March 13, 2017
TRAVELLING TO THE ORKNEYS with Mary Anne Inkster
Mary Anne Inkster gave an energetic, engaging presentation describing her September 2016, weekend excursion to Orkney. Mary Anne was part of Christine Woodstock’s Genealogical Research Tour to Scotland, and took advantage of an unplanned research weekend to travel to Kirkwall, Shapinsay and Westray to visit relatives she had recently contacted through DNA matches. Edith Tait and Alan Shearer were grandchildren of Mary Anne’s grandfather, Samuel Inkster’s sister. When Mary Anne notified these cousins of her intention to visit Orkney, they both welcomed her. Alan emailed asking if he could pick her up at the airport in Kirkwall, take her to his home for lunch, and then drive her to the ferry that would take her to visit his sister, Edith, on Shapinsay. He also promised to pick her up later that day and transport her to her accommodation.
Edith and Alan were able to supply pictures of deceased family members, as well as showing Mary Anne pictures of a visit to Winnipeg that Alan had made many years ago. With much surprise, Mary Anne realized that the pictures were not only taken at her grandparent’s Winnipeg home, but the people she was being asked to identify were herself and her children. Similarly, Edith’s pictures were from her grandmother’s collection, and featured Mary Anne and her brother circa: early 1950s, and her parents at Mary Anne’s wedding. Other photos and documents also put faces and events to names on Mary Anne’s family tree.
On Shapinsay, Edith took Mary Anne to Nisthouse the original Inkster home where her grandfather grew up. This was an emotional moment for Mary Anne.
Back in Kirkwall, Alan took Mary Anne to see some of the tourist attraction of Orkney. 5000-year-old Skara Brae entranced Mary Anne. Thousands of years older than the Pyramids of Egypt or England’s Stonehenge, Skara Brae has weathered the winds of time. Mary Anne shared pictures of this sight. From there they travelled to Ring of Brodgar, another stunning tourist sight. There are other sights but Mary Anne was due in Westray.
Because she had spent the day sightseeing, Mary Anne had missed the ferry to Westray, so opted to board an extremely small propeller aircraft instead. She visited Skello which in her great-grandfather, Samuel Inkster’s day was a drapery and grocery store briefly run by her Inkster relatives.
She then moved on to her grandmother, Williamima Mary (Mainland) Inkster’s roots in Westray. From her research, she knew that her grandmother was born at Carness and grew up at Clifton. A visit to Clifton, guided by Leanne Fergus, revealed that Leanne was also a distant cousin, descended from Mary Anne’s great-grandmother’s sister. With Leanne, she viewed the stone house at Clifton and collected a piece of the rock that was used at Orkney to build so many of the structures. Because the Islands lack trees, Alan told her, rock was used instead of lumber.
Another visit to Marie Nicholson – yes, another cousin through DNA – solved a great mystery for Mary Anne. Despite much searching, she had not been able to find Carness on any map. During a visit with three generations of Marie’s aunt, Kathleen Stout’s family – grandmother, mother and daughter, she casually mentioned to Kathleen her search for Carness. She was taken out to the deck and across a wide-open field was told – that farm is Carness! Out of time, Mary Anne caught a ferry back to Kirkwall to get the jet back to Edinburgh and resume her Scottish research tour.
With yet another distant DNA cousin from Brandon, Mary Anne plans to revisit Orkney in June 2017.