Friday 29 June 2012

Carson's Army now in paperback

PRONI will be hosting the launch of the 256-page paperback version of Carson's Army: The Ulster Volunteer Force, 1910-22 by Dr Tim Bowman at 6:30pm on Thursday 5 July 2012.

This is the first book launch to take place at the new building in Titanic Quarter and it reflects the popularity of the hardback version which was published in 2008.

'Carson's Army: The Ulster Volunteer Force 1910-22' is a groundbreaking book which uses PRONI sources to explore an area of history academically overlooked and evidence which has been previously neglected.

Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ.

Second Clare Genealogy Conference announced

Following the success of the first Clare Genealogy Conference last October, a second event has been organised. It's not until April 2013, but it's worth getting flights/accommodation etc sorted early because this is an event not to be missed by those with Clare Roots. In fact, it's not just for those whose ancestors hailed from Co Clare. GATHERING THE SCATTERING has much wider appeal and reaches out to anyone of Irish heritage, wherever they live.

The conference will be held in Ennis on 6 April but there will be fringe events in the preceding days including a tour of the Local Studies Centre, a guided town walk, and a tour of the newly opened Ennis Friary. In addition, there will be two evening lectures. One on traditional Irish music, the other on Irish Soldiers in the British Army.

Confirmed speakers include:

Fiona Fitzsimons of Eneclann
Michael Gandy, Editor of The Genalogists Magazine
Catriona Crowe of the National Archives of Ireland
Eileen ÓDúill from Heirs Ireland
Steve Smyrl from Massey & King Ltd, legal genealogist (and Dead Money TV show)
Liam Curran, army historian.

Further details will be posted on the Clare Roots Society website in due course.

GRONI online by 2013

Outstanding news just in from the General Records Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI)!

A Genealogical and Certificate Application website project has recently gone out to tender. This will see the North's birth, marriage and death records digitised and made available in two strands. The first will be the launch of an online pay-to-view genealogical search facility of historical registration index data and images, accessible by family historians anywhere in the world. The second will see an internal (ie not available outside GRONI premises) search facility (also pay-to-view) hosting both historical and recent registration index data and images.

A spokesperson from the Department of Finance & Personnel has confirmed the following details exclusively to Irish Genealogy News:

The historic records site (anticipated 'live date' 2013) will hold records of
  • Births 1864 - 1913
  • Marriages 1845 - 1938
  • Deaths 1864 - 1963

The Public Search facility, available in the GRONI office only, will hold all records for the following registration types:

  • Births 1864 to date;
  • Marriages 1845 to date;
  • Deaths 1864 to date;
  • Adoptions 1931 to date; and
  • Civil Partnerships 2005 to date.

Have I died and gone to heaven? No. That will happen when GRO Ireland gets its act together and releases something similar for the Republic. But in the meantime, it's cheesy grins all round, eh?

Free Prison Registers records on FamilySearch

 'Potatoes' Offence means 'stealing of potatoes'
FamilySearch has added 3,127,594 records from the National Archives of Ireland's collection of prison registers to its free database.

The indexed records include most of the surviving prison registers from the 26 counties of the Republic 1790-1924. Northern Ireland prisons are not included.

This project was done in cooperation with the subscription-based FindMyPast Ireland, where the full register entries can be viewed.

On the FamilySearch database, the records are limited to name, alleged crime, and date of committal, as you can see from the image.

The full record, over on, may contain considerably more information such as physical characteristics, next of kin, address etc. In the 1838 example shown, the additional information gleaned by consulting the paid-for record includes the fact that James was 20-years-old and was arrested and committed along with a Catherine Santry, born circa 1798 (probably his mother), and they were both found 'not guilty' at Clonakilty Petty Sessions.

Although this free index to the records is limited, it's a very useful addition and well-worth investigating before paying out.

Weekend shorts

Marking Canada Day
To mark Canada Day, is making its Canadian records available for free, images 'n' all, until Monday 2 July, so this weekend's a great time for stopping in and searching for ancestral 'famine' emigrants who survived the transatlantic crossing and settled in Canada.

The offer isn't necessarily easy to 'get at', at least not from this side of the Atlantic. I found that I had to go direct to and click on the promotion's big red and white advert. Alternatively, change your 'collection' criteria on the main search panel to Canada.

You'll need to be a registered guest, but you don't need to sign up for a 14-day free trial, or give credit card details.

Disruption to the PRONI website
On the morning of Saturday 30 June the PRONI website will be unavailable for a short time to allow work to be done on the server. The downtime should last no longer than 10-20 minutes.

FindMyPast UK 10% discount
A quickie reminder that the 10% discount offer from Find My Past UK will expire on Sunday 1 July. Grab yourself a saving on a subscription or a chunk of pay-as-you-go credits by quoting the promo code JUN10OFF when you order.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Midsummer distractions and discounts

Midsummer discount

Find My Past UK is offering a quickie special offer: a 10% discount on all subscriptions taken out between now and Sunday 1st July. To take advantage of the offer, all you have to do is quote the promotional code JUN10OFF on your way to the checkout.

UPDATE: This discount could really prove useful if you've got Welsh ancestors. FindMyPast has today released another 2million baptism, marriage, banns and burial records from Wales, so there are now nearly 6million records available on the site from Welsh church registers.

Lost in London – podcast

Tracing ancestors in London pre-civil registration and census presents a real challenge to family historians. The population doubled between 1801 and 1841 and boundaries were often redrawn. Administering the area was complicated, and the records are now spread around several record offices. This brand-new podcast, with Dave Annal of Lifelines Research, explains how to make the most of the capital’s diverse collection of records. It runs to just over 50 minutes and can be downloaded here.

Makeover for AskAboutIreland is the showcase resource for Irish cultural, heritage and environmental information. It is probably best known to genealogists as the free-to-use home of Griffiths Valuation.

The site has a new interface, designed to make navigation easier and quicker, and a new section on Ireland's library service.

