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Friday, 24 December 2010

Certificate of Irish Heritage is still 'live'

It seems the Certificate of Irish Heritage initiative, launched by the Department of Foreign Affairs in early summer, has not fallen victim to austerity cuts.

In response to emails I'd received via Irish Genealogy Toolkit in the last couple of weeks, I contacted the Department to find out if the scheme had, for whatever reason, been shelved. It was, after all, supposed to be up and running by the end of 2010, and no one had heard a peep about it for months.

Here is the reply from the Department:

The Department published a request on the official Government website
(eTenders) at the end of April seeking expressions of interest from
suitably qualified service providers for the establishment of a
concession to operate the Certificate of Irish Heritage scheme on behalf
of the Department. Expressions of interest were received from a number
of interested service providers and contractual negotiations are
underway with the company deemed most suitable to operate the scheme.

Given that the contract negotiations are continuing, it would not be
appropriate to go into further details on these negotiations.


I don't speak 'government tongue' so I may not be picking up nuances in this reply but it seems, at the very least, to be saying that the scheme isn't yet dead in the water.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Start your family tree week - free tips

St Stephen's Day sees the launch of 'Start Your Family Tree Week', a new initiative supported by Eneclann, the Genealogical Society of Ireland and the Irish Family History Society.

Start Your Family Tree Week aims to encourage more people to find out about their ancestors and their Irish heritage. They can sign up, free, for a series of emails which will be sent daily from 26 December to 1 January and will include advice and features written by experts, links to useful websites, and competitions with worthwhile prizes.

All you have to do is visit www.startyourfamilytree.ie and sign up for the newsletter.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

PRONI Christmas season opening hours

PRONI's temporary self-service facility at Cregagh has announced its opening hours over the Christmas/New Year period.

Thursday 23 December - Closing 5pm
Friday 24 December - Closed
Monday 27 December - Closed
Tuesday 28 December - Closed
Wednesday 29 December - Open
Thursday 30 December - Open
Friday 31 December - Open
Monday 3 January - Closed
Tuesday 4 January - Open

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Release of Dublin & Cork records delayed


IrishGenealogy.ie, which is funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport, has announced that the next release of church records will be delayed until ‘early 2011’.

This tranche of Roman Catholic records, which includes Dublin City and the remaining records from the Diocese of Cork & Ross, had been scheduled for release ‘before the end of 2010’.

Prior to the announcement, vibes from the project suggested it was on target so it’s hard to believe that funding cuts have hit the project so late in the day. There’s been no explanation for the delay.

Nor is there any information available over and beyond ‘early 2011’.

I wish they'd be more specific!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Good news for those with Cork ancestors

Dating back to 1892, the archives of the Southern Star newspaper can now be searched and viewed free of charge via the paper's website at www.southernstar.ie. Just click the link next to the Star logo.

The archives are held at www.irishnewsarchive.com which offers a variety of subscriptions to view historical papers from across the country. It's well worth a look.

I was lead to believe that the Southern Star archive collection was viewable, free, via the host site, but this didn't turn out to be the case. The only free route I found was direct from the newspaper's header. This may have been caused by a temporary problem. I've contacted the Irish Newspaper Archives; if there's any update on this, I'll make a note here.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

PRONI Photo Archives now on Flickr!

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has released a delightful collection of wedding photographs taken between 1900 and 1952. They were taken by the Allison Photographic Studios in Armagh, and will be of interest to family historians with links to County Armagh, South Down and County Monaghan.

Unusually, PRONI has chosen to release them through the social networking site, Flickr, rather than its own website.

To date around 200 digital images have been made available, with more being added over the coming weeks until all 1530 images are posted on the site. Visitors to the website will be able to browse through the images alphabetically, by family surname.

The online images are the product of a year-long project undertaken by PRONI to arrange, list, re-box and digitise the original glass plate negatives. This will enhance the collection of key resources which PRONI has already made available online, including street directories and wills indexes.

PRONI's online services team is striving to ensure that those researching local or family history have rich sources available during PRONI's move to new accommodation at Titanic Quarter.

Visit www.flickr.com/photos/proni to view the photographs

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

New PRONI to open in March 2011

The brand spanking new Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) will open to the public on 30 March 2011.

Speaking from the state-of-the-art facility in Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Culture Minister Nelson McCausland said: "In September 2009, we reported that the new PRONI headquarters was due to open in May or June 2011 following the removal and relocation of over 40km of unique, irreplaceable and some priceless, documents. It is therefore a fantastic achievement, through the careful planning, dedication and hard work of my staff and our partners, that the new PRONI is opening well ahead of schedule."

The replacement record office, which befits PRONI’s position as one of the three National Archival Institutions in the United Kingdom, will provide larger and better facilities for the access of PRONI’s records. Its location will also mean much easier access for local, national and international visitors.

Ancestors from Galway?

A new edition of Tracing your Galway Ancestors has been published this week. Written by Peadar O'Dowd, this latest offering from the Flyleaf series of County Guides has been fully updated with details of how and where genealogy resources can be accessed. It also provides an overview to the social history of the county.

Costing €13.00, plus postage and packing if mailed outside Ireland, the 160-page book can be ordered at www.flyleaf.ie.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Updated Wills Calendar includes images

PRONI has launched an updated online version of the Wills Calendar search. It includes nearly 93,500 digitised images of copy wills covering the period 1858-1900, along with over twenty years worth of calendar entries.

It provides a searchable index to wills proved in the Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry district probate registries during the years 1858-1919 and 1922-1943.

Part of 1921 has been added, with remaining entries for 1920-1921 to follow in the near future.

These documents are a valuable and widely-used family and local history resource. Researchers are now able to search the online index, read the will calendar entry and, for many of the entries, view an image of the will.

This release is the latest addition to PRONI’s online resources which also include the Ulster Covenant, Freeholders Records, Street Directories and Name Search. Visit the site at www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/will_calendars.htm.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Christmas gifts for the family historian

If you need some inspiration to help you choose Christmas gifts for the family historian in your life (even if that's you!), here's a selection of ideas that might just solve your problem:

Published last week, The Father Francis Browne Yeats is a high-quality blend of photography and poetry. Hailed as Ireland's greatest photographer, Father Francis Browne created an unrivalled body of work from 1897 to 1960. This new book reveals 60 previously unpublished images, each matched to a poem by WB Yeats. Visit www.messenger.ie.

