Monday, 3 August 2015

Irish family history and heritage events, 3–16 August

Monday 3 August: Sligo and Home Rule, 1886-1812, with Dr Padraig Deignan. Part of the Ballymote Heritage Weekend. Venue: The Teagasc Centre, Tubbercurry Road, Ballymote, Co Sligo. 8:30pm. €10.

Tuesday 4 August: The Irish DNA Atlas, with Gianpiero Cavalleri. Genealogy at Lunchtime lecture series at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 1–2pm. Free. No booking required.

Wednesday 5 August and Thursday 6 August: Cavan and the American Civil War, a two-day event hosted by Cavan Librairies. Venue: Johnston Central Library, Farnham Centre, Farnham Street, Cavan. For details, telephone Johnston Central Library on +353 (0)49 4378500.

Thursday 6 August: The Fighting Irish, a story in words and music about Irish people who have fought in American armies in the Civil War, with Myles Dungan and Matthew Gilsenan. Venue: Town Hall, Cavan. 8pm.

Thursday 6 August: Secrets of the Bog bodies, with Dr Eamonn P Kelly. Genealogy at Lunchtime lecture series at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 1–2pm. Booking is not required. All welcome. Admission is free.

Saturday 8 August: Genealogy Jumpstart for the Reluctant Irish. Host and Venue: Irish Railroad Workers Museum, 920 Lemmon Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21223, USA. 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM EDT. $10. Register.

Tuesday 11 August: Researching Your Civil War Ancestors, with Dennis Northcott. Hosts: St Louis Genealogical Society and St Louis County Library. Venue: Auditorium, St Louis County Library Headquarters, 1640 N Lindbergh Blvd, St Louis, Missouri 63132, USA. Doors will open at 6:30 and the meeting will start promptly at 7 pm. Free and open to the public. Details.

Tuesday 11 August Family history and genealogy sessions, with Margaret Bonar and Betty Craven. Donaghmede Library, Donaghmede Shopping Centre, Grange Road, Dublin 13. All are welcome and admission is free. 2:30pm to 4pm. Booking is essential, tel: 085 1444883.

Tuesday 11 August: DNA Today, with Margaret Jordan MAGI. Third of the 'Your Ancestors and the Nation’s Archives' lecture series presented by Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI) and the National Archives of Ireland. Venue: Reading Room, National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. 5:15pm. Free but need to book by email: Everyone welcome.

Tuesday 11 August Irish Surnames, a family heirloom, with Paul MacCotter MAGI. Genealogy at Lunchtime series of lectures. Host and Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 1–2pm. Free. No booking. All welcome.

Thursday 13 August Heraldry: obscure mediaeval mumbo-jumbo, or valid genealogical technique? with Bruce Durie. Genealogy at Lunchtime series of lectures. Host and Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 1–2pm. Free. No booking. All welcome.

Thursday 13 August: 1204–29: The construction of Dublin Castle, with Con Manning. Milestones of Medieval Dublin monthly lunchtime lectures series hosted by the Friends of Medieval Dublin. Venue: Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8. 1:05pm–1:45pm. Admission free. NO booking is necessary.

Friday 14 August: Finding your Irish ancestors, a beginner level talk. Part of the National Family History Month series at New South Wales Public Library, Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia 10:30am to 11:30am. Free, but booking is essential. Details.

Saturday 15 August: Love and marriage since the Famine, a History Ireland Hedge School. Host and Venue: Merriman Summer School, Glór Theatre, Ennis, Co. Clare. On the panel: Willie Smyth, Sandra McAvoy, Linda Connolly, Tom Inglis. 8:30pm.

Friday, 31 July 2015

WDYTYA? returns to TV screens everywhere!

Whether you're in the UK, the USA or Australia, you should be able to find a new series of Who Do You Think You Are? on a TV screen near you in August.

