The tension was running high at Lewis Sports Centre in Stornoway on Wednesday night as the judges of the prestigious Gold Medal competition at the Royal National Mòd collated their marks for the eight finalists, but there was joy for Carol Maclean and Hector MacKechnie when the marks were finally delivered.
Mr MacKechnie, a ferryman with Calmac from Lochaline, just missed out on the prize when he was runner-up in the men’s final in Oban last year, and his relief was visible when this year’s result was announced.
Ms Maclean, from Tobermory, received her ladies’ final medal from Deputy First Minister John Swinney, while Mr MacKechnie was presented with his prize by Mary Sandeman, the accomplished singer who first found fame as Aneka when she reached the top of the UK charts in 1981 with Japanese Boy.
Both winners also picked up a cash prize of £75, and will be offered financial assistance by Mòd organisers An Comunn Gàidhealach to attend the next Mòd USA in Washington DC.
The Gold Medal competition, blue riband of the Mòd, is open to fluent Gaelic speakers who sing one song of their own choosing and one prescribed.
Mr MacKechnie and Ms Maclean shared the Archie Maclean Memorial Salver for the highest marks in the final.
Second place in the men’s competition went to Seumas Mactaggart of Lewis, third place to Alasdair Martin Christopher Currie of Islay, and fourth to Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, of Inverness. In the ladies’ final, Ceitidh Smith of Inverness was second, Isabel Macleod of Carloway, Lewis was third, and Ainsley Hamill of Cardross fourth – the third consecutive year that this trio have shared the second, third and fourth runners-up places, although in different orders each year.
In other competitions on day seven of the event, rural choirs took to the stage, and in only their second time at the Mòd, Barra Gaelic Choir won the Lorn Shield.
John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “It’s been a quick but great seven days since the Mòd started. We’ve seen some fantastic performances in all the competitions, and the Gold Medal was truly outstanding; huge congratulations to Carol and Hector. As we reach the final few days here in the Western Isles, there are still some great competitions to come. The atmosphere around the Western Isles has been wonderful, and we look forward to the last few days at this year’s Mòd.”
Parts of the Mòd also took place in Harris yesterday, with Sir E. Scott School hosting the Highland Dancing competitions.
Friday is the penultimate day of competition, with the highlights being the area choirs competitions for the Lovat & Tullibardine Shield and the Margrat Duncan Memorial Trophy. The Weekly Scotsman Quaich, donated to An Comunn Gàidhealach by The Scotsman’s sister newspaper in 1948 for annual competition at the Mòd, will be awarded to the choir with the highest marks in Gaelic in the Lovat & Tullibardine competition.
Meanwhile, CalMac will run additional ferry services on Saturday from Lewis to accommodate the volume of traffic travelling from the Mòd.
MOD RESULTS: THURSDAY
GS224 Gold Medal Finals (Women)
1 Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.
2 Ceitidh Smith, Inbhir Nis.
3 Isabel Nicleoid, Càrlabhagh.
4 Ainsley Hamill, Càrdanros.
GS224 Gold Medal Finals (Men)
1 Eachann MacEachairn, Samhairidh.
2 Seumas Mac an t-sagairt, Leòdhas.
3 Alasdair Martin Christopher Currie, Ìle.
4 Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, Inbhir Nis.
Archie Maclean Memorial Salver - Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire and Eachann MacEachairn, Samhairidh.
Innis MacLeod, Shawbost, Prize for Gaelic and Music (A220, A221, A222, A223 and GS224) - Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.
SS254 Silver Pendant Final (Learners)
Women (Catherine Gemmell Memorial Trophy)
1 Fiona Ross, Glaschu.
2 Eileen Duncan, Tunga.
3 Mairi McGillivray, Ìle.
Men (Alasdair MacInnes Memorial Trophy)
1 Fergus Muir, Bogh Mòr.
2 Coinneach MacLeòid, Lunainn.
3 Campbell McKenzie, Steòrnabhagh.
A230 Traditional (women) (Moray Trophy)
1 Claire Nicamhlaigh, Nis.
2 (equal) Saffron Hanvidge, Inbhir Nis, and Emma MacLeod, Sgalpaigh.
4 (equal) Mary Bauld, Dòrnach, Emma NicLaomainn, Uibhist a Tuath, and Isabelle Bain, Am Bac.
A231 Traditional (men) (Lochaber Rotary Club Trophy)
1 Torquil MacLeod, Steòrnabhagh.
2 Dòmhnall Iain MacRàth, Siabost.
3 Eoghan MacIlleathain Stiùbhart, Inverness.
A233 Puirt-a-Beul (Duncan Johnston Memorial Trophy)
1 Anne Bennett, Dùn Dè.
2 (equal) Saffron Hanvidge, Inbhir Nis, and Donna Dugdale, Tobar Mhoire.
3 Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones, Uibhist a Deas.
A234 Lorn Bard (fluent, men and women) (“Oban Times” Gold Medal)
1 D-I Brown, Glasgow.
2 Linn Phipps, An Rubha.
3 Carol Maclean, Tobar Mhoire.
A272 Former Prizewinners, Local Mods (Lochewe Branch Cup)
1 Donna Dugdale, Tobar Mhoire.
2 F. Ann MacLean, Lios Mòr.
3 Mikie MacEanruig, Mid Keiss.
A275 (Neil MacLean and Jenny M. B. Currie Trophy)
1 Emma A C Deans & Raonaid M J Deans, Comar nan Allt.
2 Màiri Macleod & Shona Macmillan, Càrlabhagh.
3 (equal) Cath Fish & Calum Watt, Leòdhas, and Ronald Murray & Riona Whyte, Muile & Leòdhas.
A300 Lorn Shield
1 Còisir Ghàidhlig Bharraigh.
2 Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
3 Còisir Ghàidhlig Mhealbhaich.
Dalriada Cup for Gaelic - Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
Captain Angus Stewart Trophy for Music - Còisir Ghàidhlig Bharraigh.
Mrs Catherine C. MacDonald Silver Baton - Lisa MacNeil.
A303 Sheriff MacMaster Campbell Memorial Quaich
1 Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle.
2 Còisir Ghàidhlig An Eilein Mhuilich.
Selma Shield for Gaelic - Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle.
Grace Robertson Memorial Baton for Music - Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle.
A305 Grampian TV Trophy (Women)
1 Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
2 Còisir Ghàidhlig Thunga.
3 Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch.
Angus MacTavish Memorial Trophy for Gaelic - Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch.
Blairgowrie Rotary Club Trophy for Music - Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
A306 Puirt-a-beul (Aline MacKenzie Memorial Trophy)
1 Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch.
2 Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
3 Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle.
John Young Memorial Baton for conductor of winning choir - Ronald Murray.
Calum Robertson Memorial Trophy for Gaelic - Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch.
Evelyn Huckbody Memorial Trophy for Music - (equal) Còisir Ghàidhlig nan Loch and Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle.
Hamish Graham, Strath, Trophy for Gaelic (A300, A305 and A306) - Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
Sandy Heron Cup for Music (A300, A305 and A306) - Còisir Sgir’ A’ Bhac.
John Lockie Trophy for Gaelic (A303, A305 and A306) - Còisir Ghàidhlig An Eilein Mhuilich.
A200 Poetry Recitation (Ali Abbasi Memorial Cup)
1 Margaret Macdonald Bell, Pàislig.
2 Pierre Fuentes, Dùn Èideann.