Hebridean Connections is a project launched by the Comainn Eachdraidh in Uig, Bernera, Kinloch and Pairc, to digitise, manage and publish online their vast collections of cultural and social history, collected from the local community over several decades. Software and systems were developed and the database was launched, now with 80,000 records online.
At the core of the database is the genealogy of the area, sometimes reaching back to the mid-15th century. The website is not intended to replace the excellent Scotland’s People, the first stop for anyone researching their Scottish family history. Rather, it is a combination of local and family tradition, clan histories, church records and legends, that combine to provide the real stories behind the bare bones of a family tree. Crucially, the local traditions also provide the links between families and areas that are often impossible to deduce from statutory records.
Add to this a huge array of photographs, documents, stories, songs, recordings, maps, ephemera and background history, and the result is a collection that brings the history of these island communities to life. We think of it as a digital version of oral history: explore the connections between the people, places and stories of the Western Isles to experience our rich cultural heritage.
In Uig, the genealogy and other material has largely been completed for Enaclete, Geshader, Cliff, Valtos, Kneep, Carishader, Reef and Aird, and is partially done for other areas around Uig Bay (Crowlista, Timsgarry, Erista, Ardroil and Carnish) and the upper end (Mangersta, Islivig, Brenish and Mealista). The neighbouring district of Bernera has also been input in detail. The project is presently on the back burner, but all data is still accessible and we hope it will gradually rolling out to encompass Ness, Westside, Carloway, North Tolsta, North Lochs and Berneray, and eventually cover the whole of the Outer Hebrides and Hebridean communities overseas.