In the UK, a ten-episode series gets underway on Thursday 13 August at 9pm on BBC One. The ancestries examined are those of Paul Hollywood, Jane Seymour, Derek Jacobi, Jerry Hall, Gareth Malone, Anne Reid, Frank Gardner, Anita Rani, Mark Gatiss and Frances de la Tour.

In the USA, a short series of just five episodes started last Sunday with Ginnifer Goodwin. It continues this weekend (2 August) with J K Rowling in an episode first broadcast in the UK in 2011. Episodes exploring the family history of Alfre Woodard, Tom Bergeron and Bryan Cranston will follow on Sunday evenings throughout August at 9pm ET.

In Australia, a new eight-part series begins on at 7:30pm on Tuesday 4 August on SBS with Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette, Dawn Fraser, David Wenham, Luke Nguyen, Ray Martin, Peter Rowsthorn and Greig Pickhaver. One of the stories will uncover details of 'an Irish rebel'. See the promo video below:

Lunchtime genealogy lectures at the NLI in August

The National Library of Ireland has announced its line-up of Genealogy at Lunchtime lectures for this summer. The lectures start next week and will be held at 1–2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout August.

Tuesday 4 August
The Irish DNA Atlas, with Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri

Thursday 6 August
Secrets of the Bog Bodies, with Dr Eamonn P Kelly

Tuesday 11 August
Irish Surnames, a family heirloom, with Paul MacCotter MAGI

Thursday 13 August
Heraldry: obscure mediaeval mumbo-jumbo, or valid genealogical technique? with Bruce Durie

Tuesday 18 August
Using maps for thinking about history, with Kevin Whelan

Thursday 20 August
Social geography – Was there a Protestant exodus from the south of Ireland? with Andy Bielenberg

Tuesday 25 August
It's off to work we go: mapping Ireland's industrial past, with Rob Goodbody

Thursday 27 August
Archives to be explored in the National Irish Visual Arts Library, with Eve Parnell

All the lectures will be presented at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. They are free to attend, open to all, and booking is not necessary.

The series will continue in September (line-up to follow).

FindMyPast releases records of Dublin's Military School has added some 9,898 records from the Royal Hibernian Military School in Dublin.

The Royal Hibernian Military School admissions 1847-1932 collection relates to the school opened in 1769 by the Hibernian Society to educate orphaned children of British Army personnel in Ireland.

The term 'orphan' could include children who had lost one or both parents, or indeed none; if both parents were posted overseas, a child might be offered a place at the Royal Hibernian Military School (RHMS).

The collection also includes a staff list for the year 1864.

Stored in London, many of the school’s records were destroyed during the London blitz in 1940. Those that survive are now in The National Archives and have been transcribed by Peter Goble.

They include information that goes beyond the details typically found in admission registers, but sometimes, rather infuriatingly, omitting detail that could better identify the individual, as you'll see from some of the examples below:

Henry Byrne, born 11 October 1839, was admitted to the RHMS on 7 May 1850 aged 11. He was 4ft 8inches tall, weighed 3st 10lb and had a chest size of 24inches. His unnamed father was in the Hussars 7th regiment. His occupation is stated as Tailor, presumably the trade in which young Henry was being trained.

Patrick Gannon, born 6 February 1840, was admitted to the RHMS when he was aged 10years 4months. Although not recorded specifically, the admission can be readilty calculated to around June 1850. He was 3ft 10inches tall, weighed 3st 10lb and had a chest size of 24inches. His unnamed father was in the Hampshire South Regiment (37th & 67th Foot).

Bridget Murphy was a protestant who worked as a Laundry Servant at the RHMS in 1864. She's recorded as a resident of the School, which presumably means she lived in; her wages were £6 6shillings and her allowances were £19 18shillings. She resigned. No further information is provided.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

New book: Discover Irish Land Records

Earlier this month, genealogist Chris Paton's latest guide book – Discover Irish Land Records – was published by Unlock the Past.

