Friday 28 February 2014

PRONI announces April lunchtime lecture series

PRONI has announced details of its lunchtime lecture series for April, which will be delivered by PRONI staff. These talks will provide insight and tips on using PRONI sources. Here's the programme:

Wednesday 2 April:
Irish voices from the American Civil War, with Brett Irwin
The context of these talks will begin on the battlefields of the American Civil War, with the Irish émigrés involved in the conflict. Among the resources explored will be letters sent home to loved ones, that reveal the émigrés' aspirations and reservations on life as emigrants.

Wednesday 9 April:
Hungry for change – the effect of the Famine on Irish migration, with Ann McVeigh
The second lecture will examine the suffering inflicted upon the population of Ireland during the Great Famine of 1845 to 1852. This talk will explain how the drastic action of emigration became the only option for many faced with this situation.

Wednesday 23 April:
Experiences of the Poor and Excluded, with Glynn Kelso
This lecture will enter into a wider discussion on the historical experiences of the poor in society. It will touch upon past attempts to relieve poverty, as well as provide tips on unearthing these peoples’ family stories from archival documents.

Wednesday 30 April:
The River Bann: a view from the archives, with Lorraine Burke
The series concludes with an overview of the work that transformed the lower River Bann from an uncontrollable waterway prone to flooding into a navigable commercial route. The major arterial drainage scheme on the Bann is well documented by PRONI sources. This talk will illuminate this, as well as touch upon significant archaeological discoveries unearthed during the works.

Venue: All workshops will be held at PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ.
Time: Lectures are presented from 1pm to 2pm
Booking: Admission is FREE but booking is essential. Email to reserve your place.

Irish Studies Conference – Manchester, 8 March

The Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester is to host the National Irish Studies Conference 2014 this coming Saturday, 8 March.

The event, which forms a part of this year's Irish Festival in the city (Friday 7 March to Monday 17 March), is a collaborative project with Manchester Metropolitan and Manchester universities and is partly funded by Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade. The day kicks off with registration at 9:15am. Five lectures are scheduled and there will be a bookstall, a book launch and, to conclude, a spot of music. Lunch and refreshments are included in the price (£17.50 advance/ £20.00 on door):

  • Archaeology of the Easter Rising 2016, with Franc Myles
  • Tribute to Seamus Heaney, with Dr John McAuliffe
  • Leaving of Loughrea – A Family History, with Stephen Lally
  • The Gathering 2013 – Enticing the Diaspora, with James Hackland and Catherine Feeney
  • Irish Responses to the First World War, with Patrick Doyle
  • Reading the Contemporary Irish Novel 1987 – 2007, with Dr Liam Harte (Manchester University)  

Venue: Irish World Heritage Centre 1 Irish Town Way, Cheetham Hill Manchester M8 0AE

For details, email or phone: 07958 917780.

(The Irish World Heritage Centre will also be hosting a major three-day genealogy event in March.)

Thursday 27 February 2014

UHF adds 6,000 bmd announcements 1839–1847

The Ulster Historical Foundation has added 6,000 birth, marriage and death announcements published from 1839 to 1847 in The Northern Standard newspaper, the longest established publication circulating in County Monaghan. These transcriptions, the work of Guild member Alison Kilpatrick, are now available in the Members section of AncestryIreland.

Alison has previously listed more than 14,000 such announcements from the Armagh Guardian 1844–1832. These are also available on AncestryIreland and include some wonderful curiosities:

- "Aug. 20, at Manorhamilton, of cholera, brought on by excessive ball playing, Mr. John McDonagh, aged 23 years, master of the National School of that town" (27 Aug 1849)

- "Jan. 26, at Lisburn, Mr. John M'Creary, of Edentrillic, to Mary, relict of the late Mr. Asa Archer, of Backnamulough. The charming bride is in her 77th year, while her successful lover is just 23" (8 Feb 1852)

- "The numerous friends of Mr. William Kernaghan, formerly of Sligo, whose death was announced some time since, will be glad to learn that he is well. His brother, Mr. B. Kernaghan, has just received a letter from him, written in October, from San Juan del Sur" (11 Dec 1852)

You can find out about Membership of the Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild here.

