Sunday 19 August 2012

Gearing up for Back To Our Past

Back To Our Past (BTOP) will be making its third annual visit to the RDS in Dublin on the weekend of 12-14 October 2012. The show is already firmly positioned at the heart of Irish genealogy, but this year it aims to be a broader heritage experience.

As previously, exhibitors will range from international genealogical database providers and family history societies to record repositories and magazines. Two streams of lectures will run throughout the weekend, and the Industries Hall of the RDS will be alive with experts, including members of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) and Eric Knowles of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

This year BTOP will feature an expanded programme of lectures, with 40 talks being given over the three days. As well as presentations on behalf of and, there will be a varied line-up of well known speakers. These include Else Churchill of the London-based Society of Genealogists and Janis Duffy of TIARA, the active Irish family history organisation from Boston. Some of Ireland’s best known genealogists will also be lecturing. Three of them, all accredited members of APGI, are now familiar faces from Irish television: Nicola Morris and John Grenham were seen giving advice on the Genealogy Roadshow, while Steven Smyrl appeared in the more recent Dead Money.

The talks will not be confined to family history themes. This year there is a broader range of heritage topics. They include Martello Towers, the Cistercians, the Irish Landmark Trust, the Irish Community Archive Network, history at local level, and the care of books and photographs.

Two strands of lectures run throughout the event, with each presentation commencing on the half hour. Lecture Area 1 will be on the exhibition floor in the Industries Hall. Lecture Area 2 will be on the first floor, accessible by stairs and wheelchair lift. The full lecture programme isn't yet available but I'll alert you as soon as it is.

Having attended both of the previous BTOP's I can thoroughly recommend the fair to Irish genealogy researchers, whether just starting out on their quest or stuck against a determined brick wall. There's a great atmosphere, loads to learn and discover, and a host of patient experts ready to help.

Make it a date: 12-14 October. Advance tickets are just €5 (normal price on the door €10).

* Anyone wanting to researve exhibition space should contact John Low at