This week's letters to the Advertiser include a family history plea, a thank you message from Helensburgh Heroes and a tribute to the hard-working roads staff at Argyll and Bute Council.

To have your say on any local issue, email with 'Letter' in the subject line of your message.

Please keep your letters as brief and to-the-point as you can, and remember to include your name and address. We also require your daytime contact phone number (in case we need to check any details at short notice), though this will not be printed.

Happy writing!

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Five years ago, I started genealogical research of my Irish/Scottish heritage and was lucky enough to visit both Ireland and Scotland in 2016. I love the countryside and the beauty of Scotland and am so happy to be returning in May of 2018.

I am reaching out for help from residents of the Rosneath peninsula for the next step of my family history research.

My maternal grandfather was Charles McDevitt who left Ireland, lived in Springburn for some time, and then immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October 1922. I have been able to trace his family line back to Prionsias McDevitt, a tavern owner in Glenties, County Donegal in 1800.

This past year, I turned to commercial ancestral DNA testing to learn more. A male cousin (another Charles McDevitt) took the Male Line Y-DNA test and the results suggest that he genetically matches the Campbell or MacAulan/MacAusland/McCauley family lines – yes, my Irish grandfather is really Scottish!

I am working with Dr Tyrone Bowes of Scottish Origenes (, a website to help searchers with Scottish ancestry use DNA to pinpoint where in Scotland their ancestor may have lived. Test results point to the Rosneath Peninsula and to the Campbell and MacAusland/McCauley names which originate in the Clyde estuary of west central Scotland.

It appears that my ancestor lived in this area and that, at some point after 1159 AD, he left his homeland to serve as a ‘Gallowglass’ mercenary in north-west Ireland. We suppose he eventually settled in the area just east of Glenties town and adopted the McDevitt surname.

Glenties is linked to the McDevitt clan for approximately 700 years and is a territory dominated by both Gaelic Irish and Scots-Gallowglass clans. An examination of the farming communities around Glenties reveals that the Campbells and McDevitts lived side by side.

My quest is to confirm my paternal ancestral link to Rosneath through the testing of Campbell and McAulan/McCausland/McCauley males still living in the area.

Therefore, I am seeking male members of both the Campbell and MacAulan/MacCausland/McCauley families whose ancestors have lived around the Rosneath Peninsula for many generations – and who might be willing to take a Y-DNA test, which I would provide.

The simple test requires a 30 second swab of the inside of each cheek and only tests markers that point to ancestral information. Test subjects are identified by a number and all information will be kept confidential and only be used by Dr Bowes to determine if our supposition that my ancestor was a Campbell or a MacAuley/MacCausland is correct.

I will be in Glasgow and Helenburgh in early May and would be interested in arranging meetings with anyone who would be willing to participate in this study. My email address is

Annie Lee, Pennsylvania, via email

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As the chair of Helensburgh Heroes I would like to thank the people of Helensburgh for the support they have shown to our project so far, culminating in the opening of our Hucksters Cafe at the end of December.

This has greatly increased awareness of our activities and ambitions and resulted in a lot of visitors with a great deal of good feedback.

As reported in your most recent issue we are now organising evidence to support an application for major funding on a similar scale to that secured for the refurbishment of Hermitage Park as a community asset to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

An important element of this exercise is a survey of individual opinion concerning both the proposed features of a full-scale Heroes Centre as well as an indication of ways in which people may contribute personally to its realisation.

Accordingly I would like to reinforce your invitation to readers to complete two short surveys which, together, should take no more than ten minutes to complete.

Copies of these surveys may be picked up at our premises in Sinclair Street and a number of other public places in Helensburgh and district, together with a leaflet describing our current vision for a multi-purpose community centre.

We believe that such a facility could be an international attraction for visitors, creating employment opportunities and boosting our local economy while complementing other amenities that we currently enjoy as residents.

Alternatively, the survey may be completed online at

We have already made arrangements for representatives of a number of local groups and organisations to visit the new premises and be given a short presentation of our future plans.

Applications can be made to us at 28 Sinclair Street, Helensburgh G84 8SU or by calling (01436) 653098, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Professor Michael J. Baker, Campbell Street, Helensburgh

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THROUGH the Advertiser’s columns, I wish to extend my thanks to all those gallant people from the roads department who drive our grit spreading lorries.

They have to be on stand by through the winter monitoring the weather forecasts and be ready to go out in all weathers and at all times of day and night to keep the roads safe for us drivers.

When we have such varying temperatures, with ice, rain, snow and sunshine all in the one day, it is no easy task to get it right all the time.

Obviously they cannot reach every corner of the area but they seem to cover the vast majority of the area.

Some of those workers may also have to double up to do bin collections.

I understand in some areas the gritters have been given names by the local schools. Could we do the same or encourage sponsorship of the vehicles by well-known local companies?

Margaret Horrell, via email

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The assessment from the Scottish Government report that Scotland’s economy could be £12.7bn a year worse off by 2030 under a so-called hard Brexit, is deeply disturbing and demonstrates why the economic suicide that is Brexit must be reversed.

The report notes that even if the UK were to remain in the single market and customs union, and even if the UK government’s preferred option of securing a free trade deal were to be realised, there would still be a cost to the Scottish economy compared with remaining in the European Union.

Such impacts should however come as no surprise, as we will be leaving the largest single market in the world of over half a billion people, and by far the best option for the Scottish economy is to stay in the EU.

This brings not only considerable economic advantages, but also immense social, environmental and consumer protections.

As the costs of Brexit become clearer and the public mood begins to shift, more people are realising that Brexit is seeing us sleepwalk to economic suicide and must be stopped, to the benefit of both this and future generations.

Brexit is no longer the ‘settled will of the people’ in the UK, and it should be noted that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Given this, we require a fresh public debate as support for Brexit wanes.

Although another national referendum isn’t legally necessary to stop Brexit, we recognise that political reality may require a further test of public opinion before a majority in Parliament is prepared to stop Brexit altogether.

If another referendum is held, over-16s and EU citizens settled in the UK should be able to vote, just as they did in the Scottish independence referendum.

We will continue to work to make the case for a democratic debate and decision on our European future.

Alex Orr (Policy Adviser, The European Movement in Scotland)

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This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day on Saturday, January 27 is ‘The Power of Words’.

This January, at around 8,000 events across the country, hundreds of thousands of people will gather to reflect on the power of words, and how they were used in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, in propaganda to incite hatred, in slogans written in resistance, and in memoirs to record survivors’ experiences.

Holocaust Memorial Day is about remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, but also about finding ways to make sure they can never happen again.

Recognising the power our words have is an important first step. On this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, I ask you to choose to use your words for good.

For more information on how you can get involved with this year’s events, go to

Olivia Marks-Woldman (Chief Executive, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)