Book review: Researching your Ancestors in Co Cavan

Launched at WDYTYA? in London last week and mentioned in my show report, the North of Ireland Family History Society's new booklet Researching your Ancestors in County Cavan deserves a post of its own. I've had a chance to properly digest its contents over the last few days and can confidently recommend it for anyone who has family connections to the Lake County.

This isn't a booklet crammed with explanation about the various record groups. It is much more of a directional text, telling the reader where to find the research material. The Tithe Applotments section is a good example. The introduction to these records reads:

Tithes were a tax on annual income from farming and were payable to the Church of Ireland, the Established Church. The Tithe Composition Acts of 1823 and 1824 allowed for a substitution of the tithes with a set charge on land of over one acre. These valuations were recorded in the Tithe Applotment Books.

The section continues with details of where the researcher can find research material. It includes PRONI, the NAI, Ancestry, Family Search and the County's Central Library.

It's short and sweet, cuts to the chase, and then points the researcher in the right direction. An excellent reference book, in other words!

There is no Contents Page, but at 42 pages, including the cover, you're not going to get lost. It's sensibly organised. It starts with Land Records and works chronologically from the Down Survey Parish Maps to the Registry of Deeds via the Tithe Applotment Books and Griffiths Valuation, before moving on to a goodly list of Census Substitutes (16th to 19th centuries), Census Returns and Civil Registration.

The central 13-page section of the book is given over to Churches in Cavan, and is broken down into Church of Ireland (Episcopalian), Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Quaker and Roman Catholic listings. Under parish headings, the surviving dates of registers and their whereabouts are recorded with impressive uniformity. Well done, whoever typed that up!

Gravestone inscriptions is another distinct area of research addressed in this book, and researchers are reminded that the NIFHS Research Centre in Newtownabbey holds many transcripts in journals and books, including those of Kabristan Archives. The Breifne Antiquarian Society Journal (online at is highlighted as a major resource, and a great spread of websites with inscription records is also set out.

There are also sections on the Ulster Plantation, Estate Records, Printed Sources (directories and newspapers) and Wills & Probate, as well as Petty Sessions and Prison Register collections. School Records, War Memorials and Workhouses are included and the final pages of the book provides a great listing of source books, local journals, e-books and websites.

Sandra Ardis and Ann Robinson compiled the book and they've wrapped it all together with maps of Cavan's towns and villages, Poor Law Unions, Civil Parishes and Baronies, which have been reproduced courtesy of Derry genealogist Brian Mitchell. The result is a neat package of clearly presented sources that will prove indispensible to anyone researching in County Cavan.

Researching your ancestors in County Cavan can be purchased from the Society's publication page. Price £6.50. A bargain.

20% discount on books at History Press Ireland week, History Press Ireland launched their new website (click logo). To celebrate, they've been running a 20% discount offer.

Unfortunately, what with WDYTYA?Live and other distractions, I missed posting about it. It's still available, but only until the end of tomorrow (Friday 28 February). So get your skates on.

The History Press Ireland publishes history books (really!), and some jolly good ones, too! This month, for example, they've published Irish Heart, English Blood – The Making of Youghal, by Michael Twomey, which will appeal to those with ancestors from that area of County Cork, and Loughrea, a Parish History, by Declan Kelly, which tells the tale of the Galway town and some of its past inhabitants (the official launch is tomorrow 28 February at Loughrea Hotel and Spa at 8pm and everyone is welcome).

To take advantage of the 20% discount, use the coupon code 'February' when you place your order.

Battle of Clontarf symposium: Dublin 11–12 April Battle of clontarf-Leaflet_LR3.pdf
The annual Friends of Medieval Dublin symposium will take place in Trinity College Dublin on Friday 11th and Saturday the 12th of April. It's usually a one-day affair, but to mark the millenium of the Battle of Clontarf , it will be held over two days on this occasion.

