Friday 31 May 2013

PRONI holds Q&A session on facebook today 1-5pm

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland is taking over the Ireland Family History facebook page later today for an Expert Q&A Session.

The session runs from 1pm to 5pm (GMT), so if you've any questions about researching your ancestors from Counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Derry-Londonderry, Fermanagh or Tyrone, this could be the perfect opportunity to make progress. Just go to the site, read the 'rules' and post your question.

Thursday 30 May 2013

National Library of Ireland's summer of genealogy

The National Library of Ireland is to host a two-month extravaganza of Irish genealogy lectures this summer. They will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout July and August, and there will be few extra sessions to make a daily line-up during Heritage Week (19-23 August).

The lunchtime lectures programme, which is part of the NLI's contribition to The Gathering, covers a very wide range of themes, including several with a fresh twist, and will attract genealogists at all levels of experience. Each lecture will be held in the Seminar Room at the NLI in Kildare Street at 1pm and will last approximately 30 minutes.

Admission is free and no booking is required.

I went along to a few of last year's summer lectures at the Library. They were shorter (only 20 minutes) and held in a more concentrated time span, but they were very well presented and well attended. I'm sure this year's will be similar. So take a good look through the programmes and get the dates into your diary now!

Download the July programme.
Download the August programme.

Start exploring Derry's Great Parchment Book

A new website has been launched this morning on the Great Parchment Book, Derry's Doomsday Book.

It includes an explanatory video and details of the conservation process, but it also allows us to start exploring and reading the book for ourselves. There's also contextual information about the Ulster Plantation, and you can even search for people and places. It's beautifully presented, as a bonus!

The first public sighting of the Great Parchment Book will be at Derry's Guildhall next month (see blogpost) when a major Planation exhibition opens.

In the meantime, work is continuing on the transcription of the nearly 400-year-old pages and both transcriptions and images will be added to the site, as and when. Once the transcription is complete, the Book History section of the new website will be expanded to take account of new insights into the codicology of the book, and to explain the arrangement of the folios.

The Famine Irish: Conference at Strokestown

The 3rd annual International Famine Conference will be held at Strokestown Park House, Co Roscommon, on Friday 19 and Saturday (morning only) 20 July.

Entitled The Famine Irish: Emigration and New Lives, this well-respected conference is organised by the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates and the Department of History, NUI Maynooth. Lectures are relatively short (just 25 minutes on the programme) and cover the latest academic explorations of the emigration and resettlement experience of men, women, orphans and families in America, Britain, Australia, South Africa and Canada, as well as examining the themes of religion, transportation and prejudice.

The Keynote Address will be presented by Professor Christine Kinealy of Drew University, New Jersey – Chained Wolves: Young Ireland in Van Dieman's Land.

Conference costs are just 25 Euros, which includes refreshments (and a light lunch on the Friday).

Full programme.

Wicklow's mining heritage: a tour

This Saturday, 1 June, an afternoon tour in Co Wicklow will be of interest to anyone whose ancestors were involved in County Wicklow's mining industries.

The Glen of Lead Tour will be exploring the mining heritage and sites of Glenmalure and Glendagan. It will be led by Martin Critchley and Sharron Schwartz, who are engaged in a survey and desktop study of the historic mining landscape, and has been organised by Roundwood & District Historical & Folklore Society. The tour group will meet at the Parish Hall, Roundwood. Fee: 5Euros.

Bank holiday arrangements: RoI only

There's a long weekend coming up. If you were planning on using the time to enjoy some research, be aware that many relevant institutions in the Republic of Ireland will be operating on bank holiday schedules, as below.

The National Archives of Ireland will be closed on Monday 3 June, reopening at 10:00am on Tuesday 4 June.

The Reading Room of the National Library of Ireland will operate to normal weekend hours (Saturday 9:30am to 12:45pm; Sunday closed), but will not open on Monday 3 June.

Exhibitions at the National Library of Ireland will be open on Saturday and Sunday as usual (Kildare Street: Saturday 9.30am–4.30pm; Sunday: 1:00pm–5:00pm. National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar: Saturday 10am–4.45pm; Sunday: 12pm–4.45pm). Bank holiday Monday opening will be from 12pm to 5pm only at both locations.

Dublin City Library & Archive will be closed from Saturday 1 June to Monday 3 June inclusive, as will most local branch libraries in Ireland.

This bank holiday applies only in the South; Northern Ireland institutions will be working to normal hours.

Memories of JFK's Homecoming: Project launched

Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, offically launched the JFK Homecoming Memory Project yesterday, at This project is a social media campaign and website which celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the visit of President John F. Kennedy to Ireland in June 1963.

The comprehensive website holds detailed information about the visit, plus a video tribute to the anniversary, which has a number of familiar faces in Irish society participating, including Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Sharon Corr, Jamie Heaslip, Roddy Doyle, Robert Sheehan, Jim Sheridan, Laura Whitmore, Moya Doherty, and Mark Pollock. The website also invites members of the public to upload their own memories and mementoes of the visit; this will build into an archive of valuable detail for later generations of history and genealogy researchers.

This online campaign will complement a major exhibition which is due to open at the National Library of Ireland next month.

New US collection will help find Irish emigrants

Ancestry is going to be launching a new USA collection of interest to researchers looking for Irish family members that emigrated.

Promised for June, the new collection includes state-wide indexes to birth, marriage and death records from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Within this, the records for Massachusetts is likely to be of most interest to those with Irish heritage, since Boston was the destination for so many Irish emigrants.

Ancestry says this set of records includes 'more details than most'. Quite what that means, remains to be seen.

There's more about Irish emigration to America on my website.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Little Museum of Dublin tells big story

A new exhibition will be opening this weekend at the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen's Green.

Your Huddled Masses: The Irish in America
chronicles what emigrants left behind when they departed, how they travelled to their final destination, and what their life was like when they arrived. It is the story about the search for a better life, the re-invention of home and the birth of great cities in a foreign land. It documents the story of Ireland in America through sound, photography, film and striking illustrations.

The exhibition starts on Saturday 1 June and will run until 30 September. For more details and booking information, contact the Little Museum of Dublin.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

So what? So plenty!

Last week's announcement of the Irish Government's intention to amend the Civil Registration Act to facilitate free online access to the GRO's bmd indexes was enthusiastically greeted by many genealogists (see news story). A load more, judging by my Inbox, reacted with a 'so what?'.

Behind the 'so what?' lies the awareness that several incarnations of the Civil Registration Indexes are already available; Irish family historians can search online indexes for free (Family Search), or they can pay (Ancestry and FindMyPast). Or they can visit the GRO Research Room in Dublin to look through (for a fee) the hardcopy printed indexes. Or they can visit local county register office to search the manuscript indexes stitched into the back of each local register book.

It's true that, compared with only a handful of years ago, this level of access to such an important collection of records is pretty healthy. That doesn't mean it can't get better, though. And it will, if these amendments are, as expected, passed into law. Here's why...

Back in the late 1950s, the Genealogical Society of Utah (aka the Mormons) microfilmed the Civil Registration Indexes up to and including 1958. Access to the films made research a little easier because copies were circulated through the church's network of Family History Centres.

Some 40-odd years later, the Internet arrived, as did technologies that allowed the microfilms to be digitised and turned into an online database accessible via FamilySearch (formerly GSU). The data produced by this process was subsequently shared with both Ancestry and FindMyPast. In effect, three versions of the data are currently available, and they all suffer, however mildly, from the same problem: the original microfilmed copies of the GRO indexes were not complete; many pages were skipped in the filming process, along with a few entire years. Add to this the inevitable mis-transcriptions and you can see that, however much improved the current level of access is, the data has some significant drawbacks.

Since the original microfilming was carried out, the GRO itself has been computerising its indexes. As part of a stop-start project, the GRO has manually added to its computerised index all maiden names from 1903 to 1927 (maiden names didn't start appearing in the published birth registration indexes until 1928), as well as the manual addition of birth dates from the same starting date.

