National Mòd in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

This will be Dr. Gillies first time as adjudicator at the U.S. National Mòd. An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach/The American Scottish Gaelic Society is delighted to welcome her to our 29th annual Mòd, a series of competitions and events held three days in September.

Anna Latharna NicGillìosa grew up on a croft in Argyll and attended Oban High School. She won the Women’s Gold Medal at the Royal National Mòd in Scotland at the age of 17 in 1962 and went on to perform at many venues and events. She received an MA in Celtic and English from the University of Edinburgh in 1965, and then trained as a classical musician.

She has been an educator, actress and performer, appearing on stage and on television since the 1960s. She is also a writer of children’s books and television programs, including documentaries. One of her best-known books is the anthology “Songs of Gaelic Scotland,” a 550-page collection of 175 songs.

Gillies is also a life-long advocate for Gaelic. In 1983, she became the patron of Comhairle nan Sgoiltean Àraich, the Gaelic playgroup organization. She is a former National Education Development Officer with Comann na Gàidhlig, and in 2009 the Scottish Government named her Tosgair na Gàidhlig, a “Gaelic language ambassador.”

We look forward to welcoming Gillies to Washington, DC, and Ligonier next year, and we hope you can join us for the 29th U.S. National Mòd!

Posted by: liamcassidy | December 3, 2015

Òran na Mìos: Griogal Cridhe

Glen Strae, the home territory of Griogair Ruadh Mac Griogair. Photo by Richard Webb, Wikimedia Commons

“Griogal Cridhe,” as the lament for Griogair Ruadh Mac Griogair of Glen Strae is widely known, is one of the most popular songs in Scottish Gaelic tradition, and one of the oldest.

Few who hear it or sing it, perhaps, know just how old. The origins of the song, known by several names, stretch back 445 years, to 1570, shortly after the reign of Mary Queen of Scots came to an end, and when Griogair Ruadh was executed by the Campbells of Glenorchy.

That makes this a very old song indeed. It is also notable in that it is a song composed by a woman, the widow of Mac Griogair, and in some versions sung as a lullaby, much like the song we examined in October, Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach. Lullabies were one genre, though not the only one, that Gaelic women were able to exploit to express their emotions and opinions.

In Gaelic society, whether in Scotland or Ireland, composing high-register bardic poetry was a male profession, but Gaelic Scotland has a particularly strong strand of women poets. They may not have been “official” court poets, but they often served as a voice for their communities long after the nobility ceased to honor or support the Gaelic poets who praised them. And the songs of Sìleas na Ceapaich, Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh and Maìri Mhòr are still sung today.

The woman who composed this month’s featured song, Mór Chaimbeul or Marion Campbell,  also known as Mór nighean Dhonnchaidh, the daughter of Duncan Campbell of Glenlyon, lived when the bardic profession and Gaelic language and tradition was still strong throughout Highland Scotland, and indeed beyond the “Highland line.” In 1570, Mary Queen of Scots was only recently exiled, and the Linn nan Creach, the long period of raids and in-fighting that followed the suppression of the MacDonald Lordship of the Isles in 1493, was still unfolding, with the Caimbeulaich, the Campbells of Argyll, emerging as the dominant overlords.

Mór Chaimbeul is believed to have composed the song after Griogair Ruadh, her husband, was executed by Cailean Liath, the Campbell of Glenorchy, her cousin. The fact that Griogair Ruadh married a Campbell shows how complicated and intertwined the relationship between these families was, despite later attempts to depict their conflict in black-and-white terms.

The historical origins of the song have been investigated and documented by Dr. Martin MacGregor, senior lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, in “The Polar Twins,” an anthology (edited by E.J. Cowan and D. Gifford) on the relationship between literature and history published in 1999 (see “Surely one of the greatest poems ever made in Britain”: the lament for Griogair Ruadh MacGregor of Glen Strae and its historical background”.).