The conference will bring together many of the leading experts in the field from universities throughout Ireland, Great Britain, and further afield, including the Universities of Utrecht and Helsinki, as well as specialists from the National Museum of Ireland and elsewhere.

By bringing together for the first time all the world’s leading authorities on the subject, the conference hopes to establish the truth of what really happened at Clontarf for a twenty-first century audience, to re-evaluate the role of Brian Boru in the light of the latest cutting-edge research.

It aims to bring recent investigations of the subject of the high-kingship of Ireland and of the role of the Vikings in medieval Ireland into the realm of public discourse, dispelling (or perhaps reconfirming) myths, shedding new light, raising public awareness.

By bringing together in one public forum experts drawn from the fields of Irish history, Scandinavian history, Celtic studies, and archaeology, the conference will also promote new synergetic fields of research by adopting a methodology that is explicitly interdisciplinary.

The programme is a full one, and will be of interest to many, so it's to be held in the Edmund Burke Lecture Theatre, in the Arts Building of Trintiy College Dublin. It's free to attend, and everyone is welcome.

You can download the programme here. And register here.

Have a bit of free fun on your iPhone

FindMyPast has launched a fun, free app for iPhones. Since I don't have an iPhone (nor, indeed, any phone that can do anything other than make and receive calls), I can't enter into this fun, but since I'm of a generous disposition, I'll tell you about it anyway...

It's called I Once Was.

It's a light-hearted take on what your job might have been in the past and what you might have looked like. Would you have been a fisherman, seamstress, priest, judge, maid or even a nun?

By entering your name and location, the I Once Was app will give you a choice of jobs. Simply select one and add your photo for a quirky and humorous look into your possible past. If the fancy takes you, you can share the picture on social media.

Launching the app, Annelies van den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History, said: “The app is a reflection of an increasing number of people being inspired to have fun with their history online, discovering, connecting, sharing and engaging with others.

"The app is just an example of how people will soon be interacting with their past and sharing with friends and family anywhere in the world.”

You can download I Once Was by clicking the image below.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Drogheda C.of I. register transcriptions online, free

The Representative Church Body Library has released transcriptions of parish registers for St Peter’s, Drogheda, Co Louth, which is in the Diocese of Armagh. Each of the registers dates from 1702 to 1900 and the transcriptions, in alphabetical order, are now available for free download as pdfs, as follows:
  • Baptisms Register. Details can, are quite comprehensive in some (but, sadly, not all) entries with name, date of birth, date of baptism, father's first name, surname and occupation, and townland of residence. Where the mother's first name is recorded, her maiden name is not.
  • Marriage Register (sorted by husband’s surname). First names and surnames of bride and groom are recorded, together with date of marriage, and usually little else. There's a sprinkling of notes such as 'widow' or residence in another parish.
  • Marriage Register (sorted by wife’s surname). Same details as above.
  • Burials Register. These transcriptions record the name of the deceased and, in some instances, an identifier ie 'daughter to Charles'. About half the entries record an age, and a smaller number provide an address. The date of burial is provided.

(Transcriptions of 12 other Church of Ireland parish registers are also available for free download via the RCBL website. Unlike the Drogheda records, these transcripts were carried out by the Anglican Record Project. You can view the list of parishes and download the files here.)

UPDATE: The RCBL made the St Peter's Drogheda collection the Archive of the Month for March 2014. You can find out more details about how the registers were transcribed here. And if you follow the link on the landing page to the South Armagh Genealogy Project, you'll discover an outstanding source of free Co Louth records! 

TIARA family history seminar, Sunday 2 March

A special Irish family history seminar is to take place this Sunday, 2 March, at the Irish Cultural Centre (ICC) in Canton, Massachusetts.

Co-hosted by TIARA and the ICC of New England, the afternoon event will include genealogical lecturer and Past-President of TIARA Janis Duffy presenting Researching Online: The Good, Bad and The Ugly!. This lecture, at 2pm, will explore various online sites that can assist with Irish genealogical research. Up for discussion will be the value of online databases and some of the pitfalls. Are all research sites equal? Are subscription sites worth the money or can you get the same information on free sites?