Also hot off the press is Dunmanway Historical Society's fourth journal, Doings of Dunmanway. It contains stories past and present of Dunmanway, mostly contributed by local people. More from: info@dunmanwayhistoricalsociety.org.

County Sligo Heritage & Genealogy Society has launched a new online shop selling a range of local Sligo history books, many with a genealogical or family history theme, a 'Scenes of Sligo' calendar and a collection of Greeting Cards featuring beautiful Sligo scenes. Go to www.sligoroots.ie/shop-online/.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Thanksgiving offer from Irish Origins

Grab yourself a 25% discount from Irish Origins with a special offer to celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Origins offers three subscription options, with traditional monthly and annual plans or a useful 72-hours access arrangement. The discount can be applied on any one of these.

Simply enter the code TG2009 in the promotional box at registration or checkout to take advantage of this offer which is available from today until 3rd December at www.irishorigins.com.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Learn about Ulster ancestors at Summer School

If you are interested in finding out more about your Ulster ancestors or wish to explore the history of Ireland's northern province, the Ulster History & Genealogy Summer School 2011 may be just what you're looking for.

Over six days, you'll be guided to carry out research for yourself at Belfast's main archives and libraries, as well as discover the history of Ulster first-hand through excursions to some of the province's most historic sites. The summer school will be held 26 June to 2 July 2011.

More information at www.ancestryireland.com/summerschool.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

National Archives: closure of Reading Room in December

Media preview – 8-10 December 2010
The Reading Room will be closed to the public on Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 December 2010 to facilitate the annual media preview of the archives of Government Departments which will be opened to the public in January 2011. Only members of the Press will have access to the Reading Room on the these dates.

The Reading Room will re-open to the public at 10.00 on Monday 13 December.

Christmas & New Year
The Reading Room will close at 12.30 on Friday 24 December 2010 and re-open at 10.00 on Tuesday 4 January 2011.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Dublin Graveyards Directory launched online

An online directory of graveyards in Dublin has been launched by Dublin City Library & Archive.

It covers all graveyards in the Dublin area and provides the following information:
  • Graveyard location
  • Contact details
  • Titles of published graveyard transcripts (available in most research libraries)
  • Links to online gravestone transcripts
  • Location of surviving burial records
  • Other information of interest about the graveyard.
Please note that there are no burial records or gravestone transcripts available on the site. However, by following links on the site, you can discover where the information is held.

To search the directory, go to www.dublinheritage.ie/graveyards.

Plan to commemorate Waterford soldiers

A new website has been launched to honour Waterford soldiers who died in World War One and Two. Among its aims is the creation of a memorial, to be ready before the 2014 anniversary of the start of the Great War.

The initiative is jointly organised with the Waterford County Museum and County Library Service. The latter already has an extensive database of Waterford's War Dead which is an excellent starting point for family historians. The new website will encourage more people to submit information about their relatives for inclusion on the database.

Their views on the proposed memorial will also be sought.

Find out more at www.waterfordmemorial.ie.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

For Remembrance week: free British military records

If you have ancestors who fought in the British army during World War One, you'll be able to search the following records for free over the next seven days:

British Army Service Records 1914-1920 for those who either died during the war or remained in service until its end.
British Army Pension Records 1914-1920 of those who received injuries and were discharged during the war.
Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920 Learn where the soldier served, from the medals recieved.

The free access coincides with Remembrance Week, and allows you to search and view the original historical documents of Ancestry's three most popular military collections. The offer starts today and finishes on 14 November.

Visit www.ancestry.co.uk/military

Saturday, 6 November 2010

More November diary dates

Wednesday 10th November: Beara Historical Society lecture: What it was like for emigrants to Britain in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. By Gerdie Harrington, at Twomey's Lounge Bar, Bank Place, Castletownbere. 8.30pm.

Thursday 18th November: Clare Roots Society. Death and disease in 19th century Ireland. By Larry Geary (UCC). Ennis Civic Rooms. 8pm.

Saturday 20th November: Celebrating Laois heritage. Parish Centre, Portlaoise. All day, starting 10.15am. Free, but booking required. Catherine Casey 057 867 4348.

Tuesday 23rd November: Friends of Medieval Dublin. This month's free 40-minute lunchtime lecture in the Tales of Medieval Dublin series is The Wife's Tale. Wood Quay, Civic Offices, Dublin 8. 1.05pm. No need to book.

Wednesday 24th November: PRONI. Using online sources for genealogical research. Stephen Scarth (Head of Public Services). Free. Performance Area of Linenhall Library, Belfast. 1pm. No need to book.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Hurley letters shed light on Irish emigrant experience

An extensive collection of letters from two West Cork brothers who emigrated to Nevada in the USA in the 19th century has been donated by their family to Cork City and County Archives.

The 122 letters were written by Michael and Denis Hurley over nearly 70 years from 1871 and were sent to their parents, siblings and nieces in Tawnies, Clonakilty and Timoleague. Their importance lies not just in the way that the story of their lives in America unfold over the years, but in their survival as a unique historical source for understanding the Irish emigrant experience in America, especially that of emigrants who continued westward after crossing the Atlantic.

Michael Hurley lived in Nevada, Lake Tahoe and Oregon before settling in San Francisco in 1881. His younger brother Denis lived and worked in Nevada (first for the Railway, then as a prison guard and, in his later years, as Bailiff of the US District Court), and was elected Mayor of Carson City.

The Hurley Family Emigrant Letters collection will be properly preserved by the Archives and made available for further research and public exhibition.

Source: Southern Star newspaper

Friday, 29 October 2010

Next major online offering may be entire Catholic register collection

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) is planning to scan all 520 microfilms that make up its collection of Roman Catholic parish registers and put the scans online.

While they won't be transcribed (so genealogists will still be going cross-eyed and pulling their hair out with frustration at the many illegible pages of records) nor indexed, this step would be hugely beneficial. At present, family historians have to visit the NLI in person, and only one microfilm for each parish is made available at any one time.

So, while not perfect, having this resource online would be an outstanding advance. The collection represents, for the majority of researchers, the main source of birth, marriage and death records for pre-1864 (when civil registration started).