It is this more complete and accurate index that will be made freely available on the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltact's website, and this is why there is good reason to be cheered by the recent announcement.

There is one other important item to be clarified: cut-off date. Up to what date will the indexes be made available? The enabling legislation specifically excludes access to records relating to adoption and stillbirths; registration of the latter was introduced only in 1995... is this a hint that the new online collection will continue beyond that date? The legislation amendments also refer to civil partnership registrations... does this mean the new online collection will continue beyond 2011, when civil partnerships became legally recognised?

Or will the authorities plum for a similar arrangement to that proposed by the General Register of Northern Ireland, who will be launching their online bmd collection this autumn (fingers crossed) with birth registrations available on a rolling cut off of 100 years ago, marriages to 75 years ago, and deaths to 50 years ago? We'll have to wait and see.

How long will we have to wait? Is this going to be another 1926 census tale, with expectations raised and (likely) dashed? There are no guarantees, but the intended legislation is, firstly, very much more likely to be approved. And, since the data is already held in computerised format, it won't cost much in either time or money to make it searchable online.

Irish Origins adds Pettigrew & Oulton directories

Irish Origins has added to its collection of Irish Directories with the upload of Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanack & General Register of Ireland for 1835-37, 1839, 1841, and 1843-45.

These directories include street lists supplemented by alphabetical lists of individuals, making it possible to track an individual around the city; this is an important feature because changes of address were much more frequent in the 19th century, when the common practice was to rent rather than purchase.

Pettigrew & Oulton also recorded officers of virtually every Dublin institution, club and society, as well as clergy of all denominations. Coverage extended outside Dublin, noting the names of many officials, administrators and clergy in large towns. This is particularly useful for areas which were not served by a local directory, or for which none has survived.

Just as importantly these directories contain a tremendous amount of information on day-to-day activities and services, giving an insight into the life our ancestors knew.

Monday 27 May 2013

Genealogy events to take us into June

Monday 27 May: If maps could speak: History of Ordnance Survey in Ireland, with Dick Kirwan. Host: Kill Local History Group. Venue: Parish Hall, Kill, Co Kildare. 8:30pm.

Tuesday 28 May: Women's lives in Dublin tenements, with Dr. Enda Leaney. Venue: Donaghmede Library, Donaghmede Shopping Centre, Dublin 13. Time: 11am. Free, booking advised on (0)1 848 2833.

Wednesday 29 May: Ardglass Harbour, Refuge and Fishery on the wild Irish Sea 1800-1960, with Des McCabe. Host: PRONI. Venue: Linen Hall Library, Belfast. 1pm. Free. No booking required.

Wednesday 29 May: Military Ancestors – online military records. Venue: Heritage Gallery, Downpatrick Library, Co Down. 1pm. Free but booking essential. Tel 44 (0)28 4461 1448.

Thursday 30 May: Genealogical collections in the Linen Hall Library, with John Killen. Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service Spring Lecture Series. Venue: Tower Museum, Union Hall Place, Derry BT48 6LU. Time: 12.30pm. Free. Book by telephone on 028 7137 2411 or email. 

Thursday 30 May: An introduction to genealogy resources in Roscrea area, with Tipperary Libraries Local Studies department. Venue: Roscrea Library, Birr Road, Roscrea. 3-4pm. This event is free, but places are limited. Tel: 0505 22032.

Friday 31 May: Q&A session – research in the six counties of Northern Ireland. Online, via Ireland Family History's facebook page (here) from 1pm to 5pm GMT.

Saturday 1 June: Irish Family History Online, with Chris Paton. 2pm. South Ayrshire History & Family History Fair. Venue: Walker Halls, Troon, Ayr KA8 0QD, UK. Fair open 10am to 4pm.

Saturday 1 June: Who Do You Think You Are? Venue: Enniskillen Library, Halls Lane, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. 11am–12:30pm. Free. Booking essential. Tel: +44 (0)28 4461 1448.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Civil registration indexes approved for online future

Wonderful news! The newly published Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 contains amendments to section 61 of the Civil Registration Act 2004 that will allow 'historical' Irish birth, marriage and death indexes to go online. At this stage it isn't known exactly what dates are to be included by the term 'historical', so we'll have to wait to find out what the cut-off year will be. Note, also, that these are the indexes, not the civil registration registers.

The announcement seems to promise that researchers will soon have online access to BMD indexes no matter where on the island their ancestors lived. The General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI) is in spitting distance of the end of its project to digitise its civil registration indexes (late autumn being the anticipated date of arrival online), and hopefully it won't be too much after that event that those for the rest of Ireland join them.

The likely big difference between the two projects is that while GRONI's records will be made available on a pay-per-view basis, those from the General Records Office of Ireland will be made searchable on the Irish government's genealogy portal ( for free.

The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), which has campaigned long and hard for these developments both north and south of the border, is delighted. Welcoming the announcement Steven Smyrl, Executive Liaison Officer for CIGO and current President of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland, said 'This is terrific news. CIGO has lobbied long and hard for better access to civil records for genealogists and historians.

'It doesn’t surprise me that this has finally happened under the current government. The two ministers involved in this decision, Jimmy Deenihan TD (Heritage Minister) and Joan Burton TD (Social Protection Minister) are both keen genealogists. In particular Mr Deenihan has proved to be fully supportive of the genealogy lobby since before he came to office in 2011.

'This move will make Irish genealogical research easier.'

Indeed it will.

See my follow-up explanation of why the GRO's indexes will be worth waiting for.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Irish Roots Spring issue published

The Spring issue of Irish Roots magazine is now available in the shops! It's also available in digital format on the publisher's website here.

In this month's issue there's a focus on Tracing Your County Mayo Ancestors and a feature about using Directorie to further your research. There's also an article that explores the 1830's Tithe War; this not only points you in the direction of the tithe applotment collections but also puts the historical period in context. Other features include helpful guidance to researching ancestors in Australasia and locating church records in the US.

Combining traditional genealogy with dna testing is examined in another feature, there's a handy guide to the top ten most useful websites for research, and there's also my own feature bringing you a round-up of all the latest Irish genealogy releases and developments.

On the heritage side you can also discover how New Ross is celebrating the 50th anniversary of JFK's visit to New Ross.

Another great issue.

More Church of Ireland transcriptions go online

More transcriptions of Church of Ireland registers have been released by the Anglican Record Project, as follows:

Buttevant Garrison (Cloyne)

Baptisms 1917–22

Cloghran parish church (Dublin)

Baptisms 1782–1864
Marriages 1739, 1782–1839
Burials 1732–1864

Kilsaran parish church (St Mary’s, Castlebellingham, Armagh)
Baptisms 1818–1840
Marriages 1818–1844
Burials 1818–1900

St Patrick’s Church, Kenmare (Ardfert & Aghadoe)
Marriages 1819–1950

Strabannon parish church (Armagh)
Baptism 1688–1750, 1765, 1782–1847
Marriages 1698–1754, 1778–1844
Burials 1698–1751, 1782–1864

Dromiskin & Manfieldstown (Armagh)
Dromiskin parish church
Baptisms 1791–1839
Marriages 1805–1903
Burials 1802–1907

Dromiskin & Manfieldstown (Armagh
Manfieldstown parish church
Baptisms 1824–1856
Marriages 1824–1850
Burials 1838–1884

The transcriptions are downloadable in pdf format here.

The Anglican Record Project is an ongoing endeavour to make Church of Ireland baptism, marriage and burial registers available in a digital format. It is run by Mark Williams and hosted by the Representative Church Body Library.

(Mark will be presenting a lecture about his work at the IGRS Open Day in Dublin this coming Saturday. Details.)

There's more about Church of Ireland records on my website.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Plantation exhibition opens in Derry in June

An exhibition entitled Plantation: Process, People, Perspectives will be opening next month in Derry's Guildhall. It will examine the planning that went into the Plantation and how people were effected by it, as well as its continuing legacy. It will also mark the re-opening of the city's glorious sandstone Guildhall after a £3million restoration project.

