The Scottish Gaelic word mòd comes down to us through a long history.
For centuries, a mòd was a court held by a Scottish Gaelic chief or lord for settling disputes over rent and other matters. There’s a famous Gaelic expression or proverb, chan ann a’ h-uile latha a bhios mòd aig Mac-an-Tòisich, which means “it’s not everyday that Macintosh holds a court.”
But the Gaels got the word from the Vikings — the Old Norse word mót meant an assembly, as did the English word moot.
Today, mòd refers to a competition in Scottish Gaelic song, poetry, and prose. The first modern Royal National Mòd, the premier Gaelic cultural event in Scotland, was held in 1892 in the town of Oban.
The Royal National Mòd is a huge event that moves around Scotland each year, drawing thousands of people for a week of song, language, and music competitions. The U.S. National Mòd was established in 1988 along similar, if smaller, lines. There are provincial or local mòds throughout Scotland and regional mòds in North Carolina and Ohio.
At ACGA, we view our Mòd as a celebration of Scottish Gaelic language arts. These are arts that use the language as their medium: song, poetry, storytelling, writing, drama.
At the Mòd, participants may compete for prizes and awards in several categories of Gaelic song, in reciting Gaelic poetry, and in storytelling in Gaelic. But many people attend for fun, friendship, and to share their interest in Scotland’s Gaelic culture.
We also award special prizes for original poetry and literature in Scottish Gaelic.
The U.S. National Mòd has welcomed some of Scotland’s leading Gaelic singers, scholars, and instructors as adjudicators or judges for its competitions.
Our Mòd has moved online since the COVID-19 pandemic, and grown there. We now attract more people from across North America to the event.
ACGA’s vision is to see a network of smaller, local or regional song competitions established that support the online US National Mòd. These competitions may or may not be ACGA events. Currently, there are regional mòds in New York City, the Baltimore-Washington, DC region, North Carolina, and Kentucky. We hope to see more!
Please contact us if you are interested in joining the Mòd Committee and helping with tasks such as registration, promotion, and more.