The project is still at the tender stage, so it's some way off, but scanning and uploading 520 films to the web isn't an enormous undertaking and should be achievable within a year from now.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

November dates for your diary

Wednesday 3rd November:
Annual General Meeting of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations at Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (7pm) followed at 8pm by a lecture 'Fact, Fiction and Public Record' with Fiona Ross discussing her new role as Director of the National Library.
There's a raffle, a bar, and free admission.

Saturday 6th November:
November Morning Meeting of the Irish Family History Society at Dublin City Library & Archives, 138/144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
Starts at 10am with Registration, followed at 10.30 by 'The Cobbe Family of Newbridge House, Donabate', with Peader Bates, and at 11.30 by 'Genealogy Research on the Web - an update', by Mary Beglan.
Free admission and open to both members and non-members. No booking required.

Tuesday 9th November:
Lecture from the Genealogical Society of Ireland at Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education, Cumberland Street, Dun Laoghaire. 'Irish Convict Transportation - Damnation or Salvation', with Sean Solan. 8pm.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Offaly ancestors?

If your ancestors were from Offaly you may be interested in a new book The diary of an Offaly Schoolboy, 1858-59, written by William Davis (and edited by Sandra Robinson).

Some 190 pages long, it chronicles the life in a rural household in Eglish, near Birr, brought low by the early death of the writer's father. This is the story of two years in the life of William Davis (1842-1921), an intelligent and rather serious boy in his late teens, trying to make sense of his world.

It is a personal journey which is the richer for the author’s growing self-awareness and for the insights which it affords the reader.

Copies of the book are available at €15 softback/€25 hardback through the Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society at info@offalyhistory.com or through international online bookseller Amazon.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Halloween approaches

Ireland's biggest and most energetic Halloween celebrations take place in Derry, with a fantastic Carnival Parade at 6pm and a jaw-droppingly artistic fireworks display on the Riverfront at 7pm.

But it's not just on the night itself that the city goes spookily mad.

There's a 10-day build-up of events – cultural, sporty, educational, creepy and just plain silly – to make sure everyone, no matter their age, is well and truly aware that the 31st approaches.

It's a really great programme (full details at www.derrycity.gov.uk/halloween).

Among the events that caught my eye were the Ghostbusters Tours (two or three per evening 26th to 30th) Tel 028 7126 7284; Traditional Halloween Games at Gransha Wood, 28th, 3-7pm Tel: 028 7126 2664; The Park After Dark at Creggan County Park, 29th, 7pm Tel: 028 7136 3133; Spooky Sports, at The Diamond Centre, Claudy, for pre-schoolers on 28th 10-noon, and at St Columbs Park Leisure Centre, for 6-11 year olds 29th 10am-2.30pm Tel: 028 7136 1566; and Ghost Stories at the Playhouse, 29th 8pm Tel: 028 7126 8027.

Discover more about the origin of Halloween and other Celtic holidays.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Back to the Past show report

Small but well-formed, would be my analysis of the Back to my Past show at the RDS in Dublin.

I visited on Friday, the first day of the three-day run, when the numbers milling around the stands made for a comfortable experience. The stalls seemed to be well enough 'manned' to allow anyone who wanted to ask questions to get their answers without too much hanging around. I was able to have a quick word with Aideen Ireland, senior archivist at the National Archives of Ireland, within only a minute or two of arriving, and I spotted Catriona Crowe, who project managed the digitisation of the 1901 and 1911 censuses, pouring over a visitor's family tree, deep in conversation.

John Grenham, whose book Trace your Irish Ancestors ought to be on every researcher's bookshelf, was also in attendance, on the Irish Times stand.

Having access to such professionals is, of course, one of the top reasons for visiting. Another is the free seminar programme. All the seminars that I witnessed seemed to be delivered to full houses, which was no surprise because the subjects were well chosen and covered different levels of research.

Talks ranged from Tracing land ownership using property records, by Rachel Murphy of Eneclann to The buried secrets of Glasnevin Cemetery, by Shane MacThomais of Glasnevin Trust.

In addition to the 'big' state- or religion-funded organisations, there were a number of well-known commercial businesses exhibiting including Find My Past and Genes Reunited, both keen to show how these primarily British sites can help your Irish ancestry search, and smaller specialist firms such as Edmund Ross Studios (photographic restoration) and Irish Genealogy Solutions (archival products).

There was a good turn-out from membership societies with the Irish Family History Society, Irish Genealogical Research Society, Irish Georgian Society and Genealogical Society of Ireland in attendance, showing off their journals and talking to visitors about their events calendars, research facilities and other reasons for joining.

I took the opportunity to chat to Adrian Gallagher of the Guild of One Name Studies about starting such a project for my own surname. I've been thinking about this for some time -- I've even been paying for the website domain for three years – but had no idea how or where to start. It seems the Guild will point me in the right direction, and, having signed on the dotted line, I'm looking forward to getting started. Not too sure I want to be known as one of the GOONS, though!

For me, actually finding the confidence to take this leap was a great result from visiting the Back to the Past show. Others may have different reasons for being pleased they visited, whether because they were able to break down a brickwall after discussing their problem with a professional consultant, or because they went home laden down with society journals, books or genealogy products.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Back to my Past show in Dublin

This weekend, the RDS in Dublin is hosting Ireland's first-ever family history show. It forms part of a larger show aimed at the Over 50s, but has its own dedicated entrance and all the stands are clustered together.

As well as the big names that you'd expect ie National Archives, National Library, Eneclann, PRONI and Roots Ireland, there are also a number of smaller organisations and groups advising on membership, genealogy products, photography restoration, and other resources that may be useful to your family history research.

Perhaps the most exciting element of the show is the excellent programme of talks by well-respected genealogy/archive experts.

I'll post a full show report with pictures in due course for those that can't attend, but I'd recommend that any researcher who can get to the show on Saturday or Sunday does so. I think you'll find it a worthwhile experience.

Show Times: 10am-6pm.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Fingers crossed for early release of the 1926 census

A Bill to allow the early release of the 1926 census has been published today and now awaits Second Stage process in Seanad Éireann, the Irish Parliament's upper house.

The argument for early release is two pronged. The first is based on precedent and cites the early release of the 1911 census. Like the 1926 census, the 1911 census carried the legal proviso of a 100-year 'closure' period ie the content of the returns was to be kept under lock and key for a century so as to maintain confidentiality of individual records.

