Monday, 3 August 2009

Emigration from the Outer Hebrides conference

Another quick plug for the Island Book Trust's 3 day conference in September on Emigration from the Outer Hebrides. From the society's site:

The Island Book Trust’s big event of 2009, to mark Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, will be a 3-day conference from Thursday 10th – Saturday 12th September at Leverburgh Community Hall in South Harris. This follows a number of very successful conferences organised by The Book Trust which have brought together knowledgeable speakers from different backgrounds to further understanding and enjoyment of the history of Scottish islands in their wider context – see for more details.

This year’s conference will bring together outstanding speakers, local people, visitors to the islands, and descendants of families who left the Outer Hebrides over the last 250 years to consider the remarkable story of emigration from the islands to places such as Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Patagonia. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Harris, the event will include, in addition to the more formal programme, films of emigration, a major exhibition on emigration by the internationally-known genealogist Bill Lawson, a session with short contributions by emigrants or their descendants, after-dinner sessions featuring a ceilidh and songs and recordings of emigration, visits to places in Harris from which emigrants left, and a competition for local school-children on the theme of emigration.

There will also be an opportunity for a limited number of those attending the conference – on a first come, first served basis – to visit St Kilda following the conference on 14 or 15 September. The main venue for the conference will be Leverburgh Community Hall, with sessions also in the Rodel Hotel and the Seallam! Visitor Centre, Northton.

The keynote address to start the conference will be given by Professor Tom Devine of Edinburgh University, an eminent authority on Scottish emigration. He will be followed by an array of other excellent speakers covering different aspects of Hebridean emigration. A wider context will be provided by a contribution from the West of Ireland. An exhibition and new publication drawing on a unique emigration database compiled by Bill Lawson and owned by the Northton Heritage Trust will coincide with the conference. The conference will be closed by Linda Fabiani, Minister for Culture in the Scottish Government.

Like all Book Trust events, the aim is to bring people together from widely different backgrounds in a community setting to ensure an enjoyable and instructive occasion. Meals and accommodation will be arranged as part of the conference fee for those who require this. A booking form is attached. For further details please phone 01851 820946 or email Alayne Barton at

For more information on the full programme of events, see

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