Making the announcement on the Great Parchment Book blog, Bernadette Walsh, Archivist at Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum’s Service, says that the exhibition will showcase a fantastic collection of maps, drawings and other items that have been loaned by other institutions in the UK and Ireland. There's more here.

Bernadette told me a few weeks ago that some samples from the Great Parchment Book, which is still being conserved and digitised, are expected to be included in the exhibition. The Great Parchment Book is a major survey, compiled in 1639, of all the lands in County Derry/Londonderry seized by the Crown; it includes names, placenames and details of rentals and contracts, and has been described as the Domesday Book of Derry.

The exhibition (and the restored Guildhall) will be open to the public from Monday 10 June.

'Too many histories...?' Hedge School debate online

If you weren't able to get along to HistoryIreland's 20th anniversary Hedge School last week, you can listen to a recording of the debate, free, on the magazine's website.

The theme of the debate was 'Too many histories . . .’? Surveys of the past generation, and involved some of Ireland's leading historians discussing the major narrative histories of the past generation. It was held at the Royal College of Physicians in Kildare Street on 16 May 2013.

Monday 20 May 2013 releases Co Down church records

FindMyPast Ireland has released an interesting batch of 12,084 church records for Annaclone/Anaghlone and Ballyroney, near Banbridge in Co Down.

It includes records from the registers of the First and Second Presbyterian Meeting Houses, the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic church, and includes baptism, marriage and burial records, Presbyterian Communicant Rolls and a register of graveyard plots, as follows:

Baptism, Marriage and Burial

3405 St Colman's RC Annaclone baptisms 1834-1913
1137 St Colman's RC Annaclone marriages 1851-1913
1505 St Colman's RC Annaclone burials 1851-1913

3448 Ballyroney Presbyterian baptisms 1819-1913
790 Ballyroney Presbyterian marriages 1831-1906

974 Anaghclone Presbyterian baptisms 1839-1913
618 Anaghclone Presbyterian marriages 1845-1913

79 Anaghclone Church of Ireland baptisms 1877-1900
114 Anaghclone Church of Ireland marriages 1845-1900
14 Anaghclone Church of Ireland burials 1877-1900

Communicant Rolls

991 Anaghlone Presbyterian Communicants 1868-1913
1464 Ballyroney Presbyterian Communicants 1861-1913

The Rolls are an annual roll call of members of each community between 1861 and 1913. Notations in the registers include changes to women's names on marriage, the date of death of church members (or the date they left the church or emigrated) and whether a certificate was issued on emigration (these certificates acted as letters of introduction and confirmation of good behaviour, and helped emigrants to settle into new congregations).

Burial Plot

Ballyroney Presbyterian graveyard – Plot ownership 1895

This useful record records the address of those who owned plots. They do not record memorial transcriptions.

Find out more about using church records to trace your ancestors.

1926 census: stand up and be counted

If you've been keeping up with the progress (or lack of it) of the Government's 1926 Census 'early release' plan, you'll be aware that there's a problem. See my recent blogpost on the subject.

The brick wall in this particular story is the Central Statistics Office. It is, of course, run by civil servants – a breed of people not exactly known for their originality or flexibility and certainly not given to rewriting the rule book in response to public demand. So while the current Government may wish to release the 1926 Census in time for 1916, you can bet your bottom euro that the CSO has neither the will nor the motivation to facilitate that intent.

Over the last couple of years, a few smoke screens have wafted into the story, blaming this or that suggested compromise solution for the delay. As far as I can make out, the only real hurdle all along has been the CSO; every reasonable suggestion has been swiftly booted out of play and its view has become more entrenched. Frankly, I really can't see that any further legislation will be introduced in the near future without an almighty lobbying effort from the genealogical community.

The CSO's argument is clear enough from this reply (dated last week) to a 'lobby' letter sent to Taoiseach's office at the beginning of April:

I refer to your email of 8 April relating to the release of the 1926 Census forms.

The Censuses of Population held between 1926 and 1991 inclusive were carried out under the 1926 Statistics Act which did not permit any access to Census records, at any time. However, the 1993 Statistics Act repealed the 1926 and 1946 Statistics Acts and provided for the release of census forms for these Censuses 100 years after the date of the relevant Census.

When this provision was debated in the Seanad at the time, the view was expressed that the proposed 100 years period should be reduced to 75, or even 50 years. However, while the retrospective introduction of the 100 years exemption was seen by some as undermining the original guarantee given to householders, it was generally accepted that 100 years was a reasonable compromise in all the circumstances, including having regard to increasing life expectancy.

The position is that the confidentiality of all statistical returns from individuals, households and business is guaranteed by law, and this guarantee is the cornerstone of all CSO surveys, not least Censuses of Population.

I am satisfied, therefore, that the 100 years period provided for in the 1993 Act strikes the right balance in facilitating legitimate historical and sociological research on the one hand, while the protecting the confidentiality of Census data and the integrity of CSO procedures on the other.

Yours sincerely

Paul Kehoe T.D.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach
with special responsibility for the CSO

If we really, really want the early release of the 1926 census, it is time for Irish genealogists to stand up and be counted. We need to lobby like crazy! You can see the argument above. Argue back! Loud and clear. Take one point, any point, and knock it down. Get your friends, your family, your collegues, your local history/genealogy society involved, too. Get them all writing. A ten or fifteen minute investment of time from everyone who cares about this could just deliver a huge return.

The CSO seems set up to resist all the way to 2026 so if we don't fight for this, we'll definitely be 13 years older before the 1926 census returns are revealed.

Send your emails to

This week's genealogy and history events

Monday 20 May: Fr John Fahy (1893-1969) Radical Republican & Agrarian Activist, with Jim Madden. Host: Birr Historical Society. Venue: Dooly's Hotel, Birr, Co Offaly. 8pm. All welcome.

Thursday 23 May: Competing Stories 1912-1922 – Understanding our past, an event incorporating archive film and talks on the Decade of Centenaries (part of Community Relations Week. The session will consider what is “documented community memory?” As versions of history are shaping the present, there are risks and opportunities in commemorating the decade 1912-22. Will the same versions of history which shaped the present be driving the future? Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 2:00pm–4:45pm. Free. Booking not necessary. Details: 02890 534800.

Thursday 23 May: Dublin in the Early 20th Century – Exploring the 1911 Census, with Catriona Crowe. Venue: Ballyroan Library, Orchardstown Villas, Dublin 14. 7:30pm. Free. No booking required.

Saturday 25 May: Irish Genealogical Research Society Open Day and Lectures. Venue: Dublin City Libraries & Archive, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. Free. See great line-up of lectures, and details.

Saturday 25 May: 15th Medieval Dublin Symposium. Host: Friends of Medieval Dublin. Venue: Robert Emmet Theatre, Room 2037, Arts Building, Trinity College, Dublin. 9:30am to 5:00pm. Free.

Friday 17 May 2013

Plantation Families: two-day conference, September

A two-centre conference entitled Plantation Families: People, records and resources will take place in September. It is aimed at anyone with an interest in the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century, a period of crucial importance in the shaping of modern Ulster and Ireland.

Venue and dates:
  • PRONI, Belfast: Friday 27 September
  • Tower Museum, Derry: Saturday 28 September
The focus of the PRONI presentations will be on early 17th-century records for Belfast and east Ulster while the Derry sessions will concentrate on Derry and the Northwest.

Held in tribute to the life and work of Ulster historian R J (Bob) Hunter, the conference will be chaired by Dr Sam Burnside. Speakers include Dr Brendan Scott, Dr Patricia Stewart, John Johnston, Ian Montgomery, Dr Glynn Kelso, Bernadette Walsh, Brian Mitchell, Ruairi O Baoill and Dr William Roulston.

The conference is free to attend and will be held 9:30am–4:00pm on both days. Refreshments will be provided. Booking for one or both days is essential: tel: +44 (0)28 9066 1988 or email.

