To our Celtic forbears, a “Mòd” was a judge’s, court, such as those held on “duns” or hills by he Lord of the Isles, There are place names throughout Scotland-e.g., Mote Hill, Renfrewshire and Muthill in Fife, which are reminders of such courts. Indeed, US law students are familiar with the term, “moot court,” in which hypothetical cases are “tried.” And we often use the term “a moot debate.” The Gaelic word took on its present meaning in 1891, when enthusiasts at the Oban Highland Games began competitions in Gaelic singing and verse recitation. Loosely modeled on the annual Eisteddfod in Wales, the Oban event grew into a week-long national celebration.
The NC Mòd was started in 1997 by Dr. Jamie MacDonald and Donald F. MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald served as the judge at the first two mòds until he was joined by an additional judge from Scotland in 1999. Adjudicators in the following years have included some of Scotland and North America’s finest Gaelic singers and teachers. Past winners of the NC Regional Mòd include Rhiannon Giddens, lead singer of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.