The battle for one of the Royal National Mod’s most sought after prizes began on Thursday morning.
The Traditional Gold Medal qualifying rounds took place in the Empire Theatre at Eden Court.
10 Gaels took to the stage to try for their chance at taking home the prestigious medal.
The audience was larger than it has been at any adult competition so far this week, all watching intently as each singer performed.
There were four male competitors and six female, all hoping to sing again in Thursday night’s final.
Each sang one song of their choice, then waited nervously while the adjudicators made their decision.
Eoin Cuimeanach was the winner of the men’s category, and Amy NicAoidh took home the trophy for the women.
“I’m quite surprised”
Mr Cuimeanach, from Laide came top of the pack in the men’s Traditional Gold Medal qualifier.
The 18-year-old was shocked to do as well as he did in the first round of the competition.
He said: “I’m quite surprised with how it went, I was quite happy with my performance although it could have been better.”
It could only have been seven points better, as Mr Cuimeanach scored 93 out of a possible 100.
Much like many of the other competitors, he found it strange being back on stage again after a long pandemic.
He explained: “It’s been two years since I was at the Mod last time, which was also the last time I was on stage.
“When I went on first it was quite something to feel it all again, but I got used to it after the first few verses.”
The singer, who studies music in Edinburgh, enjoys the fact that the Mod enables him to explore Gaelic music and history.
He chose his song for today’s competition because of its moving meaning.
He said: “It’s actually a song that I sang quite a few years ago and really enjoyed.
“It’s about soldiers leaving Greenock to go to war and not being able to return home to Lewis, so it’s quite a moving song and it’s a lovely melody as well.”
Mr Cuimeanach will compete against runners up Calum MacColla, Eoghan Stiubhart and Torquil Maclean in Thursday night’s final.
“I feel great”
Amy NicAoidh beat five other women to the top spot in the qualifying round, as well as being scored highest of the morning and winning The Moray Trophy as a result.
Like Mr Cuimeanach, Miss NicAoidh wasn’t expecting to do so well in the competition, but that ended up working in her favour.
She said: “I feel great, I wasn’t expecting that at all. It’s my first time singing in two years so I thought I’d just go for it.
“I think because of that I wasn’t too nervous and I just enjoyed the experience, I’m really surprised I came first.”
This is Miss NicAoidh’s second year competing in the Mod as an adult and she is looking forward to giving the final another go.
She said: “I didn’t do too well last time and I think it was just because I was so nervous so it feels nicer this time.”
The song Miss NicAoidh chose to perform during the qualifiers has a personal meaning for her.
The 23-year-old explained: “The song was written by the Pabbay bard, and it was actually my great great grandfather who helped preserve all of his songs.
“So I’ve got a personal connection to it, though I didn’t find that out until I was doing research on the song, I like it anyway.”
Despite doing so well in the competition, Miss NicAoidh said she “can’t relax yet” as this evening looms.
Four women qualified for the final due to a tie in scores, so joining Miss NicAoidh will be Carolyn Groat, Emma NicLeoid and Saffron Hanvidge.
The male and female winners of the Traditional Gold Medal will be announced during the final later this evening.