Thursday 31 March 2011

More Ship Passenger lists

Some 227,000 names of Ship Passengers have been added to the Irish Family History Foundation's website

These records, via the Centre for Migration Studies in Omagh, Co Tyrone, are of passengers, mostly of Irish origin, on ships travelling from Irish and British ports to ports in North America (United States and Canada) from 1791 to 1897.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

PRONI reopens

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has reopened to the public this morning in its spanking new purpose-built home in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

Anyone who has visited the old premises in Balmoral Avenue will be especially appreciative of the scale of the 'upgrade' to the facilities of the £30m reincarnation. The Public Search Room has doubled in size, with 52 computer desks (one of which is height adjustable for disabled users), eight large format desks and 22 microfilm readers, two of which are microfilm printers.

The Reading Room is also considerably more spacious than Balmoral Avenue with 78 seats, most of which have access to power for laptops. Two are height adjustable for disabled users, and eight are large format 'map' tables.

PRONI has also introduced a self service camera facility for digital copying.

The new records office is home to some 40km of records and is located just one mile from the city centre in the burgeoning Titanic Quarter. In addition to the huge Odyssey entertainment complex, local amenities include the Titanic Signature Project (opening April 2012), the restoration of the Titanic and Olympic slipways, the restoration of the Nomadic - the tug boat which took travellers to the Titanic, Belfast Metropolitan College (opening September 2011), a film studio, a hotel and the Northern Ireland Science Park. It is accessible via bus, rail, road and approximately five minutes away from George Best Belfast City Airport.

For further details see

Saturday 26 March 2011

Irish ancestors in England, Scotland or Wales?

To coincide with UK Census Day*, is offering 24 hours of free access to its 1841-1901 UK census record indexes for one day only: tomorrow, 27 March (see Stop Press below).

The offer allows access to all Ancestry's British indexes but if you want to see the original historical images, you have to take up a 14-day free trial.

Bear in mind that the 14-day trial requires you to sign up for a subscription and provide credit/debit card details; if you don't cancel the trial by phone or email within 14 days, your card will be charged the full price of the subscription. (Cancelling is not difficult, but remembering to do it can be!)

Millions of Irish-born appear in these censuses. Even before the famine, there had long been a tradition of seasonal migration, especially from the West and South West of Ireland, and short-term casual work in dockyards, mines and construction. But it wasn't until the 19th century that a permanent move to Britain's urban centres became more common.

Some stats of the Irish-born population of England, Scotland and Wales (these figures don't include the children of Irish migrants born in Britain):
  • 1841: 415,725
  • 1851: 727,326
  • 1861: 805,717
  • 1871: 774,310
  • 1881: 781,119
  • 1891: 653,122
  • 1901: 631,629

Most settled in urban centres near their ports of entry. In 1851, the four towns with the largest Irish-born population were London (108,548), Liverpool (83,813), Glasgow (59801), and Manchester (52,504).

These settlement patterns remained fairly constant until after the First World War.

Throughout the 19th century, Ireland was a part of Britain so there are no passenger lists or other records of travel across the Irish Sea (no more than there are today for passengers travelling by train or coach from Scotland to London or Cardiff).

Therefore, these censuses may be the only documentary proof you'll find of an ancestor having made the journey. Even if your genealogy research takes you into the New World, you should check these records because many Irish emigrants spent time in England, Scotland and Wales working and saving for their fare to North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Enjoy the census records!

*2011 Census Day is 27 March in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, but on 10 April in the Republic of Ireland.

27 March 1.30pm. Stop Press: Due to technical problems, some researchers haven't been able to access the records. This has now been resolved and Ancestry is extending the free access to midnight on Monday by way of apology to all.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Update on Cork, Dublin and Monaghan records has issued the following update on its project to index and computerise parish records:

'The current position in relation to the addition of new records is:

Cork - Work has just been completed on the remaining records from Cork & Ross Roman Catholic records except for further records from Cork City which have been completed by Cork County Library.

Dublin - Work is ongoing to complete the remaining Dublin City Roman Catholic records. A completion date of May 2011 is now likely for these.

Monaghan - Work is ongoing for a set of Roman Catholic records for the county. These are due for completion in the next few weeks.

Overall - No firm date has been set for the addition of further records yet, but we will provide a further update on the website soon. Apologies for the delay in the addition of this extra data to the website.'

Good news for some. Bad news for others.

Many thanks to Eva Bowden-Wade for the tip-off!

Mocavo's first Irish records to appear this week

Ireland Genealogy Projects ( will be the first Irish site to be indexed by Mocavo, the week-old genealogy search engine that's exciting researchers around the world.

