Royal National Mod, Paisley 2023 Emerging trad act 'Darroch' were crowned winners of the second-ever Battle of the Bands competition at Re:Hope Church. The trio met in 2020 at Plockton School of Music and are now students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. L to R: Arabella Rennie (keys), Kathleen MacDonald (fiddle and vocals), Orin Simpson (box and flute) photo:Peter Sandground/Rpyal National Mod

Young Gaelic voices and up and coming musical talent will take over Paisley today, as junior competitions for fluent speakers and the Battle of the Bands return to The Royal National Mòd.

Yesterday, youngsters competed in a number of events including the junior choirs competitions and coveted junior solo singing titles.

The young singers of Mull Junior Gaelic Choir shone, winning both the Choral Unison Learner Under 13 and the Choral Puirt-à-Beul Learner Under 13 competitions. They took a total of five trophies and cups across the two events.

It was also a clean sweep for Falkirk Junior Gaelic Choir who picked up the Queen Elizabeth Coronation Trophy in the Choral Unison Open Under 19, the Tom Crawford Trophy in the Choral Harmony Open Open Under 19 and the Martin Wilson Trophy in the Choral Puirt-à-Beul as well as a host of aggregate prizes.

In the Solo Singing Open 16-18 events, there was more success for Falkirk Junior Choir as their member Leo Swallow, from Cumbernauld, was crowned first in the boy’s competition. Choir mate Caitlyn Jenny Yule from Greenfaulds High School led the girl’s field and took home the Meryl Mae Stewart Memorial Trophy for the highest marks in music across the boy’s and girl’s competitions. Caitlyn and Leo scored the joint highest marks for Gaelic and share the Turriff Trophy.

Alison MacFarlane from Portree High School fought off a strong field of beautiful Gaelic singers to win the Provost of Falkirk Medal with her performance of Nach truagh leat mi ‘s tu ‘n Eirinn at Paisley Town Hall. In the Solo Singing Under 19, Fort William’s Laura Robertson was the strongest in the field.

Youngsters aged 13-15 competed for the James C McPhee Memorial Medal at Paisley Town Hall’s Jacquard Suite, with Aimee MacLeod, 15, from Stornoway’s Nicolson Institute winning, and picking up the Alexander Hamilton Trophy for the highest mark in Gaelic. Lochgilphead’s Feorlin Renton got the highest mark in music to lift the Jean Graham Memorial Trophy.

Tomorrow the girls and boys Traditional Silver Medal competitions kick off at 2pm at the Methodist Church Auditorium. Teens aged 13-15 from across Scotland will perform their own choice of solo Gaelic songs, competing for national recognition.

This evening will see the girls An Comunn Gàidhealach Pendant and boys An Comunn Gàidhealach Kilt Pin competitions. Also held at the Methodist Church Auditorium at 6pm, youngsters will perform set Gaelic songs for an esteemed panel of judges.

Today also sees the return of the Battle of the Bands competition, showcasing the emerging talent of groups on the Gaelic and traditional music scene. Following last night’s heats, the final will take place at 7:30pm tonight at The Sanctuary at Re:Hope Church, where the successful finalists Alt, Darroch, Fraven and Amadan will battle it out for the top prize of studio time at JJ Recordings Studio in Paisley. The event was first held last year in Perth and offers the chance to see the next generation of talent take to the stage.

Children’s fringe event Sruth is back for a second session today, from 10am to 3pm at Paisley Town Hall. Aimed at school-age Gaelic speakers, the drop-in workshop offers the opportunity for young people to practise their conversation skills with their peers as well as some well-known Gaeldom stars, including acclaimed singer and BBC Alba broadcaster Ellen MacDonald, and Lewis radio personality and TikToker Mark Smith.

Emerging trad act ‘Darroch’ were crowned winners of the second-ever Battle of the Bands competition at Re:Hope Church Left to Right: Arabella Rennie (keys), Kathleen MacDonald (fiddle and vocals), Orin Simpson (box and flute)
Photo Credit: Peter Sandground / Royal National Mòd

Historically, Wednesday is the Mòd’s literature day, and tomorrow the Jacquard Suite at Paisley Town Hall will host the annual Literature Prizegiving, celebrating some of the finest work from the past year across writing, art and media categories. There will also be the launch of two new books, as well as the chance to see Peter MacKay, An Comunn’s Bàrd for 2022, in conversation with the newly appointed Bàrd for 2023.

Later on, The Sneddon in Paisley will host the Stephen Drummond Trio as part of the new Mòd Festival Club sponsored by Isle of Skye Candle Company, offering the chance to carry on the fun once the day’s events are over with outstanding live music and a welcoming atmosphere.

James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “Young people are so vital to the preservation of traditional Gaelic culture, so today is a fantastic opportunity for them to shine. From the youth singing competitions to the Battle of the Bands, and with a number of fringe events aimed at young Gaelic speakers and learners such as Sruth, breakthrough talent and young voices are at the forefront of today’s programme. After a successful run of workshops in local Renfrewshire schools in the lead up to the Mòd, it’s wonderful to see young locals making the most of having the Mòd on their doorstep and getting involved.”

Ealasaid MacDonald, Ceannard (CEO), Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “It’s always encouraging to see so many young people taking part in the various competitions at the Mòd, from the An Comunn Gàidhealach Pendant to the Battle of the Bands. Song, music and literature play such an important role in Gaelic culture and it’s great to see young people getting involved, keeping our traditions alive, and taking them forward to make them their own.”

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

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