Friday 21 February 2014

Ancestral Tourism and Homecoming 2014

Scotland has deemed 2014 to be Homecoming II. It is a year full of activities and events that will inspire the return of thousands of the descendants of the Scots Diaspora to return to their ancestral homeland. In addition, there is a big impetus from Tourism Intelligence to create a more meaningful trip for the Diaspora by working with local businesses to assist them in meeting the needs of the Diaspora as they return to search their roots. While these businesses are not necessarily genealogy based, they have been versed in assisting you to know where you can go for assistance.   

If you are going to Scotland on an ancestral visit, make sure you take the opportunity to also learn the social history of your ancestors. There is so much more to understanding the lives of your ancestors than simply knowing the dates of the vital events in their lives. Take time to really understand the times in which they lived. How they lived. What they did for entertainment, where they worked, what the laws and social norms were. You can do this by:
•Visiting Museums
•Visiting Historic Sites
•Talking to Locals
Take CityTours
Reading, reading, reading
•Talk to the locals

Discover Your Own Scottish Heritage

One of the realities for the descendants of the Scots Diaspora who return to Scotland to research their roots is that they are neither visiting nor touring. They are returning HOME. So many of Scots heritage will tell you that the moment they set foot on Scottish soil, they had a sense of "coming home" Indulge yourself in your heritage. Take pride. Drink it in. Absorb it. Here's how:
•Visit Pubs
•Attend Festivals
•Take part in Highland Games, Clan Gatherings, Celebrations, Re-enactments

Planning ahead will help you to make the best use of your time in Scotland. And ultimately that will make your quest to discover your ancestors and your own Scottish heritage more fulfilling. 

If you wish to join an organized tour, please be aware that less than a handful of the Scottish-based Ancestral tour companies are run by genealogists. They are in fact travel companies, and while their tours may be a great way to see Scotland, you will not get the assistance you need in furthering your genealogy research. While you may get to the village or town where your ancestors lived, very few will take you to see your ancestral haunts (churches, schools, places of work, churches, graveyards). None of these companies include time in archival repositories. 

At Genealogy Tours of Scotland, our tours provide protected time at the ScotlandsPeople Centre, the Scottish Genealogy Centre and the National Library of Scotland. These are all based in Edinburgh and while on the tour, you will receive personal assistance from the archivists in each location.

In addition to the repository visits, time is available to travel to the area of Scotland where your ancestors lived. I provide connections to ancestral tour companies, run by genealogists in Scotland, who will give you a personalised tour of your ancestors home area including graveyards, churches, streets, business and anything else you may wish to see that is still standing.  

If a visit to Scotland is on your bucket list, I guarantee as soon as you arrive, you will get the sense of "being home". If genealogy research is on  your to-do list while in Scotland, give me a shout and I can assist you to make the most of your ancestral visit. ( Either way, you won't be disappointed.





Tuesday 18 February 2014

"The Battle of Bannockburn: Scotland Then and Now Commemmorations"

A commemoration will take place in Toronto of the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, under the auspices of the St. Andrew’s Society of Toronto. The theme will be "The Battle of Bannockburn: Scotland Then and Now.” 

There will be a Symposium on the afternoon of Saturday 21 June 2014 at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. In the evening a Concert will be held at the ‘Toronto Wreck Room’ at Bathurst & Bloor.  

Professor Graham Morton will return from Scotland to participate in the Symposium. In addition, there will be presentations from a Brigadier-General from the Toronto Scottish Regiment, as well as other academics from Canadian Universities. The Concert will include performances by Poor Angus, the City of Toronto Police Pipes and Drums, Blazing Fiddles, Caledon County and Friends, and the McDonnell Highland Dancers.
The St. Andrew's Society of Toronto now has the full details of the BoB programme on its website:
Tickets are now available to purchase through the Eventbrite ticketing system:
"The Battle of Bannockburn: Scotland Then and Now" Symposium:

Thursday 13 February 2014

Tartan Day Scotland Festival 2014

From Angus Ahead comes this press release:

