Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tayroots Genealogy Fair - report

I'm sitting here in Largs and the rain is tipping it down outside and it is very grey - a marked contrast from yesterday at Dundee's Tayroots Genealogy Fair!

I had arrived in Dundee on Friday night (after a brief stop in Perthshire to take some photographs for a book project) and made my way to Duntrune House ( to the north of the city, which sits on the boundary between Dundee City and Angus. The B&B is run by the absolutely brilliant Barry and Olwyn Jack, who are keen genealogists themselves, and I could honestly have stayed there for a week, if only to go through their book collection! Big open fires, beautiful rooms, and yes, this paragraph has just turned into an advert for them, because YOU HAVE TO GO AND STAY THERE! :)

After dinner at a local pub with Olwyn, Barry and another guest, I returned to the B&B and got talking to some of the guests about Irish research (they were all staying to pursue their genealogy interests), and for one guest I was able to quickly make a few discoveries for a line that she has been researching for 40 years, including the fact that one member of the family ended up living on Albert Road, Carrickfergus - part of my old newspaper round when I was a kid! Unbelievably, that is the second time this year that my paper round has featured in someone else's research (the other was in Toronto a few months back)! A small room, with four or five people interested in genealogy, a big open fire, and Wi-Fi access - perfect conditions for an impromptu and enjoyable genie session, and we didn't finish until just after 11pm. YOU HAVE TO GO AND STAY THERE (sorry, think I've done that bit!)

Yesterday then was the Tayroots Genealogy Fair ( at the Discovery Point, organised superbly by Sheila Faichney and her team, with many societies and vendors in attendance from the surrounding area. A very busy day. I had gone to give two talks, one a beginners' workshop on Scottish research, and the other a talk on the handloom weaving industry in Perth. This actually ended up as three talks as one of the other speakers was unable to attend at short notice, so I offered to plug the gap with a lecture on online Irish resources, which ended up packed - even if the Powerpoint I had was 6 months out of date! For those who attended, I suggested that links to the websites discussed in my talks were on my research service website: for the Scottish talk,, and for the Irish talk's links (the Irish page is considerably expanded, as these are the links for the hour and a half version that I do).

Rather brilliantly, at the end of the weavers talk a gentleman called Ron Scrimgeour approached me and told me that he was in fact the Deacon of the Dundee Weavers Incorporation - thankfully he gave the talk a big thumbs up, which was reassuring! Keeper of the Scottish Catholic Archives, Andrew Nicoll, was also there and gave a much appreciated talk on the archives, and in conversation with him during the day he told me that he is preparing two further books on Scottish Roman Catholic based family history research, following up on his recent publication listing the records available (see, so keep your eyes peeled!

I managed to catch up with many people there including Vivienne and Pat from the University of Dundee's archives service ( and huge thanks to both for the image permission - will be in touch!. I also met John Irvine from the Scottish Local History Forum ( and was so impressed with the group's periodical that I ended signing up as a member. The membership rate from October 2011-September 2012 is £20, and the group is organising a conference for Friday November 4th 2011 at Renfield Centre, Bath Street, Glasgow, the theme being Travellers, Turnpikes and Tar - further information is available on their website.

I caught up with Helen from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions (, who was having a busy day, and who is currently making her inscriptions data available down under through Gould Genealogy, which should hopefully be of interest to Ozzie readers! I also met up with genealogists Chris Halliday and Caroline Makein, and many others, including a Canadian lady who had previously been a Pharos student of mine!

After the main event, in the evening I had the great pleasure to be given a guided tour of the Howff Cemetery in Dundee by Karen Nichols of Scotia Heritage ( It was the first time I'd actually seen the place, and I was shown everything from the gravestones of the marmalade Keillors to the stones of the Nine Incorporated Trades! A fascinating visit, so many thanks Karen!

After a quick visit to the pakora bar just off the Nethergate (sorry, I AM human!), it was time to head home, and from this my final thanks to the makers of the new M74 to the south of Glasgow - honest, it makes a HUGE difference!

A great day out - thanks to all!

View from the lecture room - not bad really!

Karen Nichols at the Howff


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