After the lecture, TIARA members will be on hand from 3pm to 5pm to provide consultations and help you with your research.

Registration is required and there is a $25 fee. Click here for full details and the lecture brochure and registration form or register online or telephone the ICC on 781.821.8291.

Venue: The Irish Cultural Centre, 200 New Boston Drive, Canton, MA.

Beyond the Grave: conference programme looks terrific The Grave Timetable.pdf
Coo. Here's something I don't think I can resist!

Just received the programme for the Beyond the Grave conference – sub-titled 'The social and physical acts surrounding burial and death in both modern and ancient Ireland' – which will be held in Limerick, Friday 25 to Sunday 27 April.

There's a great line up of speakers, a bus tour, an exhibition, and the launch of an important headstone collection. And all free! Booking is essential, though, because spaces are limited, and you can attend on any or all of the days. There will also be a conference dinner, which won't be free, obviously, and details of that event will be advised in due course.

Deadline for bookings is 31 March.

The conference is organised by Limerick Museum and Archives (LM&A) in partnership with Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, and you can download the timetable (3Mb pdf) here.

North Mayo Heritage Centre has new online address

Mayo North Heritage Centre, one of the Irish Family History Foundation's network of genealogy research services across the island, has a brand-new website. Memorably enough, it's called, and you might just get the gist that it covers the northern part of the county.

During much of the year (April to November),the Centre, which is located in the grounds of Enniscoe House about 20km from Ballina, has a dual role. In addition to its genealogy service, which is open all year for advice as well as commissioned research, the centre is home to a museum of domestic and agricultural artefacts. Visitors can also enjoy strolls around ornamental gardens and take lovely woodland walks with views of Lough Conn and Mount Nephin. There's also a tea room to use when the ancestral research proves to be thirsty work, and a blacksmith's forge. Details of all these extra facilities are available on the new site.

So, too, are some handy parish maps identifying the area covered by Mayo North Heritage Centre as well as those of the Ballinrobe-based Mayo South Family History Centre. Details of the Roman Catholic baptism and marriage records held by the centre are also broken down by parish, giving the date of surviving registers. A quick glance at the relatively late start date of these records reflects the challenge faced by many researchers with Mayo heritage.

Centre Researcher Brendan Walsh tells me there are plans to extend the information available on the new site, but these won't be developed in the short term. In the meantime, the aim is to concentrate on letting family historians know the Centre has a new online presence. So, if you, or someone you know, has ancestors from the North of Mayo, be sure to make a note of the new address.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

BBC tells Ireland's WW1 Home Front stories
The BBC has launched World War One At Home, a collection of stories about how the war affected the people and places – the 'Home Front' – of the UK and Ireland. Some 1,400 stories that will be released during the course of this year, with hundreds more planned for released by the end of 1918.

The BBC has partnered with Imperial War Museums and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to collect and record these stories, and I know that many historical societies across the island were also involved.

The stories will be broadcast on national radio and television, and online. Each World War One At Home story focuses on a place – airfields, hospitals, schools, churches, town squares, theatres, high streets – and shows how local events were influenced by the global conflict. You'll find an example in the radio podcast below, which tells the story of a cycle shop in Omagh High Street, Co Tyrone, that landed an order for 50 bikes, complete with rifle straps, for soldiers in 1915.

Broadcast details across UK regions can be found here, but if you want to see the Ireland-based stories already broadcast, click here for the full selection. Most of the podcasts are around 5–6 minutes long.

PRONI to add more Will Calendars on 13 March

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) will be adding to its online database of Will Calenders in time for St Patrick's Day.

PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ
This latest addition, PRONI's major release for 2014, will see 170,000 Will Indexes covering 1918 to 1921 and 1944 to 1965 released with free access online. These Wills were proved in Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry District Registries.

