My DNA Journey
ABOVE: The overall map of my DNA, including the Hebrides, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Norway.
by Alison MacRae
Celtic Guide Magazine
Hard to believe another December has arrived.
Looking back at this year I wondered, where did it go?
I did my DNA. I so wanted to find out for sure my ancestral history and the only thing I was surprised at, was the Finnish connection that I had.
The Scottish was the Highlands of Scotland and the Irish were Northern Ireland. Scandinavian was the Vikings and then I had Western European and English, which I found out was from the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans.
My sister also had her DNA tested. Looked it up, and it is definitely possible for siblings to get pretty different results from a DNA test, even though they share the same parents. My sister had more Scottish, Irish and Welsh and Scandinavian. Amazing when you think about it, that siblings have not the same amount of DNA from our ancestors.
Paternal genes have been found to be more dominant than the maternal ones. Amazing too, we do not share the same amount of DNA is it not?
Writing my stories for the Celtic Guide has brought me lots of pleasure. I just hope the people who read them have enjoyed them as much as I have had writing them.
I had also entered a writing contest locally in my area. I was pleased and surprised to win. The story was non-fiction and it was completely out of my comfort zone. Nothing Celtic, and no research. It was about being lost in a snow storm.
Living in Canada I know a lot about snowstorms as most of the winters here are just that. The Atlantic Ocean can be very cruel in the wintertime.
Mother Nature may look beautiful on the cards and photos, but sometimes living with it does not always strike me as beautiful, I believe I use other words to sometimes describe it.
Looking back over this year I was trying to figure out which story I enjoyed writing about the most. I found that very difficult, as every time I am writing a story I feel it is my favourite one. When I write about my ancestors I feel I have brought them back to life when writing about them for that short time. Sometimes it has been hard to write about them, as they were not all very happy stories, and digging up the facts on them was sometimes very hard.
I find it interesting when you get a list of names and how they are related to you, but you have to do the research to find how and what ancestor we were related to. I found some interesting facts when looking into some of them.
I also found that not all these new-found cousins wanted to be bothered about how we could be related as sometimes the past was not to their liking.
So I got to thinking about why blame the current generations for what happened in the past.
I am sure we all have family secrets but I would like to know mine, instead of leaving them in the closet I would like to explore. Yes, I would love to find out more of my past. I will also accept the fact that not everyone does.
I have also decided after reaching out to trace cousins, the response has not been good. I will wait to see if anyone reaches out to me. I think the majority of people are just wanting to know their DNA and not wanting or interested in connecting with relatives. I suppose the old saying applies you can pick your friends but not your relatives.
Now I have one cousin who I have found and she is an exception to the rule, she is so into tracing ancestors that if I have problems she is the one I go to. We all need a relative like that as sometimes I call her my Sherlock Holmes. She is so good at putting the dots together for me when I cannot.
If I had not explored my past I doubt if I would have found the following people. Now all of these have originally come from the Isle of Lewis and some of them I am still looking for the connection that finds us as I have matches to them but to find out which ancestor we are connected from.
If I had not explored my past I doubt if I would have found the following people. Now all of them but my Great Uncle Joseph Moore, came from the Isle of Lewis.
My great Uncle Joseph Moore, he was married to y Great Aunt Annabella. He was the famous lighthouse keeper that went ashore on that December day to find the other 3 lighthouse keepers missing on the Flannan Isle Lighthouse. So many stories on that mystery and Joseph who was originally from Ireland. He was in the Merchant Navy before he signed on to be a lighthouse keeper.
After the Flannan Isle tragedy, he had written to the Northern Lighthouse Board to be re-assigned to another lighthouse, as he was stressed out being on the Isle.
ABOVE: Stornoway, credit Wikipedia.
It was a month before they managed to get a replacement for him and he was transferred to Stoer Head lighthouse, located in Lochinver which was very remote. He swore there was a curse on the lighthouse.
The tragic events that happened to him and his family afterwards does make me think he could have been right. I was contacted by Scottish television, they were doing a special on the descendants of that lighthouse and it was to be aired the week that the movie with Gerald Butler, the Scottish actor was being premiered in The Vanishing a different take on the mystery of Flannan Isle. They also had it with a curse on the Isle.
My 15 minutes of fame did not materialize as the Scottish television did not go ahead and do the story on the descendants.
Then the MacKenzie river in Canada was named after Alexander MacKenzie, he was born in Stornoway. He was an explorer in 1789.
I found an outlaw who was sentenced to 18 years of hard labour. His name was Donald Morrison. The family emigrated to the Eastern Township in Quebec. It was a sad story. His father could not read or write, and the land that they had was swindled out of them by a corrupt neighbour who got his dad to put his mark on the paper that he was not able to read.
When Donald found this out he went after the man, and in the process, he shot a peace officer and went into hiding for months until he was caught and tried and put in prison.
Angus MacIver, he emigrated to Northern Manitoba and became a fur trapper, and lived in a wooden cabin in Churchill Manitoba. He contributed much to the development of Churchill and they named MacIver Lake after him for his contributions to the area.
Now if I had not been doing research into the family ancestors I would not have come across these ancestors. They were pioneers in their day. All led different lives but the explorer in them all comes through.
So when one explores their past, one must take the good with the bad. who knows what else I will uncover. That is why I love to do research.
I can say you never know who is in your family tree. For me, it is magic when I find out.
I also did what I have been wanting to do, I enrolled in Scottish Gaelic lessons. Not easy but interesting.
Above, Don Morrison