It was a great honour to be invited by An Comunn Gaidhealach to open this year’s Mod. The torchlight procession welcoming the Mod back to Inverness for the first time in 15 years truly felt like an overdue Highland Homecoming.
Even Orkney and Shetland, not normally communities associated with Gaelic culture, were well represented on the opening night by Music from Gria. I am sure everyone who attended over the past nine days will go home with their own special memories.
Forty years ago I attended my first National Mod in East Kilbride. As a kilted nine-year-old schoolboy competitor, it’s fair to say my efforts were more notable for their enthusiasm than their success, but I caught the bug then and the excitement and enjoyment of the Mod is as strong now as it ever was.
We all know Gaelic has, at times, struggled to receive the recognition it deserves. It shouldn’t be forgotten that for many years it was An Comunn Gaidhealach and the local and national Mods that kept the flame alive. This makes the success of this year’s Mod even more special.
The UK government is doing its part to help that flame burn bright. The additional £1 million of funding to MG Alba on top of the £1m already promised for next year will help fund their fantastic media hub in Stornoway and produce more shows like Katie Morag which are enjoyed by children in so many countries but have their roots firmly in the Gaelic community.
It’s all the more reason, however, that we should pay heed when ACG president John MacLeod tells us that he expects more of government.
In the years ahead if Gaelic is to have a sustainable future the concerted effort of Scotland’s two governments, the public sector, the private sector, community bodies and individual speakers is so important.
Gaelic must be promoted as always through traditional means like the Mod but we must work to make Gaelic relevant and accessible to younger generations so that their enthusiasm will ensure Gaelic culture survives and thrives into the future. It was fantastic to see so many old(er) and young faces participating this year and my sincere wish is for the National Mod to continue to go from strength to strength.
• Alistair Carmichael is Secretary of State for Scotland