ORGANISERS of the Royal National Mod have vowed to take the event to new parts of the country again after already declaring Paisley’s hosting of the event a success - just as it gets underway.
They revealed that the number of entries for this year’s celebration of traditional and Gaelic culture has almost matched the all-time record of just over 3000.
And they are expecting bigger than normal crowds to descend on the town over the next 10 days due to its close proximity to Glasgow.
Council leaders in the Renfrewshire town instigated a brand new arts festival last October to help build interest in the Mod, and there are more than 70 spin-off events as part of The Spree, which includes the Gaelic festival’s “fringe” concerts, dances and music sessions.
Among the high profile acts appearing in the town are Edwyn Collins, the RSNO, Craig Hill, Donnie Munro, Capercaillie, Admiral Fallow, RM Hubbert, Rachel Sermanni and Denise Mina.
Paisley’s hosting of the event is expected to lead from growing competition from other parts of the country, due to the economic impact of up to £5 million that the Mod brings.
Regular Mod strongholds Inverness, Oban and the Western Isles are due to host the next three events.
But organisers have said they are keen to look again at brand new venues, after also taking the event to Thurso, in Caithness, and Falkirk, in Stirlingshire, for the first time over the last decade. The host of the 2017 Mod will be announced on the final day of competitions this year.
John MacLeod, president of An Comunn Gàidhealach, the Mod’s governing body, said the bidding process for the event was becoming increasingly competitive, despite the demands of hosting the event, with a cost of around £400,000 plus a guarantee of enough hotel capacity to cope with the demand from around 8-9000 competitors, their friends and family, and visitors.
He told The Scotsman: “We’ve been delighted with the run-up to the event in Paisley. The demand from competitors is almost as much as we’ve ever had.
“We’ve got 2925 competitors registered this year - including more than 60 adult and junior choirs - and that compares to just over 3000 when the event has been in Oban, which has always been our most popular venue, and where we’ve been going since the very first Mod.
“We’ve also got more than 40 media representatives registered this year, much more than we normally have. There’s a lot more television coverage of the Mod than there used to be, before BBC Alba started, and things there is a lot of social media chatter this year.
“The Gaelic language is a key part of Scotland’s heritage and the cultural life of Scotland.
“I think the response in Paisley so far this year is also a reflection its progress over the last few years and its popularity at the moment, as well as the close proximity to Glasgow, where there are obviously a large number of Gaelic speakers.
“We’d certainly be keen to look at other new venues. The Mod was very successful in Falkirk and Thurso when we took it there.
“There is a full bidding process and there is very close appraisal of venues before we decide to take the Mod there. We have to be satisfied that all the financial aspects are covered and that there are enough suitable halls and venues. It’s a very big event to try to organise and accommodate.
“But we think it is good to take the Mod to places where we’ve not been before.”
The Paisley Mod was officially launched with a torchlight parade down the High Street to the town hall.
Mr MacLeod told the opening ceremony: “The Mod and the Gaelic language is no longer confined to the
confines of the Highlands and Islands as confirmed in the recent Census figures, but is welcomed all around Scotland, and why not? There is no doubt that Gaelic is good for Scotland, that the Mod is good for Gaelic and that it is recognised for bringing
significant economic benefits to the host area. Gaelic is here to stay and we should make full use of its rich culture and social benefits.”
Council and business leaders say Paisley will never have hosted an event as significant as the “double whammy” cultural celebration which will take over the town until the final events on 20 October.
Among the venues being used for the two events are Paisley Town Hall, which dates back to 1882, the 850-year-old abbey, its museum, arts centre and a temporary “Spiegeltent,” which has been set up in the County Square.