Together with the Will Calendars already accessible through the PRONI database, this upload of additional material – which will be on Thursday 13 March at 12:30pm – will mean researchers have access to more than 400,000 Will index entries dating from 1858 to 1965. That's what you call a great genealogical resource!

To mark the event, PRONI will host a lunchtime seminar at its offices on the subject of Wills and Probates on the launch date:
  • The first presentation will be given by Wesley Geddis of PRONI who will talk about the range of testamentary papers held by PRONI and provide details of the information they contain. Wesley will also provide a demonstration of the Wills Application to those in attendance.
  • Nigel Bloomer of the Belfast Probate Office will talk about the work of the Probate Office and will explain more about current probate processes.
The seminar is free to attend and everyone is welcome. You need to reserve your place, however. Book by email or phone 028 90 534800. The Heritage Café at PRONI will be open for refreshments before and after this event.

Monday 24 February 2014

Manchester to host major Irish genealogy event

The Irish World Heritage Centre has a stunning
new home in Irishtown, Manchester
The Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) and the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) have joined forces with the Irish World Heritage Centre (IWHC) to present a major Irish genealogy event in Manchester next month.

Hosted by the Irish World Heritage Centre at its fabulous new headquarters in the north of the city, the event will be held over three days in the week before St Patrick's Day (Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 March).

One-to-one sessions are available to help beginners start their family history and to offer guidance to those who are a little further along with their research but may be struggling or need a new direction. These private consultations with a professional genealogist cost just £5 each.

A series of talks will be also be presented, as follows:

Thursday 13th March - 10.00am
How to research your Irish ancestors, with Helen Kelly MAPGI

Friday 14th March - 10.00am
Online sources for Irish research, with Nicola Morris MAPGI

Saturday 15th March - 10.00am
Civil registration, with Steven Smyrl MAPGI

This is a unique opportunity for anyone of Irish heritage to access professional genealogy guidance at a minimal price. Please call Margot Power on 0161 2054007 to book talks (£3 each) or a private consultation, or both.

UPDATE 6 March:  This is proving a very popular event. Be sure to book your consultation before all slots have gone.

New cultural and heritage centre for central Dublin

Parliament Buildings, College Green, Dublin
A new cultural and heritage centre is to be developed at Parliament Buildings, College Green, Dublin. The Bank of Ireland is releasing space for this use for a period of ten years, and will even cover the costs of refurbishment and operation of the centre. Management of the centre will be by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG).

The ten-year licence will run alongside the Decade of Centenaries. It is envisaged that exhibitions at the new Centre will include a significant focus on key events in Irish history right up to the centenary of Civil War, which led to the creation of modern Ireland.

Announcing the partnership today Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister of the DAHG, welcomed the Bank of Ireland's decision to make the space available to the state. "The importance of the College Green buildings is recognised by us all. These are nationally and internationally important heritage buildings which have played a significant role in Irish history.

"I now look forward to work taking place to prepare this space and to plan the exhibitions. I hope this Cultural and Heritage Centre will be enjoyed by as many people as possible when open, and that the centre will be an integral part of Dublin City in the years ahead."

Once opened, the public will access the Cultural and Heritage Centre via the James Gandon-designed entrance to the College Green buildings on Westmoreland Street. The Bank of Ireland will also facilitate guided access to the House of Lords for the Centre's visitors.

While work is underway to prepare the space for its new role, Minister Deenihan will ask an expert committee drawn from the national cultural institutions and other city institutions to advise him on a programme of exhibitions and events to take place at the centre. This programme will have a significant focus on the social, economic and political events of the Decade of Centenaries.

Irish genealogy & history events to end of February

Monday 24 February: 'Pledged as a rebel’, an exploration of Cumann na mBan’s role in the Irish War of Independence, with Tomás Mac Conmara. Host: North Clare Historical Society. Venue: The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon, Co Clare. Time: 8pm. Admission: €5. Tel: 087 292 54 87.

Tuesday 25 February: The Future of the Landed Estate in the 21st Century, with Professor Christopher Ridgway. Part of the Carton Lecture Series. 8pm. Venue: Carton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare. Booking:  Email or Tel: +353 (0)1 6517708.