Plans are well underway for the Tartan Day Scotland Festival 2014, the celebration of Scotlandand the Scots which takes place across Angus from 5-13 April 2014. Almost forty events have already been added to the Tartan Day Scotland Festival programme, including a major Homecoming Scotland 2014 event, which is being held in Arbroath on the weekend of 5/6 April.
“We’ve had a fabulous response to this year’s Tartan Day Scotland Festival, with local organisations and businesses arranging and getting involved in events throughout Angus,”said Cllr Mairi Evans, Angus Council Economic Development spokesperson.“This year, we’re thrilled to be hosting a key Homecoming Scotland event in Arbroath and it’s wonderful to see the support being provided to this weekend of celebrations, which is expected to welcome high numbers of additional visitors to the area.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Tartan Day Scotland Festival in Arbroath is set to capture the very essence of the Year of Homecoming Scotland.
“This is an opportunity for local people and for those from further afield to come together and enjoy Scotland’s rich history, its eclectic culture and its pioneering legacy to the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a history buff – there really is something for everyone – from fantastic seafood and maritime demonstrations to music and street performers – I think it’s the perfect opportunity visit to Scotland’s east coast.”
The Tartan Day Scotland Homecoming Weekend in Arbroath will focus on two of the town’s main visitor attractions – Arbroath Abbey and ArbroathHarbour – and will kick off with a ceilidh organised by Arbroath and Area Partnership on the evening of Friday, April 4.
Throughout the weekend, there will be guided tours of– and free entry to - historic Arbroath Abbey. There will also be a medieval encampment in the grounds and craft demonstrations, including calligraphy, combat, juggling and a working forge, similar to the one used to make the iron shoes for the horses of the Scottish Knights who travelled to Arbroath in 1320 to sign the famous Declaration of Arbroath.
Arbroath’s maritime heritage will be in the spotlight at Arbroath Harbour. At the Taste of Angus event in the Fish Market, foodies will be able to sample the very best of local produce, including freshly-caught seafood and, of course, Arbroath Smokies. The visitor centre overlooking Arbroath Marina will host demonstrations of traditional fishing skills, while the nearby Signal Tower Museum, once home to the light keepers of the Bell Rock Lighthouse and their families, will be the backdrop for sea shanties, storytelling and re-enactments of the lives of the local fisher families in days long gone.
Saturday’s Homecoming Scotland celebrations will also feature street performers and live music on Arbroath High Street and guided walks of Arbroath Abbey’s ancient graveyard, Old Arbroath and, as darkness falls, the town’s haunted most spots.
A Tayroots Family History Day will be held on Sunday, April 6 at the Webster Memorial Theatre. This will consist of talks from leading genealogists and historians and the chance for people from near and far to seek advice and information from members of local and family history groups, archivists and other relevant organisations.
At lunchtime that day, the Massed Angus Pipe Bands will lead the way to Arbroath Abbey, where Arbroath Abbey Timethemes will re-enact the April 6, 1320 Signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. For the first time in many years, this ceremony will take place within the walls of Arbroath Abbey, close to where the original document was signed.
Arbroath’s Tartan Day Scotland Homecoming Weekend will conclude with a display of the archives of Auchmithie and a screening of vintage local film footage in the WebsterTheatre.
“The Homecoming Weekend is a wonderful opportunity to welcome back to Angus the descendants of those who left our shores many years ago,” said Cllr Evans. “By holding this event during the Tartan Day Scotland Festival, we will be celebrating Scotlandwith the people of Scotlandand ancestral Scots from across the globe.”
Further information about The Tartan Day Scotland Festival 2014, including the Tartan Day Scotland Homecoming event in Arbroath on 5/6 April, is available online at To keep up to date with the latest news about the Tartan Day Scotland Festival,‘like’ the Tartan Day Scotland facebook page.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Looking for Ship Passenger Lists for Your Scots Emigrant Ancestor?

By 1870, steamships were bringing large numbers of immigrants from Scotland. Many of these steamships were, in fact, built on the Clyde. So, you won't find an actual ship passenger list BEFORE this time. You may get re-constructed lists where someone has taken the time to go through other databases and put the listing of passengers together from them.  

Traveling from Glasgow/Greenock cut the journey from the UKto America by 20 days (as opposed to travel from Liverpool), making Glasgowthe port of departure for most Scots from the 1870s forward.  

Here are some lists you might want to search:

Arrivals through Canada:

Arrivals through the US:

         Philadelphia Arrivals

         New York Arrivals

         Maryland Arrivals:

 Happy Searching!