However, the Government saw fit to release the 1926 records after only 50 years (they were available for public perusal from 1961), whereas it is already nearly 85 years since the 1926 census was taken. As such, the vast majority of individuals included in its records have since died.

The second argument is a repeat of the moral debate that successfully won the early release of the 1911 returns... that, due to the void caused by destruction of nearly all 19th century census records, and the absence of a 1921 census, there is huge public demand -- both in Ireland and the Diaspora -- for this heritage information.

The 1926 census was the first to be carried out in the Irish Free State (Eire) following the Partition of the island. Its records relate only to the 26 counties of the modern-day Republic of Ireland, and not to the six counties of Northern Ireland.

The Statistics (Heritage Amendment) Bill, 2010 is sponsored by Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fáil) and has the support of many senators on both sides of the House.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

More Limerick records online

An additional 100,000 bmds and census records from Limerick Genealogy have been added to the Irish Family History Foundation's online (fee payable) system at RootsIreland.ie.

Just what the mix of records is, or which parishes they cover, hasn't been announced.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Yet more Chelsea Pensioners!

The Chelsea Pensioners records collection from 1760-1913 has been completed at www.findmypast.co.uk with the launch of the final records from 1900-1913 (see posts of 9 May and 3 June for details of earlier releases).

Among the latest batch (which comprises 341,888 records and nearly 2million images) are service records for the Territorial Force and Volunteer Service Companies. The Territorial Force was formed in 1908 so these men would not have appeared in earlier record releases.

Also for the first time online are the attestations for men who joined the Volunteer Service Companies during the Boer War.

These men, who had previously served with Volunteer battalions, re-enlisted with these special volunteer companies and served alongside regular soldiers in the regular regiments.

Many Irish soldiers served in the British Army during the period covered by Find My Past's Chelsea Pensioner Records. While this latest tranche of records probably has a smaller Irish connection than earlier releases, it may still prove worthwhile checking for an important but elusive ancestor.

Latest additions to Irish Origins

The genealogy database site www.irishorigins.com has launched two new record sets.

First up is a duo of Wills Indexes, as follows:

Phillimore & Thrift, Indexes to Irish Wills 1536-1858. This series, compiled from existing finding aids at the Public Record Office in Dublin, contains entries for over 30,000 wills for many of the diocesan consistorial courts of Ireland up to 1800, and some up to 1858.

Sir Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. This important book is well-known to Irish genealogists. it contains an index to over 40,000 Irish wills, most of which were destroyed in the 1922 explosion and fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin.

The other release is an unusual one, and will be of particular interest to researchers with ancestors from the north or city of Dublin:

1798 Rebellion: Claimants and SurrendersThe 1798 Rebellion was a watershed in Irish history. It has been estimated that up to 30,000 people were killed during the uprising, with many more wounded. This dataset brings together some of the few remaining primary sources about the people involved in the conflict.

It contains two lists of individuals who made claims for compensation for loss of property during the rising, and also two lists of rebels who surrendered in Dublin City and Coolock Barony.

In total there are over 8,000 names included in this dataset covering two distinct groups: those who took up arms and those whose property was damaged. These groups come from every social background, from poor Dublin City labourers to the gentry.

Belfast's shipbuilding heritage goes online

A new Titanic website has been launched this week to highlight Belfast's rich shipbuilding heritage. A series of short films tells the story of the Titanic and Northern Ireland's rich industrial past.

While the main intention of the site is to promote tourism to the North, its pages and films will be of special interest to family historians with connections to Belfast and those with ancestors who worked in the shipbuilding industry.

The site, at www.the-titanic.com, will also highlight the centenary of the cruise liner's doomed maiden voyage in April 1912 which saw the loss of 1,517 lives.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

View the street where your ancestors lived

Google Street View has finally landed in Ireland. This new internet application provides the viewer with a 360 degree tour of Irish streets and provides a great way to explore the area where your ancestors lived.... without exhausting shoe leather or air miles credits.

Ancestors from Bandon?


Street View allows you to navigate and 'travel' the neighbourhoods where your family lived their lives. It provides you with a much greater feel for specific locations or areas than random snapshots bring. Only problem .... you can lose hours on it!!

You can access Street View via http://earth.google.co.uk (which is free to download, and, in my opinion, the easier and faster option) or www.maps.google.com.

Have fun exploring!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

All day seminar - Saturday 2nd October

A full day seminar, run by the Irish Family History Society, will take place this coming Saturday, 2nd October, at Dublin City Library & Archive, 138 Pearse Street, Dublin.

It starts at 10 am, is free, and no booking is required. Here's the programme:
  • 10am Registration
  • 10.30am Dublin's Protestant Dissenters, their meeting houses and records. (Steven Smyrl)
  • 11.30am The Talty Millions: Lawyers, Liars, Inheritance, Disinheritance and the Great Crash of 1929. (Patrick Waldron)
  • 12.30-2pm Lunch. Not provided.
  • 2.15pm Researching the Irish in US records. (Anne Rodda)
  • 3.15pm Fogotten Heroes: Ireland's World War One Soldiers. (Tom Phelan)
For more details, email ifhs@eircom.net.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Ancestors from Donoughmore?

If you have ancestral connections to Donoughmore, county Cork, a new book may be of help to your genealogy research.

Donoughmore and all Around trawls through 300 years of burials in Donoughmore, highlighting the political, economic, social and cultural life of a rural community.

Centred on Donoughmore, the book takes in families from surrounding parishes, including Aghabullogue, Aghinagh, Blarney, Glantane, Grenagh and Inniscarra.

The official launch of the book, written by Richard Henchion, will take place at Stuake Community Centre tonight at 8pm, following a memorial mass at 7.30pm at St Lachteens.

The book can be purchased through www.donoughmorehistoricalsociety.com.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Irish Graveyard Survey moves on

An ambitious project to survey and index every grave in Ireland takes another important step forward next week.


Irish Graveyard Surveyors (IGS Ltd), the company behind the project, will begin another survey of graves, this time at cemeteries around Buncrana, in Inishowen, co Donegal.

