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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

New York City To Showcase First Ever Gaelic Song Contest With Tartan Week Mòd

A NYC Tartan Week Mòd will take place for the first time this spring as NYC Tartan Week, the largest annual Scottish cultural gathering in NYC, hosts its first ever Scottish Gaelic song contest in celebration of NYC Tartan Week’s 25th Anniversary of National Tartan Day.

The two-day event will be held in association with An Comunn Gàidhealach, who are responsible for the annual Royal National Mòd, and hosted by Mòd Gold Medallist and BBC Alba’s Speak Gaelic presenter, Joy Dunlop. It marks the first time a Mòd has taken place in New York City.

Singers from across North America, Scotland, and beyond are being invited to compete in the historic event which will take place at The Tailor Public House on Thursday 13th April.

The competition will see singers ages 16+ perform one of six prescribed Gaelic songs, or their own selected Gaelic song, before a panel of judges. The winner will be crowned NYC Tartan Week Mòd Champion 2023 with a cash prize sponsored by the New York Caledonian Club, and the winner will be invited to perform at the New York Caledonian Club NYC Tartan Week Pre-Parade Ceilidh.

Wednesday 12th April will see the event kick off with a series of workshops in Gaelic language and culture including song, instrumental music, step dancing, and ceilidh dancing.

The festivities will be captured by Mac TV for a documentary that will be aired later this year. It will follow Joy as she travels across the Atlantic to share the spirit, excitement and camaraderie of the Mòd and speak to Americans with ties to Scotland about the importance of celebrating the Gaelic language and their heritage.

The Royal National Mòd, which takes place annually in different Scottish locations each October, is the highlight of the Gaelic community calendar and the annual festival is the largest gathering of Scottish Gaelic song, music, and culture in the world. Choirs, groups, quartets, duets, soloists, thespians, and musicians compete at this week-long gathering, with winners of its singing and musical competitions going on to delight audiences around the world.

Joy Dunlop said: “The tradition of the Mòd is one we’ve enjoyed in Scotland for over 100 years, and we are so proud to bring this event to NYC for the first time. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate our community and our history and keep this important part of our culture thriving on both sides of the Atlantic.”

James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “The Royal National Mòd is the biggest celebration of Gaelic language so it felt only fitting that we partnered up with North America’s largest annual Scottish cultural gathering. It’s wonderful to see NYC Tartan Week bring its own mòd to life across the Atlantic for what will be a fantastic opportunity for Gaelic speakers across the pond to take part in a Gaelic singing competition. This pilot project has so much potential, and we look forward to continue growing this friendship in years to come.”

The 2023 NYC Tartan Week and the NYC Tartan Day Parade are organised by the National Tartan Day New York Committee with support from Scotland Shop, Belhaven, NHSCOT, The Scottish Government, Scottish Business Network, New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, and Compliant Global.

The NYC Tartan Week Mòd is supported by New York Caledonian Club, The Tailor Public House, Scottish Business Network, and An Comunn Gàidhealach. To find out more, visit

This year’s Royal National Mòd will take place in Paisley from 13th-21st October 2023. Entries are open now at

In 1999, two pipe bands and a small but enthusiastic group of Scottish Americans, led by Grand Marshal and Academy Award-winning actor Cliff Robertson, marched from the British Consulate to the UN in the first New York City Tartan Day Parade. Since then, the annual NYC Tartan Day Parade has brought together thousands of people from across NYC, the United States, and Scotland by providing meaningful connections through the celebration of Scottish heritage and culture. Organized by the National Tartan Day New York Committee, the Parade plays an integral role in marking National Tartan Day (April 6), a day declared by the U.S. Senate in 1998 to officially recognize the “outstanding achievements and contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United States.” Now in its 25th year the NYC Tartan Day Parade, which is free to all those who participate and represents the highlight of a weeklong series of Scottish-themed festivities designated as “NYC Tartan Week,” includes over 3,000 bagpipers, Highland dancers, clan organizations, Scottish dog breeds, and more, proudly marching up Sixth Avenue amongst tens of thousands of spectators in person and online. The NYC Tartan Day Parade and NYC Tartan Week continue to attract the best Scottish and Scottish-American artists, entrepreneurs, organizations, and more in an effort to promote, support, and develop deeper personal connections with Scottish heritage in America.

The National Tartan Day New York Committee was formed in 2002 and obtained official nonprofit 501(c)(3) status in 2003 to organize the NYC Tartan Day Parade and all the associated activities that make up NYC Tartan Week. In following its mission to celebrate and spread awareness of the contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United States, the committee continually partners with organizations throughout New York City, the United States, and Scotland to present opportunities for those who have or identify with Scottish heritage to connect through more than a dozen Scottish-themed events each year during NYC Tartan Week. The committee is committed to providing meaningful exchanges and inspiring experiences in order to showcase the rich Scottish heritage that continues to thrive in America. The committee is comprised of representatives from The Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, The New York Caledonian Club, The American-Scottish Foundation, and Clan Campbell.

The Royal National Mòd is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association) which was founded in Oban in 1891 and had HM The Queen as its Patron.

The Gaelic word “mòd” means “a gathering of people” and this festival was first held in Oban in 1892, and it has grown to become Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival famous for celebrating our Gaelic linguistic and cultural heritage.

Following Royal assent and now known as The Royal National Mòd, it provides opportunities for people of all ages to perform across a range of competitive disciplines including Gaelic music and song, highland dancing, instrumental, drama, sport and literature.

The only person to be crowned Traditional Singer of the Year & Traditional Dance Champion at the Pan Celtic Festival, Joy Dunlop’s singing career is the result of a life–long fascination with Scotland’s traditional music and has led her all over the world; from major Celtic festivals, to touring the UK, Europe, Canada, USA, Japan and New Zealand.

Through her singing, she showcases Gaelic music and song in a contemporary way that always remains true to its roots. Nominated as Gaelic Singer of the Year 2020, 2016, 2011 & 2010, she has also won both the coveted Royal National Mòd Gold Medal and the Oban Times Gold Medal. She has released two highly acclaimed solo albums, Dùsgadh and Faileasan and a duo album with her brother Andrew, entitled Dithis.

A popular television & radio broadcaster, Joy presents the weather on both BBC Scotland & BBC ALBA, in addition to being the main host of SpeakGaelic, the new and multi-faceted learning brand, offering the most comprehensive approach to learning Scottish Gaelic in a generation. With her trademark poise and depth of knowledge, Joy’s warmth and enthusiasm have made her increasingly in-demand in television and radio broadcasts alike, presenting the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition and being a frequent host and panelist on a wide range of music, current affairs and light entertainment programs.

A fluent Gaelic speaker, with an honours degree in Gaelic language and culture, she also conducts the Alba Choir, Scotland’s first and only Eurovision entry, who participated in the 2019 Eurovision Choir of the Year finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.


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