Ancestors from Limavady?

The Ulster Historical Foundation is organising a five-day programme of events, genealogy workshops and lectures for those with Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors from the Limavady and Roe Valley area. It will take place 9-13 October.

Migration is the theme of the 'Reunion', both inwards and outwards, and visits to historical places of interest are included in the programme, which can be downloaded here.

Monday 25 June 2012

What's on: week commencing 25 June

Tuesday 26 June: Diehards, Deserters and Defectors - British troops reported missing in Clare during the War of Independence, with Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc. Organisers are the Kilrush and District Historical Society, which launched only last month. Venue: Teach Cheoil (former Church of Ireland building), Grace Street, Kilrush, Co Clare. 7.30pm.

Wednesday 27 June: Gone for good – PRONI Sources on Emigration, with Dr Ann McVeigh. Final part of the PRONI/Linen Hall Lecture Series. 1pm in the Performance Area, Linen Hall Library, Belfast. Free, but booking recommended.

Wednesday 27 June: Ireland, the road to war and partition, a film presentation narrated by David Bridges. Early film from the fight against Home Rule to Partition, from the Digital Film Archive. Heritage Gallery, Downpatrick Library. 3.00pm to 4.00pm. Free, but booking essential on 028 4461 1448 or email.

Saturday 30 June: York Family History Fair, York Racecourse, Yorkshire. No dedicated-Irish genealogy organisations in attendance but plenty of the larger UK repositories, publishers and database providers will be there, along with dozens of county or regional family history societies ready to provide the kind of local knowledge that's crucial to learning more about Irish ancestors that emigrated to England, Scotland and Wales. 10am to 4.30pm. £4.50 adults.

Friday 22 June 2012

Kildare heritage trail leads to genealogy experts

A genealogy consultation will form the final stop on a heritage trail of Kildare Town next month.

At 10am on Fridays only, the heritage trail will set off from the town's Heritage Centre in Market Square. Visitors will learn about the mythology of Fionn MacCumhaill and St Brigid, the patroness of Ireland, and make key stops at the Cathedral, a 12th century Norman Castle and a 13th century Franciscan abbey. The adventurous can also climb the Round Tower, a 10th century structure that is the second tallest round tower on the island.

The trail will end at the 12th century Grey Abbey, which overlooks Kildare Village shopping centre and will be the venue for live musical performances and street theatre and genealogy consultations. The latter are being organised by the Irish Family History Foundation, the organisation behind the database, and will take place between 12noon and 6pm.

Price: 5 Euros for the Heritage Trail. Consultation free.
Dates: 6, 13, 20 and 27 July
Booking essential by email or phone 353 (0)45 530672.

Nice idea!

Thursday 21 June 2012

More Irish Petty Sessions Court records released

They're coming thick and fast, now! Another tranche of records from the Irish Petty Session Court Order Books – containing a rather cool two million individual entries – has been released today by FindMyPast Ireland.

This means there are now more than 5.5million petty session court records available for searching. And the remaining 8 million are still promised for later this year.

This latest batch is particularly for researchers with ancestors from counties Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Tipperary and Wexford. Here's a list of the courts covered by today's release (County, Court name, Dates covered).

LOUTH ARDEE 1851-55, 1863-72, 1877-1910
LOUTH DROGHEDA 1852-82, 1896
LOUTH DUNDALK 1853-62, 1874-1906
LOUTH MELL 1860-1897
MAYO BALLINA 1889-91, 1902-1910
MAYO BALLINROBE 1854-1901, 1910
MAYO FOXFORD 1874-75, 1884-87
MAYO KILLALA 1861-63, 1878-84, 1889-94, 1904-1910
MAYO LOWPARK 1897-1910
MEATH DRUMCONRATH 1868, 1871-91, 1902-10
MEATH JULIANSTOWN 1854-91, 1904-10
MONAGHAN CASTLEBLANEY 1851-57, 1881-85, 1892-96
MONAGHAN CLONES 1869-82, 1887, 1894-1901
ROSCOMMON ATHLONE 1851-53, 1859, 1883-86, 1890-1900
ROSCOMMON CASTLEREA 1851-55, 1861-88, 1894-1910
TIPPERARY FETHARD 1851-54, 1861-69
WATERFORD PORTLAW 1851-1904, 1908-10
WEXFORD CLONROCHE 1873-76, 1905-10
WEXFORD FERNS 1880, 1888-1910
WEXFORD NEWTOWNBARRY 1881-86, 1899-1902
WEXFORD OULART 1852-53, 1863-1900

Launch of Dissidents tonight at Kilmainham

The official launch of Dissidents, Irish Republican Women 1923-1941, by Ann Matthews, will take place this evening at Kilmainham Gaol, Inchicore Road, Dublin 8.

Some 10,000 Irish women were actively involved in the fight for Irish freedom during the War of Independence. This book describes the role and experiences of the women within the Republican movement and explores the reason for the steady decline of women in Irish politics from the outbreak of Civil War and in the next two decades.

Kicking off at 7pm, the guest speaker will be Vincent Comerford, Professor Emeritus of Modern History at NUI Maynooth.

Copies of the book will be available to purchase.

If you can't get along to the launch itself, you can order the book from the publishers, Mercier Press for €17.09.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Carlow's Great War Memorial Register online

County Carlow's Great War Memorial Register has been made available as a downloadable pdf here.

Some 400-names are included on register, listed alphabetically by town of origin. Each entry gives the soldier's name and regimental details, date of death and, sometimes, age.

A few entries have additional identifying information which will be useful to researchers trying to connect familial members eg Daniel and Patrick Conroy, who were aged 34 and 37 respectively and were both privates in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers but died on different dates in 1916, are identified as brothers.

Free Kilkenny gravestone index added to From-Ireland

Just two weeks on from making a 14,000-strong index of gravestones freely available on the site, From-Ireland has added another 9,886 entries.