Their 12-strong team surveys every plot in the cemeteries, whether or not they have a headstone or other marker. As each graveyard survey is completed, a map and index (noting name and address of the deceased, month and year of death, age at death and plot number) is drawn up and displayed in local churches and chapels. Any corrections are noted before a stainless steel sign is erected in the grounds showing the map and index.

IGS has already completed surveys in other west coast parishes and plans to upload their indexes to a website in due course. I'll be keeping an eye on this project as it develops and will post when the website goes live.

Family Tree Maker 2011: 20% off, one week only

The latest version of the popular genealogy software package Family Tree Maker has been released with a tempting 20% saving.

If you were considering treating yourself (or someone else!) to a new program for Christmas, it might be worth taking this offer up. A little early, perhaps, for thinking of Christmas, but, hey, you're worth it! You'll have to be quick, though. The offer ends at close of play on Monday 29 September.

The Family Tree Maker 2011 package claims to include more than 100 enhancements requested by users of earlier versions of the product. Find out more at Ancestry.com.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Laois & Offaly records now online

Church records for parishes in Laois and Offaly have been added to the online databases of www.rootsireland.ie.

This latest update adds another 800,000 records to the pay-as-you-go database.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Linenhall Library Lectures

While PRONI is in transit to its new, state-of-the-art premises in Belfast's Titanic Quarter (see yesterday's post), the Linenhall Library has stepped into the breach to play host to a series of lunchtime lectures.

These will be delivered by PRONI staff on the last Wednesday of the month (see diary below), and there's no need to book in advance:

24 November: Using online sources for genealogical research.
26 January: How to start tracing your family tree in Northern Ireland.
23 February: Preserving the past for the future.
30 March: Vere Foster - the man who paid women to go away.
27 April: The Blitz on Belfast.

The free talks will start at 1pm in the Performance Area of the Linenhall Library. No need to book.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

PRONI's temporary home

After nearly 40 years, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has closed its Balmoral Avenue doors to the public.

From today, a temporary self-service microfilm facility is available at Cregagh Library, and will continue to be available until PRONI reopens in new purpose-built accommodation (artist's impression pictured) in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast in Spring 2011.

Only 10 microfilm readers, a microfiche and a reader printer will be available at Cregagh Library, 409-413 Cregagh Road, Belfast, BT6 0LF.

A booking system will be in place for five of the microfilm readers with the remainder available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Users can reserve slots for one or two hours, up to a maximum of two hours per day.

To make an advance bookings for microfilm readers, telephone (44) (0) 2890 255900 or visit the Library. PRONI say that they will review the booking system subject to demand.

All the usual PRONI self-service microfilms, including church registers, will be available at Cregagh (a full list of the self-service collections can be viewed at www.proni.gov.uk.

The 1901 census, now freely accessible online at www.census.nationalarchives.ie, will not be available on microfilm at Cregagh.

Opening Hours for PRONI@Cregagh are as follows:
Monday 1pm – 5pm
Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 1pm – 8pm
Friday 10am – 5pm


It will also be possible to view some of the microfilms that don't fall in the self-service category. However, these microfilms will not be stored at Cregagh so they must be requested in advance. Tel (44) (0) 2890 255907.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Free immigration records - One weekend only!

Ancestry.com is providing free access to all its immigration records this weekend.

The offer stretches across the company's entire gambit of collections, including those that have only just been released, and there's even a free webinar.

This is a one-off Labor Day weekend offer that ends on 6 September, so be sure to take full advantage of it!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Galway family history seminar this weekend

The Western Family History Association will host a seminar on Irish Genealogy at the Claregalway Hotel, Claregalway village, Galway on Saturday 4 September.

Speakers include Nora Keohane Hickey, chair of the Clans of Ireland, Joan Sharkey from the Irish Family History Society, and Paddy Waldron of the Clare Roots Society and CIGO.

The seminar starts at 2pm (ends 5.40pm). Admission €5 including refreshments.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Bonnets honour thousands of women transported to Australia

A poignant memorial ceremony was held yesterday at Cobh quayside, scene of so many sad farewells over the last two centuries, for the 194 Irish convict women who were condemned to transportation in the prison ship Elizabeth which set sail here in 1828.

The event formed part of the Roses from the Heart bonnet project which was conceived by Christina Henri, an Australian artist and historian, to commemorate the 25,566 female convict prisoners shipped out from Ireland and Britain between 1788 and 1853. Their crimes were often no more than stealing to feed their children.

The bonnet was chosen as the symbol because many of the women were assigned to work as domestics in their new land.

Each bonnet has been created individually and donated to the project by women from Ireland, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Although created from a template, the maker had the freedom to select their own white or cream fabric and form of embellishment. If they had no genealogical connection to any of the women, they could 'adopt' a convict and create their own personal tribute. Each bonnet bears the name of the convict, and many also have the name of the ship on which she travelled.

Each bonnet commemorates the value of a female convict's life. Being made individually, rather than mass-produced, each one symbolises the individuality of the woman whose name it carries.

Roses from the Heart is making a short tour of Ireland. Details as follows:

    * Fri 3 Sept: Spirit of the Convict Women Concert, St Michael Theatre Centre for the Arts, New Ross, Wexford. 8pm. Tel: 051 421255. * Sat 4 Sept: Spirit of the Convict Women Concert, Railway Club, Rosslare Harbour, Wexford. 8pm. 053 917 8913. * Sun 5 Sept: Blessing of the Bonnets. Mary Immaculate, Inchicore, Dublin. No details available. * Sun 12 Sept: Blessing of the Bonnets, Kilbroney Parish Church, Rostrevor, co Down. 11am.


edited 6 Sept.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Genealogy events this week

Just a quick reminder that there are some terrific genealogy talks, one to ones and open door events over the next few days, thanks largely to National Heritage Week.

Most are geared either to the beginner or to those wanting some guidance on searching the 1901 and 1911 census online.

If you haven't been able to check out the official website or pick up a hard copy of the full programme, there's some brief details below to whet your appetite (be sure to ring in advance to check there are still spaces available, as some events require you to book):


Clare:
DeValera Public Library, Harmony Row, Ennis. Free. 24 August 11.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 065 689 9090.

