Friday, 25 July 2014

Ancestry's UK & Irish collection is free this weekend
AncestryUK is offering free access to all its Irish and UK records from tonight at midnight (GMT) until Sunday 27 July at 23:59 (GMT). That's a cool 48 hours of access.

Those that don't currently have an account with Ancestry UK can register as a guest to obtain access; registered guests are sent a User Name and Password, and don't have to provide credit card details. Those who have a UK Essentials subscription will automatically be able to search Irish and UK collections that are not included in this subscription package.

The Irish record sets includes Civil Registration Indexes of birth, marriages and deaths, Griffith's Valuation, a collection of Roman Catholic parish registers and many more valuable resources. Find out more about the record sets included in Ancestry's Irish collection.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Latest on bmd indexes fiasco

It's a week now since the brand-new 'enhanced' civil registration indexes were unceremoniously pulled from at the insistence of the Data Protection Commissioner (see blogpost).

Although there was a lot of press coverage on the topic at the beginning of the week – most it being approached from the data protection and privacy angle – there's been no official word to reassure genealogists about what's going to happen next.

I'm pleased to say that after making a nuisance of myself all week, I've finally got something official. Not much, admittedly, but something. It's from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the government department responsible for the website. Here it is:

'The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is currently engaging with both the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Department of Social Protection to ensure that the issues raised by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner are promptly resolved and to ensure that this very valuable genealogical information can be restored as soon as possible.'

My bold.

Much as I love the use of the word 'restored', I don't think we should anticipate a 'restoration' of the 1845/1864 to 2013 indexes in their launch format. Either information such as actual birth dates and maiden names will be redacted for the more recent records or the three government agencies will come to some agreement about a cut-off dates for records to be included.

Clare County Library links its Townlands to GenMaps

The value of Clare County Library's clever online GenMaps has been raised again (two new features were added only six weeks ago - see blogpost).

This time, the upgrade allows a researcher studying any one of the 2,200 pages about Clare's townlands to link through to one of three GenMaps for that specific area – the 1842 Ordnance Survey map, a Bing Maps satellite view of the area, or a composite map of the two.

You can find out more and see examples on the Clare County Library blog.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

RootsIreland announces imminent website revamp
The latest issue of Clann, the newsletter of the Irish Family History Foundation, has just been published and brings news that the organisation's online database,, is going to be revamped. This has been in the pipe for a while, so it's good to hear it's now going to happen.

There's also the promise that 'substantial amount of new data' will be added before the end of the year. Let the speculation begin!

You can also find out what the folk at Sligo Heritage Centre have been up to, and discover what resources are available at the Dun Laoghaire Heritage and Genealogy Centre and the Bru Boru Cultural Centre in Cashel.

In addition, there's a three-step guide to tracing your ancestors in Derry-Londonderry, details of book releases and summer events, and a couple of stories about successful research.

The digital newsletter is free and can be viewed by clicking the cover page image.

PRONI's July Document has high 'Ahhhh' factor

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland's Document of the Month is a photo, taken at the outbreak of WW1, that aims straight for the heart. As a wise marketing guru (yes, you, Jill) once told me, you can't beat a donkey picture for raising the 'Aaahhhhh' quota. And if you throw some children and a charitable cause into the image as well, you're onto a certain winner. I imagine this particular fundraising stunt was very successful.

The charitable causes in question were the National and Belgium Relief Funds. The latter played its part in bringing a large number of Belgian refugees to Ireland to escape the war. Among them was a group who found a welcoming and safe temporary home in Monaghan; Clogher Historical Society is still hoping to make contact with their descendents. I wrote about this in February, and it's worth a second airing: See blogpost.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Genetic Genealogy Ireland returns to Dublin's BTOP

With only three months to go before Back To Our Past 2014 kicks off in Dublin (17–19 October), details of what's in store are starting to be revealed.

First out of the blocks is news that the Genetic Genealogy Ireland (GGI) conference will be returning. It follows a very successful launch at last year's event and will once again see three days of DNA lectures running in parallel with the main genealogy lecture programmes. As previously, the 2014 GGI programme will be sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG.

There will be seven lectures presented each day. The full line-up of speakers isn't yet confirmed but you'll find more detail and a provisional list of topics on the GGI website.

This will be the fifth year of Back To Our Past and it will again be held in the RDS Industries Hall in Ballsbridge as part of the Over 50s Show.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Tánaiste publishes Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2014

With the removal of the 'enhanced' version of the GRO civil registration indexes from and the likelihood that these will not reappear in their launch format, Irish genealogists are not in good humour today. I know I'm not the only one shifting from rage to disbelief to despair, and this blogpost comes with a warning that my temper is a tad short today.

As some know-it-all once said, 'One has to look forward...' and while we all hate a clever dick in total control of their mood, I'm going to follow that advice and point us in the direction of the future: The Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014.

As regular readers of Irish Genealogy News will be aware, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. (and now Tánaiste) took the occasion of the recent launch of the indexes to announce the imminent publication of the Amendment Bill and what it would hold for genealogists. Following Cabinet approval, the Bill was, indeed, published. Here's an edited version of the press release:

"The Bill will provide for a wide range of issues relating to the registration of life events in the State. Representations and recommendations have been made by various groups and organisations since the enactment of the Civil Registration Act 2004 and this Bill seeks to address these issues. The General Register Office which administers the Civil Registration Service has identified areas where legislative amendments are required to streamline the service to the general public.

The principal amendments that will be provided for in the Bill are:

Compulsory registration of father’s name of birth certificates

Where the parents of a child are not married to each other, current legislation does not require the mother or the father to provide the father’s details when registering the birth. This amendment seeks to address the current position by making the provision of such information compulsory other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Tánaiste said "The right of the child to know who both their parents are is a very important right. In recognising this right the Bill is giving every child a greater sense of identity."

Record of deaths of Irish persons abroad

This amendment will introduce a record of the deaths of Irish persons who are normally resident in the State who die while on short term absences abroad. A copy of the record of the death may be furnished on request. The document will have no legal standing and will not replace the original foreign death certificate but will give comfort to families who have lost loved ones

The Tánaiste added "I am pleased to be able to provide a record of deaths abroad so that families who have lost loved ones in other countries can get some comfort and closure by having the death recorded in Ireland."

Other Provisions

The Bill will provide for access to historical registers of life events to allow online access via the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s genealogical website to important information regarding our heritage. The material which will be available is as follows:
  • Births more than 100 years;
  • Deaths more than 50 years;
  • Marriages more than 75 years."
The Amendment Bill will now make its sluggish way through the legal process and will, hopefully, emerge without too many blows having been inflicted.