UPDATE 14 June: Full programme published.

Any connections to Presbyterian Exiles of 1798?

The Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) needs some help with a research project. It has been commissioned to carry out research into Ulster Presbyterians who sought refuge in the United States around the time of the 1798 Rebellion.

Many Presbyterians in the north of Ireland, along with a good number of other Protestant dissenters and Catholics, supported the United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group. As a result, a number of them had to leave the island.

The UHF project aims to find out more about these individuals and their experiences in the US and has assembled a team of academics and researchers on both sides of the Atlantic to investigate further. So, if you have an ancestor who was involved in the United Irishmen cause and left Ireland as a consequence, please contact the UHF by email, using 'Presbyterian Exiles of 1798' in the subject line.

The UHF is committed to keeping your information confidential; no details will be released into the public domain without your permission.

IGRS Library re-opens at Society of Genealogists

The Library of the Irish Genealogical Research Society will re-open tomorrow, Saturday 18 May, at the Society of Genealogists in London.

Internationally recognised as the most important collection of Irish genealogical materials in private hands, the Library had to leave its long-term home in the crypt of St Magnus the Martyr in Lower Thames Street on the expiry of its lease back in March. The move to the Society of Genealogists (SOG) is a temporary arrangement while the IGRS seeks a permanent accommodation solution.

Space at the SOG is limited, so it hasn't been possible to relocate all the Library's holdings; much has had to be put in storage, off-site. However, some of the most popular and regularly accessed materials can be made available to visitors at the new venue. Among them are collections of family manuscripts, including the Michael Leader manuscripts and the Rosemary ffolliott manuscripts; the Francis-Jane French collection; the Michael Leader Parish Register collection and all volumes of O'Kief, Cosh Mang. Many digitised collections will also be available on the Society's laptop.

As previously, the IGRS Library will be open only on Saturdays, but to fit in with the SOG schedule, operating times are slightly amended to 1:30pm to 5:30pm. IGRS Members may visit the Library free. Non-members are also welcome but a charge of £10 per visit is made. All visitors to the IGRS Library will be issued with a special temporary pass to the IGRS section for the day. This pass will not provide access to the SOG Library.

The Library team ask that anyone planning to visit should email in advance so that the relevant files and manuscripts can be retrieved from the SOG storeroom in time for their arrival.

The Society of Genealogists is located at Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA. Map.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Mid-May updates: Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives

Stand by for the updates to Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives so far this month:

ANTRIM Genealogy Archives
Cemetery Records
Glenarm Churchyard Memorials - O'DONNELL

ARMAGH Genealogy Archives
Protestants in favour of Catholic Emancipation: signatures obtained in ARMAGH and NEWRY

CORK Genealogy Archives
Churchyard memorials
Aglishdrinagh Churchyard Memorials
Monanimy Churchyard Memorials

DOWN Genealogy Archives
Protestants in favour of Catholic Emancipation: signatures from HILLSBOROUGH and NEWRY
Cemetery Records
Balligan Church, Parish of Inishargy Memorials

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives
Mount Jerome Victorian Chapel Memorial Plaques
Drimnagh or the Bluebell Churchyard Memorials v.7 pg 29-34

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives
Colaghty: List of young persons confirmed by the Bishop of Kilmore on 16/6/1856
Tempo (CoI) Births, Marriages & Deaths
1766 Derryloran Parish Religious Census
1766 Devenish Parish Religious Census
*numerous others

KERRY Genealogy Archives
Kilmurry Churchyard, Ballincuslane Parish Memorials

LAOIS Genealogy Archives
Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

SLIGO Genealogy Archives
Aghanagh Churchyard Memorials

Genealogy Day in Skibbereen - booking open

A full week of free-of-charge events to celebrate the Gathering will kick off with a Genealogy Day at Skibbereen Heritage Centre on Saturday, 17 August.

The Centre's family history team (William, Margaret, Patricia and Deirdre... take a bow) will be ready and willing to help all-comers to find their West Cork roots. Free 30-minute consultations (2pm–5pm) are available for booking now. To reserve your place, please call Skibbereen Heritage Centre on +353 (0)28 40900 or email.

The afternoon's one-on-ones will be followed in the evening with an illustrated talk by William Casey on genealogy research. I've interviewed William in the past and know that he's an experienced genealogist with an impressive depth of knowledge of the area's history, so I'm sure his talk will be highly informative. He'll be concentrating on practical family history steps and how to avoid the most common pitfalls encountered by researchers.

Booking is required for William's talk, which starts at 8:30pm and is free. Use the telephone number or email above to book.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Belfast to celebrate its maritime history

Belfast will be celebrating its rich maritime heritage over the upcoming Late May Bank Holiday Weekend (Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May) at Queen's Quay extending down to Titanic Belfast. The Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival will see tall ships and many other vessels arriving in the lough and all manner of family fun to be had on the quays.

Among the events of most interest, perhaps, to those with ancestors from the city, is the Titanic Walking Tour. This follows in the footsteps of the famous ship's builders on a guided tour of Queen's Island, where Titanic and her two sister ships were designed, built and launched. The tour will depart at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on each of the three days of the Festival, and is free. Booking is required on +44 (0)28 9024 6609. Details.

Monday 13 May 2013

17th-century Ireland revealed in 300-year-old maps

A new Trinity College website has brought together a unique 17th-century map collection for the first time in 300 years as a free, publically accessible online resource. The Down Survey website maps out in great detail the dramatic transfer in landownership from Catholics to Protestants and changes our understanding of 17th-century Ireland (video below).

The Down Survey of Ireland was undertaken by the Cromwellian regime in the years 1656-1658 and introduced modern mapping techniques into Ireland to create the first recognizable maps of the country. It was also the first ever detailed land survey on a national scale anywhere in the world and measured all the estates to be forfeited by Catholic landowners.

This magnificent map collection, the originals of which were destroyed in two fires in 1711 and at the Four Courts in 1922, comprises county, barony and parish maps and is rich in detail showing not only townland boundaries, but also churches, roads, rivers, bogs, woods and settlements.

Led by Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú, Associate Professor in Modern History, TCD historians have now tracked down over 2,000 contemporaneous copies of the original survey maps in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland, Britain and France, and brought them together as a free online resource.

By overlaying these maps onto Ordnance Survey maps and Google maps, and employing GIS technology, the website allows users to explore this turbulent period in Irish history to an extraordinary level of detail.

Key features of the website include:
  • 2,000 magnificent county, barony and parish maps from the Down Survey
  • National, provincial and county maps detailing massive landownership transfer
  • Mapping out of murders and violent assaults reported during the 1641 rebellion
  • Representation of 17th-century road network
  • Searchable database of over 10,000 landowners
The official launch of the website took place this evening at Trinity College Dublin. Watch the video below (it's 5.5 minutes long) for a great overview of the website and how it links up with TCD's earlier release of the 1641 Depositions.

Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú will be presenting a lecture about the Down Survey project at the IGRS Open Day in Dublin on Saturday 25 May. Details.

1926 Irish census moves closer to release?

This is a revised posting (proving that less haste saves time and doesn't get hopes up unnecessarily):

After appearing to stall, the release of the 1926 Irish census (for the 26 counties of the Republic only) may have moved forward a notch or two. Or (more likely) it may not.

A private member's bill has been published to amend the wording of the Statistics Act. It calls for special 'heritage status' treatment for the 1926 census as it was the first population census of the new Irish state, and to allow it to be released 'to the public for genealogical, historical and other research'.

As a private member's bill, this has little chance of being enacted. Very few private member's bills get past a second reading (only a handful have succeeded since 1937).

