THE Royal National Mòd has appointed its new Bard and announced the Gaelic Learner of the Year.

Poet, broadcaster and journalist Peter Mackay, originally from the Isle of Lewis, has been named the new Bard in recognition of his contribution to the Gaelic literary world. 

Mackay works as a senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews and was previously writer in residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – a college on Skye. 

He is the 58th recipient of the An Comunn’s Bardic award, which was first handed out almost a century ago in 1923. 

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Mackay said: "It’s a great honour to be named the Bard of the Comunn Gàidhealach, especially as next year – 2023 – will mark one hundred years since the first poet, James Thomson from Lewis, was named in this role.

"That’s one hundred years of footsteps to follow in, and live up to, not least those of Rody Gorman, the most recent holder of the role, who has done so much for Gaelic poetry over the years.

"It is also nice to be part of the Mòd. I’m a terrible singer, so never got to compete here; I’m very pleased to be sneaking into this extraordinary cèilidh by another door.”

Elsewhere the recipient of the Gaelic Learner of the Year award was also announced with Sheena Amos from the Black Isle being recognised for making steps to become fluent in the language. 

Amos is a music teacher on Skye and credited her colleagues for helping her to make progress with her Gaelic. 

She sat a Higher exam in the language during lockdown following a year of studying at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and now teaches music through the medium of Gaelic. 

Amos said: "I feel honoured to be awarded this prize considering how many people are learning Gaelic at the moment.

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"The other students in my class at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig all worked so diligently and enthusiastically, and our lecturers were very encouraging. Language is closely connected with community, and I know that without the fantastic support of the local people here on Skye, particularly from colleagues at Portree High School and Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Phort-Rìgh, I wouldn't have learned Gaelic to this level.

"I would really encourage anyone living in a similar community who wants to learn Gaelic to give it a go, and to use the resources around them!”

The RNM is taking place in Perth until October 22.