Friday 31 January 2014

PRONI shows its romantic side

Since Valentine's Day is now just around the corner (as you may have noticed from the big red lovehearts adorning practically every shop window in the high street) PRONI's gone soft and found a romantic theme for its February document of the month.

Here's the story:

In 1935, a native of Seattle, USA, attempted to take charge of Cupid by writing to the Lord Mayor of Belfast seeking an “Irish colleen” for a wife.
This would-be suitor was quite specific in his requirements for a bride who would “join him in the journey of life”. Assuring the Lord Mayor that he was “well enough fixed” financially, he also provided the names of three referees that would vouch for his character.

Brett Irwin from PRONI’s Private Records’ team, who picked the document of the month, said: “I was drawn to the letter because I loved the idea of the Lord Mayor of Belfast’s duties including wife-finding! This is definitely added value for rate payers.”

Maggie Smith, Director of PRONI said: “It is testament to the diverse range of records held at PRONI that a ‘Lonely Hearts’ letter was found in the seemingly unlikely location of a box
of Belfast Corporation papers.
“We hold over three million records in PRONI and I would encourage everyone to visit PRONI and delve into the records. You never know what you might uncover.”

Unfortunately, PRONI has been unable to ascertain if the Lord Mayor responded to the request!

In the PRONI catalogue, the letter is contained in a Local Authority file with the PRONI reference LA7/3/A/40. The document is open to the public and available to view at PRONI.

Or just click the images to read the letters.

Tracing Irish Ancestors: UHF's workshop tour of USA

The Ulster Historical Foundation's annual workshop tour of the USA gets underway in just six weeks.  Foundation Executive Director Fintan Mullan and Research Officer Gillian Hunt will be presenting lectures on Irish and Scots-Irish research in several states, as follows:

Saturday 8 March: Denver CO
The Wales Ireland Scotland England (W.I.S.E.) Family History Society. Seminar programme (pdf).

Monday 10 March: Des Moines IA  Full day seminar.
Iowa Genealogical Society. Seminar programme.

Tuesday 11 March: Lincoln NE
Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society. Seminar programme (pdf).

Wednesday 12 March: Bolingbrook IL
The Plainfield Public Library and the Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club. Details.

Thursday 13 March: Chicago IL
The Newberry Library. Details.

Saturday 15 MarchMemphis TN
Tennessee Genealogical Society. Seminar programme.

Sunday 16 and Monday 17 March:
Boise ID
Boise State University. Venue: Boise State BoDo (301 S. Capital Blvd.)Details.

Thursday 20 March: Greensburg PA
The Westmoreland County Historical Society. Details

Friday 21 March: Philadelphia PA
The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. Details.

Saturday 22 March: South Orange NJ
Co-sponsored by the Friends of the South Orange Public Library, South Orange Historical and Preservation Society, New Jersey Catholic Historical Commission, and PIPE – Seton Hall Irish Society. Details.

(This listing was updated on 4 March, with the addition of New Jersey.)

FindMyPast Ireland offers free trial to all packages" onmouseover="self.status=''; return true;" onmouseout="self.status=''; return true;"FindMyPast Ireland is currently running a Free 14-Day Trial to all their records.

And not just the Irish collection of more than 76 million records, either!

You can choose a free trial to any of their packages – World, Ireland & Britain, or Ireland.

As with most free trials, you need to register and to provide financial details. After your free trial ends, the membership package you trialled will come into operation unless you cancel before the 14 days expires. Cancellation is easily done via the website.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Gaelic Ireland presents prize-winning original research

Gaelic Ireland (c. 600–c. 1700): politics, culture and landscapes is a collection of four essays that won the ‘Irish Chiefs’ Prize. This competition was sponsored by the Standing Council of Chiefs and Chieftains, and was designed to encourage original research into Ireland's Gaelic past. It was not open to professional historians teaching at a third level institute.

The term ‘Gaelic Ireland’ in this anthology applies to the whole sweep of the historic period during which Irish was the language of a large portion of the ruling classes as well as the people of Ireland, from the fifth century to the slaughter of chieftains at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691.

It explores not only the political history of the period but also the wider culture, literature, law, beliefs and traditions.

Edited by Katharine Simms and published by Wordwell, the book costs €25.00.
ISBN : 978 1 905569 79 3

Map of Mourne Mountains in 1901 published

A 1901 map of the Mourne Mountains area of Co Down has been published by Alan Godfrey Maps. At a ratio of one inch to the mile, the map shows railways, canals and roads, and gives a broad view of an area of approximately 18 x 12 miles, from Newry eastward to Castlewellan, taking in Bryansford, Hilltown and Rathfriland.

On the reverse is a detailed map of Castlewellan.

The Mourne Mountains map joins a growing line-up of maps dating from the 1899-1902 period. Each costs £2.50, so it won't break the bank to get a historical view of your ancestors' local area.

More details.

Cork's Finding the Old Homestead conference finalised

The final programme for Cork Genealogical Society's "Finding the old homestead" conference has been announced, and it's looking great.

Taking place on Saturday 15 March, the one-day family history conference will be held at the Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Cork. Here are the lecture details:

Pre-famine Records - what is available? with John Grenham

Genealogical Developments in the National Archives of Ireland, with Dr.Catriona Crowe

Cork's Finest - Tracing Cork's Policemen, with Jim Herlihy

Irishmen and women who served in the American Civil War, with Damian Shiels

Ireland Reaching Out – genealogy/heritage activities in local communities, with Cynthia O'Connor and the potential of community genealogy projects, with John Tierney.

Tony McCarthy will be M.C. for the day. There will be Question and Answer sessions where delegates can discuss their own research, and you'll find display tables by Irish Roots Magazine, FamilySearch, IARC and others.

The conference is open to all and advance booking is essential before 9 March.

The one-day conference costs €30, which includes tea/coffee and sandwiches. A gala dinner will follow the conference at 7:30pm and costs €35.

More details and booking from Cork Genealogical Society

IFHF looks back and forward in re-styled Clann
Click image to access flip-page version
The Irish Family History Foundation has produced a new flip-page digital version of its newsletter, Clann.

It's an attractive and well-designed 38-page publication that looks back over a busy year for the IFHF, with many regional activities organised around its network of local genealogy and heritage centres, the sponsorship of the genealogy programme at Dublin's Back To Our Past, and thousands of record transcriptions added to its online database

There's also a teaser of records to come in 2014. As we already know, Counties Carlow and Clare will be joining the RootsIreland line-up this year. But Clann tells us that there will also be census substitutes for Derry, death records for Waterford, as well as a mixture of records from Armagh, Monaghan, Kildare, Cork North and East, Wexford, Antrim and Down.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

History course explores Dublin's unsavoury past

Here's an unusual class that may be of interest to Dublin-based researchers eager to discover what life was like for their ancestors.... really, really like... the ugly, unsavoury stuff, too.