Last week, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, TD Jimmy Deenihan, made a written response to a query about how the Government's plans to publish the census were progressing. He replied as follows:

"... the Programme for Government contains a commitment to enabling the publication of the 1926 Census records. A 1926 Census Working Group has been formed comprising officials from my Department, the National Archives and the Central Statistics Office. The group has met to consider how best to enable the publication of the 1926 Census records. Under current legislation, (the Statistics Act, 1993), census data must be withheld for 100 years. If the records were to be released before the expiry of 100 years a change in legislation would be required to allow for the early release. Following discussions with the CSO, the Minister is of the opinion that the extensive preparatory work required to facilitate the release of the data into the public domain can commence in advance of the legal restriction being adressed. The CSO and the National Archives have agreed to facilitate the preparatory work on the Census records."

We have, of course, heard very similar comments before. They suggest that administrative work is being carried out to prepare for the release once the legislation is in place. Other than this private member's bill, there are not, unfortunately, any steps being made to get the legislation in place.

Sorry to sound negative. I'd love this bill to get through and deliver the 1926 census. But best to be realistic, I think.

Take five minutes to help improve RootsIreland

The Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF) has commissioned a strategic review of and, as part of this process, is asking registered users of the site to complete an online survey. Invitation emails have been arriving in the inboxes of thousands of users over the last few days, and more may still be on their way. (The site has nearly half a million registered users.... I've no idea how many of these are being asked to take part.)

RootsIreland is a huge resource of 20 million records. It should be recognised for its value and nurtured, but it has a certain Margaret Thatcher quality that makes it loved and hated in (possibly) equal measure. Some recent decisions by the management team have helped to polarise views still further.

Whichever camp you fit in, this survey is an opportunity to have your say. I've just taken that opportunity and can tell you that it's a very easy to use, well-constructed survey, and it really does take only three or four minutes to answer most of the questions. But you might want to pause and spend a few more minutes on the final question which asks for constructive comments about what you'd like to see on the site and how the existing facility can be improved.

The 'carrot' of a chance to win 550 credits was of no consequence to me and I don't think it will matter too much to most other researchers, either. It is much more essential that the IFHF receive a large volume of feedback and can then use that feedback to develop a site that reflects users requirements and wallets. It's such an valuable collection of records.... it's worth a few minutes...

So if you receive one of these emails, I'd urge you to try to get your thoughts together and find five minutes.

This week's genealogy and history events

Monday 13 May: Excavating Slumland Dublin: Tenements, the Monto and the 1913 Dublin Lockout, with Dr Thomas Kador. Helen Roe Theatre, RSAI, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. 7.30pm. Free.

Tuesday 14 May: The future state of the Irish in Britain, with Professor Mary Hickman. CIS Spring Public Lecture Series. Atlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster, London SW1. 7pm. Booking essential. Details.

Tuesday 14 May: Who are the Apprentice Boys Anyway?, with David Hall. Part of the Paths to Commemoration Series of lectures at Sligo Central Library, Stephen St, Sligo. 7:30pm. Details: +353 (0)71 9111675.

Wednesday 15 May: Irish Ex-Service Men After The War, with Bernard Kelly. Venue: IWHC, Irish Town Way, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M8 0AE. 7:30pm. £3 Details: 0161 205 4007.

Thursday 16 May: Writing Local History, with Prof. Raymond Gillespie, NUI Maynooth. Ashbourne Library, 1 -2 Killegland Square Upper, Killegland Street, Ashbourne, Co Meath. 7.30pm.

Thursday 16 May: Trace Your Wicklow Roots, with Nicola Morris MAPGI. A free genealogy talk at Powerscourt House, Co Wicklow @ 2:30pm. No booking required. Details.

Thursday 16 May: Has Ireland 'Too many histories'? a HistoryIreland Hedge School. Join the discussion at the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 7pm to 9:30pm. Free. Reserve your seat by email.

Saturday 18 May: Who do you think you are? Enniskillen Library, Halls Lane, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh BT74 7DR. 11am–12:30pm. Free. Booking essential on 028 6632 2886.

Saturday 18 May: Perspectives on late Victorian Irish Nationalism, a historical conference. Venue: Wynn's Hotel, Dublin. Start 10am.

IGRS Dublin Open Day programme (Saturday 25 May)

The Irish Genealogical Research Society's Ireland Branch will be holding its Open Day in Dublin on Saturday 25 May and has lined up some very interesting lectures. Here's the programme:

10:00–10:20 : Registration (tea/coffee available in Library Cafe)
10:20 : Chairman's Welcome
10:30–11:10 : At home in Ireland: Houses and their families, with Mary Leland
11:15–11:55 : The Down Survey of Ireland online, with Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú and David Brown, Department of History, Trinity College, Dublin
12:00–13:30 : Lunch (at own expense)
13:45–14:25 : Searching for lost ancestors: Using transmigration studies, with Dr Gerard Moran, Department of History, NUI Maynooth
14:30–15:10 : The Anglican Record Project, with Mark Williams
15:20–16:00 : Ask the Experts! – Question and Answer session

Venue: Dublin City Library & Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

All welcome – Admission is free.


Bunratty Graveyard upload makes 6,000th photo

Clare County Library has added the 6,000th photograph to its online Graveyard Inscriptions Collection, with the uploading of Bunratty Graveyard (donated by Clare Roots Society).

The most recent upload joins a collection of photographs of 47 Clare graveyards in Foto, where the text of the transcriptions can be searched for surnames, placenames etc.

Transcriptions for each graveyard can also be read in the Library's Donated Materials Section. This section includes transcriptions of graveyards without photographs, bringing the total numbers of graveyards covered to 125. All these transcriptions and photographs have been donated by individuals, historical and genealogical societies and community groups, and make an outstanding resource for family historians.

Friday 10 May 2013

ITTs issued for Genealogy Services at NLI & NAI

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has issued an Invitation To Tender (ITT) to provide the institution's Genealogy Services this summer.

The contract is for a 15-week run, starting on Monday 17 June and ending on Saturday 28 September, working a five-and-a-half-day week, plus Culture Night. Full details via the notice on eTenders.

As you'd expect, the qualifications and accreditation demanded of the service providers are high and subjected to close scrutiny. All tenders must be submitted by 4 June, so the successful panel of genealogists will be expected to leap into action, ready for the 17th.

Last year, Eneclann and Ancestor Network formed a consortium to provide a joint genealogy service across both the NLI and the National Archives of Ireland (NAI). That contract expires shortly. This year, each institution is issuing its own ITT and the contracts will be awarded separately.

I understand that the NAI's ITT has also been issued but it doesn't seem to have made its way onto eTenders yet.

Book of essays on Lord Morpeth's Roll published

A lavishly illustrated book of essays about Lord Morpeth's Roll has been published by Four Courts Press.

The Morpeth Roll – Ireland identified in 1841 discusses the significance of the Roll, and examines what it can tell us about pre-Famine Ireland. Just how the Roll was commissioned and assembled in a matter of weeks, with signatures collected from across Ireland, is one focus of enquiry; as are the reasons for Morpeth’s extraordinary popularity, which endured when he returned to Dublin as viceroy in the 1850s. The Roll is not only a document of national significance, it is also a unique mechanical object on its winding spool, presenting very special challenges for display and interpretation.

After decades of lying in obscurity in Castle Howard, North Yorkshire, the Morpeth Roll has been the subject of intense research, digitization and conservation. It is now being seen in public for the first time in 170 years as part of a touring exhibition, held in conjunction with The Gathering.

Edited by Christopher Ridgway, curator of Castle Howard in Yorkshire, the 114-page paperback can be purchased from the publisher's online shop for €8.95.

Thursday 9 May 2013

History & Genealogy Village sets up in Dun Laoghaire

This Friday and Saturday, a History and Genealogy Village will be created as part of the Bratacha (flag) festival in Dún Laoghaire.

Exhibitors in the village include history/genealogy societies and organisations, and sellers of related products and services. Among them are Ancestor Network, Eneclann, FindMyPast Ireland, Flyleaf Press, Genealogical Society of Ireland, Irish-Jewish Genealogical Society, Irish Roots magazine and the National Maritime Museum of Ireland. A number of community groups will also be taking part.

