Wednesday, 25 November 2015

FindMyPast USA: 75% discount for Thanksgiving

FindMyPast USA has a terrific offer for Thanksgiving: a 75% discount on the annual World package. This brings the 12-month cost down to a bargain $49.87 (c.€47 / c.£33 / c.AUS$70) for a subscription that provides access to all the Irish, British, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand records, as well as the 540-plus titles in the British/Irish newspaper collection.

To take up the discount, type THNKSGNG15 in the discount/voucher code box on the right-hand side of FindMyPast USA's subscription page. Hit the Apply button and select the 'World' option... the cost of the 12-month World subscription will automatically show the discounted price and you can then register and proceed to the payment page.

This offer is not just open to family historians in North America. Provided you're prepared to pay in US dollars, all genealogists can benefit from the offer, regardless of where they are based. Even if you have to pay a small bank charge for the 'privilege' of currency conversion, you're likely to be quids/euros in when you take up a 75% offer. (Do the sums: today's annual World sub is £129.50 at the UK site, €149.50 at the IE site, and AUS$199.50 at the Aust/NZ site. Bear in mind that discounts of these whopping proportions don't come along often!)

Offer expires on Monday 30 November.

London seminar: Researching Irish Family Life in the Famine Years

An afternoon seminar – Researching Irish Family Life in the Famine Years – will be hosted by the Society of Genealogists at its headquarters in Clerkenwell, London, on Saturday 16 January, 2–5pm.

Presented by Stephen Lally, the seminar will explore Irish lives in the rural west of Ireland in the first half of the 19th century. It will cover housing, possessions, food, work, education, entertainment etc and take a look at politics, social attitudes and the reasons for mass poverty and emigration.

It will also discuss how to build on this context, find less mainstream records, follow leads and bring a story together. The workshop description says it will open up 'a whole area of family history beyond the collecting of birth, marriage, death and census data. If you have just a few facts, this seminar will start you on a family quest that will be engrossing, interesting and, with luck, extremely rewarding.'

It costs £16 for SOG members, £20 for non-members. Full details.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Maynooth Studies in Local History, 2015 releases

Four Courts Press recently released this year's titles in the well-regarded Maynooth Studies in Local History series. The six publications are shown below. Click on the book cover for more information.

Each paperback has between 60 and 76 pages and can be purchased with a 10% discount for €8.95 from the publisher's website.

Ancestry's civil birth records restored

There's been a problem since last Saturday, at least, in accessing Ancestry's Irish Civil Registration Birth records. The marriage and death records were fine, but searches in the births collection delivered no results.

This was still the case when I tried again last night.

I don't know the explanation for the problem, but I'm pleased to report that the problem has now been resolved and the index records are fully searchable again.

Monday, 23 November 2015

PRONI website to undergo major changes

The website of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is to be completely revamped over the coming months as it is amalgamated into the NIDirect megasite. NIDirect is the government website for disseminating information to Northern Ireland citizens about official Information and Services, so it covers everything from road closures to social benefit payments and from the composting of kitchen and garden waste to police issued penalty notices for minor offences.

PRONI's announcement of the move says it is part of a drive to consolidate all front-facing government websites into a single platform. I translate that as meaning it is a cost-cutting exercise. It's also a move the repository has been trying to avoid for some time!

Tagging on PRONI's website, with its free-to-search databases and ever-changing calendars of events, to a templated website of largely evergreen text is not going to be easy. Admittedly, the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) has already gone through this upheavel and its database of birth, marriage and death certificates works well enough (when you eventually find it – the signposting/navigation of the whole site is poor), so hopefully the techies can find a way of accommodating online PRONI as well, if not better.

The NIDirect website will also be getting an upgrade.

Irish family history & heritage events, 23 Nov to 5 Dec

Monday 23 November to Wednesday 25 November, inclusive: Genealogy Advisory Service will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for extended hours from 10am to 5pm (closed 1–2pm). Venue: Reading Room, National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. (Normal hours, year-round, are 10am to 1:30pm.) It's always free.

Tuesday 24 November: 19th-century Valuation records, with Gillian Hunt. Host: Ulster Historical Foundation. Venue: Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, 1-9 Victoria Street, Belfast BT1 3GA. 1–2pm. Free but registration required by email to or telephone 028 9043 6710.

Tuesday 24 November: Footsteps to Freedom: 1916–2016, West Limerick's part in the Easter Rising, with Gerard Greaney. Venue: Newcastle West Library, Gortboy, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. 8pm.

Wednesday 25 November: Women and the Irish Revolution – Cumann Na Mban, with Prof Mary J. Hickman, Louise Ryan, Cal McCarthy and Marie Quinlivan. Host and Venue: London Irish Centre, 50-52 Camden Square, London NW1 9XB, UK. 6:30pm for 7pm start. Admission: £8 (concessions £5). Details.

