Monday, 24 September 2012

Ireland's RC registers to be digitised

The National Library of Ireland holds all extant
Roman Catholic registers to 1880 on microfilm
The National Library is to digitise its parish registers collection and other items of genealogical interest, according to a report in yesterday's Irish Times newspaper.

The ultimate highlight of such a move would be public online access to the island's Roman Catholic baptism and marriage registers, most of which date from the late 18th century or early 1800s to 1880.

It's probably best not to hold out too much hope for a free access model such as at, but you never know.

Even if researchers do end up having to pay for online access, it's reasonable to assume they'll be working with a modern, digitised system, properly indexed and with images. Professional and amateur genealogists alike will consider it a huge step forward.

Directories, electoral registers, journals and newspapers are also expected to be up for digitisation in the tender, which should be available for scrutiny later this week. The Library seems prepared to award collections individually or in smaller chunks to the right partners.

The Irish Times feature says the Library is looking for likely partners from both the commercial and the not-for-profit sector, whether Ireland-based or not. Fiona Ross, NLI's director, is quoted as saying that the core issue for the Library is that the further partner should have the necessary resources, funding and people to make it happen.

You can read the Irish Times article here.

And there's been a follow-up comment piece this morning. Aside of the main thrust of his article, with which I agree, the journalist says that Brightsolid are the opening favourite to secure the project. That may well be so, but Ancestry should not be overlooked; they are sniffing around with a view to expanding their Irish offer, now that they have a base in Dublin.