Friday, 31 October 2014

Early evening closures at National Library of Ireland

From Monday 24 November until the end of the year, the main Reading Room, the Manuscripts Reading Room and the exhibition areas of the National Library of Ireland in Kildare Street will close at 5pm every weekday evening.

This is to facilitate a programme of lighting upgrades as part of an Office of Public Works plan to save energy in all government buildings.

Both Reading Rooms will be open as normal on Saturdays, from 9:30am to 12:45pm.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

PRONI gets in the spirit for Hallowe'en

To celebrate Hallowe'en, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland's document of the month for October is a set of four Spiritualist photographs taken in the 1930s.

PRONI’s Alan Robertson explains: "These photographs show 'spiritualist manifestations' surrounding people who were involved in a séance. These manifestations appear as 'faces' surrounded by white mist known as 'ectoplasm’. This was considered to be the spirit taking form in the material world.

The photographs were found within the records of Lieutenant Colonel E. J. Gordon Tucker. PRONI ref: D3122/4/4/A-L. For more details and to view the photos, see PRONI's website.

Spookitastic 20% discount on offer from FindMyPast

Offer expires Thursday 6 November
FindMyPast is keen that you should start uncovering the ghosts of your family's past this weekend, so here's a special offer for Halloween: a 20% discount on any subscription. That's a frighteningly good offer.

The discount is valid for any of the FindMyPast sites, so whether you want to have your subscription through the Ireland, UK, USA or Australia/NewZealand site, you can still take advantage of this great discount.

Just click your choice of site below to see the discounted prices on the subscription page. You can then select either the local records collection or the World collection and decide whether you want the 12-month or 1-month option.




Don't miss out – this offer expires at 11.59pm (GMT) on Thursday, 6 November 2014.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Clann newsletter presents RootsIreland search tutorial
Click to download newsletter
The latest issue of Clann, the digital newsletter of the Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF) has been published.

A major focus of this edition is the move by RootsIreland, the IFHF-managed pay-to-view database of more than 20million records, to a subscription platform. This switch from a credit-based pay-per-view arrangement was sprung upon researchers last month (see blogpost) without warning* but is apparently in response to feedback from customers. As is always the case, some researchers will prefer the subscription option; others would prefer to see a pay-as-you-go facility retained. The latter group have been noticeably vocal on genealogy forums and seem to be largely made up of people who are already some way along with their research and may need to search for only one or two records a month at most. Having to pay €25/$32/£20 for that pleasure is not going down well.

Other criticisms have been levelled at the new restricted search facility, especially the withdrawal of surname-only searches and the maximum five-year plus or minus option.

So this issue of Clann devotes more than six pages to the basics of searching and getting the best results. It also includes details of activities and projects involving some of the IFHF's network of heritage centres, upcoming events, an overview of Griffith's Valuation place in history, and, rather tucked away on the penultimate page, notification that RootsIreland will be adding records for counties Waterford, Antrim & Down, North Tipperary, Derry, Armagh and Wexford during the next few months.

* My customer notification of the change arrived on 9 October, 18 days after the event!

Project to update Irish WW1 archive starts next year

A new bursary scheme to allow the updating of Irish war dead records was launched in Belgium yesterday by Heather Humpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The scheme, which will begin next year and will run to 2018, will enable Irish students to carry out a World War 1 research project at the Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium. As part of the research project, these students will aim to improve knowledge of how many Irish men were killed during the war by examining records held at the Museum, many of which need correcting and cross-checking.

Some 49,000 Irish soldiers are included in the Museum's existing digital archive which is based on records gathered in the 1920s and is known to be inaccurate and incomplete.

"This scheme will play an important part in connecting young Irish people with the realities of this awful conflict in which so many from the island of Ireland fought and died,” Ms Humpreys said.

She also launched a new Google online exhibition on Irish involvement in World War 1. This has been produced by the Flanders Fields Museum and is available on Google’s Cultural Institute.

CWGC launches free War Graves App
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the organisation responsible for maintaining the graves of the 1.7million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars, has released a War Graves App to help researchers locate places of remembrance at more than 23,000 sites in 153 countries.

The App can be downloaded for free on Windows, Android and Apple phones and other mobile devices (tablets) from and allows users to:
  • Discover war graves at former battlefields across the globe
  • Find war graves close to where they live
  • Download and navigate to a chosen war grave site
CWGC spokesperson Peter Francis said: “This is an amazing app for anyone interested not just in the World Wars but history in general.
Casualties of the two world wars are commemorated by the CWGC in every corner of the globe – from the mud of the old Western Front in Europe, to the scorched deserts of North Africa, to the jungles of the Far East.

"With the new App you can find directions to cemeteries or use the ‘near me’ function to see what sites are in your vicinity – never before has it been easier to find these places of remembrance locally and internationally.”

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ancestry adds London Workhouse records, 1738–1930

A new collection on Ancestry could be useful to many Irish family historians, particularly those whose ancestors passed through London at some time.

The Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1738-1930 includes 3.2million records for workhouses in the parishes/Poor Law Unions of Westminster, Camden, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea, Holborn, Hammersmith & Fulham, and the City of London. These are all in central or west London.

The exact information you can find about your ancestors varies according to the record but can include name, date of admission, age, date of discharge, details regarding the person's condition and care, and details of additional family members also residing in the workhouse.

Here are a few examples of entries:

  • After two nights in the workhouse, Cornelius Crowley, aged 63, was discharged on 5 January 1843 at his own request having recovered from sickness.
  • Twenty-two-year-old Caroline Doyle was destitute when admitted to the Fulham Road Workhouse in 1881. On 26 February she took leave of absence with her one-month-old baby, Florence, and did not return.
  • Catherine Sullivan, aged 59, had been admitted to Edmonton Workhouse with 15-year-old Ellen and 10-year-old Mary, on 29 October 1884. Mary was discharged to Hampstead School within a week. Her elder sister discharged herself two months later and Catherine followed her in June 1885.
  • Hannah Brown was admitted in August 1848 with a recorded age of 78. The discharge notes state she was Irish and died on 12 June 1853.
Some (but certainly not all) of the records are split over multiple images. Watch out for this as you might miss out on valuable details if you don't browse back and forth.

Ancestry says that similar records from additional areas of London will be added to this collection in due course.