Tuesday 13 December 2011

It's Christmas shopping time

I've finally given in and accepted that Christmas is coming. Can't say I'm yet in full festive mood — that will come when I get the decorations up this weekend — but with December ticking away, it is time to start considering some genealogy-focussed gifts.

There are definitely some goodies out there. Here's my selection:

Subscription to FindMyPast.ie: Why not treat your much loved family historian to a subscription to Ireland's very own specialist database provider? Come to that, why not treat yourself?! The website carries hundreds of thousands of records that you won't find on any other online service.

There's a wide spread of options to suit your bank balance. An annual subscription comes in at €59.95 while the 6-month alternative costs €37.95. There are also two Pay-as-you-go options: 300 credits for €24.95 or 100 credits for €9.95.

Eneclann has some great stocking filler cd-roms and books for under €15. Those that caught my eye were The Agricultural Labourer, which comes in four parts (1894), each costing €9.86, William Carleton's Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, 1853, at the same price, and Deserted Children (Dublin) (1854) for €4.48.

The company also has some superb selections of specialist publications arranged by county of interest. Take a look: www.eneclann.ie

Or what about a gift subscription to History Ireland? I may have mentioned how much I love this magazine once or twice before. I ought to be on commission (I'm not, by the way.) It's a great read, with authoritative but readable features, news, reviews and lots more. I relish its arrival every two months. A one-year sub to an address in Ireland or Northern Ireland is €33.50, a bit more for overseas. www.historyireland.com.

Pure Cork: This wonderful book of 350 images will be enthusiastically received by anyone with Cork heritage. The author, Michael Lenihan, has been collecting old photos and postcards for several decades and he's brought the best together in this collection of streetscapes, people, shawlies, ships, trams, horse-drawn carts, churches and even advertising boards and theatre tickets.

Launched last month, Pure Cork is available from good bookshops but there's probably still time (just!) to get a signed copy by contacting the author at mlenihan13 at yahoo dot com. €25 Hardback. ISBN 978 1 85635 882 8. Published by Mercier Press.

Dublin 1911: For those outside the Republic of Cork, perhaps Catriona Crowe's Dublin 1911 is a more suitable book choice. Actually, it would sit very comfortably on any coffee table or bookcase anywhere — in Ireland, or overseas — not just because it's about the capital city, but because it reflects the society of all Ireland at that time.

At €40, it's hardly a stocking filler, but it's a quality publication, through and through. Launched by Jimmy Deenihan, TD., Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, no less, the Irish Times described it as a 'triumph of book production'. Published by the Royal Irish Academy, this is a book that will earn its keep over and over.

Ancestry's Family Tree Maker 2012: I've been using Family Tree Maker for more years than I care to remember. My year-dot version does what it says on the tin and plenty more, and I didn't particularly feel that I needed an upgrade. Until I visited my genealogy pal, Marla, that is.

With a significant birthday just last month, her caring husband bought her the 2012 Platinum version, and she wanted to show it off to me (or make me green with envy... she's a bit like that sometimes).

 300x250 FTM
It's fantastic. Plain and simple. And it does things you just never knew you wanted to do! Like the improved editing options, which they call Smart Stories. And the new Tree Sync feature, which automatically updates your tree on Ancestry when you update the one on your desktop. (I don't have a tree on ancestry, but Marla does and this facility is going to save her hours.) It's also got lots of new good-looking charts, new ways of presenting trees and, at last, this software recognises the 'modern' family, complete with step-children, adoptions etc.

The Platinum version comes with a 6-month Premium membership (UK and Ireland collections) of Ancestry while the World version comes with a 6-month World membership.

And finally, two little gems to bring a smile to the face of your best loved genealogist. The Family and Local History Quiz Book and Dead End Hobby have been compiled by Mick Southwick of Bi-Gen Blog fame.

The Quiz book includes around 700 facts organised into 39 individual quizzes. The questions mainly relate to family and social history in the UK but there are also some specialised options that relate to Irish genealogy, Latin, Heraldry, Occupations etc. Quite apart from testing one's own brilliance and mastery of the hobby, I can see this being extremely useful to family history societies for fundraising events. At just £4.90 (UK), £5.90 (ROI), inc p&p, even the most parsimonious santa will be happy to pop this into a stocking.

Same goes for Dead End Hobby, a 72-pager that describes itself as a collection of oddments from the world of family history. Mick has gathered together quotes, illustrations, newspaper stories, obituaries, last wishes, strange deaths, parish register annotatations and all manner of curious, amusing and poignant tales from the UK and Ireland. It's quirky. It's charming. And it's only £5/£6.

You can order the books here.

Happy shopping.