The history of Griogal Cridhe as a song has been traced by Dr. Virginia Blankenhorn, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh, in her paper “Griogal Cridhe: Aspects of Transmission in the Lament for Griogair Ruadh Mac Griogair of Glen Strae.”

“Griogal Cridhe” — a title the song acquired in the 1890s — may have been composed in 1570 or shortly after, but the song did not appear in print until 1813, when the earliest known printed version was published in Patrick Turner’s “Comhchruinneacha do dh’Orain Taghta, Ghaidhealach.” Turner as “Moch maduinn air la Lunasd’” with the refrain:


Ochain, ochain, ochain uiridh,

‘S goirt mo chridhe laoigh,

Ochain, ochain, ochain uiridh,

Cha chluinn t-athair ar caoidh.


Turner’s text has often been treated as an authoritative source, but Blankenhorn reminds us his printed version may have been a compilation of several versions of the song current in oral tradition in the early 19th century. His collection was published 243 years after the events the song describes. What’s remarkable, she suggests, is that oral tradition “appears to have preserved the essence of the poem with remarkable fidelity despite the passage of nearly two-and-a-half centuries between its composition and its earliest appearance in written record.”

Blankenhorn traces two main variants of the song, one a lament and the other a lullaby. One variant appears common to Skye, Harris and Lewis, and the other to Barra, Eriskay and Uist. Blankenhorn also found a third, smaller group of variants that can’t be assigned to either region, but share some features of both and may have been drawn directly from printed texts.

Here are two examples of the song. First, folklorist Margaret Bennett of Skye singing a version of the lament collected by Skye folklorist Frances Tolmie:


Second, Gaelic singer Catherine-Ann MacPhee of Barra sings a version from her island:



Musically, the song has many variants as well. Blankenhorn mentions nine musical settings. The air collected by folklorist Frances Tolmie, first published in 1895, has been the most popular. Unlike many Victorians, Tolmie had enough “regard for the traditional melody to leave it alone,” Blankenhorn said.

She divides the airs into a “northern” and “southern” group, referring to those associated with Skye, Lewis and Harris and Uist and Barra. Despite the variations in melody and lyric, “the clearest impression overall must remain one not of difference, but of similarity,” Blankenhorn writes in her paper. “None of the versions we have encountered here truly stands at odds with the others.”

In her paper, Blankenhorn also provides multiple sets of lyrics and references to various singers whose versions of the song are available on Tobar an Dualchais, including Seasaidh NicCoinnich (1918-1992), Nan MacKinnon (1903-1982), and Kitty MacLeod (1914-2000), among others.

Why has “Griogal Cridhe” remained so popular? After five centuries, it still packs an emotional punch, even for those who aren’t familiar with the details of its history. Grief is a universal emotion, and the tremendous outpouring of grief and anger experienced by Mór Chaimbeul echoes clearly to this day.

— Liam Ó Caiside

Posted by: liamcassidy | October 24, 2015

Òran na Mìos: Dàmhair 2015

October 2015: Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach

Gur ann an Ameireagaidh tha sinn an dràst', fo dhubhar na coille nach tèirig gu bràth ...

Gur ann an Ameireagaidh tha sinn an dràst’, fo dhubhar na coille nach tèirig gu bràth …

Welcome to Òran na Mìos, our “Song of the Month” blog post. Here we’ll help you learn new Scottish Gaelic songs, learn the stories behind songs and keep you singing throughout the year.

The first song we’ll share is one many Scottish Gaelic learners are familiar with: Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach. This song was composed in North America, probably during the American Revolution. It is probably the most famous Gaelic song composed in what is now the United States. It is also one of the first Gaelic songs I learned!

Download the sheet music and lyrics here.

The song is a lullaby, and likely was modeled on an earlier song popular throughout the Gàidhealtachd or Gaelic-speaking area in 18th-century Scotland. There are songs with some similar lyrics, such as Leig Dhìot an Cadal.

