This years Caithness and Sutherland Provincial Mod proved an enjoyable day for those taking part, but nonetheless suffered from a substantial drop in the number of entries. Most worryingly, the most poorly supported competitions of the day were in the vocal and oral sections, with many attracting either one or no entries. This must be a cause for some concern as the main aim of the Mod is to promote the Gaelic language.
However, one of the better supported competitions was that for the singing of a prescribed song for girls aged 9 to 12. It attracted a respectable number of participants, but it was Lochinver girl Rachel Kelly who came out on top. Rachel, 11, delighted both adjudicators and the audience at the evening concert with her pure voice and lovely rendition of Fear a Bhàta. Later on in the evening she was joined by her younger sister Lorraine for a duet performance of Dhealraich mise nochd rim leannan. The sisters were duet winners at last years national Mod in Dunoon, and with their perfect blend of voices, it was easy to see why.
The competition for boys in the same age group was also won by a Lochinver youngster, Daniel Smith, who treated concert goers to a fine rendition of Toirt m aghaidh ri Diura. Daniel, Rachel and Lorraine were all members of the choir from Lochinver primrary school who took home the Sir Edgar Horne Challenge Cup for unison singing, while Farr Primarys young choristers won the competition for the singing of two prescribed songs, as well as the folk-group trophy. Meanwhile, Lairg Primrary School won the action song competition. Other young prizewinners from the North West were Eòghann Mackay and Laina Nellist of Tongue for their Gaelic posters, and Calum Mackay of Farr High School in Gaelic conversation.
In the open piping events, Carol-Anne Mackay of Strathy beat off strong competition to win the piobaireachd competition. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of the Caithness Gaelic Choir from the senior choral competitions meant that these events were contested by the Lairg and Melvich Gaelic Choirs, with the former winning the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland Challenge Cup and also the Melvich Gaelic Choir Cup for Puirt a Beul, while Melvich won the Laurence Kimball Silver Challenge Cup for the ladies choir competition.
Although the Mod attracted fewer competitors than usual, the evening concert was well supported, with many of the audience commenting on the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, surely the mark of any successful Mod.