This year has been one heck of a year for me personally, having initially to deal with the aftermath of my mother's death from bladder cancer at the end of November last year, and then straight into the roller coaster that was Scotland 2014, with everything from being a spectator at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to canvassing enthusiastically in the Scottish independence referendum, an event that has changed our country forever, and quite considerably for the better (heck, I'm even in a political party now, despite there being absolutely no mention in the weather report of Hell having frozen over!). On the genealogy front I have been on trips overseas to Niagara in Canada to speak at the conference of the Niagara Peninsula Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (www.ogs.on.ca/niagara), a trip to Portugal to participate in a wonderful Lost Cousins conference (www.lostcousins.com), and another fantastic genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past (www.unlockthepastcruises.com) in Australia. It's also been the busiest year yet for client research, with some extraordinary projects, and some equally amazing personal research finds, buried amongst Perthshire estate records and within the vast resources of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
The Scottish Genealogy Network (www.scottishgenealogynetwork.blogspot.co.uk) has grown from strength to strength, with around forty members now, all working in some capacity as professional genealogists in Scotland, and we have enjoyed various archive visits and CPD sessions in venues from as far afield as Inverness to Edinburgh, and with our first international collaboration taking place next year here in Scotland (more on that in due course!). We even had a fantastic Who Do You Think You Are Live event in Glasgow for the first time, albeit for slightly shorter than had originally been advertised, not to mention the event's more regular slot in London earlier in the year.
If there is one genealogy development or highlight in the last year that I would say has been revolutionary, however, it has to be the launch of the Northern Irish GRO records platform, GENI, at https://geni.nidirect.gov.uk. Quite simply, after 14 years of performing research into my Irish family from here in Scotland, I can safely say that this site has transformed both my ancestral research in Ulster and the available funds within my bank account in equal measure! It goes to show that when a government gets on message, it can provide the most extraordinary catalyst not only for our extraordinary hobby, but also the subsequent revenue that will undoubtedly follow from ancestral tourism as folk return to our shores to look for their ancestral roots, whether in Scotland, Ireland, or elsewhere in Britain or the isles. To Alison McQueen, Alistair Butler, and all those at GRONI who made this project a reality (hell, I'm even going to toast NI's politicians here!), a hearty thanks from over the water...!
Next year I'm already scheduled for three more overseas trips (two events in Canada, a return to Portugal and a genie cruise around the Baltic countries), and am ready to get stuck in with research and other projects, including an updated book title and a new title for Unlock the Past, tutoring on Pharos courses on Scottish ancestry, and a wee bit more besides...! I'm intending to push the research side even more also, so do take a look at my research site at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk if you're needing some ancestral help (help, not therapy!).
In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday break, and I look forward to getting stuck back in again shortly!
Some personal highlights from the year...!
Stuck for a Christmas gift?! I have a series of genealogy books available in the UK, Australia and Canada, on Scottish, Irish and British based subject areas. Further details at http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. Santa approves!