Two prominent Gaelic voices from Nova Scotia – Lewis MacKinnon and Màiri Britton – will be the adjudicators or judges at this year’s US National Mòd, a two-day celebration of Scottish Gaelic language arts held online this Nov. 12 and 13. This will be the 33rd annual US National Mòd, a series of competitions and workshops in Gaelic song, poetry, and storytelling.
Lewis MacKinnon or Lodaidh MacFhionghain, is a bàrd or poet, a singer and songwriter, an educator, and the executive director of the Nova Scotia Office of Gaelic Affairs.
Born in Inverness, Cape Breton, to a Gaelic-speaking father and an Acadian French-speaking mother, Lodaidh has worked for many years to advance the language and culture of Gaels in Nova Scotia both at home and abroad. Lodaidh has written several books of Scottish Gaelic poetry, and was named poet laureate to the Royal National Mòd in Scotland in 2011.
Lodaidh adjudicated the US National Mòd in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 2014, and ACGA is delighted to have him back for our third online US National Mòd this year. Lodaidh lives in Middle Sackville, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, area with his family.
Màiri Britton is originally from Edinburgh but she now lives in Nova Scotia, where she teaches Scottish Gaelic at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish on the Nova Scotia mainland and at Colaisde na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic College in Cape Breton. She also manages the Nova Scotia Gaelic song project “Language in Lyrics” at Cape Breton University.
Màiri is a singer, harper, and step dancer, and is the lead singer in the Scottish Gaelic traditional group Fàrsan. In 2020, she was one of the online instructors for the ACGA Virtual Grandfather Mountain Scottish Gaelic Song and Language Week. We’re very happy to introduce her to the US National Mòd this year.
Listen to Màiri talk with Isla Ratcliff about her life and work in this recent edition of the Castalia podcast.
The US National Mòd features six competitions, a cèilidh, and two workshops from our adjudicators, or britheamhan. Starting on Saturday morning, we will have competitions in poetry recitation, original poetry, storytelling, and sight reading (reading a piece of Gaelic prose on first sight). In the afternoon, we will have beginner and general song competitions.
The competitions will be followed by a cèilidh — a song-sharing social event, not a dance — late Saturday afternoon, and workshops on Sunday morning.
Both competitors and any interested in Gaelic language and culture are welcome at the online event. There is a basic fee of $25 for all registrants and a $20 additional fee for competitors.
“Our Mòd has a long history, and although COVID precluded holding a live, in-person event the past few years our online event has brought more Gaelic learners, speakers, and enthusiasts together than we could have hoped for,” said Liam Ó Caiside (Bill Cassidy), ACGA president.
“We’ve been able to bring the Mòd to many people who couldn’t attend the Mòd previously, with attendees and competitors from the West Coast of the US and Canada as well as the East, South, and Midwest,” said Ó Caiside, who is also acting chair of the ACGA Mòd.
“At ACGA we see the Mòd as a celebration of Scottish Gaelic ‘language arts,’ arts developed through the spoken language such as song, storytelling, poetry, and even drama,” he said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming many past attendees and competitors back this year, and to meeting new friends as well.”
Registration is open through the ACGA website.