It's presented by historian Donal Fallon, one of the trio behind the award-winning blog Come Here To Me (one of very few blogs I follow), and looks at the late 19th and early 20th century social history of the capital. Called Hidden Dublin: From the Monto to Little Jerusalem, the class examines issues such as the city's history of prostitution, working class childhoods, labour agitation and life in the tenements, and aims to explore the lives of the forgotten and marginalised, including women and children.

Half the course is in the classroom, and the other half is on the streets, with four walking tours of the city and suburbs.

It runs for four Tuesdays and four Saturdays, with the classes being held on Tuesday evenings (7:30pm–9:30pm) at UCD Bellfield Campus, and the walking tours at the weekend from 11am to 1pm.  It starts on 11 February.

The cost is €155.

The course reference code is AE-HN267. You can get further details, and book online, on the UCD Adult Education Department website.

FindMyPast releases British in India records

Findmypast has added more than 2.5 million records detailing the lives of the British in India from 1698 to 1947 to its online databases. The collection, released in partnership with the British Library, offers an unrivalled opportunity to explore family history on the subcontinent and includes many Irish people.

The records cast light on the careers and family lives of expats, the significance of the East India Company, the offices of power, infant mortality, Anglo-Indian marriages, family relationships, and the lives of women in India. The details of expats’ lives and deaths are documented in a variety of records ranging from returns of baptisms, marriages and burials, civil and military pensions and wills.

The British in India collection includes:
  • British India Office birth and baptism records 1698-1947
  • British India Office deaths and burials 1749-1947
  • Indian Office wills and probate records 1749-1957
  • India Office East India Company and Civil Service pensions 1749-1947
  • East India Company cadet papers
  • Applications for the civil service
I am reliably informed (a big thank you to genealogist Joanna Fennell) that researchers with Indian connections may already have searched some of these record sets on the Families in British India Society (FIBIS) site. FIBIS has been transcribing various records from the India Office Records and various other sources in the British Library (eg. directories, memorial inscriptions) for years. FindMyPast's new collection has the advantage of having images of the original documents, and it is the first time these have been available online. Some, but not all, of the information in these records has been transcribed by FIBIS in the past. The collection of wills, for example, has never been available outside the reading room of the British Library – not even the indexes were digitised before now.

The FindMyPast collection is now available across the company's portfolio of,; and

Tuesday 28 January 2014

PRONI's Archival Sources lectures nearing full capacity

Seems that PRONI's 'Overlooked Archival Sources' lecture series has most definitely not been overlooked...

Lectures taking place this week and next (Using Church Records for Family and Local History - First Steps, with Valerie Adams (29 Jan) and Family trees - How GRONI can help them grow, with Alistair Butler (5 Feb), are fully booked, so you're out of luck if you hoped to attend.

There is limited space for the two following workshops:

Wednesday 12 February: "Maps from Snaps": Archive Mapping and Aerial Photography for Local and Family History, with Drew Ferris.

Wednesday 19 February: Understanding an Ancestor's Neighbourhood - The Griffith's Valuation Books, Maps, and Revision Books, with Dr Bill McAfee.

If you want to be at these free lectures, best book straightaway by email.

Valuation Office trials Cancelled Books viewer

Valuation Office's Cancelled Revision Books
John Grenham's column in yesterday's Irish Times reminded me that I'd been meaning to follow up a tip about recent developments at the Valuation Office in Dublin (I think the intention may have got pickled in mulled wine and festive spirit last month).

So, without further ado...

The Valuation Office is currently scanning its library of Griffith's Valuation Cancelled/Revision Books. These are the books that recorded all changes to land ownership following Griffith's great land survey in the mid-19th century; as each Revision Book was filled up, it was declared 'Cancelled', and a new Revision Book created in that series. Some of the series continue right up to the year 2000.

So far, the books for counties Mayo, Kerry and Tipperary, plus those for both Dublin City and County, have been scanned. The scans have then been loaded into a trial database that is accessible via a solitary computer terminal at the Valuation Office at the Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin. The areas chosen for the trial cover the entire spread of Ireland's landscape from rural settlements and small towns to densely populated urban locations.

Scanning of the remaining counties is ongoing – Counties Limerick and Cork are underway. 

In the meantime, personal researchers to the Valuation Office pay the same fee (€3.80 per Electoral Division) whether looking at the books for their chosen area or browsing through the scans on screen, and they follow the same procedure, too, by identifying the Electoral Division and then selecting from a list of the townlands within that ED. At that point, you start browsing the scans.

Valuation Office - Cancelled Revision Book - scan
The scan quality of the books is very high. They're in colour (one of the most important considerations for copying the Cancelled Books because notations were recorded in different coloured inks according to the year) and have good contrast. I'm told the viewer makes the scan easy to manoeuvre and to zoom into.

To see a sample, taken from the Dublin City, Inns Quay Ward, click the image to the right. On the landing page, click the 'download' arrow (near top left) and either open or save to your computer.

(Irish Genealogy News has been granted permission to publish this image by The Commissioner of Valuation. Do not reproduce it elsewhere.)

It's important to stress that the Valuation Office's new viewer is an early prototype. There is not yet an option to print from the public access terminal, although such a facility will be added when the trial reaches maturity. At that point, a number of terminals may be made accessible to researchers, allowing the old and increasingly fragile Cancelled Books to enter semi-retirement on the shelves. It is also easy to see how the database (or a developed incarnation of it) could ultimately make its way online*. However, there are no dates, firm plans or even official talk of that just yet.

More probable in the immediate future is the introduction of an email delivery service of scanned images, allowing family historians who can't get to Dublin the chance to order jpg versions of townlands they are researching. The launch of such a service is not imminent, however.

Right now, the Valuation Office needs feedback, especially from experienced genealogists who already know their way around the Cancelled Books. So if you're visiting the VO, spare some time to test out the trial viewer and let the staff know your opinion of it.

 * Online access to the Cancelled/Revision Books for the counties of Northern Ireland is already available, free of charge, via PRONI, here

Monday 27 January 2014

More CofI baptisms added to AncestryIreland database

The Ulster Historical Foundation has added 19,000 Church of Ireland baptismal records (transcribed by Dr Brian Trainor, retired Research Director of UHF) to its online database at Ancestry Ireland. The registers included in this batch are below:

Church name CountyDatesNumber
Antrim Antrim1824–1844698
Carrickfergus Antrim1740–18754805
Comber Down1684–18773026
Down Down1749–18574058

These records are also available via the County Down and County Antrim databases on the RootsIreland website.

Genealogy and history events this week (27 Jan–1 Feb)

Until 30 March: The Dublin Lockout Exhibition at National Library of Ireland, No 2 Kildare St, Dublin 2. This major exhibition shows Ireland in 1913 as a country in turmoil, divided by the issue of Home Rule – self-government for the country. Against this backdrop, a violent industrial conflict took centre stage. The exhibition draws upon the NLI’s extensive historical and literary collections. It combines original documents, such as Jim Larkin’s hastily scribbled advice to union colleagues on the eve of “Bloody Sunday”, with multimedia presentations. Open 7 days/week.

Monday 27 January: Sporting activity and wagering in 18th century Ireland, with Kieran Sheedy. Host: North Clare Historical Society. Venue: The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon. Co Clare. 8pm. Admission: €5.

