The Royal National Mod has officially begun in Inverness following an arduous year-long delay to proceedings.
Gaels from across the country gathered at Eden Court Theatre this evening to celebrate the return of the Mod to the Highlands.
Scotland’s largest Gaelic cultural festival was last held in Inverness in 2014, proving to be a monumental success by generating £3.5million for the local economy.
Organised by An Comunn Gaidhealach, the nine-day event commenced with an official opening concert at Eden Court’s Empire Theatre.
President Allan Campbell said they were “extremely proud” to be hosting the Mod in Inverness, amid challenging times.
He said: “This years Mod had to be different.
“However, we are extremely proud to be showcasing competitions and concerts that will treat you to exceptional music and where you will see Gaelic promoted with pride and respect.
“Enabling people to gather in friendship to celebrate our culture is a principle aim of the Mod and thanks to the hard work of our staff, and our volunteers, we are confident that these aspirations will be fulfilled in Inverness this year and that the city will gain benefit from hosting the Mod.”
He added: “I wish you all a happy and encouraging week in the capital city of the Highlands.”
The Royal National Mod commences
As the curtains rose of the 2021 Mod, proceedings began with a heartfelt tribute to Gaelic choir conductor Hamish Menzies following his death at the age of 84.
Mr Menzies was a member of the award-winning Dingwall Gaelic Choir for 40 years and its conductor for 34 years as well as being pianist in the Strathpeffer Scottish Dance Band.
In tribute to the late musician, who was one of the event’s “biggest ambassadors”, organisers played a video clip of Mr Menzies conducting the choir.
Glasgow based band Staran then took centre stage to headline proceedings with a selection of songs and melodies from their debut self-titled album.
Audience members sat in silence as they basked in the return of live music to the Highlands before letting out a rapturous applause after each musical number.
Attendees were also treated to a performance by members of Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band with special guest and renowned Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart.
The theatre came to life as the delighted audience clapped along to the band’s jigs and reels.
Community spirit at the heart of the Highlands
Councillor Calum Munro, chairman of Highland Council’s Gaelic committee, spoke of the importance of community as he marked the start of the Mod.
He said: “If one word stands out on the at times dark and challenging times of the last 18 months that would be community.
“It was being part of a community – or indeed several communities, be it family, musical, sporting or church or many others – which has sustained so many of us in these months.
“And the strength or our communities was evident at so many levels. That was our experience with the Highland Council area and I know that was the case in other parts of the country and many other parts of the world too.”
Mr Munro said this year’s Mod represents a “unique event” bringing together the “old and the new” to celebrate Gaelic culture.
He added: “It was so important that the Royal National Mod was able to go ahead last year in an online format and we at Highland Council were delighted to support An Comunn Gaidhealach to deliver this.
“In spite of the uncertainties and the challenges of 2021 and the continuing presence of coronavirus, it is our privilege to welcome you all to Inverness, to the capital of the Highlands to one again revive a Gaelic and a Mod community that is special.
“This years Mod is a truly unique event. A mixture of the old and the new to give all those in Inverness in the coming week and to everyone else, wherever you may be, a fantastic experience of Gaelic culture.”