Saturday, 18 August 2018

Researching Families in the British Isles

This past week, I was in Philadelphia at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The week was a joint project of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. This was "mini" institute of sorts, with each day being dedicated to a full day of talks on a particular subject. In many ways it was a taste of the British Institute that is offered every fall in Salt Lake City but arranged to give people on the east coast a chance for some intense learning opportunities. 

The four days were dedicated to four separate topics:


DNA and Genealogy presented by genetic genealogist Maurice Gleeson


Researching Scottish Ancestors by Christine Woodcock


Researching Irish Ancestors by Maurice Gleeson

Researching English Ancestors by Frank Southcott. Frank's day was shared with the HSP who shared the rich resources they have on hand for researching British Isles ancestors. 

The week was well attended and people enjoyed the opportunity to engage in some in depth learning about researching their ancestors from Ireland, Scotland, England as well as understanding the uses for DNA in tandem with their genealogical research. 


Monday, 13 August 2018

Book Your Celtic Genealogy Cruise Cabin for Just $100!


From now until August 18, 2018, you can book your cabin for a deposit of just $100 usd. This will secure your cabin. 


If you book a balcony cabin or a mini suite this week,  you will also get a FREE drinks package, worth $144 per day ($1728 for the cruise) which will actually pay for your upgrade from an inside or ocean view cabin.

Remaining cabins are limited. Don't lose out on this unique opportunity! 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Could a Conference BE Any More Fun?

Today was the second and final day of the Celtic Connections Conference in Boston. People were slower to fill the breakfast room this morning. But that didn't lower the din of discussion about all that was learned yesterday, the connections made or the stories being shared. 

I had two talks today so the day went by in a bit of a whirlwind. I started out by attending Kyle Betit's talk on Finding Irish Ancestors in Canadian Records. It was really well done and in the hallway after there was lots of chatter about "I never thought of looking in..." Right after that, it was my turn to present. I spoke on the historical events that led to waves of migration of Scottish Highlanders to the US. 

Then it was lunch time. We were entertained by Sharon Kennedy relaying the tale of the Strike for Bread and Roses. It was brilliantly done. From lunch I was at a book signing along with John Grenham. And before I knew it, it was the last time slot of the day and I was up once again. The crowds had certainly waned and we were a very small intimate group to hear about the wealth of records available for Scottish research if you just Step Away From Your Computer. The genealogy gems in the libraries, archives and family history centres is proof that your Scottish ancestors really are waiting on the shelves for you to discover them. 

The conference concluded with the announcement that no final decision has been made for the location of the 2020 conference, with both Chicago (a clear favourite) and Minnesota being considered and explored. 

The conference wound up with a pub quiz night. And what a fun evening it was. We were divided into teams to answer 5 rounds of questions about all things Celtic. Our team came in third. Not a shabby showing at all. 

 The Celtic Queen

The judges adjudicate

The winning team were the "Undecideds" with Audrey Collins and Donna Moughty. 


Second place went to "Ireland's Best" with John Grenham. 

The final round was a one question, each to their own round. All of the people who had the correct answer were put into the bin and the winning name was drawn from there. YAY ME!! 


Once again, thank you to TIARA and the IGSI and the combined committee for a job well done. Not only did people come together to learn and to connect, as they do with every conference, but in true Celtic fashion, they came together to have fun and enjoy life. As the Scottish saying goes "you're a long time dead". Enjoying the moments and the kinship is the fuel of life and I was so blessed to be with a group of people who were able to do just that. Laughter was abundant over the course of the weekend and is the one thing I will remember most about my time in Boston at the Celtic Connections Conference. 

Celtic Connections Conference

I am delighted to be part of the roster of speakers at this year's Celtic Connections Conference in Boston. The conference is organized by TIARA and while primarily focused on Irish research, also provides learning opportunities for researchers who have Scottish or Welsh ancestry. 


The day started yesterday with a continental breakfast. Then it was on to the talks that were on offer. Lunch allowed people to gather to reflect on their learning, share research findings or talk about their heritage. We had wonderful entertainment to energize us for the afternoon. 

Friday evening was the banquet. Dinner was wonderful and full of conversation about the day. Many new resources for finding ancestors had been discovered during the day's talks. 



Our after dinner entertainment was just fantastic. It reminded me of a good old fashioned Cape Breton Ceilidh. Perhaps the best part was the fun that the singers were having. Their joy was infectious. 



After the banquet, some of the speakers collected in the hotel bar for conversation, collaboration and to connect. 




Congratulations to TIARA and the Conference Committee for a job well done. 



Friday, 10 August 2018

Saugus Iron Works and the Dunbar Soldiers



Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Saugus Iron Works, the birth place of the Iron and Steel industries in North America. Saugus is now a National Park. Several prisoners of war from the Battle of Dunbar (1650) were ndentured to the Iron Works. Many of their descendants still live in Massachusetts and Maine today.

