Wednesday 17 July 2013

GRO's Dublin Research Room to move in August

The current Research Room is a pleasant place to visit
The General Register Office's bright, well-appointed and conveniently located Research Room at the Irish Life Centre, Talbot Street/Abbey Street Lower, Dublin, is to close when its current lease expires at the end of August.

The current facility is close to Connolly Station, LUAS, DART and many bus stops, and is just a stone's throw from O'Connell Street. To the benefit of genealogists, it’s also next to the Valuation Office, where information about ancestors’ land holdings can be traced back to the 1850s.

The Research Room will reopen in a delapidated former Dole Office on Werburgh Street. The office is currently protected by high security fencing topped with barbed wire.

When asked about the move Steven Smyrl, President of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) and executive liaison officer for the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), described the proposed move as 'appalling'.

Welcome to the new GRO Research Room
'Given that this is the year of The Gathering, it’s about as unwelcoming as it could possibly be. All the outward signs suggest an area riddled by crime and antisocial behaviour. If the Government wants to demonstrate its belief that genealogy has a role to play in our economic recovery and if new premises must be found soon, the underused Dublin Tourism Centre in St Andrew’s Street would be one ideal location. The city is full of unused office space without the need to dump Ireland’s ‘Mecca’ for roots tourism in an unsavoury side street.

'I call on Joan Burton, the Minister for Social Protection, who has responsibility for the GRO, to immediately step in and provide family historians from both home and abroad, with a new facility equal to, if not better than, the current one at the Irish Life Centre.'

Thousands visit the GRO's Research Room each year. Rather than having to fight for the facility to stay at its current location, family historians would like to hear that the GRO is listening to their needs and will finally allow public access to its computerised database of birth, death and marriage records, which date back to 1845. Currently, researchers must wade through individual annual hardcopy indexes, and searches over many years can be very time consuming.

By contrast, the GRO in Belfast has full public access to its computerised records with enhanced index data and by the end of year will also allow access to historical records through the Internet. Its research room is based in a well-appointed facility in the centre of Belfast.

(With thanks to CIGO)

UPDATE 20 July
: The Irish Times has taken up the story. The move is being billed as 'temporary'. See blogpost.

UPDATE 13 September: Move has still not taken place. See blogpost.