This latest upload features gravestones from County Kilkenny exclusively.

The site's index is searchable by surname, first name, date of death, graveyard name, and county, with additional information available per individual. Most entries also have an accompanying image.

The graveyards included in this latest tranche of records are: Ballyfoyle, Ballygurrim, Ballyhale, Bennetsbridge, Castlecomer (COI, Colliery and RC), Castleinch, Clomantagh, Clontubbrid, Coon, Cuffesgrange, Donaghmore, Dunmore, Freshford, Galmoy, Glenmore, Graine, Grangefertagh, Grove, Hugginstown Old, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilballykeeffe, Kilbride, Kilmanagh, Knocktopher, Mill in Urlingford, Moneynamuck, Mullinarrigle, Paulstown, Rosconnell, Shanbogh, Slieveroe, Smithstown, St. Brigid in Ballycallan, St. Canice in Kilkenny City, St. Nicholas in Tulla, Stoneyford, Thomastown, Thornback, Tullaherin, and Urlingford.

£1million grant for Linen Hall Library

Belfast's Linen Hall Library has received a £1million funding boost via the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The award comes from the Fund's Catalyst Endowment programme which will 'match' every £1 raised by the Library itself, up to a value of £1million over the next four years. In effect, the Library now has the potential to raise £2million to secure its future.

It's a bit of an early 'significant birthday' present for the Library as it prepares to celebrate its 225th anniversary next May.

The Library was founded in 1788 and is the city's oldest. It is renowned for its Irish and Local Studies Collection, which ranges from Early Belfast and Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in the Northern Ireland Political Collection, the definitive archive of the Troubles.

It also has an extremely important genealogical collection. Among its primary sources are the Blackwood Pedigrees, a collection of over 1000 manuscript family trees; an index to births, marriages and deaths published in the Belfast News Letter 1738-1864 and the Greeves Pedigrees collection of Ulster family trees.

Announcing the grant, HLF's Paul Mullan said: 'The Linen Hall Library was chosen as a recipient of the award because it is one of the premier cultural institutions in Northern Ireland, if not the whole of the United Kingdom. The Library holds unique international resources about Ireland, and this award gives it the opportunity to protect and promote these treasures internationally.'

Monday 18 June 2012

Revised GS widens access to experts, say new providers

Following APGI's statement last week giving reasons for their decision not to tender for the contract to provide the free-to-visitors Genealogy Service (GS) at the National Archives and National Library, the winning consortium has provided Irish Genealogy News with details of the revised service now available to family historians at both institutions.

'We have a greater number of panel experts, with a wider range of expertise than was previously available,' explains Fiona Fitzsimons, director of Eneclann, the Dublin-based research company that has joined forces with Ancestor Network to manage the new service. The team consists of 13 members (one more than previously), and five of them are APGI-accredited.

'Everyone on our panel has a qualification in genealogy from a university, as well as extensive experience working as a professional in the field.'

The hours of the GS at the National Archives are unchanged (10am to 1.30pm, Mon-Fri). The biggest change is in the National Library, where library staff previously fielded all family history queries.

'The difference,' explains Fiona, 'is that a professional genealogist is now available for a morning and afternoon session on Mondays to Fridays, and on Saturday mornings. In addition, we now assist visitors in loading microfilm reels on the microfilm readers. This is complementary to the genealogy advice that we provide, and is a natural follow-on to the advice service. It's not particularly onerous to assist visitors in this way, nor do we feel that it diminishes our professional status to be asked to do so.'

She points out that Fiona Ross, the director of the NLI, has gone on public record to say that the new GS is enhanced and also offers a significant saving to the tax payer.

'There is nothing diminished about the genealogy advice service that Eneclann and Ancestor Network are offering, either in actual terms, or in terms of its standing within the National Library or the National Archives,' she says.

The new service started operation on Monday 11 June. Further details are available on the website's of the NAI and NLI.

UK genealogists petition for Irish-style research copies

I've just received notification via the UK-based Federation of Family History Societies of a petition for the General Register Office of England & Wales to issue uncertified copies of certificates for family history research, similar to those issued by Ireland's GRO as 'research copies'.

Instead of paying for a full-priced, authorised copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate that occurred in Ireland, the Irish GRO offers a photocopy of the original certificate for research purposes at a cost of just €4. These are available either from the GRO in Roscommon by post, or, to personal visitors only, from the GRO Research Room at the Irish Life Centre in Dublin.

No such facility is available in England & Wales.

Any Irish researchers who has ever had to stump up the full price of £9.25 per certificate when carrying out research in England & Wales will see the greater wisdom of the Irish system, and be happy to lend support to the petition.

You can sign it here.

Update: You can only sign this petition if you are in the UK or resident there.

Perhaps a similar petition should be launched to cover the cost of certificates for Northern Ireland where the charge is a scandalous £14. (Just a reminder.... if the bmd occurred in the six counties pre 1922, you can get one of the €4 versions from GRO Roscommon.)

Lectures and events: week commencing 18 June

Tuesday 19 June: The Miller's Tale, with Claire Walsh telling the story of a miller from Chapelizod. Grain was an integral part of the diet of early medieval Dubliners and the work of millwrights was pivotal to the economy of the town. First of a new series of Tales of Medieval Dublin (to be formally launched by Senator David Norris before the lecture). Wood Quay Venue, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8. 1.05–2.00pm. Free.

Wednesday 20 June: Irish People—Irish Linen, by Kathleen Curtis Wilson. Book Launch, Linen Hall Library, Belfast. Free. 6pm.

Wednesday 20 June: Petticoats and Porridge – Women and the Land War, with Dr Heather Laird. Carrick on Shannon & District Historical Society. Bush Hotel. 8.30pm. Free to members or €5.00 (OAPs/students €3.00 ). All welcome.

