Friday, 5 February 2016

FindMyPast to release indexed Irish RC parish registers collection in March has confirmed today that it is to release a collection of 10million records from Irish Roman Catholic parish registers next month. This is the much-rumoured news that's been anticipated since last July when the National Library of Ireland uploaded unindexed images of the registers to its website at

The new indexed collection will consist of records from some 3,500 baptism and marriage registers covering all 32 historical counties of the island. They will link to the images.

The official press release says the records span from 1671 to 1900 but researchers should be aware that, other than a small number of exceptions, most start in the early 1800s and, as far as I'm aware, nearly all cut off at 1880–1882.

So, not long to wait. I wonder if they have a release date in mind??

The new collection will be available through FindMyPast Ireland and World subscriptions.

Ulster Historical Foundation's North America Tour 2016

The Ulster Historical Foundation's Fintan Mullen and Gillian Hunt will be making their annual lecture tour of North America in March, helping family historians get to grips with Irish resources and exploring historical context to provide depth to their research.

Lectures are suitable for beginners as well as for those who have already made some headway in tracing their Irish ancestors.

Here are the tour dates and venues:

Saturday 5 March: Toronto, ON
Venue: Memorial Hall, North York Civic Centre 5110 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N 5W4
Host: Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society and Canadian Dept, North York Central Library

Sunday 6 March: Boston, MA
Venue: Courtyard Marriott Hotel, 275 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116
Host: New England Historic Genealogical Society

Tuesday 8 March: Philadelphia, PA
Venue: Moriarty's Pub and Restaurant, 1116 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Host: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP)

Wednesday 9 March: Leesburg, VA
Venue: Thomas Balch Library, 208 W Market St, Leesburg, VA, 20176
Host: Thomas Balch Library

Thursday 10 March: Newberry, Chicago
Venue: The Newberry Library, 60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610
Host: The Newberry Library
Tel: +1 312-943-9090 (ask for the Genealogy and Local History department)

Friday 11 March: Salt Lake City, UT
Venue: Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, 122 S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States
Host: Heritage Journeys

Saturday 12 March: Portland, OR
Venue: Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie, Oregon 97222
Host: Genealogical Forum of Oregon (pdf download)

Sunday 13 March: Portland, OR
Venue: Genealogical Forum of Oregon, 2505 SE 11th Ave., Suite B-18, Portland, Oregon 97202
Host: Genealogical Forum of Oregon (pdf download)

Monday 14 March: Chehalis, WA
Venue: Bethel Assembly of God Church, 132 Kirkland Road, Chehalis, WA 98532
Host: Lewis County Genealogical Society

Wednesday 16 March: Fountaindale, IL
Venue: Fountaindale Public Library, 300 West Briarcliff Road Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Host: The Plainfield Public Library and the Fountaindale Public Library

Thursday 17 March: Memphis, TN
Venue: Pickering Center, 7771 Poplar Pike, Germantown, TN
Host: Tennessee Genealogical Society

Saturday 19 March: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St. Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Host: Heinz History Center and the Westmoreland County Historical Society

Sunday 20 March: York County, PA
Venue: 250 East Market St, York, PA 17403
Host: South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society

Tuesday 22 March: Halifax (Debert), Nova Scotia
Venue: The Debert Hospitality Centre, 130 Ventura Dr, Debert, NS B0M 1G0, Canada
Host: Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia

Thursday, 4 February 2016

FindMyPast USA to release millions of US marriages

At RootsTech today, Findmypast USA has announced that, in partnership with FamilySearch International, it will launch the single largest online collection of USA marriages.

Covering 360 years of marriages from 1650-2010, this landmark collection will, when complete, contain at least 100 million records and more than 450 million names from 2,800 counties across America and will be found in its entirety exclusively on FindMyPast. More than 60 per cent of these marriage records have never before been published online.

To kickstart the collection, has launched the first 33 million records of this ambitious project today and is offering them to the public for free from now until 15 February (and I can hardly believe that I've just found my granddad's sister's marriage in 1901 after around 15 years of searching!). The free records are available across all territories, so just choose one of the flags below. If you haven't previously registered with FindMyPast you'll need to do so in order to see the results of your searches; you might also like to take up the free trial offer.

The records include marriage date, bride and groom names, birthplace, birth date, age, residence as well as fathers’ and mothers’ names. will release millions of marriage records every quarter and aims to complete the entire digitization project by the end of 2017.

FindMyPast Ireland
FindMyPast USA
FindMyPast UK
FindMyPast Australia/NZ

Exploring 1916: a Midlands perspective

Edenderry Historical Society is to host a 1916 Seminar – Exploring 1916: a Midlands perspective – next week. Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend for an interesting line-up of lectures, as follows:
  • Tullamore and the 1916 Rising, with Michael Byrne
  • Emily Weddall and 1916, with Maria Gillen,
  • Frank Burke of Carbury & 1916, with Oliver Conlon,
  • Kildare and the 1916 Rising, with James Durney,
  • ‘The year began with a bang’: Edenderry, 1916, with CiarĂ¡n Reilly,
Dr Philip Brady will offer a response to the papers presented.