Cork:
Cork County Library, Carrigrohane Road. Free. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 021 428645.
Central Library, Grand Parade, Cork. Free. 28 August 11.00-12.15hrs. Tel: 021 492 4900.
Douglas Library, Douglas Shopping Centre. Free. 24 August 11.00-12.30hrs. 021 492 4932.
Bishopstown Library, Wilton, Cork. Free. 23 August 11.00-12.30hrs. 021 492 4955.
Blackpool Library, Redforge Rd. Free. 25 August 11.00-12.15hrs. 021 492 4933.

Donegal:
Donegal Ancestry Centre, The Quay, Ramelton. Free. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 August 10.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 074 915 1266.

Dublin:
Coolock Public Library, Barryscourt Rd, Dublin 17. Free. 24 August 11.00-12.00. Free. Tel: 01 847 7781.
Cabra Public Library, Navan Rd, Dublin 7. Free. 25 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 01 869 1414.
Weir's of Dun Laoghaire, Lower George's St. Dun Laoghaire. 3 Euros. 25 August 10.30-12.30hrs. Tel: 01 284 2711.

Galway:
Woodford Heritage Centre, Woodford. Free. 24 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 090 974 9309.
St Joseph's Community Centre, Ashe Rd, Shantalla, Galway. Free. 25 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 091 860464.
Oughterard VEC, Camp St. Free. 26 August 20.00-21.00hrs. Tel: 091 860464.

Kerry:
Ardfert Cathedral, Tralee. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 August 10.00-17.15hrs. Free on 29th only. Tel: 066 713 4711.

Local Studies & Archives Library, Moyderwell, Tralee. Free. 24 & 26 August 11.30-12.30hrs. Tel: 066 712 1200.

Kildare:
Kildare (Town) Community Library, Claregate St. Free. 26 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 045 520235.
Naas Community Library, The Harbour. Free. 28 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 045 879111.

Kilkenny:
City Library, John's Quay, Kilkenny. Free. 25 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Loughboy Library, Shopping Centre, Waterford Road, Kilkenny. Free. 26 August 11.00-12.00hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Castlecomer Library, Kilkenny St. Free. 26 August. 18.30-19.30hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Graiguenamanagh Library, Convent Road. Free. 24 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Rothe House & Garden, Parliament St, Kilkenny. Free. 23, 24, 25 August 14.30-16.00hrs. Tel: 056 772 2893.
McDonagh Junction, Hebron Rd, Kilkenny. Free. 26 & 27 August 19.00-21.00hrs. Tel: 056 772 2893.

Laois:
Abbeleix Library, Market Square. Free. 26 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 057 873 0020.
Portlaois Branch Library, Lyster Square. Free. 25 August 18.00-19.00hrs. Tel: 057 862 2333.

Sligo:
County Sligo Heritage & Genealogy Centre, Aras Reddan, Temple St, Sligo. Free. 26 August 11.30-12.30 & 14.30-15.30hrs. Tel: 071 914 3728.

Waterford:
Central Library, Lady Lane, Waterford. Free. 26 August 15.30-17.00hrs. Tel: 051 849736.

Visit the Heritage Week website for more details.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Seminar: Irish commercial life sources

A seminar focussing on Irish commercial life sources will be held on Thursday 9 September at the National Library of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Speakers will present the following topics:

- Business sources and local history
- The Guinness Archive
- Shops and shopkeepers in an Irish provincial town 1850-1920
- Sources for Irish merchant banking families
- The shop in rural Ireland
- Jacob's Biscuits

The seminar is being presented by the Library Association of Ireland Genealogy and Local Studies Group in association with the National Library of Ireland.

Cost: €30 for LAI members, €40 for non-members, €20 for students & unwaged.

To book your seat, contact: +353 (0)1 462 0073 or localstudies@dublincoco.ie.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

From the Archives - 7 August 1880

One hundred and thirty years ago today, the main bridge over the Liffey was renamed O'Connell Bridge in honour of Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator.

The then Lord Mayor of Dublin, attended by twenty officials from the Dublin Corporation, performed the naming ceremony by smashing a bottle of champagne.

The Irish Times reported his formal speech in which he declared that the Corporation was 'naming the finest bridge in the city after the greatest of Irishmen.'

The event was not without controversy.

The bridge, built in the early 1790s by James Gandon (of Custom House fame), had originally been named Carlisle Bridge to honour the Earl of Carlisle, the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

It was a narrow bridge, with a distinct hump, and no longer suitable for late 19th-century Dublin's volume of traffic (see photo, taken c1870).

Three years of reconstruction had removed the hump and widened the bridge, preparing it to become the city's major north-south thoroughfare.

The trouble was that the works had been carried out by the Ports and Docks Board which wanted to retain the original name and didn't take kindly to the Corporation muscling in and renaming it.

The Corporation, however, had the right, confirmed by Act of Parliament, to give whatever names it chose to all public thoroughfares.

Even after the deed had been done, the controversy rumbled on. The Irish Times reported continuing arguments some four months later (31st December 1880) between the two organisations about the size of the lettering on the commemmorative plaque!

The row eventually died down, of course, and two years and one week after the official renaming ceremony, Daniel O'Connell's statue was unveiled to look over the bridge from what was then called Sackville Street.

It was another forty years before Sackville Street was renamed O'Connell Street.

FACT: O'Connell Bridge is 45m long over the Liffey, and 50m wide.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Today is Lunasa, one of the major Celtic festivals

1st August is Lá Lúnasa, the Celtic festival marking the imminent gathering of the harvest.

It is often confused with harvest thanksiving, but with the main crops still in the fields and the berries only just starting to hit ripe, there is not, as yet, anything to be thankful for! Celts tended to look forward... to anticipate events... and hope for good things, whereas the more modern practices emphasize looking back on what we have already achieved and should be grateful for.

You can find out more about the festival, and how the old traditions still play out in modern Ireland, on a new 'Celtic holidays' page that I've uploaded to my website today.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

RootsIreland adds Advanced search fields

RootsIreland.ie, the website of the Irish Family History Foundation, has launched a pilot advanced search for birth and marriages records in counties Cavan, Fermanagh, West Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, North Tipperary, Tyrone and Westmeath.

Advanced searches for Baptism/Birth records can be narrowed down using the mother's first name and/or surname, as well as the father's first name and/or surname.

Using the full combination allows the searcher to find all children from one family.

With Marriages records, an advanced search can narrow results using the spouse's first name and surname, and the father's first name.