Wednesday 20 June: Linen Exhibition and Family History. North Armagh Family History Society will be in atttendance from 2.00-5.00pm to help visitors with their genealogy research. Craigavon Museum is hosting the linen exhibition. Ballydougan Pottery, 171 Plantation Road, Gilford, Craigavon BT63 5NN. Details.

Friday 22 June: Exhibition opens – Gaelic Herbalism & Healing Lore in Medieval Ireland. Part of Féile Brian Ború. Venue: Satmya, 3 Royal Parade, Killaloe, Co Clare. Mon-Fri 10-6pm, Sat 10-2pm. Free.

Saturday 23 June: Using Family Tree Maker, with Dr David R Elliott. Fermanagh Family History Society. The Library, Enniskillen, 2.15—4.15pm. Details.

Saturday 23rd June: Hands-on genealogy, with Dympna Joyce. Free practical tips for family history research. Mayo Genealogy Group. National Museum of Country Life, Turlough, Castlebar, co Mayo. Booking essential. 3.00 to 4.00pm. Mayo Genealogy Group.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Busy week for FamilySearch and UK records

Following my report on Wednesday about the upload by Family Search of indexes from the 1841 and 1851 Scottish censuses, yet more records from the UK have appeared.

For clarity, here's a list of the indexes that have been added in the last week:
  • 1841 Scottish census
  • 1851 Scottish census
  • 1861 Scottish census
  • 1871 Scottish census
  • 1871 England and Wales census (this is 81% complete)

The Scottish indexes contain a total of 11.9million records. The uploaded England and Wales indexes hold just a fraction below 4.6million.

Note the word index, however. There are no images. For those you have to go to either Scotland's People or

Saturday 16 June 2012

Mid-June update from IGP Archives

The following records and images have been added by the busy bees over at Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives this month.

 William Armstrong | Medical Officer Of
Collooney Dispensary District | Died on Friday
April 16th 1875 of Fever taken in
The Faithful and Fearless | Discharge of His Duty
Aged 36 Years
Collooney Church of Ireland, Sligo  
DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Donegal 1846 (update)

DOWN Genealogy Archives - Photos
Saint Patrick's grave, Down Cathedral

DOWN Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Down 1846 (update)

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Glasnevin Cemetery, part 11

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Military Records
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Fermanagh 1846 (update)

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Freeholders Registered to Vote 1747-1768

KERRY Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Kerry 1846 (update)

KILDARE Genealogy Archives - Military Records
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Kildare 1846 (update)

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drumsna Historic Graveyard (partial)
Rosinver New Cemetery
Rosinver Old Cemetery

MAYO Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Bushfield (R.C.) Cemetery

MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
St Loman's, Trim

ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Croghan, Estersnow Cemetery

SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Achonry Church Graveyard
Collooney; St. Paul's (CoI) Church graveyard
Easkey; Abbey Graveyard
Easkey (R.C.) Church
Easkey; St Anne's (CoI) Graveyard
Roslea Cemetery- Mostly R.C.

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Moycarkey Graveyard (additional)

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Church registers
Extracts from Fethard Parish Registers

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Church registers
Baptisms At Rathdrum C.of I. 1825-1841 - CLARE
Derralossary Assorted Baptisms, EDGE, LONG, GILBERT, BELTON, HORAN, HATTON
Asst. Marriages Derralossary, HATTON, GILCHRIST, TYNDALL BELTON & others
Asst. Marriages from Kiltegan C of I. 1881 - 1914
Assorted Derralossary Burials, HATTON, GILCHRIST, BELTON & others

WICKLOW Headstone Index
Kilquade Cemetery, Pt. 2 (update)

Friday 15 June 2012

RootsIreland adds East Galway marriages and burials

RootsIreland has uploaded more records from the East Galway Family History Society.

All of the region's available pre-1911 marriage and burial records, both Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland, are now available.

However, no additional Roman Catholic baptismal records have been added. This means there are still no RC baptism entries for the following parishes:
  • Abbey/Duniry
  • Aughrim & Kilconnell
  • Ballinakill
  • Ballygar
  • Ballymacward
  • Cappatagle & Kilreekil
  • Carrabane
  • Craughwell
  • Fohenagh & Kilgerrill
  • Kilchreest
  • Glenamaddy/Boyounagh
  • Killimordaly & Kiltullagh
  • Kilmacduagh & Kiltartan
  • Leitirm
  • Portumna
  • Williamstown.
The full list of sources available on the site can be found here.

For a rainy weekend...

Since there's nothing but squalls, rain and flooding ahead (in Ireland and the UK, at least), here are a few reasons for stopping in, getting the kettle on and settling into your favourite chair.

Enjoy a good row:
The History Ireland Hedge School at the National Library last month turned into quite a debate! When the topic's Irish Army Deserters and the morality of neutrality, it's always on the cards. Get stuck into the video of the ding-dong at

Listen up to find Merchant seamen:
A recent lecture by Janet Dempsey of the UK National Archives dealt with the period between 1857 and 1918 when there are no records for individual British merchant seamen. This lecture is now available to listen online or to download as a podcast. You can do both, here. It examines what records exist for this period, how to access them and what work is currently being done to make this period more accessible to both family and academic researchers.

Watch an award winning short film:
Irish Film Director Shaun O'Connor, who's based in co Cork, has drawn my attention to a short film he made to mark the Titanic Centenary. It has recently won a prize at the Ford '8 Minutes' Short Film Competition.
"Called Uisce Beatha, Irish for 'Whiskey' or 'Water Of Life', the film tells a tale that's based on a true but little-known story, that we discovered while researching Irish passengers who had bought tickets for, but missed, the sailing of the Titanic."

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the film has since been restricted to private access.

Cork copper mine museum wins prestigious award

The museum is housed in a chapel
built by Cornish miners in 1845
The Allihies Copper Mine Museum has been awarded the President’s Award by the Association for Industrial Archaeology (AIA), the leading UK body dedicated to the preservation of industrial heritage.

