Posted by: liamcassidy | July 27, 2011

Attending the Mòd, Part I

If you’re new to learning Gaelic or to Gaelic song, you may wonder what the U.S. National Mòd is about, or what it’s like to attend. I’ve been attending the ACGA Mòd since the days when it was a small, one-day event in Northern Virginia. Now it’s a three-day event with multiple competitions, a dinner and cèilidh and a workshop. But it’s still small enough that you’re never lost in a crowd and have plenty of time to meet and talk with everyone, including the adjudicator and our Scottish guests.

The Mòd takes place at the Ligonier Highland Games Sept. 9-11 this year, where we have our own stage, an ACGA bookstore and lunch area on Saturday. But the events start Friday afternoon at the Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center a few miles north of the village of Ligonier. For the weekend, the Antiochian Village becomes our own Clachan Gàidhealach, or Highland Village. For 15 years we’ve stayed at the Village, which offers rooms for one to four people, dinner on Friday night, breakfast Saturday and Sunday and lunch Sunday as well. The Village also provides conference rooms that we use for competitions and workshops.

To get a look at the Village, go to

The Village provides a clean, friendly and convenient base for all of our activities. We open registration there at 3 pm on Friday — with plenty of time to settle in before dinner in the Village’s dining hall. In the evening, we launch the Mòd with an orientation, a few songs from our Scottish guests, and the poetry and storytelling competitions. A new competition was added last year: sight-reading in Gaelic.

The storytelling or sgeulachd competition has become very popular over the past few years, with upwards of five storytellers of all ages contributing and competing for the Duais Dhaibhidh MhicRisnidh, the David MacRitchie Award for the best-told traditional tale. I’ll write more about this in an upcoming post.

We wind up events around 10 pm on Friday — Saturday is a busy day!

— by Liam Ó Caiside

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