Monday 27 January: The founding of the Irish Volunteers in Limerick 1914, with Tom Toomey. Host: Thomond Archaeological & Historical Society. Venue: Tara Building, Mary Immaculate College, SCR, Limerick. 8pm. Free. All welcome.

Tuesday 28 January: Griffiths Revisions Books, an illustrated talk with Dr. Bill MacAfee. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society. Venue: Guide Hall, Terrace Row, Coleraine, Derry-Londonderry. 8:00–10:00pm. Details.

Tuesday 28 January: Protestants and the Irish Language – Past and Present, with Gordon McCoy from ULTACH. Venue: Newcastle Library, Co Down. Tel: 028 4372 2710. Admission to this talk is free and everyone is welcome. 6:30pm. Free. All welcome.

Tuesday 28 January: Every picture tells a story: photographs, posters and cartoons from the Home Rule Crisis 1912-1914, by Hugh McShan. Brownlow Library, Craigavon, Armagh BT65 5DP. Tel: 028 3834 1946. Free. 6:45pm.

Wednesday 29 January: Using Church Records for Family and Local History - First Steps, with Valerie Adams. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. Part of PRONI's Overlooked Archival Sources lecture series. 1pm. Admission is free but you need to book by email.

Wednesday 29 January: 100 Years On: Addressing the Issue of Shell-Shock and Ireland’s involvement in the Great War, with Michael Robinson. In association with Nottingham Irish Studies Group, Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH. 7.30pm-9.00pm. Tickets: £3 on the door. Refreshments included. Tel: 0115 8373097.

Wednesday 29 January: Dublin's Little Jerusalem. Did you or your parents grow up in Portobello among the Jewish community in the 1920s/30s/40s/50s/60s? What are your happy memories of your Jewish neighbours & friends? What stories did your parents pass on to you? Venue: Rathmines Library, 157 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6. 5:30–7:30pm. Free and booking essential. An unusual event to take part in. See details.

Wednesday 29 January: Recreating the Battle of Mount Street Bridge: opportunities and problems in the digital era, with Dr Hugh Denard. Lecture followed by Q&A and discussion. Host: Centre for Contemporary Irish History, TCD. Venue: Neill Hoey Seminar Room, Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute, Trinity College Dublin. 4:00pm. Free.

Thursday 30 January: The Origins of Social and Philanthropic Housing in the 19th century, with . Free Lunchtime lecture series at Crawford Art Gallery Lecture Theatre, Emmett Square, Cork City. 1pm.

Thursday 30 January: Their fight for Irish freedom, with Tim Horgan. Host: Heritage Iveragh. Venue: Tech Amerin Arts & Education Centre, Waterville, Co Kerry. 8pm. All welcome.

Thursday 30 January: Civil Registration Records Online, with Alistair Butler. Host: Ballymena Branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society. Venue: Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena. 7:15pm. £1/£3 members/non-members.Details.

Thursday 30 January: Phthisis, Melancholia, Childbirth: hospitals and patients in early 20th century Dublin census records, with Catriona Crowe. School of Nursing and Midwifery, 24 D'Olier Street, Dublin 2. 5:15pm. Free, but email booking advised.

Friday 31 January: Kith and Kin: The Continuing Legacy of the Scots-Irish in America, with Alister McReynolds. Venue: Killyleagh Library,52 High Street, Killyleagh, Co Down BT30 9QF. 1:15pm. Free. For more information, tel: 028 4482 8407.

Saturday 1 February: The Poor Law and Assisted Emigration during the Great Famine, with Dr Gerry Moran. The 13th Annual Irish Migration Studies Lecture. Venue:  Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, 2 Mellon Road, Omagh, Tyrone BT78 5QY. 11am. Booking is preferred but not essential. Contact: Christine Johnston, Tel: 028 8225 6315. Email.  £12.00 (£10.00 concession for students, unwaged and senior citizens). Cost includes morning tea/coffee before lecture.

Friday 24 January 2014

New resource: Co Clare boy pupils at Co Kildare school

A list of boys from County Clare who attended Clongowes Wood College secondary school in Clane, Co. Kildare, has been contributed to County Clare Library and has been made available for free download from its website here.

The source of the information was The Clongowes Record: 1814-1932 by Timothy Corcoran, S.J. (Dublin, 1932).

The list holds the names of 86 boys with their addresses and years attended.

Special offer: 4-month Ancestry Premium sub £20

Ancestry UK has a terrific discount offer for Irish genealogy researchers: a 4-month subscription to the UK Premium collection for just £20. Don't be distracted by the 'UK' title. The UK Premium account provides access to all Ancestry's Irish records, too.

The standard price of this subscription is £12.95, so this offer represents a saving of £31.80 over the four-month period.

To take up the offer, go to this page on Ancestry and sign up. You'll see the basic terms explained in the footer – you pay £5 per month for four months, with membership automatically renewing, but at the end of the four months you'll be switched to the standard monthly rate of £12.95 unless you cancel at least two days before the renewal date.

The Premium collection includes the following:

  • UK census records
  • Birth, marriage and death indexes
  • UK Parish and Probate records pre-1837 
  •  Irish civil registration indexes
  • Griffiths Valuation
  • Tithe Applotment Books 
  • 1841/1851 Census abstracts and fragments
  • and much more

Don't delay if you want to take advantage of this considerable discount! The offer expires at 23:59 GMT on Monday 27 January 2014.

Genealogy courses starting in the Spring term

The following courses are scheduled to start in the next few weeks:

Dublin - Malahide
How to research your family history, with tutor Claire Bradley. This course shows students how to start their research, where to go and how to record what they find. Topics covered include the census, bmds, church records, wills and newspapers. It's aimed at the beginner researcher, but some computer skills are desirable. Tuesdays, from 4 February. Fee: €110. Malahide Community School. Enrolment evening 28 January, but online enrolment also offered. Download full brochure. Enquiries: adulted@malahidecs or tel: 846 0949

Dublin - Dundrum
Genealogy - family research for beginners, with tutor Máire Mac Conghail MAPGI, at Dundrum Adult Training and Education (D.A.T.E.), Dundrum town centre, Dublin 14. 12-week course. Wednesdays 9.30-11am. Starts 29 January. Fee €105 (Concessions €50).

Dublin - Kilternan
Genealogy for beginners, with tutor Máire Mac Conghail MAPGI, at Kilternan Adult Education Centre, Ballybetagh Road, Kilternan, Dublin 18. A hands-on practical course on how to research family history. 10 week course. Wednesdays 12-2pm. Starts 29 January. €143. Also, Genealogy continuation course for those who have completed a beginner's course on Thursdays 12-2pm. 10 weeks. Starts 30 January. Details.

Dublin – Castleknock

Irish genealogy for beginners, with tutor Maeve Mullin. How to find your ancestors in the census and other historical sources to build your own unique family tree. Mondays 7:30-9pm. Starts Monday 3 February. Personal enrolment Monday 27 January 7-9pm. Also Genealogy for Improvers, a follow-on class for those who have completed the beginners; class. Tuesdays 7:30-9pm. Personal enrolment Tuesday 28 January 7-9pm. Venue: Castleknock Community College. Can also enrol online.

