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!