Located on the Beara peninsula, in co Cork, the museum tells the story of copper mining in the area from 1812. It was a specialised industry that, at its height, employed as many as 1500 people, including a good number from the copper mines of Cornwall in England.

Although some minor production continued up to 1962, large scale operations had ended by 1884 when most of the miners had either emigrated or were preparing to leave. Most of these emigrant minors headed to the Butte, Montana copper mines.

The museum, which is run by the local community and has very limited resources, aims to develop into a rich source of information on mining and local history for anyone seeking further study. To this end a library of books and documents has started, as well as the beginnings of an electronic database, and will broaden as the Museum develops and gains a reputation and status. It hopes one day to be able to carry out research into the men who worked in the mines.

But this may be for some time in the future. In the meantime, a new website is under construction and will provide a good range of historical information about the development of the local mines, correspondence between mine captains, and the geology of the area.

The website is well presented and professional looking, and reflects well on a museum that has just received the AIA President's Award. The latter is given annually to managers who, in the opinion of the Association's president and his advisers, achieve a high standard in interpreting to the public a monument, site or project of industrial archaeological significance.

The site or monument receives a plaque and details of the winning scheme are reported in the Association’s publications.

The award was presented to Charlie Tyrrell, chairman of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum.

PRONI introduces a Bulk Ordering Service

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has introduced a request service for Bulk Orders.

The service has been introduced to facilitate researchers who wish to consult a large volume of records by fast-tracking multiple orders.

Permission will be granted to visitors whose request meets the following requirements:

  • The request must be made in writing to the Head of Public Services at least three weeks in advance of your proposed visit. Visit date(s) must be agreed in advance.

  • The documents or files requested must be from the same collection (for example, D623 Abercorn Papers, VAL Valuation Records).

  • The documents or files requested must be clearly identified and open for public consultation.

  • A minimum of 20 documents and a maximum of 150 documents can be requested from a consecutive run; a minimum of 20 documents and a maximum of 50 documents can be requested from a non-consecutive run.

To request a bulk order, send an email to or write to the address below:

Head of Public Services
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter
Belfast, BT3 9HQ

Thursday 14 June 2012

APGI not prepared to provide 'diminished' service

The President of the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland (APGI) has paid tribute to the APGI members who, until 31 May, ran the Genealogy Service at the National Archives.

Speaking at a Professional Development event in Dublin Castle yesterday, which was attended by all but four of APGI's current members, Helen Kelly spoke of the unanimous decision of APGI's panel of experts not to participate in a tender for the Genealogy Services at the National Library of Ireland and National Archives.

'The decision was taken with a heavy heart,' she said. 'But, in view of the diminished status of the Genealogy Services as outlined in the invitation to tender, the panel providing the GS at the National Archives declined to participate in a bid. During the tendering process this decision could not be made known beyond the panel and APGI's Council as it was commercially sensitive information. For that reason the decision is being announced only today.'

APGI's decision to not compete for the joint National Library / National Archives contract closes a chapter in the Association's history. Helen described it as 'regrettably ending a twenty-three year tradition of assisting visiting family historians on their journey into Ireland's past.'

Rubber-stamping this severance, she concluded: 'APGI, an all-Ireland organisation founded by professional genealogists in a spirit of mutual respect and collegiality, is no longer associated with the Genealogy Service in the National Archives or in the National Library of Ireland.'

The ten members who formed the final APGI Genealogy Service panel are in the photo below. They are (left to right) Helen Kelly, John Grenham, Joan Sharkey, Hilda McGauley, Rob Woodward, Pamela Bradley, Paul Gorry, Nicola Morris, Máire Mac Conghail and Rosaleen Underwood.

Follow these links for my earlier stories about the suspension of the National Archives service and the introduction of the new, reshaped service. The latter, which started work this Monday, is being provided by a consortium led by Eneclann and Ancestor Network. I understand that four of the twelve-person team making up the consortium are APGI-accredited genealogists.

Rediscovering Medieval Ireland lecture now online

If you were unable to attend the Rediscovering Medieval Ireland lecture by Professor Robin Frame last month, it's now available on what I'll refer to as an illustrated audio video.

The lecture marked the launch of a major new Internet resource — CIRCLE: A Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters c.1244–1509, which can be viewed online here, and Professor Frame explains its value to historians and genealogists.

So put on the kettle, pull up a chair and enjoy. The audio recording of the lecture is accompanied with images of the new website, medieval documents and persons involved in the digitisation project. The lecture runs to 63 minutes.

Nearly 700 Certificates of Irish Heritage purchased

Official website
Since its introduction on 30 September 2011, some 682 Certificates of Irish Heritage have been sold, and a further 58 have been issued as promotional presentations (to the likes of President Barak Obama, Lord Sebastian Coe, and the actor Chris O'Donnell). These figures were provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Joe Costello TD.

At €40 a pop, plus €54 for framing and minus whatever for discounts and special offers, the project is not going to be bailing Ireland out of its current economic woes any time soon, but it's early days yet. Fexco, the company which operates the certificate programme on behalf of the Department, continues to raise awareness among the Diaspora of its existence.

The Minister added that 'follow-up contact with some of the early recipients has shown a very positive and emotional response, particularly as the certificate was an official recognition by the Government of the recipient's heritage.'

Festival for formidable female

The city of Cork will be celebrating one of its lesser known heroines – Mary Harris Jones – in a three-day festival this summer.

Mary Jones nee Harris was baptised in Cork's North Cathedral on 1 August 1837 and emigrated to Canada as a teenager. She subsequently married and had four children. Following the death in an epidemic of her entire family she went on to become a force in the North American trade union movement, specificially the Miner's Union.

Known as Mother Jones and the Miner's Angel, she was once labelled 'the most dangerous woman in America' for her ability to organise strikes and communities, often choreographing dramatic stunts.