Date: Friday 19 February
Venue: Oaklands Community College, Edenderry  
Time: 7:00 to 10:00pm  
Admission: €10, which includes refreshments
Enquiries: or see Edenderry Historical Society's website.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

History Ireland magazine's 1916 supplement on sale

History Ireland magazine has published a special supplement – 1916: Dream & Death – which explores the impact of the Dublin Rising.

The 96-page supplement is the first in a new series of authoritative annual publications on the theme of commemoration and includes contributions from Joe Lee, Roy Foster, Joe Duffy, Lucy McDiarmid, Mary McAulifffe, Padraig Yeates, Joe Connell, and Lar Joye, among others.

It is available in shops, price €9.50/£7.50.

Alternatively, you can purchase the supplement, or find out more about the feature topics from the magazine's publisher, Wordwell. (Magazine subscribers receive a discount.)

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

National Library launches 'Rising' photo exhibition

The 'Rising' exhibition will run until end of October
at the National Photographic Archive, Temple Bar
. Open Mon-Sat 10-5; Sundays Noon-5.
The National Library of Ireland’s National Photographic Archive has today launched ‘Rising’, a major photographic exhibition which showcases the Library's collection of rich imagery documenting the events and locations of 1916.

‘Rising’ draws on some of the most important collections of photographs at the National Library (NLI). In addition to showing the physical damage to the city centre, the exhibition features photographs relating to the arrests, courts martials and internments following the Rising, and the subsequent amnesty for prisoners as the British Government saw the tide turning for those involved in the insurrection.

It consists of 60 photographs, and includes audio records from selected letters and diaries detailing first-hand accounts of the Rising.

Speaking at the launch, curator Sara Smyth said: “’Rising’ paints a very vivid picture of the events and locations of 1916 and brings visitors into the world of those who experienced the Rising first hand. When we selected the content for the exhibition, we were keen to address certain questions: How did Dublin look during Easter Week 1916, as fighting raged and buildings fell? What kind of landscape, physical and political, was left after the surrender?

“There are a number of unusual images on display. They include a photograph of Dr Edmund J. McWeeney, a member of the public who, like many Dubliners, discovered the Proclamation posted all over the city on Easter Monday. There is also a photograph of a small group of Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army in the GPO during the Rising.”

For those who are unable to visit the National Photographic Archive in Dublin's Temple Bar, digitised versions of the photos in the exhbition can be found in the NLI's online catalogue. The exhibition includes images from the Keogh Collection, the Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Collection, the De Valera Collection, and various 1916 albums.

What to expect in 2016: A belated preview

In terms of numbers of blogposts, January was the busiest month on Irish Genealogy News since it started back in March 2010. To some extent this can be attributed to the 1916 Rising centenary and all the events, launches and goings-ons connected with the anniversary.

Keeping up with it all the announcements meant that I didn't get round to writing a preview for 2016, so here it is, a little late but carrying enough good news for you to forgive my tardiness. I'll start with the most important news.

Record collections

Griffiths Valuation Field, House and Quarto Books: Those with a long memory will know that I've flagged up this release as 'imminent' a couple of times in the last two years but the books have still not found their way online. Well, I'm told again by the National Archives of Ireland that its collection of these books has been digitised and is ready to take up residence on It should be expected 'shortly'. Spring has been mentioned but whether that'll be 'daffodil spring' or 'tulip spring', remains to be seen. They will join FindMyPast Ireland, where they'll be free to access, at the same time.

More material from the Revolutionary period: For the year that's in it, both Ancestry and FindMyPast have said they'll be adding big collections of records related to the 1916 Easter Rising and its aftermath. These will be army/police records that cover the entire Ireland and are not limited to people who were members of rebel organisations. I imagine most of these records will originate from The National Archives in Kew, London, but I haven't been able to get clarification of which collections are involved.

Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers (CSORP): The project to conserve, catalogue and upload the CSORP collection has been beset with delays since it launched in 2008. Most of the delays have been due to staff cuts at the National Archives of Ireland. The listing and images for documents dating from 1818 to 1822 have been online at for a few years and will soon be joined by records from 1822 to 1829. This may be a staggered upload, with the listings appearing before the images.

Church records: You remember the release of the National Library of Ireland's Roman Catholic registers in July last year? (Of course you do.) Shortly after, I blogged about a rumour that FindMyPast and Ancestry were working together to index the registers. You'll have noticed that nothing has resulted! So was it just an unfounded rumour? Since I can't get an official denial or confirmation, we'll have to wait and see. But what I can you is that in WDYTYA?'s current magazine, FindMyPast said they planned to release Irish parish records this year, as well as Quaker births, marriages and deaths. Of course, 'parish records' doesn't necessarily mean baptism, marriage or burial records; they could be vestry records or confirmation records, or accounts.... And they may not be Roman Catholic.

Historical mapping system: The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) will be launching a GIS Historic Maps application. This will allow the user to zoom into modern maps, or search modern maps using townland names, and then use a slider to overlay the modern view with historical maps of the area. I'm told this system is receiving its last tweeks. It will go live, along with most of the existing PRONI website content, on the new NIDirect platform some time over the next two months. (The consolidation and redevelopment of the NIDirect site is taking a little longer than planned.)