My genealogy friends will recall that Jon Cryer had an ancestor that was a prisoner of war from the Battle of Dunbar who was indentured here.


I first became interested in the Dunbar soldiers when I read about the discovery of a mass grave during some construction work at Durham Cathedral. Although I have no known ancestral ties to these men, they have pulled at my heartstrings every since I learned of their story.


The minerals needed for iron production are found in abundance in Saugus and as such it soon became the site of the first successful plant for the integrated production of cast and wrought iron.  In addition to the rich supply of bog iron, the thick forests provided the wood that could be harvested for charcoal for the fires to melt the bog iron.  Gabbro was used as a “flux” to help remove the impurities in the molten bog iron. The water from the Saugus River was diverted to power the water wheel.



The bog iron was melted in the blast furnace at temperatures of 3,000 degrees 



Fahrenheit. The molten iron was poured into sand trenches which cooled it into sow iron. From this iron bars were made and sent to the forge where they were made into wrought iron. Within a couple of years of production, the Iron Works at Saugus rivalled any in Europe. The iron produced here was also shipped throughout Europe from this water terminus.


 In In 1650, at the Battle of Dunbar, the English defeated the Scots. 10,000 Scots were captured. Roughly 4,000 were freed due to age, illness or injure and the remaining 6,000 were force marched from Dunbar to Durham Cathedral, some to110 miles south where they were to be imprisoned. Half of the men died on the journey. Of the 3,000 that were imprisoned at Durham, half died in captivity. The rest were eventually shipped to the colonies. The first 150 were sent to Massachusetts. Sixty-one of these were sold to the Saugus Iron Works.  


The men were provided with housing, food, clothing, liquor and tobacco in exchange for their labour. Most worked as wood cutters. Some were more skilled and were employed in the production of the iron or in smithing the iron. Many of these hard working men went on to be very successful in their new  lives in America.



Sunday, 5 August 2018

Still a Few Cabins Left for Celtic Genealogy Cruise May 2019

There are still a few cabins left for the Celtic Genealogy Cruise May 4-16 2019. There are research opportunities in Dublin, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh. There will be opportunities to consult with genealogists in Dublin (from the Irish Family History Centre) Belfast (from the Ulster Historical Society) and on board for those with Scottish ancestors. 
Historic excursions will be available for those who don't have ancestors from a given port or for those who are accompanying researchers. These include: The EPIC Emigration Museum, The Titanic Centre, Loch Lomond, Culloden Moor, Clava Cairns and Fort George. 
In Edinburgh there is the chance to take an Outlander tour of the filming locations. 


Until September 5th, Princess Cruise Lines is offering a FREE drinks package for anyone who books a balcony cabin or a mini suite. This is worth $144 per day or $1725 for the entire cruise - so well worth the upgrade. 




To book YOUR cabin:

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Glasgow Research Tour Itinerary


The itinerary for the 2019 Glasgow tour is now confirmed.

Thursday May 16: We will meet in the hotel lobby for a meet and greet and to talk about the week ahead.

Friday, May 17: We will meet in the hotel lobby at 8:30 am to walk to the train station where we will head to Motherwell. Research opportunities will be available at both the North Lanarkshire Archives and the Lanarkshire Family History Society.

Saturday May 18: Those who are interested will meet in the hotel lobby at 12:45 to head to the Glasgow Women's Library. Here we will be given an overview of the library and a behind the scenes tour. Then we will head out on a guided tour of Glasgow's East End. This is one of the older parts of Glasgow and has a rich history. We will see the Templeton Carpet Factory, Glasgow Green, and will end at Abercrombie Cemetery, locally known as the Weaver's Cemetery.


Sunday May 19: For those who are interested, we will meet in the hotel lobby at 1:15 and head to the Glasgow Necropolis for a guided tour.



Monday May 20: Today’s research opportunity will be at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society. We have also been invited to join the GWSFHS for their evening meeting.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we will head to the Mitchell Library for full days of research at the Glasgow City Archives


The tour ends after breakfast on Friday morning. Some will head further afield, or stay a few days longer. Others will return home complete with certificates, stories, photos, a richer sense of themselves as part of the Scottish diaspora and with a keener sense of connection not only to their ancestors but also to their ancestral homeland.


Only ONE space remains!! If you are the first to book, it's YOURS!


Cancellation for Glasgow Tour Opens Space!



Unfortunately one of the people who had been scheduled to join us for the Glasgow tour in 2019 has had to back out due to a change in family circumstances. 

This has created an opening for the tour. It will be given on a first come, first serve basis and won't last long. 

Join us for research opportunities at: