Wednesday 30 October 2013

Carlow IGP completes transcription of estate papers

The Rentals and Rent Accounts for the Bunbury-Rathdonnell estate at Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, County Carlow, have been transcribed and made available free on the Carlow Ireland Genealogy Projects website.

Dating from the late 18th century to the 19th century, the accounts and accompanying documents (receipts and some correspondence) include places such as Rathmore, Tobinstown, Ballyoliver, Phrumplestown, The Moat and Rathvilly.

The transcriptions are the work of Treacy Breen & Bob Joyce, who deserve a big round of applause; this is a mighty extensive piece of work, well executed.

Trio of Gazettes brought together in free online service

The Gazettes: Three into one
The UK National Archives has relaunched its online databases of The London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes by bringing them together in one fully searchable, free site.

The Gazette is the official journal of the United Kingdom, Scotland and Northern Ireland and, although often overlooked as a family history resource, it is a treasure trove of 350 years' worth of trusted information for genealogists.

The London Gazette dates back to 1665, the Edinburgh Gazette to 1699 (to 1793 as a continuous publication) and the Belfast Gazette to 1921.

The London Gazette in particular should not be overlooked as a potential source of Irish family history; it holds a lot of information about Irish men and women in its announcements of civil service examination successes and appointment listings, insolvencies, probate, legalised name changes, mentions in war despatches and military honours etc.

From today, the three publications have been integrated into a single online and print service at You an learn more about the new beta service in the video below.

The archives of the Dublin Gazette, which was replaced by Iris Oifigiúil in 1922, are available on microfilm (18th century) or hard copy at the National Library, but are not online.

There's more about free-to-access Irish newspaper archives in my free Toolkit.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Ancestry releases fully indexed 1921 Census of Canada

The 1921 Census of Canada is now available, fully indexed and linked to images, on Ancestry. There are 8.8million people included in the record set.

Among them are more than 1million people born in Ireland and more than 2million whose parents were born in Ireland, so this is a hugely important release not just for Canadians but for anyone with Irish emigrants in their family tree.

It was the 6th census of Canada and it was taken on 1 June 1921.

The Census is free to view on (you have to register with your email and a user name, but there's no requirement for financial information to be provided).

Monday 28 October 2013

Ellis island: recording the immigrant experience

Ellis Island, where so many Irish emigrants started their new life in the United States, has reopened today, a year after being damaged by SuperStorm Sandy. The storm ripped through New York Harbour, leaving the 27-acre island without electricity and heating, and destroyed the Immigration Museum's climate control system.

Only some parts of the Museum have reopened, and much of the collection of archival documents and historic artifacts will remain in storage until late next Spring.

The accessible areas include the Great Hall, where immigrants were inspected and formally processed, and the Journeys: The Peopling of America 1550-1890 exhibit, which tells of immigration to America before Ellis Island started operating.

In a timely blogpost today, US-based Irish genealogist Joe Buggy brought to my attention a fascinating free database held by Ancestry: New York City, Ellis Island Oral Histories, 1892-1976. I had no idea this existed, yet it holds some 2,000 oral histories from immigrants who passed through Ellis Island, and sixty are interviews with Irish emigrants.

See Joe's blog Townland of Origin for more details about the collection.

I've just listened to a delightful interview with Joseph Patrick Fitzgerald, born 1892, who was brought up on a farm near Portlaoise in Co Offaly with eight sisters and four brothers, and emigrated in 1913. In his luggage was a roll of butter, wrapped in cabbage leaves, a gift from one of his sisters. He was glad it didn't melt!

Irish genealogy and history events 28 Oct – 2 Nov

Monday 28 October: Women and the 1913 Lockout, with Mary Muldowney. Host: Kill History Society. Venue: Parish meeting room, Kill, Co Kildare. 8:30pm. Details.

Monday 28 October: Famine in County Down, with Clive Schoular. Donaghadee Historical Society. Venue: Sailing Club, 20 Shore Road, Donaghadee. £2 members/ £3 non-members. 7:45pm. Details.

Monday 28 October: The Ulster Covenant and the Proclamation of an Irish Republic, with Emeritus Professor Liam Kennedy, QUB. Host: Institute of Irish Studies. Venue: Room 03/006B, Peter Froggatt Centre, QUB, Belfast. 1:00pm–2:00pm.

Monday 28 October: The historical use of Burren plants: foraging, folklore and more, with Vivienne Campbell. Host: North Clare Historical Society. Venue: The Courthouse, Ennistymon. 8pm, Admission: €5.

Tuesday 29 October: Bog Bodies, with John Dolan. Host: Tallaght Historical Society. Venue: County Library, Tallaght. 7pm. Free.

Tuesday 29 October: Kith & Kin – The Scots Irish in America, with Alister McReynolds. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Coleraine Branch. Venue: The Guide Hall, Terrace Row, Coleraine. 8pm. Tea/coffee and biscuits. (£3.00 for non-members).

Tuesday 29 October: If you want to know who we are: 100 years of the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society, with Dr Myles Dungan. Last in the Dublin Anniversaries series of City Hall lunchtime lectures. 13:10–13:50pm, plus 10 minutes Q&A. Free. No booking required. First come, first served.

Tuesday 29 October: The Blackened Tans: who did what during the War of Independence in West Clare, with Eoin Shanahan. Host: Kilrush Districk Historical Society. Venue: Teach Ceoil, Grace Street, Kilrush, Co Clare. Time: 8pm.

Wednesday 30 October: Overview of PRONI Website Applications for Local and Family History, with Stephen Scarth. Venue: Dungannon Library, 36 Market Square, Dungannon, Co Tyrone BT70 1JD. 1pm. Free. Details: 028 8772 2952.

Wednesday 30 October: The early years of the Great Northern Railway (Ireland), with Jayne Hutchinson. Host: PRONI. Venue: Linenhall Library, 17 Donegall Square North Belfast. Free. 1pm. Booking is essential.

Wednesday 30 October: An Island Portrait, an exhibition of photographs of the Blasket Islands 1892–2010, will be opened by Mick O'Connell, football legend and islander. Venue: The gallery of the Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, New Road (opposite Garda Station), Killarney. 6.30pm.

Thursday 31 October: "Mulieres Nudae, Carnes Crudae": Gaelic Ulster, Impressions And Realities, the Frank Mitchell Memorial Lecture, with Dr Katherine Simms. Host: Royal Society of Antiquaries, Helen Roe theatre, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. Time: 7.30pm. Tel: 353 (0)1 676 1749.

Thursday 31 October: Stone Age Skibbereen, with Mike Coleman. Host: Skibbereen & District Historical Society. Venue: West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen. 8pm. Non-members are very welcome, too.

Thursday 31 October: Town Charters in Ulster 400, with Dr William Roulston, marking arrival of the Town Charters exhibition to the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 1pm. Free. Email booking required.

Saturday 2 November:  The Genealogy Event, New York. Exhibition and seminars. 10am–8pm, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York City, NY 10011. All Day Pass $35, Twilight Pass (5:30pm - 8:00pm) £20. Details.

Sunday 3 November: Two advanced level Irish genealogy lectures: Widows, Wills & Workhouses and Alternatives to the Brick Wall, with Jennifer Doherty. Hosts: TIARA and ICC. Venue: Irish Cultural Center (ICC), 200 New Boston Drive, Canton, Massachusetts 02021, USA. 2:00–3:00pm. $35 registration for the afternoon. Download details and Registration form.

Friday 25 October 2013

Irish Newspaper Archive: New titles and search engine

Irish Newspaper Archive has been adding more titles to its database. The Longford Leader is now available from 1897 to 2003 while the Fermanagh Herald is online for 1903 to 1910.

Joining the line-up before the end of the year will be the Skibbereen Eagle 1882-1922, while Spring 2014 should see the Irish Examiner 1841–1879, the Dundalk Democrat 1849–1907 and the second tranche of the Fermanagh Herald (1911–1959).

Another piece of news from the family-owned company is that a brand-new version of the website's search engine will shortly be launched. As the database has grown with more and more titles, the existing system has become incredibly slow, so many regular users will be delighted to try out the new version. Follow this link to the demo, ignore the video 'intro', which adds nothing, and go straight to the Search. A limited number of issues of the Sunday Independent and City Tribune is available to search in the demo.

It looks neat, clear and uncluttered, and, for the moment at least, very fast. The test, I guess, willl come when all all the titles are loaded. Fingers crossed.

Assisted emigration to N. America: now in paperback

Sending out Ireland's Poor: Assisted emigration to North America by Gerard Moran has been published in paperback format by Four Courts Press.

This book looks at the 300,000 emigrants who went to North America from 19th-century Ireland and who had their fares paid by the British government, landlords, poor law unions and philanthropists. Most of these emigrants were among the poorest people in Ireland: workhouse paupers, landless labourers, single women or those living in the congested board areas where they encountered perennial destitution and near famine conditions.

Most of the assisted emigrants experienced harsh conditions in North America, too.

While some were well cared for, such as the Peter Robinson settlers to Ontario between 1823 and 1835, and the Tuke emigrants who were encouraged to settle in Canada and the mid-western states of the United States in the 1880s, others had more difficult encounters or were simply left to fend for themselves once they had disembarked their ship.

The 252-page paperback surveys nearly all the assisted emigration schemes, both private and official, that were implemented during the 19th century.

Gerard Moran is a lecturer at the Department of History, NUI Maynooth. I saw his presentation Searching for lost ancestors: Using transmigration studies at the Irish Genealogical Research Society's Open Day earlier this year and found it full of pertinent detail and context. This book, first published in 2004, reprinted in 2006, and now available in paperback for the first time, is of a similar depth and quality, and deserves a place on the bookshelf of any self-respecting Irish family historian.

It can be ordered from the publisher's online shop for €26.95

Mariner ancestors from Drogheda?

If you have ancestors from the Drogheda area who were seamen, you'll be interested in the Family History from the Sea exhibition at Drogheda Museum Millmount, Co Louth.

The exhibition, which opened last week, includes records and photos of seamen from the Drogheda area from the early 1900s. The areas covered are Drogheda, Clogherhead, Baltray, Termonfeckin and Mornington and I'm told by the museum that several visitors have already discovered links to their own family in the material.

Open Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm, the exhibition continues until 30 November. Admission is free.

October bank holiday arrangements

The Republic of Ireland enjoys an Autumn bank holiday on Monday 28 October.  Here are the opening and closing arrangements for the main repositories and institutions used for Irish family history:

Dublin City Public Libraries will be closed on Saturday 26 October and Monday 28 October, reopening for normal hours on Tuesday 29 October.

The National Archives of Ireland will be closed to the public on Monday 28 October and will re-open on Tuesday 29 October at 9:15am. 

The National Library of Ireland Reading Room will be closed on Monday 28 October.  However, exhibitions at Kildare Street (Yeats and JFK) will be open 12pm to 5pm. 

The GRO Research Room will be closed on Monday 28 October, reopening Tuesday 29 October at 9:30am.

Local branch libraries will be closed on Saturday 26 October and Monday 28 October, reopening for normal hours on Tuesday 29 October.

Northern Ireland does not receive this bank holiday and  is open for business as normal.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Galway County Council launches Digital Archives

The formal launch of Galway County Council's Digital Archive will take place tomorrow, Friday 25 October, at Cliften Library at 3:30pm. Cllr Liam Carroll, mayor of Galway County Council will be doing the honours.

After the formalities, Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill will present a lecture on the Clifden Poor Law Union.

The Digital Archive is already available, free, here. It presents a small selection of the county's archives collection, including some of the most important and most requested records. These include the Burial Ground Registers for Tuam from October 1882 to 1920 and the Clifden Poor Law Union archives, the latter consisting primarily of 84 Board of Guardians minute books dating from 1849 to 1921 (many gaps), together with some letter books and a diet book.

Booklet and short films connect North West to the past

A booklet entitled From Home to Foreign Fields, which presents an introduction to the history of the First World War in the districts of Derry City, Strabane, Omagh and Donegal, has been published.

At its launch at the County Donegal Museum, Letterkenny, a number of docudramas on WW1 were screened, along with short films on Emigration, the Partition of Ireland, and the Omagh-born poet Alice Milligan.

The booklet and short films are all part of the PEACE III funded Plantation to Partition Programme led by Derry City Council’s Heritage & Museum Service in partnership with Strabane District, Omagh District and Donegal County Councils.

Margaret Edwards, Project Officer with the Heritage & Museum Service of Derry City Council, said that the book and short films offered a chance to bring to light the legacy of the First World War and other significant events on the North West Region.

Speaking at the launch, she said: 'From Home to Foreign Fields brings to life a number of touching memoirs of local peoples’ experiences during the Great War, with contributions from local historian Richard Doherty, former Strabane Council member James Emery and Donegal County Museum. It also includes stories about how men from all over the North West and Donegal joined up to fight for a variety of reasons. It includes heartfelt accounts of people from across the region.'

The PEACE III programme allows citizens of the region to engage directly with the past and feel a sense of connection and ownership to their local heritage.

Copies of the book are available at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum, Foyle Road, Derry BT48 6SQ and all four films (none more than 10 minutes long) are available to view at YouTube.

Free Tracing Irish Ancestry workshops in Sydney

The State Library of New South Wales is offering Irish Australians the opportunity to attend a free Tracing Irish Ancestry workshop.

The workshop will provide an introduction to resources including electronic, books and original materials, some of which will be available to browse. A tour of the family history area and the Mitchell Library is included in the workshop.

The Tracing Irish Ancestry workshop will be repeated six times during the next two weeks, so you should be able to find a date that suits you. As of this morning, all dates still have some availabilty.

October: Friday 25th, Monday 28th, Wednesday 30th.
November: Friday 1st, Monday 4th, Wednesday 6th.

3:00pm to 5:00pm

Flinders Room, Lower Ground 1, Macquarie Street building, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. Tel: (02) 9273 1414

Everyone who attends a workshop will be entered into a draw to win a copy of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, which has been kindly donated by the Consulate General of Ireland. The book won the Best Irish Published Book Award for 2012 and provides a never before seen picture of the impact of the famine and includes particular contributions on the famine and Australia.

Joint special offer for Irish family history resources

Two major Irish family history databases are offering a joint special deal to researchers. For just €19.95, you can take advantage of 100 credits on and 30 subscription units on Irish Ancestors, as follows:

100 credits to use on where you will find:
  • Over 21 million Irish birth, marriage and death records
  • Exclusive Irish records you won't find anywhere else online
  • Access to billions of records from UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
Plus ...

30 subscription units to use on Irish Ancestors where you can find:
  • Precise details of all records relevant to research in any part of Ireland
  • Detailed maps showing 19th-century, parish-by-parish surname distribution
  • Personalised reports showing everything you need to know to carry out your Irish research

The offer is valid until 1 December 2013.

More details and sign-up here.

Charter Towns lecture: 31 October

Further to my blogpost yesterday about the launch of the Charter Towns exhibition and programme, Dr William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation will give a lecture – The Charter Towns of Ulster 400 – at 1.00pm on Thursday 31 October at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Titanic Boulevard, Belfast.

The lecture will mark the visit to PRONI of the travelling exhibition on the Charter towns. Please email if you would like to reserve a place for this lecture.

The last Knight of Glin celebrated in new book

The Last Knight: A Celebration of Desmond Fitzgerald, by Robert O'Byrne, was launched yesterday evening in the City Assembly House on South William Street, Dublin.

Doing the honours was Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who said: 'As President of the Irish Georgian Society, Desmond Fitzgerald, the 29th and last Knight of Glin, worked tirelessly to ensure a future for the country’s architectural heritage. As an architectural and art historian, he was among the first to recognise and celebrate the work of Irish artists and craftsmen, bringing this to the attention of an international audience. These memoirs celebrate his many diverse achievements prior to his death in September, 2011.'

The proceeds of this beautifully crafted book celebrating all aspects of Desmond Fitzgerald’s life will go towards the continued support of the Irish Georgian Society.

Published by Lilliput Press, the hardback costs €25.00.

National Archives of Ireland: Open Day, 9 November

NAI, Bishop Street, Dublin 8.
The National Archives of Ireland has announced that it will hold an Open day on Saturday 9 November from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

An informative day has been organised, with visits to the conservation, preservation and storage areas, a wonderful line up of seminars and a raft of useful goings on in the Reading Room throughout the day, as well as specialist help from the Consortium of Accredited Genealogists in Ireland (CAGI) for those researchers wanted guidance on family history resources.

Download the full programme in pdf format.

Note that bookings are esssential.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Town Charters Exhibition launched

The Ministerial Advisory Group Ulster Scots Academy (MAGUS) has marked a major landmark in Ireland’s history as it launches a Town Charters Exhibition at Belfast City Hall.

This year marks the 400th anniversary since King James 1st first granted the town charters around the Island.

A completed research project and exhibition, devised in partnership with the Ulster Historical Foundation and supported by the Ulster Scots Agency, was unveiled last night. It includes a dedicated map, brochure, a community outreach programme and a travelling exhibition.

This programme will provide an opportunity to delve into the informative and insightful world of Belfast's histories and the exhibition will tour around museums, libraries and small businesses in the North of Ireland over the next six months.

Speaking about the launch of the exhibition the Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín said: 'I’m delighted to support this event to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of many towns not just around Ulster but also the whole of Ireland. This project is a prime example of efforts being made to bring knowledge to the fore in our communities, from a purely historical point of view. The project partners are looking forward to bringing this exhibition to various towns around the Island and adding historical value to the communities that it reaches.

'Exhibitions like this play a crucial role in educating and informing young people in our communities and bringing us closer to a shared all inclusive future.'

There's more about MAGUS and the Town Charters Project/Travelling Exhibition on the Department of Arts, Culture & Leisure site.

First stop of the travelling exhibition is to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. It's arrival will be marked by a lecture on 31 October by Dr William Roulston, Director of Research for the Ulster Historical Foundation. See blogpost for booking details.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

General Register Office website shifts to new platform

So it's not just the General Register Office's Research Room in Dublin that's been relocated. The GRO's virtual Head Office has also been moved and has taken up full residence within the Department of Social Protection's website. We were advised this would be happening back in July (see blogpost) but the anticipated move was expected somewhat later.

The links you need to note are these:

Application Forms (for sending by post): here
General Contact form: here
New GRO Home page: here

(PLEASE NOTE: These links, and indeed the entire site, seem a little unstable today. If you find the links return error messages, try again later.)

€4 'research copy' certificates are still available using both methods provided the full index reference number is supplied with your application.

You'll see on the Application Form page that you can also apply for some certificates online. These are the full-whack certificates required for legal use and cost a thumping €20 plus postage. Only the following registrations can be purchased through this route*:

  • Births registered anywhere on the island 1864-December 1921
  • Births registered in the Republic 1922-present
  • Marriages registered anywhere on the island January 1913-December 1921
  • Marriages registered in the Republic 1922-present
  • Deaths registered in the Republic 1924-present

*See more at my Toolkit's Irish Civil Registration page.

Monday 21 October 2013

PRONI repeats Witchcraft, Magic and Devil conference

As mentioned in yesterday's Back To Our Past report, PRONI will be re-running its History of Witchcraft, Magic and the Devil in Ireland Conference on Wednesday 28 November.

The conference was originally announced for Halloween, 31 October, but this was booked so quickly that PRONI has decided to repeat the conference in November. Anyone currently on the October reserve list will be automatically added to the November event.

The evening will start with refreshments at 5:30pm, before the Conference presentations begin at 6pm.

The following lectures will be presented:

Portrayals of Witchcraft, Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern Imagery, with Cara Hanley
Mary Butters: the Carnmoney Witch, 1807-8, with John Fulton
Demonic Possession, Exorcism and the Roman Catholic Clergy in the Pre-famine Period, with Jodie Shevlin
Writing the History of Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland, with Andrew Sneddon

All four speakers are from the University of Ulster.

Admission is FREE but booking is essential at

UPDATE, 24 October: The event is filling up very quickly. Don't delay if you want to book!

Newry Family History Fair: Saturday 26 October

Newry City Library will be holding a Family History Fair this Saturday, 26 October between 10.00am and 4.00pm. It's free to attend, and there will be plenty of knowledgeable genealogists there offering advice and guidance to family historians of all levels, especially beginners.

Exhibitors include the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Historical Foundation, the Somme Heritage Centre, Northern Ireland Screen, ULTACH, Newry and Mourne Museum, Genealogical Society of Ireland, Irish Jewish Genealogical Society, Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, local history societies and local family history organisations.

There will also be two free talks taking place at the event. (You need to book for the talks, see below):

10.00am –12.30pm: NIPR: Putting the Past in Print. A practical seminar on publishing local history. Speakers: Fintan Mullan, Executive Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation, and Jack Johnston from the Ulster Local History Trust.

2.00pm : Families, Friends and Neighbours: how to find your family and the people they lived with using a range of sources. Speaker: Dr Janice Holmes, Lecturer in History, The Open University.

To book, contact Lilian Russell on +44 (0)28 3026 4683.

Venue: Newry City Library, 79 Hill Street, Newry, County Down BT34 1DG.

Irish genealogy and history events for the week ahead

Monday 21 October: Representations of Edwardian Working Class Belfast, with Michael Pierse, Research Fellow, Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, QUB. Host: Institute of Irish Studies. Venue: Room 03/006B, Peter Froggatt Centre, QUB, Belfast. 1:00pm–2:00pm.

Monday 21 October: The Medieval castles and tower houses of Limerick, 1199–1703, with Joseph Lennon. Host: Shanid Historical Society. Venue: Parish Hall, Shanagolden, Co Limerick. 8pm.

Monday 21 October: Larne merchant seamen from the Great War, with David Snook. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Larne Branch. Venue: Larne Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club, Glenarm Road, Larne, BT40 1DZ. 7:30pm. Free. Non-members always made welcome.

Tuesday 22 October: John Lennon's Last Day, a performance in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles in Ireland. With actor Seamus Brennan and introduction by Stephen Kennedy, playwright. Part of the Dublin Anniversaries series of City Hall lunchtime events. 13:10–13:50pm, plus 10 minutes Q&A. Free. No booking required. First come, first served.

Tuesday 22 October. 50 years on: JFK, Ireland & the world. A HistoryIreland Hedge School with Bob Schuml, Ryan Tubridy, Michael Kennedy and Carole Holohan. National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 7pm. Free.

Tuesday 22 October: Launch of the Ulster Town Charters Project and Travelling Exhibition at the Reception Room, City Hall, Belfast. Host: Ministerial Advisory Group, Ulster Scots Academy. Reception 6pm–8pm.

Wednesday 23 October: Dublin Docklands, an urban voyage, with Turtle Bunbury. The Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. 5:30pm. FULLY BOOKED.

Thursday 24 October: Industrialists and Workers, Dr Janice Holmes / Dr Barry Sheehan. Part of the Exploring Family History Lecture Series organised by the Open University and PRONI. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 6:30pm–8pm. Free but booking required at

Thursday 24 October: The Ulster Revival 1859 in County Antrim, with Donna Orr. Greenisland Libary, 17 Glassillan Grove, Greenisland, Co Antrim BT38 8TE. 6:30pm–7:45pm. Free.

Friday 25 October: The North West and the Scots-Irish Diaspora in the 18th and 19th centuries with Don MacRaild. Ulster-Scots History & History Lecture Series. Host: Derry City Council Heritage & Museum Service. Venue: Tower Museum, Union Place, Derry-Londonderry. 7pm. Free.

Friday 25 October: Reflections on Limerick, by Denis O'Shaughnessy. Book launch. St Mary's RFC clubhouse, Grove Island, Limerick. 8 pm. Book can be purchased online here.

Friday 25 October: Aughadown and Kilcoe Cilliní, or Children Burial Grounds, an illustrated talk with local historian William Casey. Venue: St Matthew's Hall, Church Cross, Co Cork. 8pm. A contribution of €3 per person to the parish is requested. All welcome.

Saturday 26 October: Family History Fair, Newry City Library, 79 Hill Street, Newry, Co Down BT34 1DG. 10am–4pm. Free advice and guidance, exhibitors, talks. Free. Details.

Saturday 26 October: The Colorado Irish, with Dr James Walsh. Host: WISE Family History Society. Venue: Central Denver Public Library, 10 West Fourteenth Avenue Parkway, 7th floor Training Room. Denver, USA. See website for more details.

Saturday 26 October: What's New and Old in the World of Irish Genealogy, a day seminar with Gary Schroder. Host: Quebec FHS. Venue: QFHS Heritage Centre and Library, 173 Cartier Avenue, Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada. 10am – 3pm. Reservation required on 514-694 -1502 or Fee $30 members/$40 non-members.

Saturday 26 October: Traditions of Mummers and Wren Boys, a seminar as part of the Return to Fingal Festival. Speakers from UCD and UCC, and Mummers from Wexford, Sligo and Fingal. Venue: Roganstown Golf, Spa & Country Club, Swords, Co Dublin. 2:30–5:30pm.

Sunday 27 October: Guided Tour of Bully's Acre Graveyard, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, with Paul O'Brien of Dublin Battlefield Tours. 2pm. Free but booking essential.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Back To Our Past 2013: Part Two

Day Two of Back To Our Past opened yesterday under a sunny sky, which was a whole lot better than the previous day's squalls and general dampness. Perhaps this change in the weather, plus the fact it was the weekend, was the reason for a lot more early visitors and then a steady stream pretty much all day.

Certainly Ancestry's team was busy helping visitors throughout, but without the long queues of last year. Irish genealogy specialist Kyle Betit, Senior Genealogist for Utah-based ProGenealogists, Ancestry's official genealogy research firm, was among those working directly with visitors. He told me that most of the people he'd been helping had already done some level of research; few were completely unaware of how to start researching and many were Irish people looking for extended family – typically siblings of direct ancestors – who emigrated to the States.

I also had a chat with Eric Booth, who heads up Ancestry's International Marketing department in Dublin. He confirmed that Ancestry hopes to add to the Guinness personnel records collection (uploaded to the site earlier in the week, see blogpost) in the future. He said also that the recent arrival of the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses reflected the National Archives of Ireland's desire to reach new audiences with their free-to-view collections. With any luck, this may mark another step in stamping out the myth of how 'all Ireland's records were lost in the fire'.

I also caught up with Stephen Scarth, Head of Public Services at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, who gave me a very thorough overview of what's happening at PRONI (my word, Stephen can hold an impressive amount of detail in his head!). It seems to have been a busy year for PRONI, with the statistics for its website showing that this year's hits will probably top 14million, up from what was already a very strong performance in 2012/13 of 10.2million.

Of course, a sizeable chunk of this online growth will have been due to the release of the North's Griffith's Valuation Revision Books (Cancelled Land Books) at the end of March, but it also reflects a greater general awareness of PRONI. This process has been helped along by television programmes such as BBC1's WDYTYA? episode featuring Nick Hewer in August which was partly filmed in the Belfast office – the broadcast doubled daily hits to the online records – and the Groundbreakers series of documentaries on BBC2, which has also featured PRONI-materials (next one to watch out for tells the story of Isabella Tod, the most prominent feminist in 19th-century Ireland who lived in Belfast).

Still on the subject of the website, you may have noticed there's a bit of a revamp going on. This upgrade is designed to make the site more 'tablet' and 'mobile' friendly. There may yet be a more significant upgrade on the cards in the medium term.

PRONI, as you're probably aware, works to a 'one big new collection per year' schedule. You can see details of the 2014 Biggie, below. Before that comes along, Stephen's team is also developing new resources to mark the anniversary of World War One next year. The main resource will, possibly, be photographic but an online guide to 'WW1 sources' will also be made available and a new exhibition will be presented in the atrium foyer at Titanic Boulevard.

Stephen also mentioned that the History of Witchcraft, Magic and the Devil in Ireland Conference on 31 October will be repeated on Thursday 28 November. The Halloween date booked up very, very quickly, so there is clearly a huge appetite for this subject. Those already on the Halloween reserve list will automatically be offered a place on the November date. I'll be highlighting this re-running of the Conference in a dedicated blogpost on Monday, so if you want to get in first, be sure to get your email sent today to

Junior Gene
Before heading back South, I popped in on the North of Ireland Family History Society stand where there was a brisk trade being done in books and maps. Sandra Ardis introduced me to Junior Genie, a specially designed character to appeal to children and stimulate their interest in family history.

Young Junior was launched on Culture Night in Belfast and proved highly successful as a means to getting youngsters to talk to their parents and grandparents about their ancestral heritage and will now form a large part of the Society's education programme.

During the day I also got the chance to meet Shane Mac Thomais, resident historian at Glasnevin Cemetery where visitors have leapt by 25% this year. This growth, he said, is largely due to The Gathering but there has also been a lot more interest from schools and general visitors. Next month will see a number of military-themed events. They're all on the Glasnevin Trust's website.

Sticking with the military, the Western Front Association stand seemed to have a permanent full house of visitors peering over its bank of computers. This was the third consecutive appearance by the WFA at Back To Our Past and I've never known it to be any different, but for the first time I found a slight lull and was able to get to speak to a member of the Association. Ian Chambers told me that the computers were linked up to Ancestry's military collections, and the WFA team were usually able to find at least something about each visitor's ancestors. He said the old 'stigma' of having British Army ancestors in Irish families has diminished considerably in recent years and been replaced with widespread curiosity.

Dr Tyrone Bowes delivers his lecture
on genetic genealogy
There was also plenty of curiosity evident on the Family Tree DNA stand, which was rarely without a bank of queueing visitors waiting to speak to one of the consultants including well-known genealogist and DNA enthusiast Debbie Kennett. Family Tree DNA sponsored a dedicated strand of Genetic Genealogy lectures on all three days of the show and these were particularly well attended. Most had an audience of around 50 people.

Dr Maurice Gleeson, who worked as the Genetic Genealogy lecture co-ordinator, said most of the audience were was made up of complete beginners, intrigued to discover what DNA could tell them about their heritage. There was also a noticeable US contingent of visitors at many of the lectures. One Mr McClelland had said he had crossed the pond specifically to attend Dr Tyrone Bowes's presentation 'Pinpointing Your Irish Origin using Commercial Ancestral DNA Testing'.

If you couldn't be at the show, you can see most of the presentations via GGI's You Tube channel.

I didn't get to as many of the BTOP lectures as I'd hoped. There was a terrific mix of genealogy, heritage, military and local history subjects and I could easily have sat, listened and learned quite contentedly from morning to evening, but then this report would never have got written! I will, however, pull up one for mention: Nicola Morris's talk on Occupation sources. Despite a heavy cold, Nicola gave a superb overview of where to find records for the major occupation groups (army, RIC, Teachers, legal and medical professions, priests and clergymen, and the merchants covered by the Guilds of Dublin). Opening up the floor to the audience to mention specific occupations they were interested in, she was able to give some direction for records for everyone from postmen to railway workers, and from butchers to sailors. Impressive.

It was a good show, from my perspective. I learned a lot, and I'm sure visitors did too, because there were just so many opportunities to get free specialist help. And there was a great atmosphere, too.

See also my Part One report for more Irish genealogy news.

Coming soon to a screen near you!

So are you still waiting for the promised list of forthcoming records? Get your seatbelt on... I'm going to rattle through them. None should be a complete surprise to regular readers of Irish Genealogy News; I've mentioned all of these collections or enhancements as being 'in the pipe' over the course of the last year. The exciting thing is that they'll be plopping out the interesting end of the pipe soon. And I mean soon. Here you go!

By Christmas, indexes and images of the surviving census fragments from the 1821 – 1851 censuses will be available on the National Archives of Ireland's Genealogy website. They will be joined by the Census Search forms (ie pension application forms for research into the 1841 and/or 1851 censuses). The collections will appear also on FamilySearch and FindMyPast, all free.

The site will also be getting an upgrade before the festive season arrives. We'll be able to enjoy a completely new incarnation and much enhanced version of the Irish Civil Registration indexes. This includes all maiden names from 1903 to 1927 (maiden names didn't start appearing in the published birth registration indexes until 1928), as well as birth dates from the same starting date. I understand that this new database carries records right up to current, whereas existing versions stop at 1958 (or 1921 for Northern Ireland). See Addendum below, also.

At around the same time, or just possibly into January, the National Archives's collection of Valuation Office field and house books will join the line up. These too, will be getting the freedom of FMP and Family Search.

Happy so far? Let's see what the New Year will bring:

In the first quarter of 2014, the Diocesan Court and Prerogative Court records will be added. These include the indexes to wills, administrations and marriage licence bonds, pre-1858.

The original Wills books from 1858 onwards for all areas except Dublin will also be added.

Again, these collections will appear also on FamilySearch and FindMyPast, all free.

In Northern Ireland, wills for the Civil War period, and right up to the 1960s will be uploaded to PRONI's website by March 2014. By then, the remaining 44 volumes missing from the initial upload of Revision Books will also have been added to the database. (Stephen Scarth didn't want to be drawn on a likely date for this final batch of Revision Books, but told me the scanning is currently in progress, approaching completion. I wouldn't be surprised if these 44 volumes hit by the end of the year or shortly afterwards.)

I think I'll leave you to take all that in!!

Addendum: How I forgot this, I don't know! Brian Donovan of Eneclann told me the company has finished digitising an additional set of church registers for more than 20 parishes in West Cork on behalf of These will be making their way onto that website in due course. Whether this will happen fairly imminently or will occur at the time of the big GRO update, no one was able to confirm just yet, but they are coming. Great news for anyone (like me) with family from West Cork.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Back To Our Past – await a mega post

I'm just too tired to get a second Back To Our Past blogpost written tonight. So stand by for a mega post on Sunday, with tons of great news. All I'll say for now is that I'm now prepared to start talking about Christmas. Normally I insist the C-word is not mentioned until October is out, but I'm going to make an exception because it looks like there's a truly wonderful festive season ahead.

Santy's a-coming!

UPDATE: See the promised mega post here.

Friday 18 October 2013

Ancestry adds Guinness personnel files

A small collection from the Guinness Archives was added to Ancestry yesterday. It holds 8697 personnel records of former Guinness employees dating from 1824 to 2002 and includes details such as name, dates of birth and death, the date and age when an employee joined the company, and, where relevant, a spouse's name.

This data is taken from the Guinness website where this collection can be searched free of charge. You may also find additional information on the Guinness site, including references, publication information, comments, historical context, and even images. Presumably the purpose of the duplication via Ancestry is to help make this resource more widely known.

The Guinness database holds more than 20,000 records, so I'm assuming the Ancestry collection will be updated and added to in due course.

Thursday 17 October 2013

FamilySearch & DCT Family History form partnership

DC Thomson Family History (DCTFH)*, owners of FindMyPast, the British Newspaper Archives and more, has entered into a new partnership with Family Search that will give family historians access to billions of records online and new technology to allow researchers to share their discoveries.

According to the joint press release, more than 13 million records from FamilySearch launched today on FindMyPast, including collections of births, marriages and deaths from America, Australia, and Ireland.

It adds that around 600 additional collections, containing millions of records, will follow.

The two organisations have a long history of working together on historical projects, including the indexing of 132 million records from the 1940 US census and two hundred years of British Army Service Records (Chelsea Pensioners) in a joint digitisation project with The National Archives.

Making the announcement, CEO Annelies Van den Belt said: 'This is fantastic news for our customers all over the world. As a leader in online family history we will be able to offer access to a much wider variety of records dating back hundreds of years, and the first batch are ready to search on FindMyPast. The convenience of searching many treasures from along with our own extensive collections will provide rich new insights for our customers.

'This partnership with FamilySearch will accelerate the momentum of our next phase of global growth into new non-English-speaking markets and give more people more access to more records to uncover their family history. This really cements our position as a market leader.'

Although the above press release suggests that Irish records have been released today under the new partnership, I cannot find any details. In response to a subscriber request via the Comment section of the FindMyPast UK blog, the marketing manager provided a list of the first releases: Californian marriages 1850-1945, Iowa marriages 1809-1992, Indiana marriages 1780-1992, Virginia marriages 1785-1940, Alabama marriages 1816-1957, Alabama deaths 1908-1974, Utah births 1892-1941, North Carolina deaths 1931-1994, Indiana births 1773-1933, California births 1812-1988, Australian births 1792-1981, Australian deaths 1816-1980, Australian marriages 1810-1980. No mention of Irish records. I'll try to get details tomorrow at Back To Our Past.

*Until very recently known as Brightsolid.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

RootsIreland Top-Up offer, until 24 October

As you must surely know if you've been paying attention to my blogposts over the last few weeks, The Irish Family History Foundation and RootsIreland are sponsoring the main genealogy/heritage lecture programmes at this years Back To Our Past, which starts on Friday*.

To coincide with the Show, a special offer has been announced for researchers to take advantage of over the next feverish week. If you spend at least 25 Euros to purchase or top up your credits between now and next Thursday 24 October, you'll get 50 extra free credits.

The RootsIreland database holds more than 20million records, many of them from baptism, marriage and burial registers that are not available on any other website.

* See Countdown to Back To Our Past 2013.

Late openings at National Library of Ireland: dates

Just a reminder that the National Library of Ireland will be opening half an hour later than normal tomorrow, Thursday 17 October. This is to facilitate staff meetings. Doors will open at 10am, rather than 9:30am.

The same arrangement will apply on Wednesday 13 November and Wednesday 11 December.

Three Lockout exhibitions at Collins Barracks, Dublin

Three new exhibitions celebrating the Dublin Lockout have been opened by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin. They are: 1913 Lockout: Impact & Aftermath; Banners Unfurled; and Lockout – The Tapestry.

Documenting life in Dublin and events surrounding the Lockout, 1913 Lockout: Impact & Aftermath draws on objects from the Museum’s own collections including the Starry Plough flag that flew over the Imperial Hotel on O’Connell Street during the 1916 rising. This is the flag’s first time on display in 25 years.

At the same time, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ 1913 Commemoration Committee will be hosting two temporary exhibitions at Collins Barracks. The first, Banners Unfurled consists of replicas of 18 guild and trade union banners. The second, Lockout - the Tapestry, displays the tapestry commissioned in 2012 by SIPTU and the National College of Art and Design from artists Kathy Henderson and Robert Ballagh. The 30-panel tapestry, creating a visual narrative of the 1913 Lockout, was made by voluntary groups and their work. Both these exhibitions will be on display until 14 November.

Announcing the new exhibitions, Minister Deenihan said: 'The 1913 Lockout was a moment of great importance in Irish history. It was also a very significant milestone in that momentous decade (1912 to 1922) which saw Ireland move through the Home Rule crisis and the Lockout to the 1916 Rising and, eventually, the establishment of the Irish State. I look forward to working with the National Museum, and all the cultural institutions, on commemorations of the landmark events in Irish history that took place during that momentous decade.'

National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7. Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–5pm; Sunday: 2pm–5pm.

(Another free Lockout exhibition is currently on at the National Library of Ireland, 2 Kildare St, Dublin 2. Details.)

Additions to IGP-web in first fortnight of October

Here are the uploads added to Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives in the last couple of weeks.

St John the Baptist, Bushmills.
Photo courtesy Yvonne Russell.
ANTRIM Genealogy Archives – Memorials
Bushmills; St. John the Baptist, Parish of Dunluce (Wall Plaques)

CLARE Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
Irish Constabulary 1858 (partial: records 22751-24000)

CORK Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
Irish Constabulary 1858 (partial: records 22751-24000)

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Irish Constabulary 1858 (partial: records 22751-24000)

DOWN Genealogy Archives
Military and Constabulary
Irish Constabulary 1858 (partial: records 22751-24000)
Belfast, Knockbreda Cemetery, Belfast - Part 2 (additional)
Dundonald, Belfast, parts 3 & 4

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives
Irish Constabulary 1858 (partial: records 22751-24000)
Mt Jerome
Reformed French Huguenot Burial Place
Mount Jerome Headstones parts 62-65
Deansgrange - St. Nessan's section 9

KILDARE Genealogy Archives - Military
Irish Constabulary 1858 (partial: records 22751-24000)

MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drumswords (CoI) Graveyard (partial)

ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Clooncraff Graveyard (partial)

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives – Headstone Index
Baltyboys Cemetery - Part 1

Drumswords ruined church, Co Monaghan. Photo courtesy Bertie Mills.

Monday 14 October 2013

IGRS launches new database of 250,000 names

The Irish Genealogical Research Society has launched an online names index to its annual journal, The Irish Genealogist. It runs to a quarter of a million names and it's free to search.

First published in 1937, The Irish Genealogist has allowed IGRS members to share the results of their research. This has resulted in many thousands of genealogy related articles, family histories and transcriptions of unusual records and sources. Typically, members have submitted information from newspapers, parish registers, family bibles, genealogies, voters lists, pedigrees, membership rolls, deeds, marriage settlements, census substitutes, land and tenure surveys, marriage license bonds, courts records, wills and much more besides.

The index covers the years 1937 to 2001 and will shortly be extended to 2012, creating a database of enormous potential for all Irish genealogists. You can access it at the Society's website,

October 14 to 20: A big week of Irish Genealogy events

With Back to our Past taking place in Dublin this week (see below, 18-20 October), this is a big week for Irish genealogists, and one where we might reasonably expect some lovely new records to be launched. What's on your wishlist?

Of course, the Show is the not the only thing happening this week. Here's your round up of genealogy and history focussed lectures, exhibitions, and other events:

Monday 14 October: Prisons, Protests and Hunger Strikes – how Ulster women fought for the vote, with Dr Margaret Ward & Dr Myrtle Hill. Host: Carryduff Historical Society. Venue: Committee Room, Lough Moss Centre, Hillsborough Road, Carryduff Co Down. Time: 8pm. Cost: £2 non-members.8pm.

Monday 14 October: Griffiths Valuation and Online Revision Books, with Bill Macafee. North of Ireland FHS Newtownabbey Branch. Venue: Drama Theatre, Glengormley High School, 134 Ballyclare Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 5HP. 7pm. Enquiries.

Monday 14 October: Roscommon to New Jersey: Chain Migration and the Irish Diaspora, with Thomas Callahan, History Department, Rider University, USA. Host: Institute of Irish Studies. Venue: Room 03/006B, Peter Froggatt Centre, QUB. Belfast. 1:00pm–2:00pm.

Tuesday 15 October: Lighting the fuse? the establishment and outlook of the Irish Volunteers, 1913–14, with Dr Conor Mulvagh. Third in the Dublin Anniversaries series of City Hall lunchtime lectures. 13:10–13:50pm, plus 10 minutes Q&A. Free. No booking required. First come, first served.

Tuesday 15 October: Setting out and recording methods. North of Ireland FHS, Omagh Branch. Venue: Omagh Library, Dublin Road. 7:15pm. Enquiries

Tuesday 15 October: Workhouses, with Janet Hancock. Venue: Newry City Library, 79 Hill Street, Newry, Co Down. BT34 1DG . 12:30pm. Free. Booking advised. Tel 028 3026 4683.

Tuesday 15 October to Wednesday 16 October: History of mental health in Belfast, from the asylums to the present day. A free exhibition exploring attitudes and impacts. Venue: Grosvenor Hall, Glengall Street, Belfast. 10am to 4pm.

Wednesday 16 October: Celebrating Our Immigrant Heritage, a drop-in theme day to discuss and discover immigration records. Quebec FHS Heritage Centre and Library, 173 Cartier Avenue, Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada. 1:30pm to 4:00pm. Free. Open to the public. Information: 514-695-1502 or

Wednesday 16 October: The Home Rule Crisis of 1912-14, with Hugh McShane. Venue: Castlewellan Library, 3 Upper Square, Castlewellan, Co Down BT31 9DA. 7:30pm. Free but booking advised on 028 4377 8433.

Thursday 17 October: More Than Just Ship Passenger Arrival Lists, The National Archives at Kansas City, 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64108, USA. Find out about immigration records, passport applications, naturalization documents, passenger arrival lists and more! Email for details:

Thursday 17 October:
Church of Ireland Representative Church Body Library, with Dr Susan Hood. North of Ireland FHS, North Down & Ards Branch. Venue: 1st Presbyterian Church Hall, Main Street, Bangor, Co Down. 7:30pm.

Thursday 17 October: Churches and Churchgoers, with Dr Janice Holmes and Dr Barry Sheehan. Part of the Exploring Family History Lecture Series presented by the Open University and PRONI. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 6:30pm–8pm. Free but booking required at

Friday 18 October: Searching for that Elusive Scots-Irish and Irish Ancestor, a free talk and Q&ampA with Gillian Hunt of the Ulster Historical Foundation. Venue: Hilton Atlanta North-east, Georgia, USA. Part of the Stone Mountain Highland Games. The talk is free and all are welcome.

Friday 18 October to Sunday 20 October: Back to our Past, Ireland's very own genealogy event. Venue: RDS Industries Hall, Dublin. 11am to 7pm every day. Three strands of lectures on each day. Half price entry voucher and details.

Saturday 19 October: Bound for Botany Bay 1788? – The First Fleet to Australia, with Barbara Wimble, President Botany Bay FHS. Host: North of Ireland FHS, Fermanagh Branch. Venue: Library, Halls Lane, Enniskillen, BT74 7DR. Time: 2:15pm.  Enquiries.

Sunday 20 October: Roses from the Heart - 'Blessing of the Bonnets' ceremony at 12.00 noon at St Coleman's Cathedral in Cobh, Co Cork, followed by procession to Cobh Heritage Centre where they will be permanently installed. These bonnets represent the 184 women and children aboard the ill-fated NEVA on its way to Australia. 

Friday 11 October 2013

New GRO Research Room: first 'photoshoot'

The GRO Research Room in Dublin has been open in its new location for a full two weeks today, so it seemed time to produce a few photos. The pix below were sent to me by a professional genealogist who described the interior as 'a bit Cold War' and I can see what they mean. I definitely don't like the 'hatch' window idea, the railway station ceiling or the prison grey walls (or is that a 'hint of lilac'), but I guess it's not as bad as it could have been.

'Just remember Lombard Street', I keep telling myself.

Of more concern is a couple of independently voluteered comments I've received about junkies hanging around the joint. As one genie told me: 'I can handle myself, but I wouldn't want to be leaving there at five o'clock during the winter when it's dark. I would imagine it's just a matter of time before some unsuspecting tourist is picked off.'

Let's all be on our guard.

Thursday 10 October 2013

A Titanic Gathering on offer for Belfast 4–8 November

Titanic Belfast is hosting its very own Gathering next month with a Festival of Family and Friends. The five-day celebration (4–8 November) includes a specially reduced* £9 entry fee to the Titanic Experience, with (as if any additional enticement were needed) tea/coffee and shortbread included!

There's an innovative range of social events on offer, among them a Tea Dance in the Titanic Suite, a 'steerage class' evening, and an afternoon of drama, music and cinema. You can find details of these and more in the downloadable brochure.

There's also a great line-up of talks hosted by PRONI, FindMyPast, the Ulster Historical Foundation and the Linenhall Library that will be of interest to genealogists. Details of these talks are not included in the brochure, so I've listed the programme below. Each lecture will be presented in the Andrews Gallery, which is within the Titanic Belfast building but does not give access to the Titanic Experience. The talks are free and you don't need to book. Just turn up in good time.

Tuesday 5 November
11:30am A Century of Change, Conflict&Transformation: Northern Ireland 1911-2011, with PRONI
2:00pm How to start your family tree – a beginner's guide, with

Wednesday 6 November
11:30am Cartoons and Postcards of 20th-century Ireland, with the LinenHall Library

Thursday 7 November
11:30am Made in Belfast: Titanic Industries, with PRONI
2:00pm Introduction to Family History, with the Ulster Historical Foundation

Friday 8 November
11:30am Online sources for family and local history, with PRONI
2:00pm Trace ancestors who travelled to GB, USA, Australia and more, with

Saturday 9 November
11:30am Art in the Archives (exploring cinema, radio, theatre etc), with PRONI

*standard entry charge is normally £14.75

Countdown to Back To Our Past 2013

Click to download half price entry voucher
In just eight days – at 11am, Friday 18 October, to be precise – the doors of the Industries Hall at the RDS in Dublin will be flung open and this year's Back To Our Past show will be underway.

Ireland's very own genealogy exhibition, Back To Our Past (BTOP), is in its fourth year and firmly ingrained in the Irish genealogist's calendar. It's a must-visit for anyone, amateur or professional, with an interest in Irish genealogy, local history and military history, and for all those who want to know more about how our ancestors lived.

It's an opportunity for beginners to take their first research steps under the patient guidance of professionals and experienced genealogists, and for more advanced level family historians to perhaps find a new direction after talking to someone with more specialised historical knowledge or greater awareness of the available records. Others will simply enjoy the total immersion in genealogy and see the fair as a thoroughly enjoyable crash course in Irish heritage in its widest sense.

There's always plenty to learn, that's for sure! In addition to fifty-odd exhibitors, which include Irish genealogical research societies; online database providers; magazine, book and cd publishers; historical groups; state archives and institutions; sellers of family history products; educational service providers, and a wide range of products and services catering to the heritage market, the show sees three concurrent strands of lectures.

Two strands of these talks – the official BTOP Presentations – have been organised by the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) on behalf of show sponsors, while a supplementary programme of DNA lectures has been organised by the International Society of Genetic Genealogists. You can find details of all the lectures, which run throughout the day, on the show organiser's website.

Admission to all the talks is free on a first come, first served basis, to all those attending Back To Our Past (see half price entry voucher below). The only tricky bit is making a choice from the three talks running at the same time. They cater to all levels of experience.

There are a couple of amendments to the original line-up of lecturers. The first sees Kyle Betit of ProGenealogists named as the presenter of a lecture on behalf of on the Sunday morning. Kyle is a popular and well-regarded genealogist with many years' experience in Irish records. The other change occurs because Gillian Hunt of the Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) will be unable to give her talk on behalf of RootsIreland due to commitments in the USA; William Roulson, another well-known Northern Ireland specialist from UHF, has stepped in to replace her.

In addition, there's one change to the panel making up the Friday evening HistoryIreland HedgeSchool, Who Do The Irish Think They Are?, with Theo Dorgan being replaced by Stephanie Rains of NUI Maynooth.

Another excellent reason for visiting BTOP is to take advantage of a free consultation with a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland. APGI is offering bookable 20-minute consultations across the three days of the show, and these can be booked using this online form.

