This time tomorrow, the doors to Christ Church on Limerick's O'Connell Street, will have opened on Genealogy Day, an absolute must-visit event for anyone who's curious about their family heritage and local history.
One of the highlights of G-Day is its collection of original church registers from Methodist, Presbyterian and Quaker parishes in and around the City. The registers for St Michael's Roman Catholic parish, which date back to 1777, will also be available, but only around the lunchtime period. This in a rare opportunity to view original baptism and marriage records (there will also be rollbooks for St Michael's National School on Pery Square), and it's being presented to the public under the guidance of Limerick Council Archivist Jacqui Hayes who has set up the systems and protocols for handling and accessibility.
Those with local connections will also want to chat to Limerick Genealogy, Clare Roots Society, Shanid Historical Society, Thomond Archaeological and Historical Society, the Limerick Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society, the Limerick International Brigades Memorial Trust and the region's two major repositories: Limerick Museum & Archives and the Local Studies department of Limerick City Library. Margaret Franklin will also be on hand to help local researchers and to talk about her recently updated edition of Tracing your Limerick Ancestors; published by Flyleaf Press, this is an essential reference tool for any researcher with family links to the county.
While there is certainly an emphasis on the local and family history of County Limerick and neighbouring County Clare, those whose ancestors came from other parts of the island will be well catered for. Teams from the Irish Ancestry Research Centre, Eneclann, and the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) will be on hand to answer queries and offer guidance to family historians, whether they are just starting their research or are further along, and you can also find out about Ancestral Connections, a one-week genealogy school to be held at University College Cork this summer.
This year's Genealogy Day will also have a special emphasis on the 100th-year anniversary of the start of the First World War, so the Royal Munster Fusiliers Association will be in attendance. The Association has its own private database of Irishmen who fought in WW1 and will be able to offer tips about searching for British military records.
Also marking Ireland's Decade of Centenaries will be a team from Trinity College Dublin's 'Letters of 1916' project, which will be set up with a projector in a dedicated room just inside the Chambers Buildings. This ground-breaking project aims to create a crowd-sourced digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916). The project will include letters held at institutions (in Ireland and abroad), alongside those in private collections and will feature letters by private individuals, soldiers, and officials, with comment about the world around them: the Easter Rising, literature and art, the Great War, politics, business, or ordinary life.
If you have family letters that might even possibly fit the bill, please bring tham along to Genealogy Day. If you don't have any such letters, never mind. You can still get involved in the project by helping to transcribe those that have been submitted by others. Be sure to find out more about Letters of 1916 on Saturday. It's a fascinating project.
A short talk by Brian Donovan of FindMyPast.ie about online genealogical records and an informal Questions & Answers session will round up the day at about 4pm.
It's St Patrick's weekend in Ireland's City of Culture, so of course, there's a load of other events being held, but G-Day really is a very special occasion – it won't cost you a cent/penny, either – and you'll kick yourself if you miss it!