The village, which is free to visit, will be found at Harbour Square, almost directly opposite Dún Laoghaire's Dart Station, from 11am to 5pm on Friday and from 9:30am to 4pm on Saturday. launches Famine Memorial has launched an online memorial of The Great Irish Famine to coincide with the National Famine Commemoration currently taking place in Kilrush, Co. Clare.

This online assortment of records highlights the many aspects of Irish life that were affected during The Great Irish Famine (1846-1852).

Researchers can search through a number of record categories including emigration, land and newspapers and piece together their own ancestor’s story during the period. The collection doesn't include any newly launched records. It has brought together sets of records and articles that are relevant to family history research focussed on this particular time period.

Find out more about the Famine Memorial collection.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Eneclann joins Standards organisation FHISO

Irish genealogy company Eneclann has become a founding member of the Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO). The latter is a standards-developing organisation that aims to bring the international family history and genealogical community together in a transparent, self-governing forum for the purpose of developing information standards to solve today’s interoperability issues.

Making the announcement, Brian Donovan, Eneclann’s CEO, said: 'Digitising, indexing and publishing family history records online is fraught with problems. Genealogy needs FHISO to help navigate a collaborative solution to shared problems, and to set meaningful standards, and we in Eneclann are delighted to be partners in this.'

The company will participate with other FHISO members from the global genealogical community in the development of standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information.

Calendars of Wills & Administrations 1858-1920 are now searchable!

The National Archives of Ireland (NAI) has made a major update to its online Genealogy website with the Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858–1920.

For the first time, users can search by the name of the deceased person and also by name of executor/beneficiary. The Calendars give details of principal family relationships, and assets of which the person died possessed. They have previously been available only to personal visitors to the NAI's Reading Room.

The indexes are linked to digital images of the original calendars. In the examples I've just checked, whole pages of the calendars appear in the images.

Up to 1917, the Calendars cover the whole of Ireland, but since 1918 they cover only the 26 counties in the Republic; those indexes covering the six counties of Northern Ireland since 1918 are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). The Calendars of Wills and Administrations for Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry are searchable online at PRONI's website.

Calendars for Wills and Administration from 1922 to 1982 remain searchable on the main National Archives website.

So where is 1921? It appears that the records for 1921 have not been microfilmed and were not, therefore, digitised. The NAI hopes to digitise these in the future.

Irish Historic Towns Atlas Annual Seminar - 24 May

The Irish Historic Towns Atlas Annual Seminar will be held on Friday 24 May, the second of three annual events to explore the workings of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas. The latter is a project established in 1981 to record the development of a selection of Irish towns of varying sizes and is part of a wider European scheme, with town atlases containing broadly similar information being produced for a number of countries. The Irish towns covered can, therefore, be studied in a European context.

Each seminar compares towns from a chronological and interdisciplinary perspective, and this year's focus will be on towns with Anglo-Norman, Gaelic and Plantation origins.

Here's a brief overview of the towns to be covered (I have not included all sessions):
  • Anglo-Norman towns based on Gaelic monastic sites (Downpatrick, Kells, Kildare, Kilkenny Irishtown), with Cóilín Ó Drisceoil
  • Anglo-Norman towns based on castles (Athlone, Carlingford, Carlow, Carrickfergus, Fethard, Kilkenny, Hightown, Mullingar and Trim), with Margaret Murphy
  • Anglo-Norman towns focused on coastal and riverine trading activity (Dublin, Dundalk, Limerick), with Andy Halpin
  • Demonstration of Digital atlas of Derry~Londonderry, with Keith Lilley
  • Gaelic townships in the middle ages (Cavan, Ennis, Longford, Tuam, Sligo), with Brian Ó Dálaigh
  • Colonial towns (Belfast, Carrickfergus, Derry~Londonderry), with Nick Brannon
  • Plantation towns (Armagh, Bandon), with Annaleigh Margey
The day will culminate with the launch by Professor Rosemary Sweet of Maps and texts: exploring the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, edited by H.B. Clarke and Sarah Gearty.

Venue: Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

Everyone is welcome to attend. There is no registration fee for this seminar, but your need to email to secure your place ('Seminar' in subject line). Details.

May issue of Irish Lives Remembered published

The 70-page May issue of Irish Lives Remembered magazine has been published.

This month's edition offers 16 pages of resource information, listings and advertorial on County Wexford. Other highlights include features on using Griffith's Valuation to trace the family homestead, family stories from Donegal, Kerry and the United States, research resources from Australia and professional analysis of a late-1890s famiy photo taken in a Waterford studio. There's also an interesting feature about the Irish Photo Archives and the Lensmen Collection of photographs, which chronicles Ireland over the last six decades.

As always, the magazine is free to read online or to download, here.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Follow the decade of 100 years ago on Century Ireland

A website has been launched to tell the story of Ireland's most tumultuous years: 1912-1923. Called Century Ireland, it's an online historical newspaper that will tell the story of the events our ancestors lived through 100 years ago. It will be published fortnightly.

As well as telling us the news story of the time, it provides access to relevant RTÉ archival material, as well as contextual information. Major cultural and educational institutions in Ireland have been involved, and a range of rarely (or even never before) seen material has been made available.

Its opening 'issue' offers the following:
  • Catríona Crowe on video, talking about the rise of the Irish women’s suffrage movement
  • Dr Will Murphy sets out the social, cultural and political background to May 1913
  • Dr Leeann Lane tells the international story of the women’s Suffrage movement
  • Dr Conor Mulvagh provides a Q&A session on the theme: What was Home Rule?
  • Prof. Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh discusses Ireland & the Empire in 1913

There are also News In Brief slots taken from the newspapers of the day, where some lighter examples of Irish life can be found. Just a few examples set the temperature: Boy attacked by organ-grinder’s monkey in Dublin; Haunted house leaves family with ‘pitiable plight’; Marriage annulled on grounds of hypnotism. Every one a winner!

And I'm sure this website will also be a winner. It's presented in an attractive package, got a great mix of video, podcast and reading, and caters across the board from popular interest to more serious examination.

Century Ireland has been produced by a team of researchers at Boston College Ireland and the project is funded by the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Minister Jimmy Deenihan launched the site this morning). It is hosted by RTÉ and the site is complimented by their broadcast schedule and material from the RTÉ archives.

HistoryIreland: latest issue is in the shops

The latest issue of HistoryIreland magazine hit my door mat just in time for the bank holiday weekend so I had some time, for a change, to really indulge myself with a long read.

Go to revamped HistoryIreland website
As always, there's plenty to get stuck into. Among my favorite features in this particular issue was a feature about James Hack Tuke, an English Quaker, and his schemes for assisted emigration from the west of Ireland; a look at a newly discovered autobiography of William Smith O'Brien (started when he was holed up, courtesy of the British authorities, on Maria Island, Van Diemen's Land, in 1849); a report by Joe Duffy on the evolution of his search for the names of the 30 children killed in the Easter Rising, 1916; and an analysis of Irish attitudes to slavery during the American Civil War.

The reviews – of books, film, tv and museum exhibitions – are always top reads for me, and this issue was no exception. Good to see Cumann na mBan getting a mention, too.

68-pages of absorbing reading is now available in the shops, priced €7/£6. Get your own copy!

History and genealogy events to 12 May

Wednesday 8 May: Ireland’s Neutrality during the Emergency, with Dr. Peter Rigney. Host: Malahide Historical Society. Venue: Presbyterian Church Hall, Dublin Road, Malahide, Co Dublin. 8pm.

Thursday 9 May: Family history online for beginners. Venue: Ballynahinch Library, Main Street, Ballynahinch, Co Down BT24 8DN. 2pm–3.30pm. Some basic computer skills required.

Thursday 9 May: Speranza, Lady Wilde, mother of Oscar, with Patricia Leventon. Venue: LinenHall Library, Belfast. Performance Area, 6pm. £10. Bookings.