Tuesday 25 February: The Vikings in Ireland: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, MRIA. Venue: Meeting Room of the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. 1–2pm. Free. All welcome. No need to book.

Tuesday 25 February: Lord Norbury, 'The Hanging Judge', with John Flannery. Host: Kilrush District Historical Society. Venue: Teach Ceoil, Grace Street, Kilrush, Co Clare. 8pm. €5 for non-members.

Wednesday 26 February 2014: Xenis and the Lost Heiress of Seskinore: true stories from the archives, with Marion Molloy. Host: PRONI. Venue: Linenhall Library, Belfast. Free. 1pm. Booking is essential.

Wednesday 26 February: The Home Rule Crisis and the First World War, with Pat Murphy of Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH, UK. 7.30pm-9.00pm. Tickets: £3 on the door. Refreshments included. Tel: 0115 8373097.

Wednesday 26 February: Ireland in the 18th Century: from the Penal Laws to the 1798 Rebellion, with Dr William Roulston at 8pm, followed by Montalto and the Battle of Ballynahinch, with Horace Reid. Venue: Iveagh Cinema, Banbridge, Co Down. Free.

Thursday 27 February: Tracing your ancestors, a workshop with Mario Corrigan. Venue: Leixlip Library, Leixlip Co. Kildare 7pm. Free. Early booking is essential, by email or tel: 01 6060050. Part of the Aontas Adult Learners Festival.

Thursday 27 February: Charles Gavan Duffy's Monaghan Years and the Museum collection, with Aidan Walsh. Host: Friends of Monaghan County Museum. Venue: Monaghan County Museum, Hill Street, Monaghan. 8pm. Free admission. Details, tel: 353 (0) 47 82928.

Thursday 27 February: PRONI's resources workshop. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 6–8pm. Free but you need to register in advance.

Thursday 27 February: The Secret Listeners of Gilnahirk, with George Busby. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Ballymena Branch. Venue: Michelin Arts Workshop, Braid Arts Centre, 1-29 Bridge Street, Ballymena, BT43 5EJ. 7:15pm.

Thursday 27 February: A history of Cavan Town and its people, a lecture with Michael Swords and JJ O'Reilly. Host: Cavan County Museum in association with Townspeople, an exhibition of photographs by Dermot Walsh. Venue Cavan County Museum, Virginia Road, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan. 8pm.

Thursday 27 February: Book launch – A History of the Medieval Diocese of Cloyne, by Paul MacCotter. Speakers to include Prof. Donnchadh O Corrain of UCC and Bishop Crean of Cloyne. Venue: Mallow Parish Centre, 27 Bank Place, Mallow, Co Cork. 7:30pm. All welcome. Details.

Sunday 23 February 2014

PRONI workshop to showcase resources

In partnership with Digital Circle, PRONI is hosting a workshop on Thursday 27 February showcasing the resources available to researchers and developers. Here's the programme:
  • Introduction, with Maggie Smith
  • As true as I’m standing here: amazing anecdotes from the archives, with Ann McVeigh
  • Photographic Collections at PRONI, with Joy Carey
  • Map Collections at PRONI, with Wesley Geddis
  • Politics and Power: The Londonderry Papers, with Lorraine Bourke
  • Q & A
  • Close, with Stephen McGowan
This event is organised by PRONI with the support of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and in partnership with Digital Circle. Admission is free, and the workshop will be held 6pm to 8pm. You need to register here.

A second showcase on First World War sources at PRONI will be held on Thursday 20 March, 6.00-8.00pm.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Free access to Ancestry until midnight Sunday

Marking the close of another WDYTYA?Live, its chief sponsor,, is offering free access to its UK and Irish records until tomorrow night. Click the logo to access this special offer.

You'll find the landing page refers only to UK records, but the offer does, in fact, include all the Irish collection. Access to the records will be free until 23.59 GMT on 23 February 2014.