Civil registration of births: Sit down for this one! I am told by a reliable but unofficial source that all the historical birth certificates (ie minumum 100-years-old) are going to join in the not-too-distant future. Yes: full-on images of birth certificates. They're going to be available free of charge. That's a surprise, eh? Timing wise, I haven't the faintest, but the certificates have been prepared and scanned. It appears there's only the upload to deal with before this unexpected bonanza arrives. Will the same happen with the marriage and death certificates? I haven't been told this is the case, but it would be odd to upload the births in isolation, so I'm expecting the full trio, subject to the 75-year and 50-year cut-offs. It may be that they'll all appear at the same time, which could make not-too-distant not-too-imminent.

Upgrades to Dublin repositories

More generally, 2016 will bring the start of major building works at the National Archives of Ireland (from September) to create modern and much needed additional storage space at Bishop Street, and the completion at the end of April of a new Military Archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks, complete with a bright and spacious new Reading Room (bear in mind that the existing Reading Room will close at the beginning of March). Towards the end of the year, or even trickling into 2017, refurbishment work will also begin at the National Library of Ireland's Kildare Street building which dates from the 1890s; among the priorities will be the upgrading of storage areas and improvements, especially to modern health and safety standards, to visitor facilities.

With works of this type going on, it's probably a good idea over the next year or two to check with the repository for possible unscheduled last-minute closures before you set out or organise a research trip.

Major genealogy events

Just in case you thought 2016 was all about the 1916 centenary, let me tell you that the Irish Genealogical Research Society will be celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. No weapons will be discharged, but maybe a few bottles of fizz will get popped by the Society at Ireland's first major genealogy event of the year: the Finding Your Ancestors conference in Cork, which will be jointly hosted by the IGRS and Cork Genealogy Society. Taking place on Saturday 19 March, the day promises three lectures, a workshop, a book launch, the IGRS Ireland Branch AGM, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and lunch!

The first major genealogy event of the year in Northern Ireland will be a Local & Family History day in Belfast on Saturday 4 June. It'll be hosted jointly by the Ulster Historical Foundation and PRONI. Details will be available in due course. Until then, you might like to get the date in your diary.

As last year, the Ulster Historical Foundation will be hosting two Tracing your Irish Ancestors conferences in 2016. The first is in mid-June, the second in September, and both offer assisted genealogical research and tours of historical and heritage sites in Belfast, Dublin, Derry and Donegal.

University College Cork's Ancestral Connections summer school has a 1916 theme this year: Roots to the Rising. This week-long event (26 June–2 July) offers a complete course in the latest Irish genealogy research methods and resources, and will include a number of presentations about the turbulent early-C20th decades our ancestors lived through, as well as day and evening field trips.

The Genealogy Event will be back for a third consecutive year in County Limerick, this time on the first weekend of September, a little later than in previous years, and includes two full days of genealogy and DNA lectures and workshops, one-to-one consultations, plus a range of optional social events, excursions and historical tours. See the full programme.

Clare Roots Society will be presenting an international family history conference, Diaspora of the Wild Atlantic Way, in Ennis, Co Clare, on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September. The main theme of the conference is the movement and migration of people from the west coast counties of Ireland to Scotland, Britain and beyond, and the event plans to bring together experts and family historians from around the world to share their knowledge and expertise. The line-up of speakers already confirmed is impressive.

With summer over and the days getting shorter, Back To Our Past will return to the RDS in Dublin from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 October. It'll be held in the Serpentine Hall, as last year, so I can only hope that the sound quality in the genealogy lecture area is much improved. Details.

This blog

It was rather ironic that January was the busiest ever month for Irish Genealogy News because it followed a year when the number of blogposts published here dropped for the first time. I wrote 122 fewer posts in 2015 than in 2014, and 55 posts fewer than in 2013. There were two reasons.

Firstly, the rate of record collection releases – the staple of the blog – has quite noticeably dropped. In fact, the last three months of 2015 were pretty slow in that respect, and may have set a pace we'll have to learn to get used to, going forward.

But a second, and probably more significant reason for the blogpost drop, was a decision I took last spring to take a tighter editorial line to ensure the blog continues to focus on resources, new record releases and updates, and other developments that directly affect researchers. I now spike 'requests for a mention' from organisations that would never think to reciprocate with goodwill towards my blog, or who produce press releases that are really just adverts dressed up as news stories. I don't chase news of events any more, either. It was so time consuming. Now, I rely on details to be sent to me, or I come across event notices serendipitously, and I add them to the list. The lists aren't getting shorter as a result, but they're easier for me to collate!

Judging by the blog's visitor numbers last year, sharpening up my focus on the real stories has done no harm at all. It's made the blog more manageable for me, in terms of time, too. So I'll be continuing to spike the peripheral stuff and marketing puff in the year ahead.

I also have a number of big projects, some genealogy, some not, to work through this year, so you might notice some 'quiet' spells. I'll still make sure to report in a timely fashion on the most important stuff, however.

All in all, it looks like we have another busy year of learning and discovery ahead.