Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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 once told me (yes, you, Jill) 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.

Privacy concerns close civil registration indexes site

Just three weeks on from the launch of the General Register Office's civil registration indexes on, the entire collection has been taken offline. Seems no one thought to mention to the Data Protection bods that the collection included personal information of living individuals right up to last year. See today's Irish Times article and follow up feature

To say this is a gigantic cock up is an understatement. We waited more than nine months for these bmd records to reach an online and free status, and no one checked out the implications...? Are they kidding us? What the hell were they doing those months? How on earth could this not have been dealt with in that amount of time in a thorough and professional manner.

Embarrassing? It's downright pathetic.

My reaction to this news is unprintable.

I will see if I can find out any more, but I don't imagine the official channels are going to be too chatty for a while.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Road To War – lecture series ready for booking

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and the National Museums Northern Ireland are getting together to present a joint lecture series exploring the impact and legacy of the First World War in Ireland.

The Road to War lectures will be held in the evenings, starting at 7pm, and will be free to attend. Booking is now open, and you'd be best advised to secure your place early, as these lectures are likely to be over-subscribed.

Here's the programme:

Thursday 7 August
The Outbreak of the First World War, with Dr William Mulligan.
Venue: Ulster Museum Lecture Theatre, Ulster Museum Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB. 7pm.

Thursday 25 September
Ireland’s Entry Into War, 1914: Acceptance or Refusal? with Dr Catriona Pennell
Venue: Ulster Museum Lecture Theatre, Ulster Museum Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB. 7pm.

Thursday 9 October
Militarism in Ireland, 1912–18, with Professor David Fitzpatrick
Venue: PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast, BT3 9HQ. 7pm.

Thursday 23 October
'If the nation is to be saved women must help in the saving’: Women and War in Ireland, 1914-18, with Dr Senia Paseta
Venue: PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast, BT3 9HQ. 7pm

Booking is essential. Please email PRONI at or telephone (+44) 028 90534800 to secure your place.

Friday, 18 July 2014

New GRO records section of IrishGenealogy is offline

Two weeks on from its launch, the Civil Records section of has disappeared! I've no idea where it's hiding, or the reason for this sudden departure from our screens. The dedicated channel url returns a 404 error page.

I became aware of it a couple of hours ago, and I'm awaiting a response from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltact (AHG), but I've been told via Twitter that the section has been on the missing list since yesterday, which is rather worrying.

When the Church Records section has taken an unauthorised holiday in the past (it's happened a few times), the AHG team have always been very quick at restoring it. Whether that'll be repeated this time remains to be seen.

I'll post any update here.

UPDATE 17:25 - Web admins have updated home page to advise that the Civil Records are temporarily unavailable. While this doesn't tell us anything new, it does at least confirm that the message has got through and they're aware of the problem. Let's hope this means they're working to restore it, rather than packing up for the weekend. (May as well work on, guys and gals... no sultry summer evenings forecast for Kerry this weekend!)

UPDATE, Monday 21 July
: Gird your loins. Bad news.

More Dublin City Electoral Lists launched online

Dublin City Libraries have digitised another tranche of Dublin City's early-20th-century electoral lists. This time, it's the turn of 1911, 1912 and 1915, and they comprise just under 140,000 entries.

The line up of electoral lists now spans 1908 to 1912, plus 1915, making a collection total of more than 280,000 fully searchable records. The database can be searched and images viewed, free of charge, at

Dublin City Libraries' project is on-going, and will eventually bring all of the City's Council Electoral Lists from 1898 to 1916 online. They're certainly making great progress; it was only a couple of months ago that the last two lists was released (see blogpost)