Scottish Genealogy

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Those Places Thursday - Peinchorran, Skye

While rooting through some of our own old family albums at the weekend I found a number of great shots of my great-grandparents' house on the Isle of Skye.  They (Donald and Isabella Macdonald) had moved there from the island of Harris just after the end of WW2 and my mother and aunt went often to visit them at their home at Peinchorran.  It was fairly remote and involved quite a journey to get there!  

You can get an idea of the location, spelled 'Piennachorian', on the 1832 map of the island [hint: find the island of Raasay first, then look across from the very bottom of Raasay to the opposite shore on the 'mainland' of Skye]

The picture above shows my mum 'being decorative' while her father Malcolm and uncle Donald look slightly more industrious - this must have been not long after my great-grandparents moved there, probably around 1946 (and yes, both men are smoking while they work!)  It was a fairly typical house of its period with the sloping upstairs ceilings that will be so familiar to any who have stayed in a house of this type.

This is probably one of my favourite old family photographs - it shows the house at Peinchorran and the typical contents of the ground outside it - I think that it's shots like this that can help to give a snapshot of 'real life' and 'real living' - milk pails, garden tools, and I think there's a butter churn in there somewhere too.  The two men coming around the corner are my mother's uncle, Angus Macdonald, and a man named Peter Nicolson - my mother remembers often watching for them coming home: they would return from the salmon fishing over the hill that you can see in the background, and would be watched for so that the family would know when to put the tea (dinner!) on. [if you look closely, the man on the left is carrying a bottle - my mother swears that it would be a bottle of milk that he was bringing home, but I like to think it might have been something a bit more fortifying for the walk home!]

Finding these two photos in a box really brought to life some of my ancestors and the place that they lived...and it also gave me some new questions to ask my mother about her own childhood and her memories of her family.  So, if you have any old photos at home, why not get them out and have a 'chin-wag' with someone who knows some of the people in them: you might get some new ancestor stories that you have never heard before...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Soldiers tending WWI graves

The National Library of Scotland has, as well as world class library and archival collections, a great photostream on flickr - I frequently get side-tracked on there when looking for something else entirely.

Their collection includes this striking images of soldiers tending the graves of fallen comrades, the original photograph reads: 

'OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT. Soldiers during their spare time collect plants and flowers to decorate the graves of our heroes.'

So this one image is really representative of the many, many other tombstones and the unmarked resting places of the brave souls who fell in the war, and also a memorial to their comrades - who cared enough to labour at their graves.

You can see this image and other fantastic historical images on the National Library of Scotland's flickr photostream or at their own digital archive of WWI images.