There is more than one melody used with this song. Here is Kathleen MacInnes singing one version:

The Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o’ Riches website has several versions of Dèan Cadalan SàmhachHere’s a recording of the late James C. M. Campbell (1896-1979) of Kintail, singing the song in 1952. The melody he uses is perhaps the better known one.

recording from 1972 features a group singing the song — Kenneth, Farquhar and Finlay Chisholm of Letterfearn and Eddie MacRae of Glensheil — and talking about it. They try to reconstruct the song from memory as they go along!

Fiona J. Mackenzie, Karen Matheson of Capercaillie and Billy Ross of Ossian also sing the song. More videos and recordings are available at the BBC Bliadhna nan Òran website.

Now for the back story …

Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach is a lullaby composed for an infant girl, with a chorus promising her riches and a husband when she’s grown. The verses, however, describe the parent’s anxiety about life in America, the great forest “that will never perish,” and the English-speaking neighbors (“Ro-bheag orm fhìn na daoine seo th’ ann” — “It’s little I care for the people here.”). The song ends with the poet’s salute to Kintail of the Cows, Cinn t-Sàile nam Bò.

Traditionally, Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach has been attributed to Iain Mac Mhurchaidh or John MacRae, an emigrant bàrd from Kintail who arrived in North Carolina shortly before the beginning of the Revolution, in which he fought as a Loyalist. Recent scholarship has called that attribution into doubt. Gaelic scholar and author Michael Newton argues Dèan Cadalan Sàmhach was composed by a woman living in the American colonies. (See Newton’s “Unsettling Iain Mac Mhurchaidh’s Slumber: The Carolina Lullaby, authorship, and the influence of print media on Gaelic oral tradition,” published in the Glasgow University journal Aiste in 2014).

In his article in Aiste, Newton gives us valuable insight into the interplay between oral and written traditions, and how the song may have evolved and been attributed to Mac Mhurchaidh. “It was the appearance of articles in print journals that stabilised and promoted particular late textual variants and provided a coherent narrative connecting them in Kintail tradition to a well-known local poet,” he writes.

The earliest transcribed versions of the song make no mention of Mac Mhurchaidh. A version from 1820 attributes the song to a “maighdean òg” or young maiden whose people left the Isle of Skye for North Carolina. The song is first attributed to Mac Mhurchaidh in print in the latter half of the 19th century, based on information from an informant in Kintail, Mac Mhurchaidh’s home district. Once in print, the attribution was repeated in succeeding publications, giving it the weight of authority.

“It is most likely that the original author of the Carolina lullaby was a mother who was anxious about her safety and that of her daughter because her family and many compatriots had been caught up in the American Revolution, a conflict which had many aspects of a civil war,” Newton writes.

Most versions (though not those with our sheet music) include the verse:

Tha sinne ‘nar n-Innseanaich cinnteach gu leòir,

Fo dhubhar nan craobh cha bhi h-aon againn beò,

Madaidh-allaidh is bèistean ag èigheachd ‘s gach fròig

‘S gu bheil sinne ‘nar n-èiginn bhon thrèig sinn Rìgh Deòrs’.

“We’re Indians sure enough, under the shadow of the trees not one of us will survive. Wolves and beasts baying in each hollow, and we’re in desperate straits since we abandoned King George.”

Newton includes an early version of the song in “We’re Indians Sure Enough: The Legacy of the Scottish Highlanders in the United States” with verses that differ from the standard text. It contains the verse:

Gum bheil sibh ‘nur n-Innseanaich cinnteach gu leòr,

A-mach ‘s a’ choill’ ùdlaidh, gun sùgradh, gun cheòl,

‘S nan sgrìobhadh iad fìrinn a-sìos mar bu chòir

Cha tigeadh na Gàidheal gu bràth air an tòir.

“You are Indians, sure enough, out in the dark forests without mirth or music. If only they would write down what is true, as they ought to, the Gaels would never have to go chasing after them.”