The improved facility, although only available for eight counties, is a very welcome addition since it should reduce the number of 'incorrect' records researchers buy. It does, however, come with a potentially higher price tag as the researcher will not be allowed to buy an individual record if more than one record is returned when using the advanced search fields.

For example, if a birth search for Timothy Ryan, son of William Ryan and Mary Doyle, results in three matching records being identified, the researcher would have to buy (or not buy) the full set of three records.

A sliding scale of prices has been introduced; full sets of records should work out cheaper than buying individual records.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Census digitisation wins Excellence award

The National Archives of Ireland (NAI) has won the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) annual Award for Excellence in Genealogy.

The Award was given in recognition of the completion of the NAI’s mammoth project to create an online database of indexed scanned images from the 1901 & 1911 census returns for Ireland.

Presenting the Award, CIGO Chairman Steven Smyrl said: "While over the past 20 years CIGO has regularly used constructive criticism to encourage improvement in access to records held by public and private bodies, it is just as important to recognise achievement.

"The National Archives is to be commended for its commitment to creating the census database and for making it freely available to millions worldwide through the Internet.”

In publishing the 1901 & 1911 census online, NAI has made important records available free of charge to the many millions of people in Ireland and worldwide who seek to trace their Irish ancestors. The project's success is reflected in website usage; over the 30 months from December 2007 to May 2010 (when initially only the 1911 census returns were available on-line) the website received more than 7 million visits and more than 270 million hits.

In accepting the Award, NAI Director David Craig said: “We greatly appreciate receiving this award from the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations. We are very pleased that the success of this venture has been formally recognised by the body that brings together in one council such a wide range of organisations active in the field of Irish genealogy.”

Pictured R-L: David Craig, NAI director; Catriona Crowe, NAI Senior Archivist; Steven Smyrl, CIGO Chairman.

More about the Irish Census.
More about CIGO.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Genealogy events during National Heritage Week

National Heritage Week, a week long celebration of Ireland and Irish heritage, gets underway on 21 August and features about 1100 events across the 32 counties.

Many of the events are aimed at family historians, especially beginners.

The selection includes workshops, talks, exhibitions, guided tours and one-to-one consultations offered by professional genealogists, librarians, heritage officials and other specialists.

Among the venues are libraries, churchyards and heritage centres in Laois, Kildare, Kilkenny, Donegal, Naas, Waterford, Cork, Tralee and Galway. Additional events may be added to the programme right up to 14 August.

Discover what's on in your area of interest at the National Heritage Week website where you can search the programme by Event Type (ie Archives, Genealogy, Local History etc), by county and by date.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Extra time for World Cup bonus

With England through to the knockout stage of the World Cup, www.findmypast.co.uk will repeat their free access offer on Sunday 27 June.

Kick off on the football pitch is at 3pm, while free access to the website's records starts 30 minutes earlier.

The findmypast site includes birth, marriage and death records 1538-2006, census records including 1911, and the Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913 (see my post of 3 June).

Normally you would need a subscription or PayAsYouGo credits to view these records, some of which normally cost 30 credits each, so to be able to see them for free is a rare opportunity.

You'll need to register.

Should the England team proceed further in the competition, I'll post the times of free access accordingly.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Church records for Carlow, Cork, Dublin and Kerry now online, free

A second tranche of church register entries, fully transcribed and indexed, has today been added to IrishGenealogy.ie, a website launched by the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport late last year.

The records now available are as follows:
  • Carlow – Church of Ireland register entries
  • Cork – Roman Catholic register entries for the diocese of Cork & Ross only
  • Dublin City – Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic register entries
  • Kerry – Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic records.
Easy to use, the website comes with free access to both the transcriptions and the digital images of the original register pages. For anyone with Irish ancestors from the above counties, Irish genealogy research just got a whole lot easier. Want to know how to trace family history through Irish church records?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

World Cup bonus to Irish genealogy!

If some of your Irish ancestors emigrated to England or Wales, this amusing short-term offer could save you a packet! Be quick, though, as it will only last as long as the English football team remains in the World Cup competition.

Whenever England are playing a match, all records on www.findmypast.co.uk will be free. This free access starts 30 minutes before kick-off and continues for three hours. With the England team certain to play in at least three matches, this offer could allow you a minimum of nine hours of free genealogy research.

The findmypast site includes birth, marriage and death records 1538-2006, census records including 1911, and the Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913 (see my post of 3 June).

Normally you would need a subscription or PayAsYouGo credits to view these records, some of which normally cost 30 credits each, so to be able to see them for free is a rare opportunity.

You'll need to register.

In the initial phase of the World Cup competition, England matches are due to kick-off at the following times, so the free access will begin half an hour earlier:

19.30hrs Saturday 12 June
19.30hrs Friday 18 June
15.00hrs Wednesday 23 June

Should the England team proceed further in the competition, I'll post the times of free access accordingly.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

More 19th century military records released

The next batch of Chelsea Pensioners records has been released (see 9 May 2010 post), adding almost 100,000 new British Army Service Records to the existing collection on www.findmypast.co.uk.

This latest tranche of records covers 1855-1872 and includes 96,434 records and 437,825 images for the period.

Many Irish soldiers served in the British Army in this period, so you could find information on relatives that you can't find elsewhere.

Most other military collections contain only records of officers. This collection, however, relates to other ranks where most Irish served.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

1901 census of Ireland is online

A day earlier than was advertised, the 1901 census of Ireland is now available online and free on the website of the National Archives of Ireland.

This is a fantastic bonus for Irish genealogy researchers around the world, and may well help knock down some brickwalls.

The official launch is tomorrow (3rd June) at 6pm, and is being supported by reports on RTE, so if you can get online before then, you'll be among a select few. If not, be prepared for the site to be a bit slow over the next week or so. This release has been long-anticipated, so it is likely to be very busy initially.

Enjoy!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Carlow or West Cork ancestors?

If you've got ancestors from Carlow or West Cork, Wednesday 16th June could be the day you knock down a few brick walls.

Church records from these areas will be launched online at www.IrishGenealogy.ie on that date, joining the existing line up of Dublin and Kerry records.

Monday, 17 May 2010

1901 census of Ireland online on 3rd June

The National Archives will be releasing the 1901 census of Ireland online and free on Thursday 3rd June.

