This morning I shared my conversation with my taxi driver on Twitter. That lead to an interesting thread about Ancestral Tourism. Ancestral tourism is so much more than genealogy research. More than access to records not found online. Ancestral tourism is about connecting. Connecting the diaspora to their homeland in ways that sometimes none of us can prepare for. Like my conversation with the taxi driver in Oban this morning:
Driver: Where are ye off to today then?
Driver: (nods head)
Me: I came in yesterday from Tiree
Animated Driver: Were ye in Tiree? My father was born there.
Me: So was my great grandfather. In Balemartin.
Very Animated Driver: Aye, that’s where we’re from
Ever the Genealogist Me: Are you a McDonald?
Driver: McKinnon. Well I’m a Macintyre now. My granny was a McKinnon. She married an Oban man. But she went back to Tiree to have each of her babies. So they were all from Tiree.
D: Do ye still have family there?
M: I don’t know. The heritage centre was closed the three days I was there.
D: still lots of McDonalds on the island.
M: He was married to a Lamond.
D: Aye still Lamonds in Gott Bay.
Honestly, you can’t buy that level of connection. Connecting with the locals is quite likely the most salient part of a memorable ancestral tour.
I am continuously humbled by the information a tour participant has received from a local. The participants that have been invited to see where their ancestor once lived. Participants that have been taken to see the places their ancestors lived, worked, worshipped or are buried. Participants who have made a personal connection with at volunteer at a Family History Society and have maintained contact since their visit.
It is the interaction with and willingness of the locals to share that enriches the experience and then sets wheels in motion for those impacted by that level of interaction to plan a return journey. And it is these memorable moments of interaction with the locals that sets an ancestral tour apart from a heritage tour.