"We have an absolute interest in Irish records," Mocavo's CEO and founder Cliff Shaw told Irish Genealogy News, adding that and would be next in the queue. "We're hoping the community can help us find more sites."

Researchers can do this easily by following the 'Suggest a Site' link at the foot of every page of Mocavo. The sooner sites are put forward, the sooner they can be crawled and their records made available to a wider audience. There's a fast turnaround; IGP-web's resources will be indexed and returning results in Mocavo by the end of this week – just five days after arriving in the Suggestion Inbox.

Mocavo operates in the same way as Google, Yahoo, Bing and other familiar search engines. You enter your query and a list of web pages appears. A search for '"James O'Grady" Down', for example, returns 96 pages. The first 10 include cemetery records for St Patrick's, King County, Wisconsin; the full texts of several books usually found only in archives; a random notice of payment of a nephew's passenger fare from a user-generated site on Family Tree Maker; and details of a marriage in a personal family history website.

Records from FamilySearch, the mammoth database run by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, are not included. However, Shaw says this may change. "We're talking to them and would love to include their content."

At present, the new kid on the block is very USA-centric, but that emphasis should shift as the site develops and fulfils its boast of being the World's largest free genealogy search engine. Given Cliff Shaw's track-record, this may well be achieved rather quickly. Among his previous successes are GenForum, which he created 14 years ago and is now owned by; GenCircles, a mayor publishing site; and Family Tree Legends, the popular genealogy software package. The latter two businesses are now owned by

Clearly Shaw knows a thing or two about innovation in the genealogy sector! And while he won't announce any site statistics just yet, he is excited by the positive early reaction to Mocavo.

"This is the strongest launch I've ever been part of, and has the fastest growth of anything I've ever done."

Saturday 19 March 2011

Roots Ireland extends advanced search facility

Good news from the Irish Family History Foundation, the organisation behind the popular RootsIreland website.

The Advanced Search facility, previously being trialled in just eight areas of Ireland, has been extended (see Coverage below). The facility adds a number of fields to the search criteria for Birth/Baptism and Marriage records. It also has a knock-on effect on how much you have to pay.

For Marriage records: In addition to Standard Search fields you can now search using any or all of the following:
  • Spouse's First Name
  • Spouse's Surname
  • Father's First Name
  • Father's Surname
  • Mother's First Name
  • Mother's Surname
Be aware that the parents' first names and the mother's maiden name may not have been recorded in the original record.

For Birth/Baptism records: In addition to all the search fields in the Standard Search you can now search by Mother's first name or surname, or both. Combining these details with the Father's first name and/or surname should enable you to discover records for all siblings from the same family.

Coverage: All Family History Centres under the IFHF umbrella are now available with Advanced Search except Limerick and Sligo. Roots Ireland covers all counties of Ireland with the exception of Carlow, Clare, South/West Cork, Kerry, Monaghan, Waterford and Wexford, and Dublin City.

Payment: When using the Advanced Search option you cannot purchase individual records unless only one match is located. However, you can purchase the entire result set at a reduced cost. It is, therefore, essential to enter as much detail as possible into the search fields in order to restrict the resulting number of matches. You can then decide to purchase all these records at a reduced cost.

Before you undertake an advanced search be sure to check out the SOURCES page for the county you wish to search.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Irish Genealogy Toolkit to partner IGP Archives

I'm delighted to announce that my website, Irish Genealogy Toolkit (IGT), has become the Research Help partner site to IGP Archives, the online archives arm of the long established and well respected Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP).

IGP was set up in February 2007 with a mission to protect and preserve Irish records.

The site serves as a platform through which Irish family historians can share data they have collected in the course of their own research. By releasing that information, online and free, other researchers can discover more about their ancestors from Ireland.

The site is organised in a professional manner with the main page being a gateway to records for each of the 32 counties. Each county is administered by a volunteer coordinator.

Family historians searching IGP Archives will now be invited to click through to Irish Genealogy Toolkit for advice and further information about conducting research.

Obviously I'm chuffed by this development. IGP is an outstanding resource that helped me enormously when I was carrying out my own genealogy research, and I know there are thousands more who would say the same thing. To partner such a highly regarded project is a great privilege and also very exciting for my young website.

So while IGT provides the free 'how-to', IGP Archives will provide free access to its ever growing archive of records. The sites complement one another perfectly.

Regular updates of new resources on IGP Archives will be published here on Irish Genealogy News.

It's Saint Patrick's Day!

And here's a selection of goodies to play with on this special day.

Listen to a podcast telling the story of St Paddy's life and Ireland's conversion to Christianity: see

Grab a bargain book or cd with Eneclann's 25% off deal until Sunday (20th): see Eneclann's shop.

