Tuesday 26 March 2013

IrishGenealogy relaunches as portal to free records

Go to new-style site
The state-funded irishgenealogy.ie has today received a very thorough makeover, and not only in looks!

Having established itself as one of the most popular sites for searching church records in counties Dublin, Cork, Carlow and Kerry (the records are free and unavailable anywhere else online), it has now been completely redesigned with a much wider remit and the inclusion of a new search functionality that tries to locate records in other databases.

The best way to describe how it works is to give an example....

If I search for my Gt Grandfather, Patrick Santry, born in Clonakilty, Co Cork, in 1854, the site not only finds the record of his 1854 baptism and his 1877 marriage as it would have done in its previous format, it also allows me to head off direct to other sites to try to locate records. Working through the list of sites searched, here are the returns received:
  • Church records (as previously, both baptism and marriage are found.)
  • 1901/1911 Census records – He, and eight other Patrick Santrys are located in Cork in both censuses.
  • Tithe Applotments – Just one Patrick Santry is found (but the records pre-date him).
  • Griffith’s Valuation – Three Patrick Santrys are found (but these records pre-date him).
  • Soldiers Will – No records found.
  • Military Archives – No records found.
  • Ireland - Australia Transportation database – No records found.
  • Ellis Island – Three records are found (I know none is him)
  • Castle Gardens/Clinton – One record found (I know it's not him)
  • National Photographic Archive/NLI – No records found in catalogue.
  • Ireland-Australia Transportation Database – No records found.
  • NAI's Women in 20th Century Ireland – No records found!
  • DHO Discovery – No records found.
As you search each collection, you are taken to the appropriate website to see the search results, so you don't have to keep typing in the website addresses. This obviously saves a bit of time, but for the beginner who doesn't know which record sets to search, this will be an incredibly popular helping hand.

Now, some of the collections listed above were clearly not appropriate for the search of a man born in 1854. It seems a bit nit-picky to mention it, but I just wonder how a raw beginner is going to understand why they can't find someone born in the late 1890s in the tithe applotment books, for example.

Of course, if they explore each of the websites they're visiting, they'll soon find out why. I just wonder if some kind of pop up, giving the absolute basics of each collection as it is searched, wouldn't help.

Elsewhere on the site, there are, indeed, some useful details about Irish websites and how to start researching, and it's an easy site to move around. I think, despite a couple of quite minor criticisms, it delivers what many have wanted to see: a portal where researchers can dip into all the free records. And for that, I'll give a round of applause.

Announcing the launch of the upgraded site, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, TD, said that the site would provide an infrmation point for people starting to research their ancestors.

'My Department and I are conscious of the importance of genealogy as an important way of connecting with those abroad who wish to trace their roots and, also permitting those here in Ireland to establish their family history.

'At present, the genealogy landscape can seem confusing so, my Department has concentrated on the development of some additional search functionality for www.irishgenealogy.ie by way of providing a portal or search facility for digital genealogy records.

'This enhanced search facility will help by highlighting the potential sources of information that are available on-line.

'Visitors will be able to search records from a number of on-line sources including the Church Records already available on www.irishgenealogy.ie, and others such as the 1901 and 1911 Census and Soldiers wills, to name but a few.'

As an aside: If you're still wondering what's happening to the Monaghan (Diocese of Clogher) records, there's a wee note, almost lost in the Church Records page, saying that work is still progressing on their delivery to the site. How long can it take??