Waterford – City
Genealogy course suitable for all family history enthusiasts, both beginners and seasoned. Tutor Tony Hennessy  MAPGI. Aims to show how to carry out quality research across a wide range of solid genealogical sources. Students will begin a family archive and create some wonderful family trees. Waterford College of Further Education in Parnell St Waterford (The Tech.) Starts Tuesday 4 February for 10 weeks. 7–9pm. Cost €150. To register call WCFE at 051 874053 or email.

Cork - City Centre
Genealogy course held over 10 weeks, with tutor Tony McCarthy. ACE, University College Cork. Tuesdays 7-9pm, starting 28 January. Fee: €230. Details or tel: (021) 4904717.

Belfast - Stranmillis
Family History course over 10 weeks at Central Building, Stranmillis University College, Belfast on Tuesdays, 7-9pm. Starts Tuesday 4 February. Covers census, church and civil records as well as wills, estate papers and valuation documents. Tutor from Ulster Historical Foundation. Fee: £55.00 (Concessions £45). Early booking is recommended, as this course is very popular. Download full programme. Tel: 028 9038 4345.

Thursday 23 January 2014

GRONI to show sample of new website at Olympia

The General Register Office of Northern Ireland will be making its first-ever trip to WDYTYA?Live next month in order to exhibit a sample of its proposed website.

This is the much-anticipated online facility that will allow family historians with connections to the North of Ireland to search a database of scanned registers of births, marriages and deaths*.

"The new system will not be running by the end of February," GRONI's Alistair Butler told Irish Genealogy News. 'So there is no way we can 'hook' into it at the Show.

"Instead, the sample will demonstrate how the proposed search system works. We'll be using the births, marriages and deaths of historical characters such as the writer C S Lewis as examples."

While a 'live' version won't be up for scrutiny, there's a chance the launch date might be known by the time the doors open at Olympia. 

When the new website does finally go live, online researchers will be able to search and view 'historical' civil register entries. For legal reasons, 'historical' means births over 100 years, marriages over 75 years and deaths over 50 years. This rolling-year arrangement means we'll initially be able to view birth registrations up to 1913, marriages up to 1938 and deaths up to 1963.

Researchers making personal visits to GRONI's Belfast offices will use a parallel system to the public online, version so will not be restricted to the same notion of 'historical'; they will be given a bit more scope, with access to civil registration records up to 1973.

GRONI will be on Stand No 332 at WDYTYA?Live, which will be held at Olympia, London, 20-22 February. They are ready to be swamped!

* At present, all online facilities for Irish civil registration records hold only the indexes, leaving researchers having to purchase a copy of the register entry in order to see additional details.

Battle of Clontarf 1014 millenium approaches
For events in Clontarf, see
The Battle of Clontarf was fought a thousand years ago – Good Friday (23 April), 1014 – and will be one of the major anniversaries commemmorated this year in Ireland.

The official Battle of Clontarf events programme was launched yesterday by Minister Jimmy Deenihan in the Long Room at Trinity College Dublin but doesn't seem to have made its way online yet. I'll post it here when it appears.

In the meantime.... the year-long events schedule includes seminars, festivals and many other events and it also commemorates the life of Brian Boru. Events will take place at five locations in Ireland. Below is a selection of events (I've mainly omitted family- and kid- oriented happenings) taking place in Clontarf and in Dublin City.

Friday 24 January: The Temple Bar TradFest. Venue: St Michan's Church, Dublin. The church will host the world premiere of a specially commissioned cycle of songs which span a millennium and contain eye witness accounts of Dublin from 1014 and 2014. 8pm. Tickets €18.

Wednesday 5 February: Battle of Clontarf 1014 – Irish History and Legend, with Professor Colm Lennon. Host: Old Dublin Society. Venue: Dublin City Library & Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin. 6:30pm. For details see or email.

Monday 10 February: The Archaeology of Viking Dublin at Wood Quay, with Dr Pat Wallace.  Part of the Battle of Clontarf commemoration series of lectures hosted by Clontarf Historical Society and Raheny Heritage Society. Venue: Clasac Theatre, Alfie Byrne Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3. 8:15pm. Members free, non-members €5. Tea and coffee after lecture.Details: Kay Lonergan, +353 1-8338711.

Monday 10 March: Brian Boru and his Dal Cais origins, with Dr Cathy Swift. Part of the Battle of Clontarf commemoration series of lectures hosted by Clontarf Historical Society and Raheny Heritage Society. Venue: Clasac Theatre, Alfie Byrne Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3. 8:15pm. Members free, non-members €5. Tea and coffee after lecture.Details: Kay Lonergan, +353 1-8338711.

Friday 28 March: Launch of the Battle of Clontarf Heritage Trail, with forms part of a national Brian Boru Heritage Trail between Killaloe, Cashel, Clontarf and Armagh. Clontarf Promenade, Dublin.

Friday 28 March to Sunday 31 March: Exhibition. The Clontarf Historical Society & Raheny Heritage Society will host a weekend historical exhibition in Mach 2014. The exhibition will present information on the Vikings, Brian Boru, the Battle of Clontarf and the history of Clontarf over the last millennium.

Friday 11 and Saturday 12 April: The Battle of Clontarf Conference: International Symposium. Venue: Edmund Burke Theatre, Trinity College Dublin. The two-day conference is presented in four groups of lectures: Late Viking-Age Ireland & Brian Buru and the High-Kingship; and Brian and the Battle of Clontarf & The Legacy of Brian and Clontarf. Programme. Free. Email. Tel: +353 1 222 2780

Sunday 13 April to Sunday 27 April: Daily guided tours of the Battle of Clontarf Heritage Trail. Start at 2:30pm in Clontarf. For more information: Tel: +353 86 2330377.

Saturday 24 May: New Archaeological Discoveries Seminar. A day of lectures organised in association with the Embassy of Denmark in Ireland to present the latest archaeological discoveries on the Viking period.  International guest speakers will join Irish experts to discuss their most recent findings and provide new perspectives on life in the Viking world a millennium ago. Venue: National Museum of Ireland. Kildare Street, Dublin. Booking required. Email or Tel: +353 (0)1 648 6339.

April to December:  Clontarf 1014, an exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare St, Dublin. The NMI say this will be a ground-breaking exhibition which will explode myths and present the evidence we have for what actually happened at Clontarf, what led up to the battle and what resulted from it. Viking and Irish weapons, typical of those used in the battle, will feature alongside hoards of precious silver objects and religious treasures. Much more recent artefacts will bring the story of Brian Boru and Clontarf right into modern times.

An Old World Place: PRONI exhibition and talks

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is to host an exhibition – An Old World Place – from Monday 10 February to Friday 28 February telling the rich, but largely untold, history of the village of Doagh.

