Saturday, December 20, 2014

Holiday Wishes and Lights

For your holiday enjoyment here are some awesome Christmas lights on a house in Kilmarnock, Scotland. As my great-grandmother was born in Kilmarnock, this video seemed like an appropriate selection. Besides, many of the other videos which I found by searching for "Scotland Christmas" on YouTube featured bagpipes, which seems like a bit of a cliche.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Game of Crowns: The 1715 Jacobite rising - An Exhibit at the National Library of Scotland

Image: "GlencoeOrder". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

An exhibit to coincide with the three hundredth anniversary of the 1715 Rising, has opened at the National Library of Scotland. The Game of Crowns, open until May 2015, charts the power struggle that began with the arrival of William of Orange in 1688. A key item in this exhibit is the letter ordering the massacre of the MacDonalds at Glencoe. Other documents have are on loan from the National Records of Scotland.

If like me, you are unable to make it to Edinburgh to see The Game of Crowns, you can read a bit about it from  History Scotland here and The Scotsman here. You can listen to a podcast about the Glencoe Massacre from In our Time with Melvyn Bragg with Karin, Bowie, Murray Pittock and Daniel Szechi. And finally you can read Ryan Littrell's search for his MacDonald ancestors.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Scottish Emigration Primer from the BBC

If you need some basic facts about Scottish emigration and you need them in a hurry, then check out the Scottish History revision pages on Migration and Empire from the BBC.  There are four sections in this revision module:

Each section opens with a nifty infographic which is then followed by brief historical context and examples. Since these pages are geared towards students who should already be familiar with the material (hence the visuals and brief text) they are perfect for advanced students or interested adults who want to get the heart of the matter in little time.

I hope these pages inspire you to learn more.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The St. Andrew's Day - Thanksgiving Holiday Mash-Up

Amanda's Tartan from Scotweb Tartan Mill

Once again St. Andrew's Day and Thanksgiving fall within days of each other. If I hadn't spent two days cooking a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, I might be more keen to cook something from this St. Andrew's Day Menu. It all looks awfully yummy. But this year our St. Andrew's Day feast will consist of Turkey Dumpling Stew, a recipe from the Food Network engineered to use up leftover turkey. There will be shortbread, beloved by all in my household, for dessert.

We may also partake in some Scottish-themed activities. has an education page on St. Andrew here and an interactive which allows you to "Saltire Yourself" here. If you click on the Saltire Yourself link you will be taken to Facebook. Follow the prompts and you can have a saltire over your whole face, on your cheeks, or on your forehead. It's silly, but it's fun. If saltires aren't to your liking, you can try designing your own tartan at Scotweb Tartan Mill. I learned about this free activity from the American-Scottish Foundation. And once you've finished, the design program will let you know if you sett is good or not good. Mine (see above) was "not good" was the sett size is about 2.5 inches, half of what is best for weaving a tartan. Back to the drawing board.

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Listening for Your Immigrants in Gaelic

The end of term and the holidays are fast approaching which leaves all of us with a little less time to search for immigrants. However, if the immigrants you are researching, like those of Scotch Settlement, were Gaelic speaking, you can listen to Gaelic via podcasts and streamed radio. If they weren't Gaelic speaking - and my actual Scottish ancestors were from Ayrshire, so probably hadn't spoken Gaelic for centuries before they came to America - it is still worth a listen.

Here is a program from the BBC World Service, broadcast on the eve of the Referendum, which investigates the state of Gaelic in present-day Scotland.

You can live stream BBC Radio nan Gaidheal here when they are on air. Underneath the main section of the page in blue you will see the word "English." Click on it and most of the page, like the directions and program descriptions, will translate into English. If you just want to hear the language, click on any of the program episodes to stream them. If you are a Gaelic-learner or want to be try Beag air Bheag (Little by Little).

The BBC produces three podcasts in Gaelic: The Little Letter for Gaelic LearnersLetter To Gaelic Learners, and Spòrs Na Seachdain (Sports). Visit the home page of each podcast to learn more.

I hope that listening to these Gaelic resources will help you feel as if you have been doing something akin to research during this holiday season.

Happy Listening!


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