To view these records you will need to register for free with your name and email address. Ancestry will then send you a user name and password to access the records. After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using an paid membership.

Friday 21 February 2014

WDYTYA?Live 2014 – Show report

WDYTYA?Live spreads out under the barrel-vaulted
roof of Olympia's National Hall
WDYTYA?Live got underway yesterday at the National Hall at Olympia in London's West End.

For an opening day, it was noticeably less busy in terms of visitors than in the last few years, probably due to its shift to a Thursday to Saturday pattern (previously it was always Friday to Sunday). I spent four hours on the stand of the Irish Genealogical Research Society and while there were periods when the table was thronged with people looking for help with their research, there were short lulls between.

Several other exhibitors commented on this pattern. I don't remember those lulls being a feature of earlier years, and I don't remember the visitor numbers dropping off quite so early in the day, either.

Even so, the typical WDYTYA?Live buzz filled the Hall and I'm sure all visitors were getting a lot from their trip. There were, as always, plenty of opportunities to ask and receive guidance on family history, delve into new areas of research and discover different branches of the genealogy industry. The genetic genealogy 'corner', for example, was pretty packed whenever I waltzed by, and its DNA workshops were crammed.

Being the centenary of the start of the World War One, there was a strong military presence this year. While they seemed busy, I wouldn't say they were swamped. I even managed to get some information about a medal awarded to one of my ancestors.

Ancestry are the show's main sponsors
Usually, you expect at least one big records launch to coincide with WDYTYA?Live. This year there was none, or if there was one, it can't have been shouted very loudly because I certainly didn't hear it!

The Big Story, from the Irish perspective, was the first ever attendance of a team from the General Register Office of Northern Ireland who brought with them a working sample of their soon-to-be-launched online facility.

It's neat. A perfectly unfussy interface shows they decided not to make the mistakes of others and instead just opted for simplicity and focus. As a result, researchers won't have to spend time finding out how the site works or losing money due to lack of clarity. I applaud this (and I hope the GRO in the south are watching carefully).

One of the quirks of the facility is that the researcher has to always have 1credit in their account, otherwise their account will be closed and they'll have to start again. This is a technical issue and it can't be altered. I'm sure this will catch a few people out, but it will soon become second nature to check the balance before spending. One credit is only 40p, so there's no danger of bankruptcy.

A free search returns a 'basic' list of matching results. You then have the option of viewing either the 'enhanced' transcription of the results at 1 credit each or going straight to an image of the relevant certificate £2. Here's the information available for each search:

Basic return – Registration district, year, first name and surname, sex, and maiden name of the mother.
Enhanced transcription – As Basic plus: place and date of birth, any second name, mother`s first name and maiden name, and father`s name and surname.

Basic return – Registration district, year, name and surname.
Enhanced transcription – As Basic plus: place and date of marriage, names and surnames of bride and groom and their ages (or dates of birth)

Basic return – Registration district, year, first name and surname, sex.
Enhanced transcription – Registration district of death, date of death, any second forename, age (or date of birth), marital status.

Alison McQueen, GRONI's Deputy Registrar General, demonstrated the process to me and suggested that for births and deaths, most researchers will need to see only the enhanced transcription in order to gather all the information they need, but with marriages, she considers that many researchers will typically find they can save themselves the 1 credit cost of the Enhanced transcription by jumping straight from Basic result to viewing the image, which holds the additional information – occupation and addresses – you'd expect on a marriage certificate.

She said the prices quoted above still need to be confirmed but should be approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly later this month. Only then will GRONI be able to announce a launch date; at this stage, an early April launch is anticipated.

Due to family commitments, I couldn't spend the entire day at the show, nor attend the FindMyPast evening bash, so I didn't get around to all the Irish themed stands (apologies to those I missed). However, I had a good chat with the lovely lads and lassies from the North of Ireland Family History Society and picked up a copy of their hot-from-the-press Researching your Ancestors in County Cavan (a 42-page must for anyone with connections to the area, and only £5). The NIFHS, like the Irish Genealogical Research Society, have special membership discounts available for the duration of the show.

