"O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content"
Robbie Burns

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Scottish Journey

My first yearning to visit Scotland began in 1992 when I finished reading Diane Galabadon's OUTLANDER. After years of working, going to college part time  and raising my kids, I finally had time to read historical fiction. I fell in love from cover to cover, more with Scotland's history than with the charming Jamie Fraser. I knew from family history we were Scots/Irish and had always had, oddly enough, a love for the skirl of the pipes. But it wasn't until my sister asked me if I would like help with some family research, that the real possibility of traveling to Scotland formed.

After two years of struggling through files/films of fiche at the local LDS Family History Center, I learned my great great grandparents (William Clarke and Isabella Mctaggart) had come from the tiny parish of Rerrick, Kirkcudbright, located in the southwest corner of Scotland called Galloway. At first I was disappointed they were Lowlanders, but it took only one visit in 1994 to change my mind and heart. Traveling the rolling hills filled with sheep and the ever green landscape, I understood why my ancestors settled for the gentle farmland of southern Wisconsin; so much like "hame". During that first visit we actually found the house where  my gggrandmother was born creating an incredible feeling of longing and belonging. 

Since that first visit I have been fortunate enough to travel to Scotland two more times, most recently this fall. Part of this recent visit was to use the National Archives in Edinburgh and to visit with my professors at the University of Dundee, where I am enrolled in an online archival program. I'll share more about the visit to the archives in future postings as well as my experiences (and pictures, if I can figure out how to do this) of this past trip as well as past trips to Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. I also want to share what is happening in Scotland today, which seems to slip under the radar of the American media.  

Anyone else have experience doing family research in Scotland? Care to  share it.