Now isn't that the best news you've heard all year?!

You'll be able to search the census index, and view images of the census returns, at www.census.nationalarchives.ie.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Online Civil Registration Index - fault continues

Unfortunately, the fault which has been affecting the online index to Ireland's civil registration records for the last two weeks (see news report of 28 April) has not yet been corrected. In fact, the results returned by the site's search facility seem to be getting more bizarre. Clearly the 'location' filters are completely scrambled. The birth of one of my cousins, for example, is currently showing up as registered in South Australia when the happy event actually took place in Dublin!

The good news is that engineers are working on the problem. The bad news is that it may take the entire month to reload the Irish collection so that it functions properly.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Dublin Family History Event - 8 May 2010

This Saturday, 8th May, there's an Irish genealogy event being held in Dublin.

Some of the reasearch team for Who Do You Think You Are will be providing answers in two 2-hour sessions, the first at 11am, the second at 2pm, at the Neptune Rowing Club, Conyngham Road, Island Bridge, Dublin 8.

The event is part of a fundraising drive for St Laurence's National School in Chapelizod and tickets cost €12 per person, or €20 for two people.

For more details, see Eneclann.ie.

Irish ancestors in the British Army?

If your Irish ancestors fought for the British Army between 1760 and 1913, you'll be interested to check out the Chelsea Pension records just released by Find My Past.

The Chelsea Pension records hold details of more than 1.4million servicemen. Of these, 17.6% (nearly a quarter of a million) were Irish. Don't be misled by the term 'pension'. It doesn't necessarily follow that the soldiers were elderly. They became eligible for a pension after just 12 years service or even earlier if they were wounded.

And although the pensions were administered by the Royal Hospital of Chelsea, the great majority of pensioned soldiers were not hospital residents.


These records provide rich detail and colour to your ancestors’ lives at a level that is rarely found elsewhere. There are usually four or eight pages of details per soldier. In addition to regimental details, you might find physical descriptions such as chest size or distinguishing marks such as tattoos. You’ll also see the individual’s signature.

Discharge records may also give details of wives and children, medical history and disciplinary record.

Whereas most military records provide information about officer class soldiers, these records include papers from the ordinary rank and file. Since few Irish soldiers were officers, this collection is particularly pertinent to Irish genealogy research.

The first batches to go online are those covering 1873-1900. These contain the records of 410,000 soldiers.

The rest of the collection will be released as follows:

Records for 1901-1913 (303,000 records), by June 2010
Records for 1855-1872 (65,000 records), by July 2010
Records for 1760-1854 (184,000 records), by April 2011
Records for 1806-1915 (500,000 records), by Nov 2011

When this collection is fully uploaded, Find My Past plan to start scanning the records of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (the Dublin equivalent of the Chelsea Hospital). These date from 1744 to 1863.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Latest on the 1901 Irish census online

Catriona Crowe, the National Archives of Ireland's senior archivist responsible for the digitisation of the Irish Census, told me today that the 1901 census is now ready to upload and publish online, slightly ahead of schedule.

However, approval for launch has to be confirmed by the Minister responsible, and this has yet to be received. The earliest possible launch date is 28 May. The latest 30 June.

It's on it's way!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Irish Civil Registration Indexes - Online fault

The online Irish civil registration index is not working correctly. The free search facility, which is a 'pilot' collection of the Family Search website (run by the Church of Latter Day Saints / Mormons), has been returning some strange and confusing records for a few days.

It appears there is a fault caused during a recent upgrade of the site. Marriage records appear to be the worst affected, and the 'place' filter (for registration districts) is either not working or appears to have no command of geography!

Since it was launched just under 18 months ago, this online facility has become a favourite tool for Irish genealogy researchers, especially for those who cannot get to the physical index books at the GRO Research Room in Dublin. While it is 'out of action', you might like to see if any of the alternative sources of birth, marriage and death records could be of help to you. You can find details on Irish Genealogy Toolkit's Civil Registration pages.

Irish Genealogy News will keep you up to date with any developments and will confirm when the online problem has been rectified.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Irish Genealogy Toolkit Update

If you're curious to know more about Irish surnames, you'll find the three pages I've just added to my website fascinating.

You can find out how the Mac/Mc and O' prefixes evolved, learn how many of the best-known Irish last names in fact originate in France and how very few evolved from placenames. Some of the most quoted myths about the surnames of Ireland are also debunked.

Getting more specific, you can also find out about the 20 most common surnames (in 1890) as well as 10 randomly-chosen but well-known family names.

Find out more about Irish names

Monday, 15 March 2010

Ancestry adds Famine Relief Papers 1844-1847

Ancestry.com has released the Famine Relief Commission Papers 1844-1847. This collection is not going to be a mainstream Irish genealogy resource but it will be of interest to anyone studying the Great Hunger and it could be useful to those whose ancestors held some form of official or local establishment position.

It contains letters and other documents from members of local relief committees, lieutenants of counties, the clergy, and other citizens and touches on a broad spectrum of issues. Among these are reports of local food prices and relief efforts, requests for funds, lists of subscribers who had (or had failed) to donate to relief funds, queries about work projects or seed corn, names of committee members.

More than 10,000 names appear in the collection and there is a free index, so it's worth checking out even if your ancestors are unlikely to have held an official post.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

1901 census of Ireland – three months to go

The digitisation of the 1901 census of Ireland is on course for a mid-June release, according to Catriona Crowe, senior archivist of the National Archives.

At a seminar at the National Library of Ireland today, she announced that the project would meet the deadline set late last year (30 June) but due to lack of staff resources, the records will be released without checks. This is disappointing because the handwriting and condition of the original 1901 census returns don't make for easy interpretation at the best of times. Still, for the majority of searches, it will probably be fine so I, for one, won't be complaining. I'd rather see an imperfect release of these records than no release.

Also talking at the seminar was John Grenham whose book, Tracing your Irish Ancestors, is considered the 'bible' of Irish genealogy. He has been involved in the recent launch of the www.irishgenealogy.ie site which currently contains church records for Dublin and Kerry. He announced that the site would have County Carlow records added within the month, and those for South West Cork shortly after.

And yes, all these records – both the 1901 Irish census and the church records – will be available online with completely free access.