Marking the 175th anniversary of her baptism, the Mother Jones Festival programme (31 July to 2 August) includes an exhibition, documentary screening, music, lectures and tour, and the unveiling of a limestone plaque to this formidable Irish woman.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

1841 & 1851 Scottish censuses free at Family Search

During the last week, Family Search has added both the 1841 and 1851 Scottish census records to its huge database. The later census will be of particular value to family historians seeking ancestors who departed Ireland in the wake of the Famine.

Searchable by name, the 5.5million transcriptions come from Find My Past and are provided without images and on an individual, rather than household, basis.

These restrictions make heavy weather of a search for a family, but since they're free, we'll have no complaints!

If, having found your ancestor, you want to pay to view and download an image of the relevant census return, go to Scotland's People.

Amnesty for WW2 'deserters' who fought facism

Nearly 5,000 Irish soldiers, who deserted the Irish Defence Forces in order to enlist with the British Army, Navy or Air Force during the Second World War, are to be offered an amnesty and pardoned.

In an announcement made in the Dail yesterday, the Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter apologised for the way these men were treated on their return when they were summarily dismissed from the Defence Forces and disqualified from holding state employment or receiving any form of pension for seven years. Rejected by the state, and to a considerable degree by society, many men and their families suffered extreme hardship.

This amnesty will remove the last vestiges of stigma.

Mr Shatter's statement said it was 'time for understanding and forgiveness' but added that the government did not condone desertion. 'It is essential to the national interest that members of the Defence Forces do not abandon their duties at any time, especially at a time of crisis, and no responsible Government could ever depart from this principle.'

Legislation to provide an amnesty will be enacted later this year.

Judging by comments on some forums, blogs and websites today, the amnesty is not welcomed by all. Comments on provide a good example of how the debate continues.

Images of Belfast burial records now available

In the latest upgrade to Belfast City Cemeteries's excellent online database, images of burial records for three Belfast City cemeteries can now be downloaded, provided the deceased died at least 75 years ago.

Around 360,000 burial records are already available to search – absolutely free of charge – on the site. These records relate to the Belfast City Cemetery, which has records dating from 1869, Dundonald Cemetery, which dates from 1905, and Roselawn Cemetery, which has records dating from 1954.

All these records have been scanned and were made available online about a year ago. Information provided in search results includes the full name of the deceased, their age and last place of residence, as well as details of their burial and grave. It is also possible to see who else is buried in the same plot (lair).

The latest upgrade relates to images of the burial records, which may have additional information to that provided by the search results. Likely details are occupation, marital status, religion and cause of death.

These images are available for download for just £1.50 (the price for a paper copy of a death certificate via GRONI is £14!).

'Ill-conceived' merger attracts more criticism

The controversial proposal to merge the National Archives, National Library and Irish Manuscript Commission received another thumbs down today from Dr Raymond Refaussé, chair of the Irish Society for Archives (he is also well-known to genealogists as Librarian and Archivist at the Representative Church Body Library — the Church of Ireland archive).

In a letter published in today's Irish Times, Dr Refaussé comments that 'the Government has refused to accept the expert advice of the academic and archival communities to abandon its ill-conceived policy'. He argues that 'no significant economies' would be made by any such merger without doing significant harm to the three institutions. He describes them as 'already shockingly under-resourced'.

You can read the letter here: Expert advice on mergers refused.

Two days ago, the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland declared that Ireland's cultural institutions are in crisis and described the Government's merger proposals as 'ill advised'. See the full statement here.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Tales of Medieval Dublin: new series starts next week

A third series of the lunchtime Tales of Medieval Dublin lectures has been announced. Each of the seven Tuesday lectures takes place in the Wood Quay Venue at Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Dublin 8, a thoroughly modern facility despite incorporating part of the original Hiberno-Norse city wall.

The talks will be officially launched by Senator David Norris prior to Lecture 1, The Miller’s Tale, at 1.05pm on June 19th, so that lecture finishes a little later than all the subsequent ones.

All lectures are free and everyone is welcome.

Here's the full programme:

Tuesday 19 June:
The Miller’s Tale — Grain was an integral part of the diet of early medieval Dubliners and the work of millwrights was pivotal to the economy of the town. Come and hear about the life of a miller from Chapelizod. With Claire Walsh. 1.05–2.00pm.

Tuesday 17 July: The Duibh Linn(ers’) Tale — Come and hear about the lives of the unnamed dead buried at the church of St Michael le Pole, near what may have been the site of the early Christian monastery of Duibh Linn. With Edmond O’Donovan. 1.05–1.45pm.

Tuesday 21 August: The Slave’s Tale — What happened to the men and women who were sold on the Dublin slave market in the early middle ages? A few of their voices have survived to be told. With Poul Holm. 1.05–1.45pm.

Tuesday 18 September:
The Crusader’s Tale — William Fitzroger was a Prior of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller in Ireland based in Kilmainham in the late thirteenth century. His conflicting loyalties to his king and his order presented him with a difficult choice: would he fight for the Holy Land or defend the English colony in Ireland? With Edward Coleman. 1.05–1.45pm.

Tuesday 9 October: The Augustinian’s Tale — The political and cultural renaissance that occurred in the late-medieval cathedral priory of Christ Church, Dublin, was witnessed and guided by Canon Thomas Fyche, its sub-prior (1502-16): Augustinian, archivist and administrator. With Stuart Kinsella. 1.05–1.45pm.

Tuesday 20 November: The Potter’s Tale — Many skilled workers lived and plied their trades in high-medieval Dublin. William le Crockere de Nas was a potter who had the important job of crafting glazed jugs to hold the wine and ale consumed by the citizens. With Clare McCutcheon. 1.05–1.45pm.

Tuesday 11 December:
The Poet’s Tale — Maoilín Óg Mac Bruaideadha was a famous bardic poet and historian in the latter half of the sixteenth century. He spent the last few years of his life in Trinity College translating the New Testament into Irish. With Katharine Simms. 1.05–1.45pm.