The softback guide looks at the potential to be found among documents of inheritance, ownership and tenancy, census, valuation and tithes and many other land and property records. At just 58-pages between the covers there is, of course, a limit on how much depth can be included, but Chris has not just skimmed the surface of his theme; he has provided some very useful detail that researchers won't readily find elsewhere, as well as suggesting techniques to ensure they wring every jot of information out of some of the most useful documents and resources.

His coverage of census records is a good such example where he guides the researcher beyond the household schedules to the accompanying Forms N, B1 and B2 for an exploration of the statistical information and 'forensic examination' of the property itself.

Similarly his section on Boundaries and Administrative Areas includes a detailed explanation of Townlands and the resources available to help identify tricky non-standard placenames. He cites an example of his own search for Ballyvoy, a townland named on several records. Townland guides and databases all pointed to the parish of Culfeightrim on the northern Antrim coast, while the family was known to have been located near the village of Doagh in the Antrim parish of Templepatrick.

Chris eventually solved the mystery when he came across a newspaper advert for the sale of a property which referred to 'the townland of Ballyboy, also known as Duncansland... about two miles from the village of Doagh'.

The hard-core of the book looks at tenancy, ownership and valuation records and has particularly strong sections on both Leases and Rentals, again citing personal research examples of the type of content and value of relevant record collections. Probate records, deeds, estate maps and tithe applotment records are covered, as are explanation of terms such as quit rents and ground rents, and a brief glance at the Down Survey of Ireland.

There's also a detailed history of Ireland, suggestions for exploring maps, gazeteers, directories and parish histories, guidance on land measurements and currency, a three page index, a list of useful addresses and some recommended reading, so the guidebook certainly has some breadth.

While I find the font size far too small for comfortable reading, I'm happy to recommend Discover Irish Land Records as a handy introduction and well-organised reference book for researchers moving into the intermediate stages of their family history studies. Many new avenues of research will be opened up to them through its pages.

Published by Unlock the Past. ISBN 978 1 925323 24 5. Available from Gould Genealogy in Australia (Aust$15.99), MyHistory in the UK (£7.50), and other online bookstores.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Fancy a gruelling experience in October?

Here's something more than just a little bit different as a way to better appreciating the lives and experiences of your ancestors.

The Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities is running a public event called Gruelling Ordeals: The Irish Workhouse Diet, 1850-1950 on Monday 12 October. The Institute describes it as 'an immersive encounter with the diets of Belfast's poorest inhabitants over 100 years ago' and is offering an invitation to experience workhouse life by sampling the oatmeal gruel, broth and suet puddings served to inmates. These meals will be compared with the rich diets of meat pies and fruits enjoyed by the city's middle-classes at the same time.

This unusual 'feast' will be followed by a short programme of talks. Among the speakers will be Dr Ian Miller from the University of Ulster and Dr Linda Price and Dr Olwen Purdue from Queen’s University, Belfast. The talks will offer insights into the diets of the past in order to stimulate debate about our 21st-century eating habits.

The event will end with an informal drinks reception.

Time: 3–7pm.
Venue: Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts, Duncairn Avenue, Belfast BT14 6BP.
Tickets are free but must be booked.

Studies of Dublin graveyard inscriptions on Academia tutor and historian Sean J Murphy has recently republished some of his works on, a growing platform used by academics to reach a wider audience.

He currently has 15 papers available, each free to view via his profile page. Of particular interest to those actively researching their family history in Dublin are these:

  • Memorial Inscriptions from the Moravian Cemetery, Whitechurch, County Dublin
  • Bully's Acre and Royal Hospital Kilmainham Graveyards: History and Inscriptions
  • Memorial Inscriptions from St Catherine's Church and Graveyard, Dublin

His well-known Survey of Irish Surnames 1992-97 can also be accessed on the site.

Sean's e-publications, including St James's Graveyard Project/Memorial Inscriptions from St James's, Dublin, can also be downloaded in PDF format, free, from his Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical Studies website.

Sean has recently launched a page on Facebook where he provides additional information and comment about some of his research projects.