Paisley has once again proven it’s the perfect event host as the Royal National Mòd celebrates a successful opening weekend for the premier Gaelic festival.
The Renfrewshire town has welcomed Gaels from the length and breadth of Scotland for a swathe of cultural and sporting activity including piping and accordion competitions, shinty, football and sensational live traditional music.
Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, the annual celebration, which hasn’t paid Paisley a visit in a decade, has been well worth the wait. The Paisley Mòd is set to stage another seven days of cultural celebration, wrapping up festivities with a sold-out concert from Niteworks at Paisley Town Hall this Saturday.
Yesterday saw pipers young and old impress at The Wynd Centre and Paisley Town Hall’s Jacquard Suite, with 16-year-old Arran Green from Bannockburn High scooping a double win. Arran took home the W.G.G. Wilson Trophy for the 16-18 Pìobaireachd, and the Royal Highland Fusiliers Cup for the 16-18 March, Strathspey and Reel.
Kinross High School pupil Lennox Munro, won the Under 16 Roderick Munro Quaich for 2/4 March. The 15-year-old from Glenfarg also took the Under 16 Lighting Electrical Cup for his Strathspey and Reel.
In the senior competitions, the Pìobaireachd and the March, Strathspey and Reel Premier and A Grade competitions were both won by acclaimed Glasgow bagpiper Roddy McLeod MBE, who is the former Director of the National Piping Centre. Milngavie’s Bradley Parker won the B Grade March, Strathspey and Reel competition, while Angus Macphee from Inverness won the B Grade Pìobaireachd.
Down at Renfrew’s King George V Playing Fields, shinty and football action was in full swing, with sporting fans lining the pitches to cheer on the youth, women and men’s shinty and football matches.
Strachur-Dunoon won the Mòd Shinty Cup, beating Glasgow University by 5-4 to lift the Aviemore Trophy. It’s 20 years since Glasgow University last won a major trophy with a cup final and Strachur-Dunoon, who came together in 2021 to preserve the playing of shinty in their communities, proved worthy adversaries.
In the Women’s Shinty Mòd Cup, Alba – the Scottish Gaelic international select – went head to head against Glaschu, a select team of players from clubs in the Glasgow area including Glasgow Mid Argyll, Uddingston and Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. Glaschu won with the final score 3-2 to take home the LearnGaelic Trophy.
Inspired by the legacy of Paisley’s former shinty team, Paisley Royal Shinty Club, youngsters from across the Central Belt competed in the Paisley Royal Tournament Youth Shinty Mòd Competition, with Kyles Athletic coming out on top.
This year’s history-making Mòd Football Cup saw two fluent Gaelic-speaking teams battle it out in the competition’s history. In the match refereed by Gaeldom’s Fergus O’Hanlon, Na Gàidheil won out over Gàidheil Ghlaschu by 5-3.
Last night, Paisley Town Hall lit up with some exceptional Renfrewshire and internationally-acclaimed talent for Ar Cànan ‘s Ar Ceòl (Our Language Our Music). The special night of traditional music saw young musicians from Fèis Phàislig, the Renfrewshire Schools Pipe Band and Kilbarchan Pipe Band take to stage alongside the Glasgow Gaelic Association and some of Scotland’s finest Gaelic singers in the form of Ainsley Hamill, Deirdre Graham and Joy Dunlop. To top it off, the exquisite pairing of fiddler Jenna Reid and pianist Harris Playfair rounded off a fantastic night of music and song.
The celebrations didn’t stop there, as tunes rang out in Paisley’s pubs and venues until the wee hours, including at The Sneddon where Glasgow trad favourites The Canny Band had everyone on their feet for last night’s Mòd Festival Club.
Today sees an opportunity to discover Paisley’s oldest public gardens, with a free Gaelic Nature Walk led by singer songwriter Alasdair Whyte taking place at Fountain Gardens at 2pm. Alasdair will be discussing Gaelic folklore and will give attendees the opportunity to learn the Gaelic names for the trees, plants, animals, birds and features seen in the park.
The spectacular Paisley Abbey will play host to this year’s much-loved Mòd Church Service at 3pm, while St. Mirrin’s Cathedral will welcome Gaelic Mass at 5pm.
Tonight, Celtic Praise will see stunning performances ringing out from the Methodist Central Hall from 7pm.
James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “It’s been a fantastic opening weekend to the Paisley Mòd as we bring Gaels from across Scotland together, and share our language, music and culture with old and new faces and the people of Paisley and Renfrewshire. We’ve seen local musical talent really have a chance to shine with our Our Language Our Music concert and can now look forward to a day of reflection, before we head into six more days of competition, performances, sessions, workshops, talks and more. Whether you speak Gaelic or are interested in learning and no matter your age or background, we would encourage you to get involved in the week-long programme of activities.”
The Royal National Mòd is supported by EventScotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Renfrewshire Council, 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 and to book tickets, visit www.modphaislig.com.