The exhibition, which was developed by the Doagh Ancestry & Townlands community group, will tell the story of how this corner of County Antrim was moulded by local, provincial, and national developments.

To launch the exhibition, a lunchtime session of short talks (1pm to 2pm) will be presented, as follows:
  • Dr. William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation – an overview of Doagh’s history
  • Bob Adams of Doagh Ancestry & Townlands Steering Group – an outline of the community initiative
  • Garth Stewart of PRONI – archival ‘treasures’ relating to Doagh and the wider region.
This launch event will provide a special opportunity to explore a project that was developed in the heart of a local community, and may provide inspiration for similar initiatives in other localities. It will be held at PRONI's offices in Titanic Boulevard, Belfast and is FREE to attend but booking is essential. Please contact PRONI to reserve your place: Email or Tel: 028 90 534800. UPDATE 28 January: Booking for exhibition launch has been brisk. Email now for last few spaces.

Origins adds England & Wales 1901 Census has added the 1901 Census for England and Wales to its growing census collection.This census holds details of

Fully indexed, the 1901 census includes digitised images of the original returns for all counties of the two countries. Some 32,461,105 individuals are recorded in the returns, including 426,565 Irish-born and countless others of Irish descent. The returns were completed on the night of 31 March/1 April 1901 and can be searched by name, age, parish and county.

The 1841, 1861 and 1871 censuses for England and Wales are already available on Origins. The 1891 and 1881 Censuses will be added to the database in the next 3 months, and the 1851 shortly after, to cover the full range 1841-1901.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

£370k Ulster-Scots education project launches

An Ulster-Scots Education project is to be launched tomorrow evening in Belfast by the Northern Ireland Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín. The groundbreaking project has been allocated £370,000 and will be delivered by the University of Ulster.

The University will develop Ulster-Scots teaching materials suitable for the post-primary sector (Key Stages 3, 4 & 5), colleges, universities and the public. It will also create an online Ulster-Scots academic library and promote Ulster-Scots in education through publications, conferences and creative writing competitions. Materials will also be delivered through workshops, talks and online projects.

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “This is an exciting project which will provide teaching materials for schools as well as for the wider public. This project and the other projects which I am funding through the Ulster-Scots Academy’s Research and Development Grant Scheme, will allow those who have an interest in Ulster-Scots to tap into a rich resource of materials which will broaden their interest and knowledge in this aspect of our cultural heritage.”

The launch formalities will take place on Thursday at 6pm at The MAC Belfast.

More Irish records from FamilySearch for Ancestry

The collaboration between Ancestry and Family Search is big genealogy news at the moment. Following the initial announcement last September of an agreeement to digitise 1 billion reoords that hadn't been previously been published online, the partners revealed plans yesterday (see press release) to share an additional 1 billion records from 67 countries.

These 'additional' records have already been digitised by FamilySearch; they're not brand-new in the sense that they're making their debut in cyber land (they've been available on FamilySearch for varying amounts of time), but it's good to extend accessibility.

I'm no mathematician, but I reckon that's two billion records joining Ancestry over the next five years. The first fruits of this partnership seem to have landed yesterday, with a whopping number of records uploaded. And when I say whopping, I mean HUGE!

There's no way I'm going to list all the collections making their debut on Ancestry. There're simply too many. I'll just say that if your Irish ancestors took off to Peru, Denmark, Panama, Iceland, Ukraine, Hondurus, India... (you get the picture), and you haven't previously checked FamilySearh, you might like to search Ancestry today.

A couple of collections have arrived for Ireland, too.
From what I can see, the Death collection seems to be made up of register transcriptions from the first six years of Irish civil registration.

The Index reference is not provided, but the 51,248 entries seem to relate most of the relevant information from a death certificate, eg Mary Kate Irwin, the child of a postmaster, died 14 June 1870 aged 10, in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare; and Mathew Savage, a married Sub-Agent, died 11 March 1870 in Ballynatray, Templemichael, Co Cork, aged 63. This collection has been available on FamilySearch for nearly a year. 

The Marriage collection is confusing. Ancestry say this collection holds 1,473,590 records. FamilySearch count it differently: take your pick from 424,444 and 430,834, depending which page you go to. But even more daft is the fact this collection holds records from 1864 to 1870 only. I can't see any sign of marriages from before those dates, and the wiki table of entries per county doesn't show any, either. As with the Death collection above, this set of records is made up of register transcriptions from the first six years of Irish Civil Registration and the Index reference is not provided. The records set is not complete; while all counties are represented, their coverage varies.

Entries relate most of the relevant information from a death certificate, eg Cornelius Santry marrying a 17-year-old Anne Whetton, the daughter of John Whetton, on 10 Jan 1865, in Timoleague, Co Cork. (Sadly, this young bride and groom, a coastguard, drowned in Dungarvan harbour three years later.)

Researchers with Irish family that emigrated to Britain are also well served by the latest additions to These include 13 collections for England, most of them parish registers, four for Wales, two for Scotland, four for GB/UK, four for the Isle of Man and one for Channel Islands.

Birth and Baptism records 1819–1899 for New Brunswick were also added to the Canadian collection, while the New Zealand collection benefits from City & Area Directories, 1866-1954, but I can't tell you what or if new records appeared in the USA collection because Ancestry's list of new collections is so long it's gone off the page! If I can find out, I'll add a summary here.

FIBIS to hold its first conference in May

The Families in British India Society (FIBIS) is planning its first-ever Conference this year. It will be held 16-18 May 2014 in Birmingham.

Expert speakers will cover a range of topics relevant to the period of British influence in India. These will include something of the historical and political background, detail on ancestors’ lives in the Army, the Civil Service, other professions and unofficial inhabitants, women in India and, of course, the railway network.

In addition, there will be a selection of workshops, 1:1 surgeries, Q&As and Expert panels, a gala dinner and lots of opportunity to contribute and interact over the weekend.

Irish family historians could well discover their 'missing' ancestors in Indian records; nearly half the soldiers in the East India Company Army during the early 19th century originated from Ireland!

Conference details.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Clare Co Library adds Killaloe headstone transcriptions

Transcriptions of headstones in the graveyard of St Flannan's Cathedral in Killaloe have been donated by Eugene O'Brien to Clare County Library and are now available for free viewing on the library's website.

The headstones record deaths from 1692 to 2010; many of the inscriptions are surprisingly long and contain a lot of genealogical detail. Photos accompany the 882 inscriptions.

The main family names in this collection are Collins, Hayes, Lynch, Niall, Ryan, Scanlon and Smyth.

Dead Money TV series resurrected by RTE 1

L-R: Steven and Kit Smyrl
Dead Money, the RTE1 documentary series depicting the work of legal genealogists Steven and Kit Smyrl, is being repeated from this Friday at 8:30pm.

The show follows the brothers as they search for next-of-kin to unclaimed estates. Although their firm, Massey and King, is based in Dublin, they have a network of researchers and agents across the globe, so they can trace beneficiaries no matter where they now reside, and the six episodes of Dead Money take them to England, the USA, France, Scotland, as well as Ireland.