Help yourself to a discounted subscription from Irish Origins at 20% discount available for 10 days (ends 27th March). Be sure to enter the code: STPATS2011 in the Promotional Code box on the Sign Up page or in your Cart before checkout.

Take a sneaky preview of, a brand new site dedicated to Documenting Ireland: Parliament, People and Migration. It's official launch is 25th March, so you've got a week before everyone finds out about it. Loads of fascinating data and imagery about 18th to 20th century emigration from Northern Ireland.

Have a great day!

Monday 14 March 2011

Ancestry updates Irish genealogy collection has added to its collection of 19th-century Irish records and images.

Two new resources are the Lawrence collection of photos 1870-1910 and Ordnance Survey maps 1824-1846.

The former, which can be searched by subject, location and county, is a collection of 21,000 wonderful images of Ireland taken by Robert French, who worked for the Dublin-based William Lawrence studio. He photographed scenes from every county of Ireland and many later reappeared on postcards.

The detailed Ordnance Survey maps were produced by a team of surveyors at a scale of six inches to one mile, making them useful to the Government (who commissioned them) for land valuation and tax purposes. The collection covers almost the entire island.

Ancestry say their Griffith's Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books Collections have also been updated, but don't give any indication as to what improvements have been made.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum receives Entertainment Award

Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery is the unlikely recipient of a global Themed Entertainment & Amusement Award.

The THEA award was announced at a glittering ceremony in Los Angeles yesterday and makes Glasnevin the first cemetery to be rewarded for excellence in creating a compelling educational, historical and entertainment project. Previous recipients of the award include Madame Tussauds, London, and the Abraham Lincoln Museum, Illinois.

Glasnevin is best known as Ireland's 'national' necropolis. It was founded in 1832 by the Liberator himself, Daniel O'Connell, as the island's first non-denominational cemetery and, with its 1.2million inhabitants, now covers 124 acres. As the last resting place of Ireland's great and good, it has long been a popular place for locals and visitors to stroll and reflect.

Less than a year after opening its doors, Glasnevin Museum has earned a firm place on the tourism and genealogy trail. It is also home to the Glasnevin Archives which contain the indexed registers of every burial or cremation to have taken place there. These are now available online at the Glasnevin Trust website.

Commenting on the award Glasnevin Trust chairman, John Green, said “The Thea Award validates our belief that the Museum is a world class visitor attraction. The recognition this award brings will help us to maintain the Cemetery to the highest standards, in perpetuity. The award will also support us in our in our primary aim to preserve and honour the heritage of past generations, serve and respect the needs of the present generation, and provide a legacy for future generations"

Recent additions to IGP Archives

Below is a list of resources recently added to the Archives section of the Irish Genealogy Projects (IGP) website, a must-visit site for family historians.

General Ireland Genealogy Archives - Emigration
"Atlantic" bound for Boston 19 June 1804
"Eagle" bound for New York 4 August 1804

Antrim Genealogy Archives - BMDs
Death Certificate of Catherine RAMMAGE (nee Harris), 16 Aug 1886
Death Certificate of Ross RAMMAGE, 4 Sep 1905

Clare Genealogy Archives - Military & constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Clare Jun 1853-Nov 1853

Derry Genealogy Archives - BMDs
Harris, Catherine August 16, 1886
Ramage , William Ross September 4, 1905

Down Genealogy Archives - Headstones & Photos
Hillsborough, St Malachy (CoI), Graveyard, Hillsborough, Co. Down
Magheralin (CoI) Church
Magheralin (CoI) Church Ruins

Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mount Jerome, Dublin - Part 19
Deansgrange Cemetery, West Part 3
Glencullen Cemetery, Old (around St. Patrick's ruins)

Longford Genealogy Archives - Newspapers
Back From The Dead December 5, 1914
The Late Sgt Maceoin August 5, 1944
Workhouse Demolished April 3, 1909

Monaghan Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drum Presbyterian Church (partial)
Drumkeen Presbyterian Church

Roscommon Genealogy Archives - Church records
Devine, John (Brideswell) & Banan, Catherine; Aug. 3, 1839

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Church records
Clonmel & Fethard Deaths 1760'S-1800

Waterford Genealogy Archives - Newspapers
Freemans Journal, Oct. 29th 1778 - List of signers

Westmeath Genealogy Archives - Church records
Devine, Mary; May 21, 1840
Devine, John & Banan, Catherine; August 3, 1839

Saturday 12 March 2011

PRONI updates Name Search facility

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has updated its online Name Search facility at

Adding nearly 53,000 entries to its online resource are eight pre-1858 will indexes for the dioceses of Armagh, Clogher, Connor, Down and Kilmore (the oldest from 1608), and more pre-1920 coroners' inquest reports (the earliest dating to 1872). 