For more details, contact the Friends of Medieval Dublin.

Monday 11 June 2012

APGI: Ireland's cultural institutions are in crisis

This morning's Irish Times carried an opinion piece by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in which he accused some parties of failing to appreciate the realities of Ireland's current economic crisis and the need for 'everyone to share the pain'.

You can read the Minister's piece here. It sets the scene for the following statement issued this afternoon by The Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI).

"The crisis facing our cultural institutions is an issue all too familiar to APGI. As an organisation at the forefront of developments in Irish ancestral research, APGI has heard the rhetoric about our cultural assets while observing the deterioration of our cultural institutions. Increasingly limited access to valuable genealogical records housed in our cultural institutions only frustrates and disappoints visitors of Irish ancestry who come here specifically to research their family history.

The proposed merger of the National Archives into the National Library is indeed ill-advised, but it serves to highlight the longstanding lack of appreciation for these and other national record repositories by those who control finances. Investment in heritage-related tourism facilities is being drastically reduced. At the same time the government is promoting The Gathering, a nationwide event for the Diaspora being held in 2013.

To its credit, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has funded two acclaimed projects in recent years. The digitisation of the 1901 and 1911 Census returns and that of various parish registers from Carlow, Cork, Dublin and Kerry has won enormous praise internationally. This is largely because they have been made available online free of charge, a gesture much appreciated by the Irish Diaspora.

Unfortunately, when members of the Diaspora arrive in Ireland to convert the online experience into a personal visit they find the facilities far from impressive. They encounter queues (and even unscheduled temporary closures) at the General Register Office Research Room. They find time restrictions on ordering documents in the National Archives. In the National Library they find the core services so diminished that books and newspapers can be ordered only every two hours, while the self-service parish register microfilm area is unsupervised. The staff in these repositories valiantly strive to provide good service despite shortcomings in terms of funding.

Last September Jimmy Deenihan held a meeting ‘to establish the current position regarding the provision of genealogical services and to discuss options for further development of these services’. It was a very worthwhile meeting, attended by public and private sector organisations (including some from Northern Ireland) involved in the provision, use and dissemination of genealogical records. Since then there has been no follow up. We believe the Minister was sincere in wishing to enhance an area much lauded for its contribution to heritage-related tourism. Evidently his colleagues in government fail to see the connection between adequately equipping our national record repositories and impressing tourists who wish to research their ancestry.

Our expertise and understanding in this area is a resource that the government could be calling on in advance of The Gathering 2013."

Events for week commencing 11 June

All month: An exhibition – History of some Dublin Suburbs at Rathmines Library, 157 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6. Hours: 10am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, 10am to 5pm Friday and Saturday. Free. Email:

Tuesday 12 June:
Understanding Church Records and their value to Family History by Dr. Jim Ryan. Genealogical Society of Ireland. Dun Laoghaire College of FE, Cumberland St. 8pm.

Tuesday 12 June: Irish records, a lecture with Roz McCutcheon. Hampshire Genealogical Society/Andover Famiily History Group. Weyhill Fairground Hall, Weyhill, SP11 0QN. 7:30pm. Details.

Tuesday 12 June: Fishermen's Tales - Skerries Fishing Industry 1750-1870. Skerries Historical Society. All welcome. 8.15pm start at Keane's The Bus Bar, Strand Street, Skerries. Details.

Wednesday 13 June:
Betrayal in Irish Cultural History, with Gerry Smyth. This talk offers an analysis of the role of treason and betrayal in Irish cultural history during the modern era, against the backdrop of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. It is based on a forthcoming book entitled The Judas Kiss: Treason and Betrayal in the Modern Irish Novel. Irish World Heritage Centre, Queens Road, Manchester M8. 8-9pm. £3. Details.

Saturday 16 June: Ulysses Bloomsday dramatisation. BBC Radio 4 will feature a major dramatisation of the work throughout the day beginning at 9.15am. Seven further parts will follow, insterspersed with commentary/edification from Mark Lawson in Dublin, until concluding just before midnight. The dramas will be available to download in clips, videos, character profiles and a series of blog posts. Details.

Saturday 16 June: Understanding The Great War, with the Cork Branch of the Western Front Association. Did someone in your family serve in The Great War? Do you have medals or documents? Bring them along and find out more. Frank O'Connor Library, Old Youghal Rd, Mayfield, Cork. 10am-1pm and 2-3:30pm.

Sunday 17 June: Swords, Pikes and Muskets, an historical re-enactment. National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7. Free. 3-4pm. No booking required.

Mapping the Irish exhibition

An interesting exhibition opens this week in New York. Presented by the American Irish Historical Society (AIHS), Island – Drawing Conclusions: Mapping the Irish is an exploration of the history of Ireland through a series of maps, atlases, postcards, cartoons, and pamphlets spanning from the 2nd century to the 21st century.

It is a collaboration between the hosts and three other collections (Mayo CC's Jackie Clarke Collection – Ireland's Memory, Linen Hall Library and The Norman B Leventhal Map Center at Boston Public Library)and provides a fascinating look at the political and cultural history of Ireland.

The exhibition opens to the public on 13 June and continues until 12 July at the American Irish Historical Society's home at 991 Fifth Avenue. New York, NY 10028, which is opposite the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.

Opening hours are 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Details.

Friday 8 June 2012

New Genealogy Advisory Service starts Monday

Well that didn't take long, after all!!

A new Genealogy Advisory Service will start work at the National Archives and National Library on Monday 11 June, just two weeks after the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland (APGI) withdrew from negotiations for a new contract.

A new consortium consisting of Eneclann and Ancestor Network has been formed to provide the new-style service, according to Eneclann's press release. Interestingly, about half of the new team are APGI members (ie accredited professionals), which suggests to me that there's been a lot of internal wrangling going on behind the scenes.