Friday 10 May: Family history for beginners online. Venue: 12 John Street, Rathfriland, Co Down BT34 5QH. 11am–12:30pm. Free, but booking essential as places are limited – telephone 028 4063 0661.

Friday 10 May: Ireland and the 1948 London Olympics – political fun, and games, with Dr Tom Hunt. Part of the NUI Maynooth History Forum programme. 8pm. Rhetoric House, South Campus, NUI Maynooth. Enquiries.

Friday 10 May: Irish Linen Industry: a nostalgic look through film archives. Venue: Rathfriland, 12 John Street, Rathfriland, Co Down The BT34 5QH. 3pm. Free, but booking essential as places are limited – telephone 028 4063 0661.

Friday 10 May: Philanthropy during the Great Famine with particular reference to County Clare, lecture by Professor Christine Kinealy. Part of the 2013 National Famine Commemorations. Venue: Teach Ceoil, Kilrush, Co Clare. 8pm.

Friday 10 May to Sunday 12 May: Maguire Family History Weekend. Being held for the fifth year. A weekend of activities and events to reconnect Maguires with their ancestral homeland. Based in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. Details.

Saturday 11 May: Irish Genealogical Research Society Open Day. Lectures: 11am: Tracking the Irish with FamilySearch, with Sharon Hintze; 12noon: Community Genealogy and Historic Graveyard Surveys in Ireland, with John Tierney.  Lectures are followed by a light lunch and refreshments. £25 members; £30 non-members. AGM at 2pm (free, members-only). Venue:  34 Chepstow Villas, Bayswater, London W11. Bookings.

Saturday 11 May: The Home Rule crisis of 1912, an illustrated talk with Hugh McShane. Ballycastle library, 5 Leyland Road, Ballycastle, Co Antrim BT54 6DT. 2:30pm–3:30pm. Free.

Sunday 12 May: President Michael D. Higgins will lead the official ceremony of the 2013 National Famine Commemoration, Kilrush, Co Clare. Venue: Frances Street, Kilrush, Co Clare. Time 2.40 - 4.15pm.

Genealogy course for Monaghan Diaspora

As part of this year's The Gathering, a four-day training course will be held (twice) in October specifically designed for tourists with County Monaghan connections.

County Monaghan Genealogy – home to the little hills
will provide participants with information on the genealogical sources available, the cultural history of county and the diversity of origin of its people. The courses will take place in the north of the county from Monday to Thursday, 14-17 October, and in Carrickmacross from Monday to Thursday, 21-24 October. The courses are designed for individuals and groups with Monaghan ancestry living overseas and members of Irish societies and social clubs abroad.

Both courses will run from 9am–4pm each day, with two evening sessions each week from 7pm–9pm. The training modules will include:
  • A broad view of the history of the County Monaghan taking in key periods and subjects such as: the Plantation, famine, occupations, emigration, partition, the Troubles, estates, language, folklore, built & natural heritage, families, religion. This module will set County Monaghan in a national and international context.
  • A close inspection of sources for Monaghan genealogy such as: church & civil records, estate records, valuation records, shipping records, census, convict records, school records, military records, wills, election records, printed records, DNA genealogy and online sources.
  • Site visits and cultural events will form an integral part of the training and might include: ancestral homes, workhouses, graveyards, library, museum, archaeological sites, estates, music, dance, language events, storytelling or walks. There will be an emphasis on active participation in events, rather than merely watching.
Training outputs for participants will include:
  • The ability to identify, locate and reference genealogical sources for the county.
  • Ability to assess and organise genealogical information and construct a basic family tree.
  • Basic knowledge of the history of the county.
  • Basic knowledge of the geography of the county including land divisions.
  • Familiarity with emigration patterns and the reasons for emigration.
  • An appreciation of the cultural history of County Monaghan and the diversity of origins of County Monaghan people.
This project is organised by Clogher Historical Society/Cumann Seanchais Chlochair, Monaghan County Library and the County Monaghan Heritage Gathering Committee and will be delivered by Ancestor Network Ltd, a professional genealogy company.

For further details of the course contact John Hamrock at or telephone +353 87 0505296.

Friday 3 May 2013

May Bank Holiday Monday closures

Monday 6 May is a public (bank) holiday in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Most libraries and archives are closed ie PRONI, National Archives of Ireland, city and town libraries, but please note the following:
  • In the Republic, most city and town libraries are closed not just on Monday but also on Saturday 4 May.
  • The Linenhall Library in Belfast will close at 1pm on Saturday (usual time is 4pm).
  • While the Reading Room of the National Library of Ireland in Dublin will operate to normal weekend hours (Saturday 9:30am to 12:45pm; Sunday closed), it will not open on Monday.
  • Exhibitions at the National Library of Ireland will be open on Saturday and Sunday as usual (Kildare Street: Saturday 9.30am–4.30pm; Sunday: 1:00pm–5:00pm. National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar: Saturday 10am–4.45pm; Sunday: 12pm–4.45pm). Bank holiday Monday opening will be from 12pm to 5pm only at both locations.

Gathering gestures for overseas visitors

Yesterday saw the launch of a new app that any overseas visitors to Ireland this year will want to try out before they arrive. It's designed specifically for The Gathering and it's called Gathering Gestures.

Launching the new app: Minister Michael Ring (centre) with Niall
Gibbons, Tourism Ireland CEO, and Monica MacLaverty, Overseas
Manager – The Gathering Ireland.
Created by Tourism Ireland, it offers a wide variety of “gestures” to ensure international visitors get more from their holiday here and an extra special welcome during this year of The Gathering. To date, about 500 tourism organisations from around Ireland have registered their “gestures” for the new app, to demonstrate their appreciation to visitors for spending time with them during their holiday in Ireland. The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), B&B Ireland, Heritage Ireland, the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and Good Food Ireland are all encouraging members to take part.

Examples of the “gestures” include a complimentary tour of Kenmare in a 1936 vintage Buick, offered by the Sheen Falls Lodge Hotel; a free seaweed bath for anyone doing a walking or cycling tour which passes through or stays in Leenane, offered by Connemara Adventure Tours; complimentary tea or coffee and home baking on arrival at B&B Ireland homes; a complimentary “Gathering” cocktail or mocktail at the Ice House Hotel in Ballina; as well as lots of other added value experiences like brown bread-making demonstrations, complimentary Irish coffees and special “Gathering” value menus from RAI members. Golf courses are also on board – with special incentives for Gathering groups – and Waterford Crystal is even offering a special “Gathering” trophy for a hole in one!

The app is now live on the international app store and is free for people around the world to download before they arrive here. Tourism Ireland will promote the app to prospective visitors through its website, – reaching more than 11 million potential visitors around the globe. The app will also be highlighted on

Dublin City and the 1913 Lockout: book launch

Want to know more about the living and working conditions of your ancestors 100 years ago, and the social and political issues that concerned them? If so, A Capital and Conflict: Dublin City and the 1913 Lockout will engross you.

This isn't a book to ignore just because your family didn't live in the capital. While it deals primarily with Dublin and its inhabitants, the lives of the ordinary people of the city will not have been very different to those that lived elsewhere in Ireland at the time.

A Capital in Conflict explores aspects of the social, political and cultural life of Dublin at a defining point in Irish history during the 1913 Lockout. Certain personalities loom large such as James Larkin and William Martin Murphy, Delia Larkin and James Connolly, Charles Cameron and Hugh Lane, but it is the ordinary people of the city, the children, women and men, who shine through the pages.

Edited by Francis Devine, an authority on Irish labour history, the essays in this collection range over a wide number of topics relating to the Lockout and contextualizing it, including the role of women and children; the Gaelic revival; the proposal for a Bridge Gallery to house the Lane collection of pictures; housing, public health and medicine; as well as an overview of the Lockout by Francis Devine and the international context supplied by Colin Whitston.

