Friday, October 24, 2014

Banned from the Mòd


Well, not banned. But Na Seudan Ura were given a stern dressing down for daring to put a dreaded 'modern' slant on their Gaelic folk music. Apparently one of the 'judges' for the 'Royal' National Mod managed to remove his or her head from their nether region just long enough to look down their nose at the group of teenagers and chastise them for their 'lounge jazz'.

It does nothing to dispel views of Scottish/ Gaelic speakers as old-fashioned and dour Presbyterians of the 'no sex as it might lead to dancing' mould.

It also does little to present Gaelic as a living modern tongue.

An Comann Gaidhealach, who have organised the National Mod for more than a century, have presided over the death of the language over much of the Scottish mainland. In 1892 when the first Mod was held, Gaelic was still spoken by local families and communities in places such as Caithness, East Sutherland, Easter Ross, Inverness-shire, Strathspey, Perthshire, Stirlingshire, Arran, the Angus glens and on Lomondside. Despite the pomp and pageantry and despite the Royal patronage, An Comann Gaidhealach did little or nothing to make a stand for Gaelic and to protect it in those communities. Comparisons with similar societies in other small nations are like chalk and cheese.

Cultural and political can be merged but not if you're too feart to offend the Royals and the lairds. Not if you're still doffing your cap and mustering a few words of gratitude to those, and their kind, who happily saw our glens emptied of people with the remaining men used as cannonfodder and any remnant 'native-speaking' children punished for that crime.

Sadly, in Scottish Gaelic culture, the world-views and words of long-dead poets and a vanished society hold more value than a vibrant and forward looking future.

Meanwhile, in the Basque Country, the local punks have a new CD out. The good news for An Comann Gaidhealach is that it isn't lounge-jazz. The bad news is....