Unlockthepast 5th Genealogy Cruise- British Isles, 2014-Day 2, At Sea

Day 2 Sunday, 20 July

 

It is normal for the second day of any cruise, for it to be ‘at sea’, without calling into any ports. To whether it is a medical requirement to make sure the passengers have not brought a sickness on board, as many infections show up within 24 to 36 hours of exposure, or it is just to allow passengers to get their sea-legs, I don’t know.

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The sea was calm and the weather fine. 

To the Unlockthepast participants and lecturers it meant a great day of lectures and interaction.

However, we knew it also meant no internet. Throughout the cruise we relied on free wifi, when we visited the onshore towns. Some lecturers and Unlockthepast team members purchased pre-paid usb mobile services, which worked well when in most ports, but of course not at sea. In an emergency we could have used the ships satellite internet connection, but it was very expensive and definitely ‘out’ as far as using it for family history research. All online research would have to wait.

The ship’s Cruise Director and staff had an information morning on the up- coming shore excursions, which we attended in the Marco Polo Lounge.

I had booked our tours many weeks before, but I wanted to check them out, as this was the time I could change them if necessary.

Unfortunately this presentation clashed with the first of the Unlockthepast lectures. This was about “The mystery of the standing stones-Orkney, Lewis and Ireland”, by Lesley Silvester. To quote from her biography, “Lesley from Western Australia, is a Londoner who came to Australia with her family in 1961. Her expertise and knowledge of history is wide ranging and her topics of her lectures during the cruise reflect this from the Lesser known records of research in London to the mystery of the Standing Stones in Orkney and the Outer Hebrides.”

As I love archaeology, and all that it encompasses, I would have loved to have heard Lesley’s presentation, but I couldn’t be in two places at once.

After a short break Rosemary Kopittke presented on ‘Government and police gazettes’, which are an amazing resource for family history, followed by ‘TheGenealogist:what’s the difference’. This is a subscription site particularly strong in non-conformist records in Britain. She compared it with other subscription sites. I have had a subscription to this site for several years and have found some amazing leads for some of my families. A little information on Rosemary from her biography. “Rosemary Kopittke, from Queensland is part of the Unlockthepast team who regularly gives presentations not only on Unlockthepast Cruises, but many other events throughout Australia. She is also an author and editor for many of the new Unlockthepast publications.”

After a quick lunch in the Bistro we were ready for the afternoon lectures. First up was Eileen O’Duill with ‘Introduction to Irish genealogy:where do I start?’ Although I have been doing research in Ireland for many many years, I love to hear what other people have to say on the topic, not only to check my own research methods, but to see if new resources have been released. From her biography we learnt that “Eileen lives in Ireland and has been a professional genealogist for many years, specialising in legal and probate research. She has lectured at national and international conferences and on this cruise was speaking specifically on many aspects of research in Ireland, which many people find very challenging.” As we have about ninety percent of our ancestors coming from Ireland, researching there is challenging, but also very rewarding when you make that breakthrough.

Eileen was followed by Lisa Cooke on ‘How to create exciting interactive family history tours with Google Earth.’ Lisa was from the United States of America, and owns a genealogy and family history multi-media company. She was scheduled to give several talks on how to use the latest technologies in our family history quest. As I am a great fan of Google Earth, and have invested in much of the new technology, I found Lisa’s presentation very interesting and inspiring and bought her publications as e-books to supplement my notes.

There was a another short break before Paul Blake presented his talk on ‘British probate records:an introduction to sources.’ Paul who came from England is a full-time researcher, lecturer and writer. He was to present several lectures on records from manorial to army.

Although I have been working in British probate records for years, they are very complicated, especially trying to locate where and what has survived. I had been having difficulty locating some 17th Century wills, so I was on the lookout for new strategies or resources to locate these.

Marie Dougan was next and she spoke on ‘Families moving between Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.’ “Marie is from Scotland and is a professional genealogist who also uses technology to deliver lectures worldwide by webinars. She is also a tutor in a range of genealogy and family history courses at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Her presentations on the cruise were on families migrating between areas throughout the British Isles, to resources at the National Archives of Scotland.”

After another break, where several of the lecture team were engaged in Research Help Zone, which was very busy, we had the last two lectures before a late dinner. The first was by Mike Murray on “Crofts and crofting-a unique way of life in the Highlands and Islands”.Mike is from Western Australia and works as a professional genealogist helping people trace their roots. One of his passions is Scottish peoples migration and immigration, which he presented on, as well as tips on-line researching.

The last lecture for the day was Sean O’Duill’s “Death and burial: peasant Ireland in the 19th Century. Sean is the husband of Eileen and comes from County Mayo in Ireland. He is fluent in the Irish language and works as a researcher at The General Register Office in Dublin looking into Irish Folklore. On the cruise he presented on the Irish language and Irish Folklore concerning medical cures; marriage customs and burial customs.

As preparation for this cruise the Unlockthepast team had put on their cruise website the full program as well as biographical material on the presenters, some of which I have quoted here to give you some idea how ‘top notch’ this cruise conference was.

It was a formal night for dinner and the Captain’s ‘ Welcome’ cocktail party. Many of those on-board went, but we decided to have dinner in the Bristro and then retired to bed to read. I was getting quite a collection of books by this time, and welcomed the opportunity to delve into some of them.

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