So, if you're geared up and ready to go, don't forget to print off your half-price entry voucher!
Click image below to download pdf.

Knock down brickwalls with DNA at Back to our Past

Click to download half-price entry voucher
As you are no doubt already aware, this year's Back To Our Past show (BTOP) incorporates a Genetic Genealogy Conference with three days of lectures organised by the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG). This DNA/genetics conference will run alongside two strands of traditional genealogy, history and heritage presentations and the main BTOP exhibition.

In preparation for the show, which kicks off on 18 October, ISOGG has carried out a survey to assess the general level of interest in DNA/genetic genealogy.

This was done on Facebook, and invited those of an Irish background to take part.

The results show that 93% of respondees were interested in having a DNA test to help find their ancestors. When asked which type of DNA test they would like to take, 25% selected Y-DNA, which measures the father's direct paternal line (the father's father's father's father etc), while only 8% chose the mitochondrial DNA test, which measures the mother's direct maternal line (the mother's mother's mother's mother etc). But a clear majority of 66% was more interested in discovering what an autosomal DNA test might reveal.

Autosomal DNA tests examine all the chromosones and therefore assess ALL a person's ancestral lines, not just their direct male and female lines. It provides a breakdown of a person's ethnic make-up and can even, depending on the laboratory carrying out the test, reveal information about physical traits and medical risks.

Announcing the findings of ISOGG's survey, Dr Maurice Gleeson said that autosomal DNA testing holds out the most promise for those needing to break down brickwalls in their research; the test will identify about 99% of first and second cousins, 90% of third cousins, 50% of fourth cousins and 10% of fifth cousins.

"Given that the average age for the intrepid family historian is about 70 (ie born around 1940), and allowing 30 years per generation, most Irish genealogists will be interested in contacting DNA cousins who are estimated to be their third or fourth cousins, and who therefore share a common ancestor born about 1820 or 1790 respectively. This collaboration between genetic cousins, identified by DNA, may help break down brick walls in your family tree around the 1800 timepoint.

"Many of these genetic cousins are likely to be American and some of them will have more extensive family trees than you do. After all, American records were not blown up in 1922. In fact, despite the US and Canada being relatively 'young' countries historically, their genealogical records frequently go back much further than ours in Ireland. And this can provide a rich source of information when Irish records run out. Sometimes the way to go further back in Ireland is to jump across the Atlantic and trace those distant cousins who emigrated to the New World. Many of them will have recorded information about their parents that will help you push a particular ancestral line back an extra generation."

You can find out more about the survey results here, but if you want to find out more about DNA testing and how genetic genealogy might help your ancestral research, the place to be is BTOP.

Back to our Past will take place at the Industries Hall, RDS, Dublin on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (18–20 October). Doors open each day at 11am and close at 7pm.

For half price entry to BTOP (once you're in, the Genetic Genealogy Conference, the exhibiton and the two-strand programme of genealogy & heritage talks are free) download the voucher above. For more details about the Show, see Countdown to Back To Our Past 2013 blogpost.

Free Offaly genealogy training starts 15 October

A new training project – County Offaly Genealogy, Historical Placenames and Mapping Training – gets underway next week in Belmont. Sponsored by Offaly Local Development Company and organised by IrelandX0, the project will use a combination of lectures and computer-based training to help delegates kick-start their genealogy projects. All four evening workshops will be presented by Offaly Historical Society and will have a strong practical focus using Internet sources.

Here's the programme:

Tuesday 15 October Introduction to Irish Genealogy
Tuesday 22 October Genealogy Sources of County Offaly
Tuesday 29 October Offaly Land ownership, land records and evictions
Tuesday 5 November Historical place names, map reading and territorial divisions

The lectures will be held 8:00pm to 10:30pm, which includes a coffee/tea break, at High Street Hall, Belmont, Co Offaly. They are free to attend (although a contribution of voluteer hours to the IrelandX0 project would be appreciated) but places are limited so you need to book.

Send your full contact details – parish, telephone number and email address – by Email or telephone (085) 1925466 and await confirmation of your booking.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Mayo Genealogy Gathering: Saturday 12 October

There's a lot of genealogy going down in Turlough, Castlebar, Co Mayo this weekend, with events at both the Community Centre and the National Museum of Country Life. Here's the full line-up, including non-genealogy elements of the programme:

National Museum of Country Life

11:00-11:15 : Registration
11:15-12:00 : Launch by Dr Sean M Rowland, President Hibernia College
12:00-13:00 : Mayo Genealogy Workshop
13:00-14:00 : Lunch in Brambles Restaurant in Museum
14:00-15:00 : Ordinary Lives, film, and guided tour of Museum
15:00-15:30 : Harvest Knots Workshop
15:30-16:30 : Mayo Graveyards and Burial Customs, a talk with Sean Caddan and William Lyons of Mayo Genealogy Group

Community Centre, Turlough
14:00-20:00 : Genealogy Fayre
17:00-18:00 : Talk by local historian Johnny Mee, Q&A
18:00-20:00 : Teas, stalls, display of local historical records, meet with local amateur genealogists
20:00-Late : Ceol Agus Craic – Turlough Inn

All the above events are free (please note that lunch is not included).

Irish Family History Society Seminar, 12 October

The Irish Family History Society (IFHS) will be holding its Autumn Seminar this coming Saturday, 12 October.

As always, it will be held at the Dublin City Library & Archive, 138 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. With registration from 10am, the seminar gets underway at 10:30 and there's a break for lunch (not provided) from 12:30 to 2:00pm. The lectures are as follows:

10:30       Estate Rentals, with Dr James Ryan
11:30       Killester and its families: the story of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Homes, with Margaret
               Bonar and Elizabeth Craven
  2:15       The Landed Estates Database: a resource for family and local history, with Marie Boran
               and Brigid Clesham
  3:15       Sources for tracing children in care in Ireland prior to 1952, with Fiona Fitzsimons

The seminar is free to attend, there's no booking required, and non-members are welcome.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

2014 famine commemoration will be in New Orleans

New Orleans will be the location of the 2014 International Famine Commemoration.

It is a city that has well-established and continuing links to Ireland. Thousands of Irish people emigrated to New Orleans and between 1840 and 1860 New Orleans had a higher per capita Irish population than Boston or Philadelphia. The Irish Channel remains the centre of the St Patrick's Day festivities in New Orleans today.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Irish people extended the same compassion and generosity to the people of New Orleans that our ancestors received during the most desolate period in Ireland's history. Indeed, the Irish Government committed €1 million to disaster relief in the immediate aftermath of the storm. €700,000 was given to the Red Cross for immediate use along the Gulf Coast and €300,000 was given to various community and civil service organisations.

Making the announcement, Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said: 'As Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, I am very much looking forward to working with the 'Irish Network of New Orleans', the city’s Hibernian groups and the local community to make the arrangements for next year's International Famine Commemoration programme. I am sure it will be a very special and moving tribute to those who suffered and perished during the Great Irish Famine and also a vibrant celebration of the immense achievements of those who emigrated and their descendants who built new lives in their adopted homes in New Orleans and across the Southern United States.'

Further details in relation to the programme for the International Famine Commemoration including the date will be announced over the coming months.

The selection process to determine the site of the 2014 National Famine Commemoration, which is due to be held in Connacht, is currently underway. The date and location of the 2014 National Famine Commemoration will be announced later this year.