Wednesday 25 November: North Down women in WW1, with Dr Margaret Ward. Host and venue: North Down Museum, Town Hall, Castle Park Ave, Bangor, Co Down BT20 4BT. 7:30pm. Free but you need to reserve a place by tel: 02891 271200 or email:

Wednesday 25 November: Irish genealogy help session, with Lisa Walsh Dougherty. Host and venue: Irish American Heritage Museum, 370 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207, USA. 11am to 2pm. Free. No booking required.

Thursday 26 November: Surviving the City; Poverty and Health in Belfast 1888-1914. Exhibition launch. Hosts: Queen’s University Belfast and PRONI. Venue: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 6pm.

Thursday 26 November: Medieval use of the settlement type known as the crannógs: late medieval use in Ireland, with Dr. Kieran O'Conor. Host and venue: Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Tulsk, Co Roscommon. 7:30pm. Tickets: 071 9639268. Details.

Thursday 26 November: Letters of 1916 – Cork launch. Meet the team, learn about the project, watch demonstrations, learn how you can contribute to Ireland's first public humanities project. Bring in your own letters written 1.11.1915 to 31.10.2016. Venue: Boole Library, University College Cork. 2–5pm. Reception in Staff Dining Room 5:15–6:15pm, followed by talks about the project 6:30–7:30pm in Boole 2, Lecture Theatres and lesson plans for secondary schools, 7:45–8:30pm. Drop in at anytime. Details.

Thursday 26 November: The Battle of Kinsale – a future for our past, an illustrated account of the background and events of 1601 with Dermot Ryan, and a talk by Gerry McCarthy on the possibilities of raising awareness of 1601 at a local, national and international level. Host: Kinsale History Society. Venue: Actons Hotel, Kinsale, Co Cork. 8pm. All welcome.

Thursday 26 November: 1915 – Forgotten battles, with Dessie Blackadder. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Ballymena branch. 7:15pm. Michelin Arts Workshop, Braid Arts Centre, 1-29, Bridge Street, Ballymena BT43 5EJ. All welcome.

Thursday 26 November to Friday 4 December : Reading Room of National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8, closed for preparation of departmental records being transferred from departments of state, and annual media preview.

Friday 27 November: West Connaught and the Great War, Exhibition, Open evening. Venue: Clifden Library, Market St, Clifden, Co. Galway. 6:30–8pm. All welcome. Free.

Tuesday 1 December: From the labour trench to the board: myth, memory and masculinity in Irish migrant memories of work in the British construction industry, with Dr Barry Hazley. Host: Modern Irish History Seminar Series, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh. Venue: Room G13, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, UK. 6pm. Free. All welcome.

Tuesday 1 December:: From popular culture in the Great War to the Great War in popular culture, a History Ireland Hedge School. Venue: National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 7pm. Free. Panel: Maurice Walsh, John Horne, Angus Mitchell and Jennifer Wellington.

Thursday 3 December: Women’s rights and child welfare in Ireland, 1922-2014, with Sarah-Anne Buckley. Host: Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class. Venue: Room GO11, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway. 4pm to 6pm. All welcome.

Thursday 3 December: Blarney Parish Records, an illustrated lecture with Richard Forrest. Host: Blarney & District Historical Society. Venue: Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál (Blarney Secondary School), Blarney, Co. Cork. Enquiries to Brian Gabriel 087 2153216. All welcome. 8pm.

Thursday 3 December: Irish genealogy sessions, with Lisa Walsh Dougherty. Drop-in help session 11am–12pm, followed by Discussion group 12pm–1pm. Host and venue: Clifton Park Library (Local History Room), 475 Moe Road, Clifton Park, NY 12065, USA. Free.

Friday 4 December: Fairy Bullets, Superstitions & Strange Goings On, with David Hume, and Christmas Dinner. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Larne branch. Venue: Halfway House Hotel, 352 Coast Rd, Ballygalley, Larne, Co Antrim BT40 2RA. Email for details:

Saturday 5 December: William Niblo — Not Soon Forgotten, with Benjamin Feldman. Host: New York History Roundtable. Venue: McCloskey meeting room, Parish House of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, New York, USA. 2pm.

Saturday 5 December: Mastering Genealogical Proof, with Barbara Scanlon. A workshop using Dr Thomas W. Jones' book of that name. Host and Venue: Kansas City Irish Center. 30 W Pershing Rd, Lowr, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. 11am–1pm. Details.

Friday, 20 November 2015

County Laois added to online Schools Collection

The National Folklore Collection's free website,, has added manuscripts written by pupils at schools in County Laois in 1937–39.

Part of the Schools Collection, the new material comprises stories collected from 70 Co Laois schools under a project run across the 26 counties of the Irish Free State in 1937–39. The pupils collected stories – topics included folk legends, weather lore, local history, proverbs, pastimes, trades and crafts – from their local communities, and recorded the names of their informants, often grandparents or older members of their family or neighbours. See the Schools Collection manuscripts for Laois.

The Schools Collection digitisation project is approaching the half-way stage with stories from 12 counties now available to view.
The counties completed are: Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kerry, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary, and Waterford. It is expected that the manuscripts for the remaining counties will be online by the end of 2016.