While it is dogged genealogical research that moves each story along at a pace, each family's case is set in its historical context, right up to the often emotional reveal when the located relatives discover their entitlement to a sum of money – sometimes a small fortune.

Produced by ProMedia, Dead Money was first screened in 2012 when it was watched by some 29% of the total viewing public. The series has been repeated twice since then, and received a 2013 Irish Film & Television Award nomination.

The series will be screened over the next six Fridays on RTE1. In this Friday's episode, Steven and Kit Smyrl visit America as they search for the heirs to a Galway estate worth €500,000, and discover how a family overcame poverty to build a new life after emigrating from Ireland. The Smyrls' quest also sees them reuniting Irish and American cousins in Boston.

New book tells Derry's emigration story

A new book, Derry~Londonderry: Gateway to a new world, has been published. Written by well-known genealogist Brian Mitchell MAPGI, who heads Derry City Council's Genealogy Service, the book is subtitled The story of emigration from the Foyle by sail and steam.

Having taken Brian some thirty years of research to compile, the book outlines three centuries of Irish emigration through the port of Derry.

The dust-jacket explains: "Derry remained a major Irish emigration port throughout all significant phases of emigration: such as the 18th century outflow of Ulster-Scots to colonial America; pre-Famine, Famine and post-Famine emigration to North America and further afield; and cross-channel migration to Britain via Glasgow and Liverpool.

"In the age of sailing ships, from 1680 to 1860, Derry was the port of departure for the peoples of Derry, Donegal and Tyrone. In the age of steamship and railways, from 1861 to 1939, migrants from Ulster, north Connacht and north Leinster left Ireland through Derry.

"The journey for some 9 million of the Irish Diaspora, now living in Great Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, began in Derry. This is where the story of their new life began: for example, their ancestor may have boarded a sailing ship at Shipquay Place; or stopped at Gweedore Bar, Waterloo Street on their way from west Donegal to Glasgow on the Scotch Boat; or arrived in Derry by rail, lodged in Bridge Street and then headed down the Foyle, on a tender, to connect with a transatlantic liner at Moville."

The book costs £3. ISBN is 978-0-9515977-2-9.

UPDATE 14 May: The book is now available in the USA via

Morpeth Roll: two lectures in Belfast, 23 January

With the Morpeth Roll exhibition at the Naughton Gallery, QUB, now in its final week, two lectures will be presented at Queens University Belfast on Thursday 23 January, as follows:

3pm–4pm: The Morpeth Roll and its role in Irish Genealogy, with Niamh McNally of
5pm–6pm: The Irish viceroyalty in the era of the Morpeth Roll 1835-47, with Prof Peter Gray, QUB

The venue is the Auditorium, McClay Library, and the free event is open to the general public, as well as students and staff of Queen's University Belfast.

The exhibition will be open until Sunday 26 January in the Lanyon Building, from 11am–4pm daily. Tel: 028 9097 3580.

Monday 20 January 2014

All about funerals! Lecture series at Glasnevin

Glasnevin Museum is to host a weekly lecture series on the subject of funerals, that is funerals of historical figures, and how they have shaped the political and public consciousness.

The lectures start next month will be held on Thursdays. Brief details are below.

13 February: Illustrious Corpses: Burying Nationalist Ireland's Heroes,
                   with Professor Michael Laffan

20 February: Theobald Wolfe Tone's grave at Bodenstown: From long silence to milling crowds,
                    with Dr Christopher J. Woods

27 February: Poor Granua weeps: mourning and political mobilisation in O'Connell's Ireland,
                    with Dr Maura Cronin

6 March     : Terence Bellew MacManus and the Making of the Fenian Funeral,
                    with Dr Pauric Travers

13 March     : 'A great city wrapped in gloom': the demise of Paul Cullen, Ireland's first cardinal'
                    with Professor Daire Keogh,

20 March     : ‘Under the great comedians tomb’: the funeral of Parnell
                    with Frank Callanan

27 March     : 'I would wish to be buried... without any funeral demonstration': Michael Davitt's
                    death and funeral, with Dr Carla King

3 April        : ‘ nothing has moved her in living memory’: mourning and burying Michael Collins,
                    with Dr. Anne Dolan

Lectures will be at 7pm in the Milestone Gallery, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum.

Tickets €10 (or €8 if booking one or more in the series). To book, phone +353 (0)1 882 6550 or email.

Trio of new Ulster Scots titles for free download

The Ulster Scots Community Network (USCN) has published three new e-titles, each available for free download. Two of them will be of interest to researchers with ancestors in Canada and Pennsylvania, as these books are focussed on emigrants (or their descendents) who settled in those locations after leaving the northern province.

This trio of new publications joins a growing bookshelf of titles from USCN. You can download them all from the USCN Publications page. Hard copies are also available.

The Ulster-Scots Community Network was established in 1995 to promote awareness and understanding of the Ulster-Scots tradition in history, language and culture, and to highlight the significant contribution of the Ulster-Scots community to the development of life in Northern Ireland, the border counties of the Republic of Ireland, and the wider Ulster-Scots diaspora. The organisation has more than 400 member groups.

Exclusive: Upload of 'enhanced' GRO indexes delayed

The 'enhanced' version of the General Register Office's civil registration indexes will not be uploaded to's database during January. The website's administrators have told Irish Genealogy News that some 'kinks are still being ironed out' and no date has been set yet.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on a Monday morning.

Flyleaf publishes another Wexford Small Source

Flyleaf Press, publisher of the 'Tracing Your Ancestor in...' series of county-by-county books, has published another of its Small Sources. These small sources have typically been discovered during research for the books but didn't make the final pages for one reason or another.

The latest is from County Wexford and is a list of payments to the poor in the parish register of Killinick. As well as recording payments to families in that parish, it picks up details from neighbouring parishes of Maglass/Mayglass, St Iberius, and Kllmacree, too.

The list is free to view on the website of Flyleaf Press.

Genealogy and history events taking place 20–25 Jan

Monday 20 January: Northern Ireland Digital Film Archive, with Mary Bradley. Host: North of Ireland FHS, Larne Branch.Venue: Larne Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club, 112-120 Glenarm Road, Larne, BT40 1DZ. 7:30–9:30pm. Details.

Tuesday 21 January: ‘To hell or to Kimmage’: planning outcomes of the 1913 Church Street disaster, a HistoryIreland Hedge School with Ellen Rowley, Ruth McManus, Mary Daly and Chris Corlett. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 7pm. Free.

Tuesday 21 January: In Depth Family History Research, with Frank Collins. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Venue: Omagh Library, Dublin Road, Omagh, Co Tyrone. 7:15pm – 9:15pm. Details.

Wednesday 22 January:
Irish Research 101 - Learning the research process. A free webinar with Judith Eccles Wight showing how to resolve a research problem or two using records in both the country of settlement and the Irish place of origin. Timezones: 2pm Eastern USA; 1pm Central; 12pm Mountain; 11am Pacific; 7pm GMT. Register for webinar.