The difference in viewpoint between the two verses is worth considering. The first seems to describe the plight of rebels, or at least refugees who deserted King George. The second is accusatory. Is the composer a loyalist describing rebels pursued by Highland troops or loyalists?

There’s as much ambiguity in the lyrics as there was in the conflict.


As for Iain Mac Mhurchaidh, tradition has him joining a loyalist regiment and fighting at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge in February 1776. His son Murchadh or “Murdock” is said to have been killed in the battle. Several other songs have been attributed to him, some composed in Scotland and some in the Carolinas. At some point, possibly after the Battle of King’s Mountain he may have been captured and executed, as tradition states.

Whatever the truth about his life, work and death, the U.S. National Mòd honors Mac Mhurchaidh’s memory with the Duais Iain Mac Mhurchaidh/John MacRae Award, presented for best original poem in Scottish Gaelic presented to the Mòd.

— Liam Ó Caiside

Posted by: liamcassidy | September 28, 2015

Mòd 2015 – Mòr, math, misneachail!

Our 2015 Mòd is now over, and, as our title says, it was big, good, and encouraging!  We had as many competitors over the course of two days as we’ve ever had (Mòr),  the competitions were at an excellent level of skill (Math), and our adjudicator, Gillebrìde MacIlleMhaoil, left all of us with advice, encouragement, and a renewed dedication to the language and song of Scottish Gaelic (Misneachail)!

Results, pictures, and video of the Mòd can be found on our Facebook page, but here are our 2015 Gold Medalists –  Connie Smith and Tom Terry!

womens MensHere are the overall results:

Friday, September 25:


  1. Liam Cassidy
  2. Cathleen Mackay
  3. John Grimaldi


  1. Barbara Lynn Rice

Sight Reading:

  1. Cheryl Mitchell
  2. Tied, Liam Cassidy and Connie Smith
  3. Cathleen MacKay


Saturday, September 26:

Open song category:

  1. Sharon McWhorter
  2. Carol Kappus
  3. John Grimaldi

Prescribed song:


  1. Tom Terry
  2. Liam O Caiside
  3. Ed Bradshaw


  1. Anne Alexander
  2. Carol Kappus
  3. Connie Smith

Work song:

  1. Connie Smith
  2. Liam O Caiside
  3. Tom Terry


  1. Ed Bradshaw
  2. Carol Kappus
  3. Anne Alexander


  1. Còisir Ghàidhlig Ameireagaidh

Unison/harmonized singing:

  1. Sharon McWhorter & Lindy Lincicome
  2. Anne Alexander & Ron Hazelett
  3. Barbara Lynn Rice & John Grimaldi

Final song Results:


  1. Tom Terry
  2. Liam O Caiside
  3. Ed Bradshaw


  1. Connie Smith
  2. Carol Kappus
  3. Anne Alexander
  4. Lindy Lincicome

Overall Mòd Gold Medal results:


  1. Tom Terry
    2. Liam O Caiside
    3. Ed Bradshaw


  1. Connie Smith
    2. Carol Kappus
    3. Anne Alexander
    4. Lindy Lincicome


Searrag Ghlainne nam Bàird (Edinburgh Crystal Decanter). Presented by Mòd co-founder Donald F. MacDonald to the winner of the competition in bàrdachd recitation at the Mòd.

Barbara Lynn Rice

Duais Dhaibhidh Mhic Risnidh (David MacRitchie Award). Presented for best traditional story in Gaelic.

Liam Cassidy

Duais Iain Mhic Mhurchaidh (John MacRae Award). Presented for best original poem submitted to the Mòd.

Barbara Lynn Rice

Duais Leòdhais agus na Hearadh (Lewis and Harris Award). Presented for best performance of a Lewis or Harris song (in memory of Donnie MacLean).

John Grimaldi

MacComb Shield for the Men’s prescribed highest score

Tom Terry

SCOTS Shield for Women’s prescribed song highest score

Anne Alexander

Herbert P. MacNeal Memorial Quaich. Presented by Clan MacNeil Society to highest scoring male solo singer (Gold Medal).

