THE introduction of a Mòd Academy to encourage children to compete at Scotland’s premier Gaelic cultural festival has succeeded in boosting numbers.
Children’s competitions dominated the fourth day of the Royal National Mòd in Oban yesterday and hundreds of youngsters are also due to compete today.
The junior entries include 70 from Oban after local Gaels took action when there were only two children from the town –birthplace of the mòd – competing at the national festival in 2014.
Duncan MacDonald, Convener of the Local Committee for the 2015 festival, said: “Last year at the Inverness mòd there were very, very few junior competitors from Oban.
“There were three entries and only two turned up.
“In my young day in Oban there would have been lots and it wouldn’t have mattered if the mòd was in Oban, or Stornoway.”
Mr MacDonald said organisers took the initiative to start a Mòd Academy at the beginning of this year, paying special tutors to give lessons to interested children from Oban High School and its feeder primary schools. He said: “I just felt that it needed a boost and the schools and the teachers welcomed us with open arms.
“We got £3,000 from Argyll and Bute Council, £1,000 from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and we put £6,000 in and we paid tutors, it was mainly to teach songs.They went in for 20-minute slots every week.
More than 100 competed at the Oban and Tobermory mods with success and over 70 will compete at the national mòd this week.” Mr MacDonald added that he had been amazed at the uptake as it included a lot of children who were not taking Gaelic at school.
It is hoped that funding can be identified to continue the pilot in Oban and to set up similar mòd academies in other places.
John MacLeod, President of Mòd organisers An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “It’s a very encouraging development.
“There is a cost implication, of course, and they have been able to get support from various sources here [in Oban].
“We would like to have access to funding at a national level in order to extend this project to other areas, particularly to up-and-coming locations for the national mòd.
“It would be good to develop this so that year after year the locations where the mòd will be will see a significant increase in participation from local youngsters.”
It costs £400,000 to run the national mòd and Mr MacLeod said it was a relief when major backer CalMac confirmed that it would sponsor the event again next year, even though it is still uncertain of its own future.