Pipers call the tune for Gaelic culture

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The North/South divide can be illustrated by many things, but the difference in the cultural understanding of a mod is as good as any. An Comunn Gaidhealach has been organising mods for over a hundred years, but never in Brighton and always concerning itself with more tones than two. This week, a plaid-wearing mod returns to Sutherland after 18 years and is expected to attract some 10,000 people. The 1995 Royal National Mod is the third largest Scottish festival (a mod being a highland gathering with musical and literary competitions, not a Vespa-driving Who fan) and brings together around 2,000 contestants. An Comunn Gaidhealach (Gaelic for The Highland Association) was set up in 1891 to preserve Gaelic culture. Evidence that this has become an uphill struggle is indicated by the falling number of Gaelic speakers - in 1891 the number was 241,000, a century later the number had fallen to just 82,000. Anne Draper, newly elected president, says that this year the number of children competing has gone up - "and it is the children that will further the Gaelic traditions in the future". Competitions will be held in categories including piano, fiddle, accordion, vocals, drama and ceilidhs for both adults and children.

Events in and around Golspie and Brora, Sutherland, until Fri; for further information call 01408 633907/908, tickets pounds 4-pounds 1.50, 9am-6pm daily