Tom Terry

Marietta MacLeod Memorial Quaich. Presented by Donald F. MacDonald to the highest scoring woman solo singer (Gold Medal).

Connie Smith

Iain Grimaldi competes at the 2014 U.S. National Mòd.

Iain Grimaldi competes at the 2014 U.S. National Mòd.

The U.S. National Mòd celebrates all the language arts of the Scottish Gaels, but Gaelic song is the foundation of the event. Most of our competitions are song competitions — from work songs to mouth music, solo singing to choral singing and our gold medal song finals.

Most of the songs are chosen by the competitors themselves, which provides the audience with a great variety of Gaelic song and our adjudicators with a real challenge: how to grade a range of competitors with varying levels of Gaelic fluency and various song types.

Several years ago, we decided to introduce prescribed songs to our Mòd, songs each competitor would have to perform if he or she wished to be eligible for the finals. These are the male and female prescribed songs for the Bonn Òir in Scotland’s Royal National Mòd.

The prescribed song competition give the adjudicator a chance to establish a “base” score for each  competitor and fairly compare their abilities before they proceed to the “own-choice” competitions. The prescribed song is only mandatory for those entering the finals.

This year, the prescribed song for women is “Tha mo rùn air a’ ghille,” while the prescribed song for men is “Tìr ìosal mo ghaoil.” The Mòd materials available to registered competitors include the sheet music and lyrics (but not a translation) and a recording of the lyrics.

The history of these songs, however, is often as fascinating as the songs themselves. With many Gaelic songs, the actual poem or lyric is the tip of an iceberg, floating atop a mass of tradition and storytelling hidden below the “water-line” and invisible to the casual listener.

That is certainly true of our prescribed women’s song this year. “Tha mo rùn air a’ ghille” will be well known to many competitors: Not only has it long been in Mòd songbooks from Scotland, it is known in Cape Breton as well, and has been recorded by Mary Jane Lamond.

What’s the story behind this song? The verses tell of a young woman’s love for a soldier, “fear chùil duinn ‘s an leadain bhòidhich,” who she would gladly follow, even though he’s a redcoat. “‘S mi gun siùbhladh leat thar m’ eòlais, ged tha ‘n còta ruadh ort.”


He apparently has rejected her, and grown “suarach” toward her — shedding her as a tree sheds its leaves, something she says she could scarcely have imagined a year earlier.

But who was the young woman? Where did she live and when, and who was the absent soldier who loved and left her? As with many Gaelic songs, there’s more than one version of the lyrics, and more than one story about the origins of “Tha mo rùn air a’ ghille.”

Our sheet music identifies the composer as Catrìona Munn of Muile but provides no further information. Several sources on Tobar an Dualchais, the enormous online archive of Scottish tradition in Gaelic and Scots, identify her by her English forename, Catherine Munn. The song was published in An t-Òranaiche in 1879, which dates it to the 19th century, at latest. However, An t-Òranaiche again provides no information about the composer. In 1903, Volume XI of The Celtic Monthly: A Magazine for Highlanders had this to say:

“THIS Song was composed by Catherine Munn, daughter of Hugh Munn, tide-waiter, Tobermory. She died in Mull, 3rd June, 1860, aged sixty-five years. It is generally understood that the song was composed about 1820, the hero of the song being Captain John Campbell, Killundine, Morve(r)n. This property was afterwards sold to Col. Cheape and in this family it still remains.”

That puts Catrìona’s birth at about 1795, and suggests she composed the song while in her twenties. A tide-waiter wasn’t someone who lounged on the shoreline, but a customs inspector who would board ships on arrival, in Hugh’s case at Tobermory on Mull.

As for Captain John Campbell, Killundine on the Morvern peninsula in Argyll is the Chill-Iùndainn mentioned in the song, though the place name is also spelled Cill Fhionntain — Fintan’s Church. Killundine is the site of Caisteal nan Con, the “Castle of the Hounds.”

