5th Unlock the Past Cruise – The First Couple of Days

In my last post I told you that we’d arrived in London, and the fun and traipsing we did around London, so now I’d better tell you about the cruise itself.

Let me start off by saying that Unlock the Past’s 5th cruise (the British Isles one) has been “coming” for so long, that it really didn’t seem real when it actually arrived.  But Saturday the 19th of July finally came, so myself and the UTP team packed up at our London hotel, and taxi-d to the cruise terminal at Tilbury, London.

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Once there, our big suitcases were labelled with room numbers, and were taken aboard. Meanwhile we were introduced to Julie Thompson, the Guest Services Manager on the Marco Polo who’s looking after our group (as well as everyone else) onboard.

She took us aboard, and gave us a tour of the rooms we’re having the meetings in: the Marco Polo Lounge for the bigger talks, the Conference Room for smaller talks, and Scotts Bar for a few – all looked very nice.

Cruisers boarded the ship during the afternoon, and then wandered around checking out what was where. During this time, we set up the Unlock the Past Cruise registration tables for our geneacruisers, so they could collect their name tag, lanyard, and registration kit.

Unlock the Past registration desk

Unlock the Past registration desk

The only thing we had scheduled for the first day was the Meet & Greet which is always nice as it allows people in our group to meet others in out group. During this session Alan also introduced each of the guest presenters as well.

presenters on the Unlock the Past 5th cruise

presenters on the Unlock the Past 5th cruise
L-R: Jackie Depelle, Geraldene O’Reilly, Rosemary Kopittke, Marie Dougan, Helen Smith, Paul Blake, Leslie Silvester, Mike Murray, Eileen Ó Dúill, Sean Ó Dúill, Lisa Louise Cooke

Attire for dinner in the formal dining room (the Waldorf Restaurant) was ‘casual’ which was just as well, as I don’t do formal (ie. cocktail dress style). Dinner finished late, and I just crashed. So that was the end of day 1.

Day two (or Sunday the 20th of July) was a “sea day” as we travelled up UKs east coast from London to Scotland, and it was the first day of talks, and a fairly solid one as there were 7 of them scheduled.

I made it to five talks, the first being Rosemary Kopittke speaking about The Genealogist: What’s the difference, which has convinced me that I should re-subscribe to that website, because there is so much more there than you can get on Ancestry or Findmypast.

Rosemary Kopittke presenting The Genealogist

Rosemary Kopittke presenting The Genealogist

The second one I sat in on was Eileen O Duill’s Introduction to Irish genealogy: where do I start? I do have some Irish connections with my McCullough and Cosgrove families, but I’m not actively working on either, but figured I’d learn from the talk, and as always I did.

The next talk was one that had a lot of people walking out saying “WOW”, and that was Lisa Louise Cooke’s How to create exciting interactive family history tours with Google Earth. She showed how to take a map on Google Earth, overlay it with an old one, add stick pins (with descriptions) to places on the map, as well as including photos, video, and even narration if you wish. You have to agree that showing someone a video that highlights key places and events in someone’s life is far more interesting than giving them a big fat folder of family information. It can be used as a way to get the non-genie actually interested in their history.

Lisa Luise Cooke's presentation on Evernote

Lisa Luise Cooke’s presentation on Google Earth

Paul Blake, a professional researcher in England is not anyone that I had heard before, so I sat in on his British probate records: an introduction to their sources. I ended up making three pages of notes on this one. I’m just hoping I can make sense of it all later. But it was really interesting.

And the last talk I went to was one by Sean O Duill, who is not only an Irish genealogist, but also an Irish historian. In this presentation he was talking about Death and burial: peasant Ireland in the 19th century. While it wasn’t what I was expecting it was all about the weird and wonderful Irish customs (of which there are SO MANY) in relation to death and burial. He had pages and pages of notes, and didn’t even make it through them all in his 50 minute timeslot.

To give you a tiny taste of what his talk was like, here’s just a few of the weird and wonderful sayings and superstitions of the Irish …

  •  “If a hen came into the house and had a piece of straw, it was suggested that she was carrying burial straw. So someone was about to die.”
  • “hen a person dies, a window is opened to given them air allowing the soul to ascend.”
  • “You walk sideways past a coffin” … this wasn’t difficult to follow, as the rooms were so small, you had to move sideways to get past.
  • “You never put the correct age on a coffin” … the Irish like to keep people guessing, and they usually added 9 months and rounded it up to the next year.
  • “If the person dies between Christmas Day and the 12th, he’ll get straight in heaven, as the gates are unattended.

So it was quite a day of learning, and 5 talks was enough for me in a day.

After Sean’s talk it was off to dinner at the bistro, and then checking the internet coverage before calling it a night.

One Response to “5th Unlock the Past Cruise – The First Couple of Days”

  1. Sharon says:

    Wish I was there!

    Thank you for your notes. Some good tips that made me even more envious!

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