Wednesday 22 January: The 1641 Depositions: An Early Source for Local History (and Beyond), with Dr Annaleigh Margey. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. Part of PRONI's Overlooked Archival Sources lecture series. Admission is free but you need to book by email.

Wednesday 22 January: Dublin's Little Jerusalem. Did you or your parents grow up in Portobello among the Jewish community in the 1920s/30s/40s/50s/60s? What are your happy memories of your Jewish neighbours & friends? What stories did your parents pass on to you? Venue: Terenure Library, Templeogue Road, Dublin 6. 5:30–7:30pm. Free and booking essential. An unusual event to take part in. See details.

Wednesday 22 January: The science of heraldry, with Michael Comyns, Herald of Arms. Host Carrick-on-Shannon Historical Society. Venue: The Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, at 8.30 pm. All are welcome to attend. Members free; non-members €5/€3 concession.

Thursday 23 January: Alleys, annals and anecdotes: a new look at Gilbert’s History of Dublin – the 17th Annual Sir John T. Gilbert Commemorative Lecture will be given by Dr Séamas Ó Maitiú. Venue: Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. 6pm Wine reception. No booking required but come early to ensure a place. Email for more information.

Thursday 23 January: Morpeth Roll lectures. Two presentations hosted by Queen's University Belfast. Venue: Auditorium, McClay Library. 3pm–4pm and 5pm–6pm. Free. Open to the public and students/staff. Details.

Friday 24 to Saturday 25 January: Ireland and the First World War: 'In defence of right, of freedom and of religion?', a conference hosted by the School of History, University College Cork. Details.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Four Irish genie sites gain places in Top 100 chart

The Genealogy In Time Top 100 2014 chart has been revealed. Rather than a popularity contest, this chart ranks the world's genealogy websites using mainly Alexa rankings, which provide objective statistics of visitor traffic to some 35million sites.

Just four Irish sites gained a place in the Top 100. Highest placed was, which earned position #60. The Irish Genealogical Research Society's came in at #79, which is a remarkable achievement for a website that launched only ten months ago. I have to own up to a particular interest in this performance because I've been involved in the development of the site, but even without my bias, you have to admit this is a hell of a success for a site created and run by volunteers. It was also one of only five societies (the others being in North America and Norway) to feature in the Top 100. and the Government-run site came in at #80 and 100 respectively.

I admit to being a little disappointed that Irish Genealogy News didn't gain a place. With an Alexa ranking of 306,322, it was only a smidgeon short of the finishing line. I'll have to content myself with the knowledge that I'm mainly chasing the Big Boys ie huge corporations and/or state funded websites. Difficult for a lone voice to compete against that.

Even so, there are a handful of winning lone voices in the Top 100. The highest placed are Dick Eastman (#11), whose Newsletter turned 18 only this week, and John Reid of Anglo Celtic Connections (#60), who covers mainly British/Irish records from a Canadian perspective. I take my hat off to both of them. The only other blogs playing with the big boys are Geneabloggers and GeneaMusings.

The Genealogy In Time team used their chart to calculate additional statistics and found that Ancestry controls 32% of the genealogy industry, MyHeritage controls 8% and brightsolid (FindMyPast etc) controls 4%. Taken together, these three companies control 44% of the genealogy industry.

Friday 17 January 2014

A Century On: Remembering WW1 in Europe

A day of talks on the memory and legacy of WW1 will be held at Collins Barracks on Saturday 1 February.

A panel of renowned historians will discuss the seminal event of the 20th century from Irish, British, French and Russian perspectives.

Their lecture titles are as follows:

Memory Frameworks of the Great War: a European and Global Perspective, with Prof John Horne
The Forgotten War? World War I in Soviet Memory, with Dr Judith Devlin
Our Glorious Dead: Commemorating the Great War in the UK, with Dr Edward Madigan
Connecting History: Exploring the First World War at the Ulster Museum, with William Blair
From the Battle of Mons to Gallipoli - stories of Irish soldiers at war, with Lar Joye

Time for Q&As has been built into the programme.

The talks will be held in the Palatine Room at Collins Barracks, Dublin 7, from 10am to 1pm.

While the event is free, booking is required.

This will be the sixth conference on the war to be held at the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts and History, and a follow-up conference will be held in October.

Exclusive: AskAboutIreland to add more GV maps
More Griffith's Valuation maps will become available
AskAboutIreland's free access to Griffith's Valuation is back online again. The searchable collection was taken down over the Christmas holidays for maintenance and upgrading work that was expected to take a few weeks.

It's taken slightly less time. It reappeared last night, in all its familiar livery, and it feels and reacts in the same way as previously. This is because the upgrade has been of a technical, behind-the-scenes and future-proofing nature.

The techies are testing the site today, so probably best not to all go rushing in there at once!

Upgrading work will be continuing over the coming months. It is expected that this can be carried out without impacting users.

And then the seriously good news! The Griffith's Valuation section of the site will be upgraded with more maps. As many researchers will already know, Griffith's Valuation maps are a bit of muddle, because any number of sets were produced over the years but none of the surviving sets is complete. At present, there is only one set of maps accessible on AskAboutIreland. Originating from the Department of the Environment, it was chosen as the initial map set for AskAboutIreland because it's in colour, which makes it easier to study online.

As the upgrade moves on, additional map sets will be bolted onto the search system. These are black and white, and some are quite sketchy, so they won't be easy on the eye. What is more, some are of unknown date and there are, again, gaps in geographical coverage. Some townlands, for example, may appear in five or six map sets, but they may not be dated. In other words, these new map sets probably won't become the sets of choice for most researchers. However, they may reveal new details, and they may be useful for clarifying certain issues that may have arisen from the better-known main set.

I will be one of those most eager to look at alternative maps because I have never been able to pinpoint the home of my great great grandfather just outside Clonakilty. The land holding is still in the family, so I know its location, but the dwelling is not identified on the AskAboutIreland map and I want to know where it was. Perhaps one of these alternative map sets can help.

The online arrival of these additional map sets is not yet scheduled. It may take a few months, but they are coming.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Irish Military Pensions Collection: formal launch notes

Following the online arrival of Phase 1 of the Irish Military Pensions Collection at lunchtime (see earlier blogpost), the official launch took place this evening. Details of the formalities are below, but here's a quickie summary of the additional information to emerge:
  1. Phase 2 doesn't seem to be coming any time soon.
  2. It will be some years before the entire collection is in the public domain.
  3. Not all of the material will be online.
  4. The Archives facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks will be improved to accommodate researchers who have to visit in person to view the offline releases
The launch formalities were conducted by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, at the GPO in O'Connell Street, Dublin. He described the Military Service Pension Archive project as a cornerstone of the Government's Decade of Centenaries 2012-2022 Commemorative Programme and said the online archive was "bringing the era to life for a new generation... and honours the memory of those who lived and served their country during this defining period in Irish history."

Minister for Defence, Alan Shatter, TD, also spoke. He said the Military Service Pension Collection is one of the last and largest pieces of the archival jigsaw relating to Ireland's revolutionary period in the lead up to independence. "The Collection records the personal commitment and sacrifice by those men and women who shouldered the task of gaining independence for this country. These records provide a window into every parish and townland in the country and the activities undertaken by ordinary people pursuing the ambition of nationhood."

