Am Bratach No. 225
July 2010


Lairg’s cultural events a success
by Donald MacLeod

Lairg, once the transport hub of Sutherland county, can lay fair claim to be considered the cultural hub of the district after hosting both the Sutherland & Caithness Provincial Mod and the Lairg Music Festival last month.

At the Mod, the George Gunn Memorial Trophy is awarded to the outstanding competitor of the day. This year it went to 10-year-old Duncan MacLeod of Migdale, Bonar Bridge. Duncan, whose photo (along with others from both events) is on the opposite page, also won the Alex and Georgie Matheson Memorial Quaich, awarded to the junior soloist gaining the highest combined mark for Gaelic and music in any one competition. Your correspondent had the privilege of sitting in on two competitions in which Duncan took part and they drew particularly high praise from the adjudicators who said they were among the best childrens’ competitions they had ever attended at a children’s Mod.

There were fourteen adjudicators: Uisdean MacRae, Dougie Beck, Norman Macdonald, Rev Donnie MacSween & Rev DJ Morrison (Gaelic), Jean Mackay, Myrtle Gillies & Ewan Stewart (music), James Mather & Rev Mel Langielle (piping), Peter Zanre (fiddle), Karen Connor (clarsach), Ally Mackenzie (accordion) and Lauchlan Denovan (whistle).

Secretary Myra Goskirk said: “The adjudicators were all very pleased with the standard of competitors and the competitors themselves appeared to enjoy the day”. Mrs Goskirk would like to thank the rest of the committee for all their hard work and support over the last few months and their forbearance with her while broadband was down and house removals were taking place.

The music festival, the junior event by around ninety years, was one again well attended and involved over twenty different competitions for accordion, fiddle, piano/keyboard and group playing.

Eleven-year-old Kerry Cameron, Lairg, though not actually placed, played very well on her late grandfather’s 3-row button accordion at the Lairg Music Festival.


Diane Peat, festival secretary, said she was happy with the way the day went, adding that the number of competitors was slightly up on last year. She explained that some regular competitors had been forced to pull out, apparently because of something that happened to their car. Still, the morning competitions went beyond the closing time, such were the numbers competing. There was a also a good attendance by the general public said Mrs Peat. “I would say it was up. I don’t know how much money they took in or anything, but just by looking at it I would say it was up. The concert was very good too. There was a good turnout for that and the afternoon session was packed.”

Such is the high standard that even some of the top names associated with the event had to be content with less than top honours. Kathleen Stevenson from Ullapool beat the much fancied Robbie Mackenzie of Inverness into second place in the open fiddle slow air while Lairg’s Megan MacDonald forced outstanding 3-row box player, Brendon McPhee, Castletown, into third place in the open pipe music competition for accordionists. Musicians from the Lairg area did particularly well, in accordion and fiddle solos, and also in group work.

The full results from the Mod and the festival can be found here (Mod) and here (festival)

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