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Published: 08 Apr 2015

Roadshow to drive pupil numbers

As the Royal National Mòd returns to its home of Oban thisyear,
efforts are being made to reinvigorate interest in the festival
amongyoung competitors.

Although the Gaelic festival boosted record numbers of competitors
last year in Inverness, just three youngsters from the Oban area made
the journey to the Highland capital to compete.

Now, as the Mòd comes to Oban for the 16th time-the town
hosted the inaugural event in 1892-organisers at local and national
level are attempting to make sure the Lorn area is well represented on
home turf.

Mòd manager James Graham is fronting a Mòd Roadshow, which has
toured 12 schools across Oban and Lorn to encourage participation in the
Royal National Mòd from October 9-17.

James brought some of the West Highlands’ most talented musicians
to schools in Taynuilt, Appin, Connel, Barcaldine, Ardfern, Kilninver,
Dunbeg, Easdale, and Oban’s Rockfied, St Columba and Park schools, as
well as Oban high school.

During the visit to St Columba’s primary last Friday, James said:
“There’s been an amazing response from the pupils and teachers at every
school. The roadshow is something we had planned to use to drum up
support in other parts of the country but Oban is the ideal place to
start because of the recent drop in the number of junior competitors.
The teachers we speak to are aware of the Mòd but they are not all aware
of the support we can offer schools. We want to have really good
representation from the Oban area at this

year’s event because it has great talent and great music teachers.”

Among the musicians on the Mòd Roadshow were Sileas Sinclair
(Connel), Murray Willis (Lismore) and Finlay Wells (Oban) who
entertained the pupils with their lively music.

Argyll Gaelic development officer Duncan MacNeil and Fèisean nan
Gàidheal drama development officer Dougie Beck coached and performed
drama skills with the pupils and 2014 Gaelic ambassador and broadcaster
Kirsteen MacDonald shared her Mòd experiences with the pupils.

Locally, the organising committee behind this year’s national Mòd
in Oban has agreed to establish a Mòd Academy, which will put tutors
into schools in an effort to increase participation. The project will be
similar to the well-established Mull Mòd Club, which is responsible for
a strong showing of competitors from the island at recent Mòds.

Duncan MacDonald, Royal National Mòd 2015 local organising
committee chairman, said: “The Mòd Academy is a pilot project that we
would hope to continue after the Royal National Mòd this year; we want
schoolchildren from Oban and Lorn competing at the Mòd. The numbers have
been falling but teachers are very busy and many parents want to take
their children on holiday during the October break, when the Mòd is
held.”

Upward of 10,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Royal
National Mòd, which will welcome competitors from across Scotland,
Gaelic choirs from Germany and Canada and adult competitors from
Australia.

The Mòd fringe festival will see concerts, sessions, talks and
street theatre in various venues throughout the nine-day festival.

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