Sunday, 22 January 2006


<![CDATA[ Ruin of Blackhouse at Borrowston, CarlowayLast spring, I visited the Seallam! (exclamation mark part of name) Centre at Northton, 50 miles south of Stornoway in South Harris. This is the place where Bill Lawson set up a centre for genealogy in the Western Isles. There is a definite market for this; in the centre hangs a world map which shows all the places in the world from where people have launched a query with Seallam! It includes unlikely spots such as Papua New Guinea. Here in Lewis, there is a strong seafaring tradition, and there is a saying that when a Lewisman goes ashore in any port in the world, he is likely to encounter a fellow islander.
As I've pointed out in previous posts, thousands of people have left Lewis over the centuries. Voluntarily, but more often than not, under duress. My list of deserted villages in Eishken, so beautifully pictured in Molinginish's blog, stands testimony to this. It does mean that there is a large pool of people in America, Australia and many other spots in the world, whose ancestors come from Lewis. In the summer of 2005, I encountered an Australian who happened to be in Ullapool and saw the Isle of Lewis ferry berthed. On the spur of the moment, he decided to jump on board and have a look in Stornoway. It turned out that he still had relatives in the island, who immediately came round and took him all over the place to meet a very elderly relative. Others come to the islands specifically to research their roots - by the dozen. Stornoway library is usually buzzing with people on that type of quest.
On one of the Internet message boards concerning the Hebrides is a specific page for genealogy queries. There is a page on the Rootshebrides website which gives very useful information for conducting this type of research. This does not just apply to the Hebrides (Islay to Lewis), but would also be useful for Orkney and Shetland queries.

If anyone has supplementary information, please leave comments. ]]>

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