You can virtually travel the district today on Google Maps, which has a “street view” of the B849 as it winds its way along the Sound of Mull toward Drimnin.

However, there’s another origin story for “Tha mo rùn air a’ ghille.”

In “The Gaelic Bards from 1715 to 1765,” the great Nova Scotian Gaelic scholar Alexander MacLean Sinclair (1840-1924) attributed the song to “Mrs. Campbell of Barr,” or “Bean a Bharra,” Barr also being in Morvern. The otherwise unnamed Bean a Bharra was the daughter of Donnachadh Dubh Notair, “a prominent notary and conveyancer in Argyleshire,” according to Sinclair. “She was well educated, and possessed good poetic gifts.”

Mrs. Campbell also feuded with one of the greatest Gaelic poets of the day, Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair. She was, Sinclair said, “a zealous Hanoverian.” She died, he wrote, before 1786, at about the age of 70.

“We have seen it stated that the song “Tha mo run air a’ Ghille,” was composed by her,” Sinclair wrote, “but we are not in a position to affirm as a fact that it was.”

He included it in his book regardless.

If you are in a position to affirm any fact about this song, please contact us and feel free to do so! In the meantime, here are links to two recordings of the song:

1) From Islay, Scotland, a version of “Tha mo rùn air a’ ghille” sung by Mary Livingston, collected in 1953 by Calum MacLean. Available on Tobar an Dualchais.

2) From Cape Breton, Sandy Campbell sings “Tha mo rùn air a’ ghille.” This recording was made in 1973 and is in the Beaton Institute’s collection.

— Liam Ó Caiside
Gillebride MacMillan - 31.10.10 - picture by Donald MacLeod – mobile 07702 319 738 - -

Gillebride MacMillan (photo courtesy Donald MacLeod).

ACGA will welcome award-winning Scottish Gaelic singer, educator, author and actor Gillebrìde MacIlleMhaoil (MacMillan) to Ligonier, Pennsylvania, as the adjudicator of the 28th annual U.S. National Mòd in September.

Gillebrìde will judge the poetry, storytelling and song competitions at the three-day event, held Sept. 25-27 at the Ligonier Highland Games in Western Pennsylvania. (Click here to register for the U.S. National Mòd).

This will be Gillebrìde’s second time at the U.S. Mòd, which celebrates the Gaelic language and music of Scotland. He last joined us as a guest in 2005 after winning the men’s gold medal at the 2004 Royal National Mòd in Scotland.

Gillebride is from the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and Gaelic is the first language of his family. He began competing in Mòds as an adult at the age of 21. He has released two albums, Thogainn Ort Fonn and Air Fòrladh.

After completing a degree in Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow and a Masters Degree from the University of the Highlands and Islands, Gillebrìde now works in the Celtic and Gaelic Department at University of Glasgow.

He is a Gaelic translator, a published writer, and has worked on the Tobar an Dualchais archiving project. He regularly sings and teaches Scottish Gaelic song at festivals and cèilidhs in Scotland, Europe and the United States.

Gillebrìde will teach at the ACGA Gaelic Song and Language Week July 5-10 in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and adjudicate at the 18th annual North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Well-known in the Scottish Gaelic world, Gillebrìde is gaining fans who are new to the language through his performance as Gwyllyn the Bard in the Starz television production of Outlander, based on the popular Diana Gabaldon novel.

We’re looking forward to welcoming Gillebrìde back to the U.S. and the U.S. National Mòd, which will be an excellent opportunity to see and hear him, our other Scottish guests and competitors from throughout North America.

Posted by: liamcassidy | April 23, 2015

Registration is now open for the US National Mòd

Click the page tab above labeled “2015 US Mòd Registration” to get some information about the US Mòd and to see how to register for the event.  You can also get there by clicking here

You will be directed to a ticket site, where you can sign up for everything connected to the Mòd.

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