Whatever the politicking, the end result is that family historians — particularly those on genealogy research trips from abroad — will again have a free source of expert advice. The service will be available as follows:
  • National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin — Monday to Friday, 10am to 1.30pm.
  • National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin — Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 1pm, 2-5pm, Saturday 9.15am to 12.45pm.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Gravestone photos uploaded to From-Ireland

More than 14,000 photographs have been just been uploaded to, the genealogy, culture and heritage website set up and run by Dr Jane Lyons.

The photographs are mainly of gravestones, as follows:
  • Co. Kilkenny — 4,616 photographs in 42 albums
  • Co. Laois (Queen's) — 6774 photographs in 49 albums
  • Cos. Clare, Cork, Kerry, Kildare, Limerick and Offaly — 2,626 photos in 25 albums
In addition, the website holds 25 albums of miscellaneous views of places in Ireland.

Gravestones inscriptions have been transcribed and can be searched in an index or you can browse through the photos.

Glasnevin Museum wins prestigious award

News has only just reached me that Glasnevin Museum in Dublin has received the Kenneth Hudson Award in the European Museum of the Year 2012 Awards.

The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Council of Europe and this year's ceremony was held a couple of weeks ago at Penafiel in Portugal.

The Kenneth Hudson Award is presented for the most unusual, daring and, sometimes, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society.

Well, Glasnevin Museum is certainly out of the ordinary — it tells the story of Dublin's first non-denominational cemetery — and this award is not its first.

Since opening in 2010, the haul has included the trophy for Best International Museum at the Museum & Heritage Awards For Excellence in London and the Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association in Burbank, California.

Glasnevin Museum was opened in 2010 by the not-for-profit Glasnevin Trust to enrich visitors’ experience of the cemetery and their knowledge and understanding of Irish history through the lives of the leading public figures buried there.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Bureau of Military History collection delayed

The release of the Bureau of Military History 1913-1921 collection, which was expected last month (see report), has been delayed. (See update below)

This is due to technical difficulties that hopes to resolve in the coming weeks. There is not, as yet, any revised date for publication.

The collection, which covers the Independence movement from 1913 to 1921, includes reports by individuals who had been involved or had witnessed events, and is a fascinating collection of material relating to the Irish Volunteers from their formation in 1913 to 1921. It comprises 1773 witness statements, 334 sets of contemporary documents, a huge photographic collection, voice recordings and press cuttings.

Paper witness statements will continue to be made available in Military Archives, with duplicates in the National Archives. Military Archives also has electronic versions, with a limited search capability, available in the reading room, by appointment as usual.

Update – 7 August: Bureau of Military History collection released.

Irish Newspaper Archives fills in the gaps

One of my favourite websites, Irish Newspaper Archives, has been updated with more newspaper records.

All the gaps in the archives for editions of the Freeman's Journal have been filled in, so that the complete offer for this important paper now runs from 1763 to 1924.

Issues published by the Ulster Herald from 1901 to 2012 have also joined the line up, as have those from the Westmeath Examiner from 1999 to 2007

The subscription-based website, which is free to use in many libraries in Ireland, has also announced its upload programme for the summer, as follows:

  • Kerryman 1904-1949 — July
  • Limerick Leader 1948-2000 — August
  • Belfast Newsletter 1738-1849 — Sept/Oct

Many thanks to MaryR for alerting me to the update.


PRONI Sources for Emigration: lecture

The next talk in the PRONI/Linen Hall Lecture Series will be delivered by Dr Ann McVeigh of PRONI. The title of the talk will be ‘Gone for Good: PRONI Sources on Emigration’.

The lecture, which has been re-scheduled from 28 March, will take place at 1pm on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at the Linen Hall Library.

Admission is free, but it’s best to book your place in advance as seating is limited. Booking is via the Linen Hall Library website.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Update on suspension of the Genealogy Service at NAI

Details are now emerging of the reasons for the suspension of the Genealogy Service at the National Archives of Ireland. (Original news story.)

Cost-cutting proposals have long been afoot to merge the National Library and the National Archives while supposedly maintaining their separate identities. While this move has still to be formally approved by the Government and has been loudly condemned (and was a feature in the resignation of Professsor Diarmaid Ferriter from the board of the Library on 24 May), it can be considered a 'done deal'.

A statement from APGI, the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland, which provided the service at the National Archives but not that at the National Library (which was manned by library staff), shows that the suspension of the Genealogy Service is part and parcel of the same malaise.

The tone of the statement is polite and suitably respectful, as you'd expect. But behind the scenes there is huge resentment. Among other demands, not only are the future providers of the Genealogy Service expected to be split across the two institutions, they were going to have to fulfil the duties of library staff, assisting with the microfilm, printing and online service needs of family historians visiting both institutions. All these duties are currently provided by library staff at the National Archives but the new contract provided no guarantee that any staff members would be available during the week and expressly stated that there would be no staff available on Saturday mornings.

Considering such terms (and other issues) unacceptable, APGI has withdrawn from the tender process and ended its involvement in the Genealogy Service.

Whether or not any other institution of group was involved in the tender process or can step up to provide the service remains to be seen. In that sense, the Genealogy Service is suspended, rather than terminated. But I'm looking around and I can't see any other group able to take on the role.

Friday 1 June 2012

Do you have Roscommon Ancestry?

Were your four grandparents from Roscommon? If so, you may be interested to help with a geo-specific DNA project.

Dr Turi King from the Department of Genetics/School of Historical Studies at University of Leicester explains:

“I’m working with Dr Cathy Swift, the Director of Irish Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, on a small study of surnames in Ireland linked with DNA.

“As part of this study, we're hoping to collect men with all four grandparents born in Co Roscommon, ideally (but not essentially) with Roscommon surnames.

“Those taking part would have a chance to learn about their genetic history for free. “

If you fit the bill and would like to know more, contact Dr King.