Posted by: liamcassidy | September 25, 2013

Mòd 2013 “Mìorbhaileach”

Another fun and fruitful Mòd was had by all of the competitors and fans in Ligonier!

Gaelic singers and supporters once again flocked to Ligonier, Pennsylvania for the 26th annual U.S. National Mòd, held at the Antiochian Village and the Ligonier Highland Games. This year’s event brought people from New York, Ohio, Virginia, and nearby Pittsburgh to compete in song, story, and poetry, and to receive encouragement and advice from native and fluent speakers.


The Mòd began Friday with dinner followed by competitions Gaelic literature.


Our adjudicator this year was Catrìona Parsons of Lewis and Antigonish, who returned to the U.S. Mòd after being a long-time supporter and adjudicator in years past. We also welcomed the Gold Medal winners from the 2012 Royal National Mòd in Scotland, Calum MacLeòid and Eilidh Davies, and we continued the fine Mòd tradition of “fun is more important than sleep” over the course of the weekend.

Song competitions, from prescribed songs to own choice, work songs, puirt-à-beul and a choir competition, followed Saturday.

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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. The Mòd has come a long way from 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, Eilidh Davies and Calum MacLeòid.


At the Ligonier Highland Games, the Mòd has its 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 17 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.

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, with a relatively new competition, sight reading a passage of Gaelic prose.

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.

This year it was Iain Grimaldi who took the prizes for Poetry and storytelling.  Congratulations, Iain!

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Saturday’s activities begin early in the morning, with the singing of a prescribed song, one that mirrors the Silver Medal competition at Scotland’s Royal Mòd. We also have an open song category for those brave souls trying out a song for the first time on the stage, or those who want to get an adjudication on a song they have been working on. Those vying for the top prizes of the Mòd, the Herbert P. MacNeal Memorial Quaich for the men, and the Marietta MacLeod Memorial Quaich for the women, will sing two more songs besides the prescribed piece before the day is over. This year, our winners are Iain Grimaldi of New York, and Anne Alexander of Ohio.

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We should also mention that we presented the SCOT shield for waulking – Catrìona Parsons presented this to Frances Acar as the leader of the “Buildheann Luathaidh nan Stàitean” team!


Everyone  worked diligently on their songs all year, and the high marks they received in the end showed it. They got a chance to continue the demonstration of their hard work Saturday night, at the Mòd banquet, where they, our distinguished guests, and the other attendees sang in an informal cèilidh after dinner.

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Sunday, those who were able to get enough sleep after the long night of fun, gathered together in the conference room of the Antiochian Village for an excellent set of workshops provided by our adjudicator, Catrìona Parsons. We learned about Gaelic Psalm precenting, and then worked on a set of puirt-a-beul that is sure to appear next year in our ACGA events and cèilidhs!

In the end, we had to say good-bye to our friends, new and old, and begin the journey home. We look forward to next year’s Mòd, and to the chance to once again meet and celebrate the bounty of Gaelic culture that is still alive, and still can move hearts and inspire minds.

Here are the results!

Storytelling – winner of Duais Daibhidh Mhic Risnidh: Iain Grimaldi

Poetry recitation – winner of Seearrag Ghlaine nam Bàrd: Iain Grimaldi

Sight Reading –
First Place, Scotland’s Gold Medalist, Calum MacLeòid

Second Place, Cathleen Mackay

Third place, Nick Freer

Prescribed Song:
Winner of the MacComb Shield for the Men’s prescribed – Iain Grimaldi
Winner of the SCOTS Shield for Women’s prescribed song – Anne Alexander

Open Competition:
First Place – Cathleen Mackay
Second Place – Anne Alexander

Work Song – First Place, Debra Biro

Unison Singing:
First Place – Cathleen and Jessica Mackay
Second Place – “Na h-Eileanaich” – Iain Grimaldi and Barabara Rice

Choir – Còisir Ghaidhlig nan Stàitean

Waulking – Winner of the SCOTS Waulking Shield, presented by Catrìona Parsons, Buidheann Luathaidh nan Stàitean

First Place – Anne Alexander
Second Place – Iain Grimaldi

Lewis and Harris Cup for highest marks in a Lewis or Harris Song – Cathleen Mackay

Final Overall:
The Herbert MacNeil Cup goes to Iain Grimaldi
The Marietta NicLeòid Cup goes to Anne Alexander

Please join us in congratulating this year’s Gold Medalist, John Grimaldi and Anne Alexander!

— Micheal Mac Aoidh


  1. What great pictures! I was very sorry to miss the Mòd this year, though I did get to meet Eilidh at the After-Mòd Cookout/Cèilidh in Alexandria. Is math rinn sibh uile.

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