The Name Search facility also holds surviving fragments of the 1740 and 1766 religious census returns and 1775 dissenters' petitions.

Is there a doctor in your house?

Two new collections of archive material have been added to the online catalogue of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) at

The first covers items relating to the activities and functions of the College since it was granted its Royal Charter in 1667 and includes minute books, correspondence and College Registers.

The second is a large collection of visual material relating to the College's history and the story of medicine in Ireland, and contains numerous portraits of Irish doctors.

Researchers with ancestral doctors, and anyone with an interest in the history of medicine, will find these collections of interest and should study the updated catalogue for further details.

The RCPI is now one year into a 21-month cataloguing project of its archive. Among the dozen or so collections still waiting to be catalogued are those of the Cow Pox Institute, Westmoreland Lock Hospital (which specialised in Venereal Diseases), both in Dublin, and Newcastle Sanitorium, Wicklow.

All the materials are available for consultation by prior appointment with the RCPI Archivist, at 6, Kildare Street, Dublin. Tel: +353 (0)1 669 8817.

Monday 7 March 2011

1926 census release gets amber light

A Programme for Government agreed between the new coalition partners (Fine Gael and the Labour Party) includes a commitment to release the Irish 1926 census.

Given the destruction of Ireland's 19th-century census returns in 1922, access to the 1926 census returns has been an objective long pursued by the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO).

Although lobbied by both CIGO and the Genealogical Society of Ireland, the outgoing Fianna Fáil-led government never really grasped the compelling arguments in favour of allowing access to these census records. By contrast CIGO found Fine Gael's spokesman on Tourism, Culture and Sport, Jimmy Deenihan TD, very receptive to the arguments, which he explained reinforced the party's own policy development in relation to the stimulation of roots tourism.

And he went on to say that this fitted well with their plan to develop in Dublin "a national archives and genealogy quarter, providing easy access to archives and tapping into an area of cultural tourism which is of huge interest to the vast Irish Diaspora".

Of course researchers shouldn't hold their breath on this issue as it will take time to prepare the necessary legislation to amend the Statistics Act 1993 and, in line with Fine Gael policy, to formulate wording to allow for the redaction of so-called “sensitive” data (basically, information relating to persons who, by virtue of their age in 1926, might still be living).

Despite these issues, today's announcement is excellent news for everyone interested in genealogy research.

Friday 4 March 2011

Finding archive resources just got easier

The launch of Irish Archives Resource means there is now the prospect of one single source of information about archive collections across Ireland.

The new website,, officially launched yesterday evening at a reception in Dublin's Merrion Square, is a portal through which researchers can locate publicly accessible collections. This doesn't mean that entire collections have all been digitised and uploaded for your pleasure. (Dream on!)

It means that the researcher can more easily find collections of interest, establish where they are held, who to contact for more information, and the how, when and where of visitor access arrangements.

Importantly, archivists are required to upload details of their collections in a new and standardised descriptive 'keyword' process suited to the Internet. This differs from the traditional method of cataloguing which are generally written in pre-technology 'archivist-speak' which most family historians find heavy going.

Within the description of each collection are details about its size and condition or legibility, an indepth explanation of its scope, and advice on photocopying etc.

At this launch stage, 18 repositories are taking part, most of them city or county archives. Joining them are collections from Guinness, Irish Film Archives, PRONI, two university archives, and records from the Royal College of Physicians.

As more archives recognise the value of this portal as a way of raising awareness of their collections, the site will continue to grow. Take a good look at it, and don't forget to bookmark it for when you're next wondering where you can hone in on some feature of your ancestors' lives.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Belfast City burial records go online

Burial records from three Belfast cemeteries - Belfast City, Roselawn and Dundonald - have been released online.

They can be accessed at

This is the first stage of plans by Belfast City council to make more than 360,000 records accessible to more people. Chairman of the Parks and Leisure Committee, Councillor Peter O Reilly, said: “This information will be of great value to professional and amateur historians as well those tracing their family history.

“It has been hard work but it is not yet complete. We need the public to use the site and report back on any information which might still need to be added to the online search facility.”

At present the accessible information includes the name, age, sex, date of death, date of burial, cemetery, grave section and number, and last place of residence.

The council holds only limited records on the city's other cemeteries - Clifton Street,Friar`s Bush, Knock and Shankill - and these cannot be accessed on the website.

However, information on these burial grounds is available via the city's Cemeteries and Crematorium Office on 028 9027 0296 or by email:

Burial records from Milltown Cemetery are also not included because this cemetery is not within Belfast City's care.