Am Bratach No. 237
July 2011

Bonar Bridge Mod goes down well
‘Don’t you think they should hold the Mod here every year?’

This was the encouraging remark made by a gentleman from Lairg to your correspondent, and, yes, the first Mod thought to have been staged in Bonar Bridge was widely held to be a very friendly affair with some very fine performances on show.

Someone who would no doubt agree is a young lady who came all the way from the USA to compete in the oral competitions. Erin Park from Pennsylvania is only fifteen and, accompanied by her grandmother, was on her first visit to Scotland. “I love it,” she said, “and I think my grandmother’s enjoying Scotland, too.” Erin’s grandfather was from Stirling and she can claim allegiance to the great Clan Donald.


Erin Park pictured at the Sutherland & Caithness Provincial Mod, on June 4 2011.

We wondered what made her chose this particular Mod. She said: "Well, it worked out because I’m going to Stornoway tonight and this was close enough that we were to get someone to take us from this Mod to the ferry at Ullapool to get to Stornoway tonight. And it also had most of the competitions I wanted to compete in and just seemed to fit." Also, she added, because Christian Goskirk, who helped to organise the Mod, had been and was "very, very, very helpful".

Erin has been learning the language since she was twelve. “We were learning about Scottish history and I came across information on Gaeldom and the fact that there aren’t so many speakers now as there used to be and I said, well, the least I can do right now for it is to learn it. And it kind of took off. When I started learning I never realised it would become the passion for me that it has.

“I’ve been taking lessons with Michael Mackay — he’s a very fluent Gaelic speaker in America — he lives in Virginia — and he’s been teaching me one-and-one through Skype [a internet video conferencing system] and then I started taking An Cùrsa Inntrigidh with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. It’s a distance learning course taking one and a half years and I’ve just finished that and am hoping to go on to the next course, for the next two years.”

We asked if she was interested in other languages. "Well," she said, "it would be nice to learn some other languages, but I’m going to tackle Gaelic first!" She considers herself almost conversationally fluent and is hoping to become fully fluent by the time she finishes high school.

At home there is no-one she can practise with, but there are ways and means. "I have a lot of friends — I have three pen-pals, all in Scotland — teenagers who are taking Gaelic and are all fluent speakers — I’m going to be seeing two of them in Stornoway."

And what about the internet? "Yes, and there are several Gaelic events where you can go and meet other learners. There’s one in Colarado, North Carolina. Ohio…that’s how I met a lot of people and we have three Mods in the US and I’ve competing at all of them."

This young American Gael found the Bonar Bridge Mod to be a little bit different to what she is used to. "At the US International Mod — last year — there was a lot [on] because a bunch of people came down from Ottawa in Canada — but usually there’s only about five or six competitors for the women and five or six for the men. And I compete with the adults and since there’s no other kids and at the Games [the Mod is held as part of the Hihgland Games] and it’s very small, confined to this one pavilion and someone gets up and sings. So it’s very familiar [to here] in terms of that, but here we have individual rooms and individual competitions . There, everything is in the one place because we only do singing and poetry recitation."

The Bonar Mod was held on the Saturday, June 4, and Erin had only arrived in Scotland the Tuesday before. She had a lot to pack in before returning home on the 16th. "Well, there's Stornoway tonight, then Skye — I’m going to visit Sabhal Mor Ostaig — and there’s also a castle there we’re going to visit — the Clan Donald one — because I’m MacDonald a bit back – and then, after that, we’re going to Glasgow — we’re doing a Highland Dance competition in Glasgow." Highland dancing is another of Erin's interests, as is Cape Breton step-dancing — and playing the guitar.

