Massed Choirs gathering

Renfrewshire residents and businesses played an important part in making this year’s Royal National Mòd a success by embracing Gaelic language and culture.

The premier celebration of Gaelic language, music and culture, which took place in Paisley in October, saw people from all over the local community participate in a range of cultural activities, sign up as volunteers and show their support by creating a welcoming environment for visitors to the town.

As part of the annual nine-day event, which is run by An Commun, a diverse and extensive fringe programme of activity was put on to encourage local Gaelic speakers and novices alike to take part in the festival.

Outside of the traditional competition elements of the Mòd, more than 780 people took part in activities including the multi-cultural ceilidh at the Tannahill Centre, the Fountain Gardens Nature Walk and the Gaelic kids’ clubs. While 12 local community groups played an active role in helping to run fringe activities including STAR project, Fèis Phàislig, Inspiring Families and Pachedu drummers.

STAR Project Manager, Heather Kay, said: “We were humbled to be chosen to work with the great Alasdair Whyte on mapping a Gaelic Walk in Fountain Gardens. Both the workshops and the subsequent walk were fantastic. Our community members loved it.”

Inspiring Families participated in the Welcome Cèilidh at the Tannahill Centre during the festival. It was a warm, welcoming multi-cultural ceilidh for communities from all cultures to share stories in their native languages, mixed with Gaelic.

Unyimeobong Matthew from the Inspiring Families group said: “The community spirit was quite commendable. Inspiring, engaging and colourful!”

Renfrewshire-based Gaelic arts and culture organisation Fèis Phàislig helped deliver an extensive schools engagement programme in the lead-up to the event. ‘Stramash for Schools’ saw the group of musicians visit 45 schools across Renfrewshire to teach pupils about traditional music, song and instruments, whilst learning a few Gaelic phrases along the way. Around 12,500 pupils participated in the sessions.

Fèis Phàislig Director and Mòd Phàislig Local Organising Group member, Grant McFarlane, said: “The schools engagement programme offered an excellent opportunity for young people to learn more about Gaelic language and culture, have fun and look forward to the Mòd coming to Paisley.

Photo: Kids Ceilidh as part of the Mod 23

Photo: Tannahill Ceilidh

Photo: Our Language Our Music event

Photo: Massed Choirs gathering

“I was really encouraged to see so many young people come along to the ceilidh’s, workshops and activities as part of the Mòd Phàislig fringe programme this year. It’s a great way of getting young people excited about music and it can really help foster a real love of Gaelic culture.”

A record number of volunteers signed up to support the event. The initial target of 40 was smashed when 68 people stepped forward to offer visitors a warm welcome and help the event run smoothly. Their tasks ranged from meeting and greeting visitors, helping sell the Mòd merchandise, providing information to locals, competitors and selling tickets and wristbands for events.

One volunteer commented: “It was a great experience; I met some nice people and saw some great choirs.” While another said: “There was a great atmosphere during the Mòd. There was plenty of support and I felt valued.”

The number of local businesses that wanted to get onboard with the event also exceeded expectations with 15 agreeing to support in a range of ways including providing event catering, selling official merchandise for the event or carrying the event programmes.

Guided by Paisley First, a number of local businesses also attended Gaelic language lessons and had Gaelic translated signage on display in store to show their support for the festival.

Bars around the town centre formed an important part of the Mòd Late & Live programme. The venues including the Old Swan, The Keg and The Bungalow programmed a series of live music gigs across the festival week with top names like Valtos and Project Smok as well as local musicians including Evelyn Laurie.

Renfrewshire Provost, Lorraine Cameron, said: “It was a real privilege to welcome the Royal National Mòd back to Paisley this year to celebrate the amazing Gaelic language, music and culture. It was wonderful to see the town so full of energy with thousands of people looking to experience everything the Mòd has to offer.

“I was particularly proud to see the whole community get involved from our local business owners learning Gaelic phrases to welcome people, our school pupils participating in Scottish traditional music lessons and the fantastic volunteers who signed up to support the festival and give visitors a proper Paisley welcome. The event was a great success for the town and showcased the warm welcome visitors can expect when they come to Renfrewshire.”

The Royal National Mòd will take place in Oban in 2024.

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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