Friday 29 January 2010
The workshops will run throughout Spring and will culminate in a tour of migrating birds in May, led by RSPB Area Manager, Eric Meek.
Each workshop costs £5 and the booking contact details are:
Wednesday 27 January 2010
Tuesday 26 January 2010
Adverts appeared in the Orcadians and Orkney Heralds from the mid 19th century to the early 20th century offering land and jobs to healthy, hard-working young men. A little while after these initial adverts, others appeared looking for healthy, young and single women to go out. Ewww. Very few Scots had been sent as prisoners during the initial settlement of New South Wales and Van Diemen's land but 'free settlers' were attracted to convict-refusing South Australia with its cheap land and subsidised passage.
Each year we receive visits and letters from descendants of these adventuring Orcadians and they often leave family trees and information with us to complete the story.
Saturday 23 January 2010
Our usual daily average is about 15 and I think that the staff of Orkney Library and Archive probably account for most of that.
Is the blog coming up high on a google search? When it became known that our gorgeous staff had a photo session yesterday, did Orcadians rush to their computers to gaze upon our pulchritudinous perfection?
Friday 22 January 2010
We resembled a group of gurny teenagers as, ever so slowly and reluctantly, we shuffled our way towards the man with the camera and took up our positions.
Wednesday 20 January 2010
It is Fereday time though, so a lot of kids have been in as well as parents and I suppose the ice and snow had been keeping some eager researchers trapped in their homes.
I was delighted to read last night that 'the Turkey Lady' finally made it back home. Yes indeed, it is drizzly, damp and dark again and everything is back to normal.
Tuesday 19 January 2010
After hours of waiting, and seas continually sweeping over them, four of the men plunged into the sea on the chance of reaching the land; two of them miraculously reached the shore, the other two were either killed or drowned.
At this juncture, Skipper William Sinclair, Constable James Cruickshank and William Wards, fisherman, volunteered to make the attempt to rescue the men still on the piece of wreck. A small open boat was obtained, and carried to the best position, from which it was resolved to make the attempt and from which the three men started.
The danger was not only from the breakers, but also from the great mass of cargo and wreckage which was being tossed hither and thither. They, however, reached the wreck to which seven of the men were still clinging. The getting of them into the boat was no easy matter, owing to the enormous seas and the frenzied haste of the shipwrecked sailors, but this was managed successfully after a time, when, watching their chance of a 'smooth' at imminent risk to their now overloaded boat, they made for the rocks from which they started and arrived there is safety."
The three brave rescuers received Bronze Medallions and £20 each from the Carnegie Hero fund which was founded in 1908. The image above shows their entries in the Carnegie Roll of Honour. The book is kept in the Andrew Carnegie birthplace museum in Dunfermline and contains over 6000 names. The medallion is the trust's highest honour and less than 200 have been awarded to date. This Andrew Carnegie is the same man who helped build libraries all over the world including the Orkney Library and Archive's previous home in Laing Street.
Information taken from Orkney Archive reference D1/980
Monday 18 January 2010
Friday 15 January 2010
It is pretty blustery today in Orkney and there are therefore some very creepy noises to be heard in our wind-trap of a building. The strongrooms can be particularly terrifying as the windows are fitted with wooden blocks to keep the sunlight out. This seems to create a strange semi-vacuum that can suddenly erupt right next to you as you peacefully file away the archives.
This is nothing, however, compared to the devastation that greeted Orcadians on the morning of 15th January 1952. The pictures above show the sort of damage that the 135m/ph 'hurricane' left in it's wake. Shops were razed to the ground, doors and roofs were whipped off, never to be seen again and the thriving Orkney egg business was badly damaged with entire coops of hens being swept away with their inhabitants still inside.
The destruction was no surprise to anyone as it had been impossible to sleep through a storm of such violence. Some had been shaken from their beds and one Sanday man was forced to flee his house in just his pants, tee hee.
Unfortunately, this was just one storm in a run of terrible weather for Orkney. The previous year, a storm had pulled down electricity lines; in 1953 another terrible storm battered sea fronts and exposed water pipes plus there were floods in both 1953 and 1954.
Thursday 14 January 2010
These verses appeared in the Orcadian and are sung to the tune of 'Bailie Nicol Jarvis' Dream.'
The words paint a very potent picture of the character of the ba'. I particularly like the lines:
Wednesday 13 January 2010
Entry forms for the competition can be picked up in the archive and you can read about it here. Whilst in the archive, prospective poets may want to gain inspiration from the many books of Orkney literature and Orcadian dictionaries in the Orkney Room or listen to recordings of poets such as Robert Rendall reading their dialect poems. You can also read the various writings we hold that discuss the use of dialect.
Robert Rendall himself believed that the 'kailyard' could be escaped if dialect was used in a contemporary and non-sentimental manner. He was also wary of 'Lallans', a 'synthetic Scots' blend of various types of words; archaic, contemporary, lowlands, North East which he regarded as a type of Scottish Esperanto i.e. self-concious and unnatural. He felt that the magic of dialect derived from its localness.
Another great Orcadian poet, Edwin Muir, thought that to make their mark and to become 'complete' as authors then Scottish poets had to write their work in English.
The use of dialect is still going strong, however, see Morag MacInnes' 2008 poetry sequence on Orcadian sailor Isobel Gunn, 'Alias Isobel', for example.
There will also be a related exhibit of relevant documents in the archive from the start of next week.
Information taken from:
An Island Shore, selected writings of Robert Rendall edited by Neil Dickson
Edwin Muir - Poet, Critic and Novelist by Marjory McCulloch
D27/2/7 - Robert Rendall papers - 'Notes on the Use of Dialect.'
Saturday 9 January 2010
We have more staff on at weekends in January in order to provide for Fereday students as they are unlikely to have time to visit us during the week.
Part of the Fereday mandate, however, is for the projects to bring new material into the archive. Interviews, personal photographs and chats with family members are therefore just as valuable as information from books, archives and websites.
Each year we are amazed anew at how eager some parents are to *ahem* help their children. In my day, you had to do your homework yourself...
Friday 8 January 2010
The Big Orkney Song Project is an effort to collect Orcadian songs either by research (here in the library and archive) or by sharing orally through the Song Share events that have been taking place over the last year or so. The project has received money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is being overseen by Sarah Jane Gibbon ( a former archive employee), Amy Leonard and Emily Turton who, together, perform as the Songshop Trio.
Thursday 7 January 2010
Pictured above is a copy of the words and music for the New Year Song which was (is?) sung in Orkney and Shetland each New Year. There are slightly different versions for each parish but all seem to refer to 'Queen Mary'. Ernest Walker Marwick and Stanley Cursiter believed that this might not be a reference to any Royal Queen such as Mary Queen of Scots, but to the Virgin Mary.
The pavements have thawed slightly, so we are no longer slithering to work but these sub-zero temperatures are hard to take! We are lucky compared to many in the South, however. Roll on Spring...
The document and information is taken from the Ernest Walker Marwick collection and has the reference D31/1/2/5