THE Mod's bardic crown has been bestowed on a non-Scot for the first time in the 120-year history of the Gaelic festival.

At a prestigious ceremony in Stornoway last night, Lewis Mackinnon from Nova Scotia, Canada, was recognised for his contribution to the language, music and culture of the Gaelic diaspora who left the Highlands and Islands for North America, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The crowning of a Nova Scotian Bard has been seen as symbolising the links between Scotland and Canada and recalling these great migrations. 

He has been involved in numerous Gaelic initiatives in Nova Scotia and has written songs, music and poetry. He has also taught the language and has written a book of poetry in the Nova Scotian Gaelic dialect.

A respected scholar on both sides of the Atlantic, he was born in Cape Breton and, as well as being a respected poet, is director of the Nova Scotian provincial Government’s Office of Gaelic Affairs.

The role of Bard is an honour given to an individual who has contributed to the Gaelic literary world and carries an ambassadorial role for the language and culture. It normally extends to a period of three years. 

John Macleod, president of An Comunn Gaidhealach said: “While the distance between this year’s Mod in the heartland of Gaelic and his home in Nova Scotia is considerable, it is really just a short step in linguistic terms across the wide ocean that separates us, and we hope that our event will continue to reinforce these close links.”

Mr Mackinnon said: “I am truly humbled and honoured by the designation of poet laureate for the Mod. Acknowledging the importance the Bard plays in events like the Mod, I accept reticently this role and I hope in some way I may, through my work, reflect Gaelic Nova Scotia and how it is today, profoundly aware it has as its origins, the words, actions and historical events of the peoples of Gaelic Scotland.”

John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “The ties between Gaels in Scotland and Canada have always been strong and we’re delighted a Canadian Gael will receive the honour of being crowned Bard.”

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