IT’S the highlight of the Gaelic year and the community has come together to make sure the Mod will still take place – albeit in virtual form.

In common with all other major cultural events, the annual Mod has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but although this has resulted in a dramatic change to the format there has been a positive outcome, according to James Graham, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach.

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The decision to cancel the week long physical event was taken in May but the organisers, aware of the huge impact this would have on the Mod community, agreed to create an online version to fill the void in October.

While Mr Graham admits it was a daunting task, the switch has resulted in many more entries from across the world.

“We have had a lot of interest from people who would not necessarily got over to the Mod because of the travel costs,” he said. “But one of the positives this year was that they could actually take part by recording from where they were.”

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As well as entries from across the US, there were submissions from Canada, The Netherlands and even a socially distanced choir performance from Buenos Aires.

“These were the great things that came out of this and it is probably something we would want to keep to some extent,” said Mr Graham. “We want the event to be internationally recognised and we can really open it up with something like this. It shows there is a desire there for people to take part but it is a lot of money for people to come over.”

In order to create the online event, a system had to be put in place to allow for video entries. These were then sent to a panel of adjudicators with the best being chosen to be presented online.

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While the usual prestigious medals and cups will not be awarded, the competitive element has been retained with the best being given commendations and a place in the programme.

The structure of the usual week has been followed and will be shown free of charge from Friday, October 9, on the organisation’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

The programme begins with an opening concert featuring leading Gaelic musicians including Mary Ann Kennedy and hosted by Kirsteen MacDonald.

Saturday is dedicated as usual to the instrumental competitions with two programmes going out at 2pm and 7pm. Saturday night also sees a piping concert in association with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

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A Sunday service is also still being held and will be broadcast on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and Facebook Radio nan Gàidheal.

Mondays and Tuesdays are typically children’s days and this year is no exception with a compilation of the best performances across the junior categories at 7pm on both nights.

Wednesday at 7pm sees a compilation of some of the best performances across the clàrsach, dancing and senior categories while Thursday and Friday evenings at 7pm are the slots for the adults. The Highland Council Ceidlidh takes place afterwards at 9pm and will be hosted by Julie Fowlis.

“We have a big week ahead but we are really pleased with the content of the programme which has fringe events as well as the performances,” said Mr Graham.

“We are delighted with the reaction we have had and the standard is really high. It is nice to see some fresh, new names in there as well.”

He added: “We know it is not a true competition but we wanted to showcase the best of Gaelic language and culture and the community has allowed us to do that by sending in their videos.

“People will be able to watch from across the world and we will keep the content online for a while so they can tune in later if they want.”

The online Mod is being complemented by BBC Alba which will be showing archive footage of previous Mods all week.

Gaelic Ambassador Dr Alasdair Whyte said that although he was disappointed that the usual Mod could not go ahead as planned he was very pleased a virtual event was taking its place.

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“The Mod is a hugely important part of Gaelic culture,” he said. “It  brings together many Gaelic speakers annually and I know from my own experience how important that is.

“The programme for the virtual Mod looks great and I am sure people will come together online and discuss performances and the events.”

YouTube: An Comunn Gàidhealach