The 438-page illustrated paperback has been published by Dublin City Council to mark the Decade of Commemorations 1913-1923. It is now in bookshops (it's at number 16 in Hodges Figgis's Top 20, already) or can be ordered online via Four Courts Press.

Last call for IGRS Open Day in London

Only eight seats remaining!

The Irish Genealogical Research Society will be holding its Open Day & AGM on Saturday 11 May. Following tea and coffee, two lectures will be presented, as follows:

11am: Tracking the Irish with FamilySearch – It’s Never been Better, with Sharon Hintze, director of the London Family History Centre.

12pm: Community Genealogy and Historic Graveyard Surveys in Ireland, with John Tierney, director of the Historic Graves Project in Ireland.

A light finger buffet lunch follows the lectures and is included in the price of £25 for members and £30 for non-members. After lunch, the AGM is held. This is free but open only to non-members.

Venue: 34 Chepstow Villas, Bayswater, London W11 (within an easy five- to ten-minute walk of Notting Hill tube station). More details and online booking.

As of this morning there are only eight seats remaining before the venue reaches maximum capacity. Please book quickly if you plan to come along.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Join FindMyPast Ireland for a Q&A on Twitter

Brian Donovan will be on Twitter
3-4pm Friday 3 May
FindMyPast Ireland reaches its second anniversary this weekend.

As part of its birthday celebrations, the team will be holding a Question and Answer session on Twitter tomorrow afternoon from 3:00pm to 4:00pm when CEO Brian Donovan will be answering Irish family history questions.

You can find full details of how to take part by clicking the image.

The database provider's important milestone is also being marked by a competition to win a 2-year subscription!

Online: Life & death in a Westmeath parish 1696-1786

The Document of the Month from the Representative Church Body Library is a sure-fire winner for anyone whose ancestors came from Killucan parish in County Westmeath (diocese of Meath).

The Combined Registers and Vestry Minutes of the parish cover the 90-year period from 1696 to 1786. In addition to the baptism and burial records, the register gives an insight to the lives of people who lived in the communities around the villages of Killucan and neighbouring Rathwire and the postal town of Kinnegad during these years, and of the workings of a country parish. The latter were not restricted to performing services and guiding the souls of parisheners; the parish also had civic duties such as overseeing education and social welfare.

Here's a random selection of entries to whet your appetite:
  • The renouncement of Roman Catholicism by David Nealy of Grifinstown (sic) on 30 January 1731-2.
  • A list of the poor of the parish (most of them widows) among whom the sum of £7 2s 11d½ was publicly distributed on Easter Monday 1744.
  • Ann Robinson daughter of Daniell & Jane Robinson of Killucan wheelwright Baptized
    May the 29th 1774
  • Elizabeth Davidson (wife of Joseph Davidson of Kinagad weaver) being bred an Anabaptist and being dangerously sick, was baptised on Sunday October 1st 1710.
  • Mary McDonnell, daughter of Edward McDonnell and Joan his wife, was baptised Wednesday 23 March 1704. Godfather Oliver Flood. Godmothers Mrs Margery Flood and Mrs Catherine Moore.
  • Susanna Stoakes wife of Robert Stoakes (of Banagher farmer) died on Fryday March 19 and was buried in the chancell of Killuckan on Sunday March 21 1707
  • Collected for Elizabeth Boid on Sunday November 4 1705; by the consent of the Minister & churchwardens the sume of 2s 8d½ consideration her having been a sufferer in the siege of Londonderry.
The 394-page transcription is the work of Andrew Whiteside and can be downloaded in pdf format from the RCBL site. The landing page gives a lot of background research about the villages and the clergy, and is well worth reading before you get stuck into the transcription.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Latest updates to Ireland Genealogy Projects Archive

A very ancient headstone from
Magheraveely graveyard in Fermanagh
Updates to Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives for the last couple of weeks are below. You'll see they include quite a few unusual items. Even one of the headstones is an oddity; the image (right) captures an ancient stone from a Fermanagh burial ground, complete with marvellous funerary symbolism, but we're none the wiser who lies beneath. Any ideas?

ANTRIM Genealogy Archives – Miscellaneous
Protestants in favour of Catholic Emancipation (Ballymena) – 1812
Protestants in favour of Catholic Emancipation – 1812

DERRY Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives
Headstones – Mount Jerome, Dublin – Part 61
Whitechurch Cemetery Tour
Headstones – Glasnevin; St. Mobhi's Graveyard - Patrick Delaney (Dean of Down)

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives
Church – Visiting Books of Rev William Bredin Galoon Parish Census 1843-1851
Headstones – Magheraveely Graveyard and Maguiresbridge, Presbyterian Cemetery

LONGFORD Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

LOUTH Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

MAYO Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

MEATH Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives – Church
NAPIER Church Records

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives – Land Records
Indenture 1829 – Text file of Tenants names

See IGPA's list of updates from the first half of April here.

Voices reveal life in Cork and Kerry's great houses

Voices from the Houses: Cork and Kerry has been published by Mercier Press.

The book has been written by Jane O'Keefe of Irish Life and Lore, an oral history company run by the author and her husband Maurice, and holds information gathered for their archive. Over the last three years, the O'Keefes have interviewed the surviving members of many of the Anglo-Irish and old Irish families who lived, and in many cases still live, in these great houses. Their subjects have talked about their family histories and their links to the communities in which they are based, and have related fascinating details of life in these houses, which include Blarney Castle and Bantry House in Cork and the Denny Estates in Kerry. Some of their stories reach right back to the 1600s.

Illustrated with previously unpublished photographs and untold stories, the 288-page book was officially launched in Muckross House, Killarney, last month by Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

Local Studies Library maps Cork's alleys and lanes

In response to demand from researchers, Cork Local Studies Library has drawn up an alphabetical list of the numerous lanes and alleys of 19th-century Cork City and linked their locations onto modern maps.

Many of these lanes were in areas off the North and South Main Streets, Shandon Street, Blarney Street and Barrack Street. A great many are now gone, having been cleared by Cork Corporation in the 1920s and 1930s when new housing estates were built to the north and south of the city.

The newly created list has been developed following research by the Library staff in Griffith’s Valuations, maps, newspaper and periodical articles, and books, especially Laneways of Medieval Cork by Gina Johnson.

Some the lanes are shown and named on the 25-inch map of Cork city available online at the Ordnance Survey Ireland website; the Search button allows you to enter the name of the lane or the name of the nearest main street to the lane, before you click on the Historic 25" button.

Now a custom Google Map has been created with the location of the lanes plotted. Many of the lanes no longer exist and is such cases the placemarks indicate the location of where the lane/alley would have been. In circumstances where a precise location would not be indenfied the nearest throughfare is marked.

If any researcher would like to submit information that would help to more precisely plot these lanes they can do so by email.

Decade of Centenaries to include Lusitania

Further investigations are to be carried out into the sinking of the Lusitania with a view to developing a fitting commemoration on its forthcoming 100th anniversary. The passenger liner was torpedoed on May 7th 1915 and its sinking had a significant influence on the course of Irish and international history at the time. The huge loss of life was the catalyst for bringing America into WW1.

Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, met yesterday with Gregg Bemis, of Santa Fé, New Mexico, the owner of the wreck of the RMS Lusitania, to discuss Bemis’s plans for future dives on the protected wreck. It appears that a general agreement on the objectives of further research planned by Bemis has been reached.

The Minister is currently reviewing a new licence application from Bemis for a sustained project on the wreck site over the next three years. Under a previous licence granted in 2007, which expired at the end of 2011, Bemis carried out explorations on the wreck with a view to gaining information on the possible cause of a second explosion at the time of its sinking that might have accounted for it going down so quickly.

He was also licensed to recover specific artefacts that might add to his and the State’s understanding of the wreck, as well as the life and times of those on board the vessel when it was lost. In his current licence application, he intends to continue his forensic investigations into the cause of the second explosion, but is also proposing to recover more artefacts with a view to an exhibition being mounted in a suitable museum in time for the centenary of the sinking.