He said that future releases of material from the Irish Military Service Pensions Collection will take place over the next few years. "But not all of this material will be available online. Visits to the Military Archives will be required."

He then announced that funding had been provided for a new Military Archive facility. "This will be provided over the next few years as part of the Government's Decade of Commemorations programme. A design team is in place. When completed, it will provide improved facilities for the viewing of this and the other material held in the Military Archives."

Update 17 January: The video below gives an excellent overview of the collection, its importance, scope and contents and how it was conserved.

SeanRuad/Townlands Database problems resolved

The administrator of the IREATLAS Townlands Database (aka SeanRuad) has contacted
Irish Genealogy News this morning to advise that the recent off-on problems with the site (see blogpost) seem to have finally been resolved.

"After many frustrating days of research, we believe we have identified the root cause of the DNS issue that was making the domains on our server appear as being 'offline'," he said. "We have taken action to remedy that situation and so far everything appears to be working properly.

"Once again I apologize for any inconvenience that this issue may have created for our users and hope that they will continue to enjoy the genealogical resources available via the IREATLAS and Leitrim-Roscommon databases."

Old IRA/Military Pension records – 1st batch online 1 of the Old IRA/Military Pension record set – formal name Military Service (1916–1923) Pensions Collection (MSPC) – is now available for free online searching at MilitaryArchives.

This first tranche of records consists of 9,600 files and can be searched in three databases:
  • Pension and Awards files
  • Organisations and Membership Files
  • Administration files
There's a separate section dealing with the Easter Rising. The site points out that not everyone involved in the Easter Rising applied for a military pension. Some applied only for a Medal (and that distinct record set, which holds some 60,000 applications, won't be released until 2015).

Pension and Awards
Phase 1 includes details of 3,200 individual pension applicants, including 2,400 recipients of pensions in respect of the 1916 Easter Rising. Some individuals have as many as seven files. An alphabetical list of the veterans of 1916 can be downloaded from the site or here (pdf 752kb).

Organisations and Membership
This tranche of the Irish military pensions records set includes supporting files such as Membership Rolls of 16 Divisions of the IRA (87 Brigades), Cumann na MBann (at July 1921 & 1922), Na Fianna Eireann (the entire series), and four files relating to 1916 Brigade Activities in the counties of Louth, Wexford and Galway.

Phase 1 includes 134 general Service Pensions files; 40 Departmental files; 116 files from the Pensions Board; 151 Army Pension Board files dealing with Finance matters; 12 files relating to the Military Service Pension 1924

The rest of the MSPC collection, which, in total, holds some 300,000 files relating to 60,000 pension applicants, will be released in 'regular phases' leading up to 2016.

The Irish Military Pensions Collection will be formally launched this evening by An Taoiseach, Edna Kenny TD, at the GPO in Dublin's O'Connell Street.

See later blogpost updating on the official launch and view an interesting overview video (4mins).

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archive: first 2014 update

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives has been impacted by the Big Chill, as their US-based county adminisitrators huddled around radiators and fires rather than computers during the recent extreme weather. Let's hope their typing fingers thaw out in the second half of the month!

Here are the latest updates and news:

New Facebook Groups

Kilkenny Genealogy
Meath Genealogy
Donegal Genealogy
Fermanagh Genealogy

ARMAGH Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
Men who enlisted in the Irish Constabulary from Armagh 1849

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Glasnevin - St Paul's Section, Part 14

KILDARE Genealogy Archives – Cemetery
Ballybracken Churchyard Memorials

LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Newtowncashel Marriages 1830-1868 (sorted by date)

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Monaseed North Section, Part 2. (completes this cemetery)

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Down Survey of Ireland website wins award

Land ownership in 1641
(blue denotes Catholic landowner)
The Down Survey of Ireland website, which launched last May, has won the Best Practice Award at the annual Irish Organisation for Geographic Information (IRLOGI) research awards.

The Down Survey website maps out for the first time the dramatic transfer in landownership from Catholics to Protestants in the 1650s and changes our understanding of landownership, settlement and religious changes in 17th-century Ireland. A Trinity College Dublin project, it attracted over 100,000 visitors in the first few weeks alone.

It features the Down Survey map collection, which was believed to have been lost in a fire in 1711, and comprises, county, barony and parish maps that are rich in detail, showing not only individual townland boundaries, but also churches, roads, rivers, bogs, woods and settlements.

Led by Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú, Associate Professor in History, the project team (David Brown and Eoin Bailey) tracked down over 2,000 contemporaneous copies of the original survey maps in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland, Britain and France. They are now available as a free online resource. By overlaying these maps onto Ordnance Survey maps, Google maps and satellite imagery and employing GIS technology, the website allows users to explore this turbulent period in Irish history in exciting and innovative ways.

If you haven't taken a look at the website, you really should. It's key features 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 Down Survey of Ireland, undertaken by the Cromwellian regime in the years 1656-1658, introduced modern mapping techniques into Ireland and led to the creation of the recognisable 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.

The IRLOGI ‘Best Practice Award’ is in recognition of the project's successful cooperation between the humanities and cutting-edge technology, building on the work of the 1641 Depositions project and the FP7-sponsored CULTURA project. The IRLOGI is the umbrella organisation for the geographical information industry in Ireland. Its research awards are sponsored by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.

War & Peace – Diplomacy, Espionage and WW1

The National Archives (TNA) in Kew, London, is to hold a conference entitled War and peace - Diplomacy, Espionage and the First World War on Saturday 28 June.

Details will follow in due course. For now, just save the date and get flights booked, if needs be.

This one-day conference kicks off TNA's centenary programme, First World War 100, and will look at a number of diplomatic aspects of the war, from build-up through to the peace process via intelligence gathering and espionage.

National Famine Commemoration – date set

After last month's announcement that Strokestown in Co Roscommon would host the next National Famine Commemoration, the date has now been set: Sunday 11 May.

Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, confirmed both the date and the attendance of An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., who will lead the official representation.

This will be the 7th consecutive year in which the National Famine Commemoration has taken place. Mr Deenihan described the event as "a very moving and fitting solemn tribute in remembrance of our forebears who perished, emigrated and suffered such loss during this desolate time."

Tuesday 14 January 2014

National Archives of Ireland: Requests for Tenders

The National Archives of Ireland (NAI) has issued two Requests for Tenders, the first for Preservation Assistance, the second for Data Input Assistance.

In both cases, the selected contractor will work directly for the NAI.

Job and person specifications, together with contract details can be downloaded from the NAI site here. The deadline for applications is Friday 24 January.

Additionally, a Request for Tender has been advertised via the Office of Public Works' public procurement site e-Tenders for a Contract for Services: Data Entry and Work Coordination. The selected contractor will co-ordinate, supervise and quality check the work of the data entry assistant and preservation assistant. Again, the deadline is Friday 24 January. Details.