The Royal National Mòd makes its highly anticipated return to Paisley today, returning to Paisley for the first time in 10 years.
The Mòd 2023, which runs until Saturday 21st October, is set to bring fans of Gaelic music and culture together once again to celebrate the language, history and future of the Gaels.
An incredible opening night concert featuring MG Alba Folk Band of the Year Breabach will take place this evening for what will be the first full-scale concert to take place at Paisley Town Hall since its reopening.
Around 7,000 visitors are expected to descend on the Renfrewshire town over the coming nine days to soak up the vast range of performances, competitions, recitals and cultural activities on offer.
Around 2,000 participants will take part in a total of 200 competitions, with stages, halls and libraries in over 20 venues across Paisley and its surrounding areas bursting to life for the event which is expected to generate in excess of £2 million to Paisley’s economy.
To mark the opening of this year’s event, organisers An Comunn Gàidhealach have announced the Gaelic Ambassador of the Year. The annual Scottish Government honour is this year being awarded to celebrated Gaelic singer, researcher and broadcaster Linda MacLeod.
Originally from North Uist and now based in Glasgow, Gaelic was songstress Linda Macleod’s first language. She studied Gaelic at the University of Glasgow, graduating with a first class honours degree in 2010. Linda researched Gaelic songs associated with her family and native homeland, and went on to continue this work, gaining an MPhil in Gaelic in 2011.
Since then, Gaelic language has been at the centre of Linda’s professional life. She has worked with the University of Glasgow’s Celtic and Gaelic Department, Glasgow’s Gaelic arts organisation An Lòchran, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, The Gaelic Books Council and freelanced on a number of Gaelic media, teaching, singing and community projects.
Over the years she has presented and voiced many BBC ALBA programmes and now works part-time as a presenter on CBeebies ALBA. Linda has been Comhairle nan Leabhraichean’s Young Gaelic Reading Ambassador since 2016 and in 2015 was awarded Bòrd na Gàidhlig and The Daily Record’s Young Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award. In June 2023 she was named on the Saltire Society’s inaugural ‘40 under 40’ list, for her contribution to the Gaelic language.
Linda MacLeod said: “It is a huge honour and a lovely surprise to be named Gaelic Ambassador of the Year. The Gaelic language has been a constant in my life and is very important to me, without it I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be up to today. I have been very fortunate to have worked on various Gaelic projects and with every age in the community. I have learnt so much from kind, encouraging people who have helped me over the years and from my own family too, and I am so grateful for all their help. This award has encouraged me to learn more from these people and to be involved in other projects in the future. The Gaelic language is very dear to me and I’m proud and thankful that it is such a big part of my life.”
This evening will see the Mòd’s joyous programme of performances and competition kick off with an incredible opening concert headlined by one of Scotland’s most skilled and imaginary contemporary acts Breabach. The multi-award-winning Lochaber five-piece will be delighting audiences with a raft of material from their celebrated back catalogue.
The first ever Mòd Festival Club will burst into life tonight at The Sneddon. The relaxed sessions will provide a place for attendees and musicians alike to socialise and soak up the festival atmosphere throughout the week, with the Graham McLennan Trio first up to entertain Paisley audiences.
The town’s pubs will also play host to some lively trad music from artists around the world over the nine days for the Mòd Phàislig 2023 Late and Live programme. It all kicks off tonight with Canadian folk duo Pierre Schryer & Adam Dobres playing in The Bungalow, Celtic folk fusion band Reely Jiggered getting a ceilidh going at The Old Swan and Irish-Scottish folk duo Fuaim getting toes tapping at The Keg.
Across the following nine days, the festival will showcase a diverse programme of exciting live competitions and fringe concerts.
Competition highlights include the An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal final on Wednesday 19th October and the Traditional Gold Medal final on Thursday 20th October. The Combined Rural Choirs’ Competitions and Combined Area Choirs’ Competitions will also return on Thursday and Friday next week bringing choral singers from across Scotland together, while the event’s Fringe programme sees everything from history-making sporting clashes to late-night pub sessions and concerts from the brightest talent across the Gaeldom.
Tomorrow will see competition get underway for pipers, fiddle players, accordionists and more and shinty return to Renfrewshire, while the Mòd Football Cup will see two fluent Gaelic-speaking teams, Gàidheil Ghlaschu and Na Gàidheil, play off against one another for the first time since the annual match launched in Perth in 2004.
James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “We are incredibly excited to welcome faces old and new to The Royal National Mòd in Paisley. It’s wonderful to officially get this year’s event underway with the incredible sounds of Breabach at such a special venue like Paisley Town Hall. It’s been a decade since we brought the Mòd to Paisley and the town has already shown such warmth and enthusiasm for hosting this event once again. We appreciate locals welcoming us honorary ‘buddies’ for the next nine days as we bring our music, culture, friendship and hospitality to the streets, pubs, libraries, venues and concert halls of Renfrewshire.
This is Maggie Cunningham’s first year overseeing the Mòd as An Comunn Gàidhealach’s new President, having taken the role in the association responsible for the preservation and promotion of the Gaelic language earlier this year.
Maggie Cunningham, President of An Comunn Gàidhealach, added: “ I’m very much looking forward to my Mòd as President. Once again the event will showcase the national and international importance and profile of the Gaelic language, provide an important opportunity for Gaels and Gaelic supporters to come together in celebration, share the significant cultural benefits of the event with musicians, artists and audience members alike and have a positive impact on the economy of our host town of Paisley.”
Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “It’s great to see the Royal National Mòd return to Paisley for the first time in ten years and I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who worked so hard to make this possible. I’m looking forward to what I’m sure will be a lively and memorable Mòd that celebrates the very best of our rich Gaelic culture. I would also like to congratulate An Comunn Gàidhealach for its excellent choice of Linda MacLeod as Gaelic Ambassador for 2023.”
Renfrewshire Provost, Lorraine Cameron, said: “The banners and bunting are up across town, and we’re all excited and ready to get Mòd Phàislig underway. There’s a fantastic programme of events and performances for everyone to enjoy – whether they have a passion for Gaelic culture or if they’ve never engaged with the language and music before. The whole community has been involved in preparations from our local businesses and volunteers to our school pupils and I can’t wait to see the town full of buzz and excitement with visitors and locals enjoying everything this jam-packed festival has to offer.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is once again delighted to be supporting the Royal National Mòd through our International Programme. Returning to Paisley for the first time in 10 years, the city will provide the perfect stage for these piping festivities alongside the usual packed programme celebrating Gaelic language and culture. Events play an important part in our communities by offering visitors and locals the chance to come together and share memorable experiences. I’m sure Renfrewshire will provide its renowned warm welcome as visitors come to the area from far and wide to enjoy this uniquely Scottish event.”
Ealasaid MacDonald, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig is looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic celebration of Gaelic in Paisley. We are delighted to be a major supporter of this event and the wide range of cultural and community opportunities available is testament to the hard work of An Comunn Gàidhealach and the local Mòd team. A special congratulations to Linda MacLeod as she is named Gaelic Ambassador of the Year – well deserved recognition of all her hard work in supporting, entertaining, and encouraging young Gaelic speakers.”
The Royal National Mòd is supported by EventScotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Renfrewshire Council, EventScotland, The Scottish Government, HIE, Creative Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne, BBC ALBA, The Reeling and SQA.
The Royal National Mòd runs in Paisley until Saturday 21st October. To find out more about Mòd Phàislig events or to book tickets visit www.modphaislig.com.