Trophy winners were — The Meur Euraboll Vase: Kirsty Macleod, Bonar Bridge. The Parkdeans Holiday Trophy: Eoghann Beaton, Tain. The Joseph Mackay Memorial Quaich: Linzi Main, Tain. Am Blaran Odhar Cup: Maisy Richards, Scourie. The Magnus Mackay Memorial Trophy: N/A. The BP Cup: Domhnall Lachlann Beaton, Tain. The Dr Ian Grimble Memorial Shield: Isla Bain, Thurso. The Hugh Gunn Memorial Cup: Linzi Main, Tain. The Arthur Mackay Trophy: No award. The Golspie Gaelic Shield: Heather Bain, Thurso. The MacLennan Memorial Cup: Kathryn MacAskill, Roskeen. The Donald Macleod Memorial Trophy: Erin Park, Pennsylvania. The Dun Corr Cup: Kathryn Macaskill, Rosskeen, Invergordon. The Margaret MacRae Memorial Trophy: No award. The Reay Cup: Feis Ghallaibh. The Sir Edgar Horne Challenge Cup: No award. The John MacDougall Memorial Trophy: Feis Ghallaibh. The HF Buxton Silver Challenge Cup: No Trophy. The Mhor-Bheinn Shield for Music: Rionagan Rois, Beauly. The Seordag Murray Memorial Cup: No award. The Bettyhill, Strathnaver & Altnaharra Community Council Cup 1: Feis Ghallaibh Primary Group. The Bettyhill, Strathnaver & Altnaharra Community Council Cup 2: Feis Ghallaibh Secondary Group. The Croileagan Shield: No award. The Lady Bannerman of Kildonnan Cup: No award. The Murray Cup: No award. The Chleithbrig Shield: Bun Sgoil Thungu. The Colin Cameron Shield: Johan Mearns. The Golspie Community Council Shield: No award. The East Sutherland Challenge Cup: Hannah MacDonald, Bettyhill. The Blarmor Shield: Erin Monaghan, Lairg. The John Mackay Trantlebeg Challenge Cup: Hannah MacDonald. The D MacRae Trophy: No award. Junior Piobraireachd: Hannah MacDonald. The J&S Calder Cup: Hannah MacDonald. The Mary Mackay, Rose Cottage, Trophy: Fingal Summers, Lochinver. The KF MacLean Trophy: William Campbell, Halkirk. The Lairg Community Association Cup: Gregor MacGillivray, Tain. The Dick Gordon Shield: Matu O’Flaherty, Scourie. The Wick Accordion & Fiddle Club Cup: Cara Gordon, Thurso. The Wick Accordion & Fiddle Club Cup: Danny Ogilvie, Munlochy. The Liza Keith Memorial Trophy: Kathleen Steventon, Ullapool. The Elizabeth Stage Gordon Shield: Matu O’Flaherty. The Barbara Mackay Memorial Cup: Annie Rose Munro, Altass. The Hector MacRae Trophy: Jem Irving, Lairg. WJ Simpson: Megan Macdonald, Lairg. The Coalman’s Cup: Alisa Murray, Golspie. The Lairg An Comunn Gaidhealach Cup: Altnagar Challenge Cup: Christine Stone, Castletown. The Londonderry Challenge Cup: Christine Stone. The Clyne Cup: Celia McDougall, Shebster. The Edinburgh Sutherland Association Cup: Ceilia McDougall. The Macdonald Family Trophy: Christine Stone. The Nethercliffe Cup: No award. The Countess of Sutherland Trophy: No award. The Sutherland Tourist Board Trophy: No award. The Duke & Duchess of Sutherland Challenge Cup: Dingwall Gaelic Choir. The Lawrence Kimball Silver Challenge Cup: Melvich Gaelic Choir. The Melvich Gaelic Choir Cup: Melvich Gaelic Choir. The Lawrence Macdonough Targe: No award. The Wick Accordion and Fiddle Club Cup (new trophy): Megan Macdonald. The D&M Campbell Cup: Danny Ogilvie, Munlochy. The Sutherland Accordion and Fiddle Club: No award. The George Gunn Memorial Trophy: Kathryn Macaskill, Rosskeen. Geall-dubhlain Cuimhneachan Uilleam Domhnallach (The William Macdonald Memorial Trophy): Christine Stone. The Alex & George Matheson Memorial Quaich: Johan Mearns, Rogart. The Donald MacPhail Trophy: Domhnall Lachlann Beaton, Tain, & Duncan Macleod, Bonar Bridge. The Wilson Challenge Cup: Eoghann Beaton. The George Gunn Memorial Shield: Domhnall Lachlann Beaton. The Pipe Major Macleod Shield: Eoghann Beaton. The Angus Ross Memorial Shield: Rionnagan Rois. The John Gulloch Memorial Trophy: Rionnagan Rois. The Keith Corbett Memorial Trophy: Hannah MacDonald. The Kate Ross Memorial Trophy: Gregor MacGillivray.

The full results can be viewed here.

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