Thursday 26 April 2012

Nuggets among the guns and bayonets at DIPPAM

Reader William Prendergast has contacted me from Oregan, USA, to pass on a resource that helped him to knock down a long-term brickwall in his Irish genealogy research.

It's the EPPI collection – Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland. It's held on the DIPPAM website, which is a fascinating but not sufficiently well-known resource. And it released the nugget that William had been searching for.

In his email, William explained that he'd discovered a message to his great grandfather in the Boston Pilot, the newspaper where friends and family of Irish emigrants posted requests for information if they lost touch. His grandfather had emigrated from Clare in 1851, and William thought he'd hit gold when he found the name of his ancestor's townland and parish in a book collating many of these messages.

But it wasn't to be so straightforward and for five years William was looking – in vain – for a trace of his family in that East Clare parish.

His breakthrough came when he discovered the online EPPI archive. Here he found his great grandfather's father and grandfather, in a townland of the same name but in a West Clare parish.

'It was an enormous break for me,' says William. 'Armed with the correct location, I immediately went to work and, of course, found my ancestors in the 1821 Freeholders' List (as tenants), the 1838 Tithe Applotment and the 1855 Griffiths Valuation, all on the same land.

'I have also made contact, through the wonderful new 'Reaching Out Ireland' project, with several folks who are helping me track down more information about this particular land and the family that lived on it well into the 20th century.

'But I've never seen this EPPI database appear in any list of resources, so I wanted to share it in the hope that it benefits other Irish genealogy researchers.'

The specific document that opened up his research was the Return of Persons Licensed to Keep Firearms by Their Local Magistrates, 1832. I have to say I've never heard of this, either. It's not an insignificant find. It covers all 32 counties and is 102 pages long. With an average of 60 names per page, that a document of 6,000 names! And all from 1832.

It's typed, so there's no great distress to your eyes, but the attempt to alphabetise by surname within each county is not always successful, so take care when scanning for your family names. Here's an example, to prove the point.

Many thanks to William for sharing this interesting resource.