Great savings on offer from FindMyPast –
just visit the stand to find out more
I also managed to catch Niall from – unlike his colleagues from FindMyPast's London offices, he was not dressed to the nines in Victorian costume and uniform – who'd been extremely busy all day introducing visitors to the Irish collections on the ever-growing database.

He told me that visitors to the show can take advantage of a good number of very attractive offers including a free one-month subscription to (no credit card details required, just your email address), a 50 free credits voucher for brand-new researchers, a three-month subscription for just £20, and 10% savings on all annual subscriptions.

I also dropped by on show regulars Ancestor Network and Flyleaf Press. John Hancock of Ancestor Network showed me the consultancy's smart new brochure, which gives an overview of its four main services, while Jim Ryan of Flyleaf brought me up to date with its publishing plans. Coming off the press next month will be Tracing Your Kildare Ancestors by Karel Kiely, James Durney and Mario Corrigan, and the series will see additions for Cavan, Kerry and Wexford during the course of this year.

So there you go. An overview of what the show offers to those involved in Irish genealogy researchers. There's also the lecture programme, of course, details of which you can find in my post from earlier in the week.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

How valuable is the National Archives of Ireland

The National Archives of Ireland is assisting with an academic research project, which is part of an individual student’s Master’s Degree in Economic Science at the Institute of Public Administration. The survey aims to place an economic value on the NAI.

While the NAI has no direct affilliation with the survey, it is asking researchers to consider taking part. Your answers will be anonymous and your data will not be used for any other purpose or shared with any third parties. The survey takes about ten minutes to answer and will be available from today until 19 March here.

If you have any queries, please raise them with the student, Stephen Brophy, by email.

PRONI talk: Slave children in Colonial America

A public lecture – Kidnapped, Transported, Forgotten. White Slave Children in Colonial America, 1660-1720 – will be presented by Dr Richard Hayes Phillips at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland on 19 March at 1–2pm.

American researcher Dr Hayes Phillips will relate to the findings of his latest book, Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records, which seeks to illuminate a series of records which may provide insight on child poverty and destitution in the early modern world. He has created an index of children from Britain and Ireland who were transported to Colonial America between 1660 and 1720.

These children were not provided with indenture documents for their passage, which would have guaranteed their liberty after a set period of unpaid labour. As such, Dr Hayes Phillips claims that these children faced a life of enslavement, a story which has hitherto remained untold.

Using colonial court books of Maryland and Virginia, he has compiled a published index of all 5290 ‘kidnapped’ children and will discuss how it can be used for family history research.

Please contact PRONI to reserve your place.
E: Tel: 028 90 534800
The Heritage Café at PRONI will be open before and after this event.

Monaghan seeks descendants of Belgian WW1 refugees

Clogher Historical Society is trying to find the descendants of 15 Belgian WW1 refugees who found safety and a welcome in Monaghan Town in 1914.

The group, which included one child, arrived at Monaghan train station on 30 October of that year and were housed in the town's recently converted military barracks.

They were the first residents of what became known as Belgian Square; furniture, clothing and money was donated by local people to help them adjust to their temporary home. They lived there for four years, many of them working in the town as embroiderers, before returning to Belgium when hostilities ended.

Their exact place of origin is not known, although it is thought they were from the Mechelen (Malines) area to the south of Antwerp.

Clogher Historical Society is planning to mark the 100th anniversary of the refugees' arrival by inviting their descendants to the Town later this year.

If you have any connection to the Belgian refugees, or have any details that may help the Society to identify and locate the families, please make contact via the Society's website.

You can find out a bit more in this RTE piece.

Short course on Ulster-Scots heritage starts 3 March

If you want to know more about your Ulster Scots heritage, there's an interesting short course programmed to start at The Auld House, Moneyreagh, Co Down on Monday 3 March.

Supported by the Ministerial Advisory Group – Ulster-Scots Academy, Castlereagh Borough Council will be the hosts for the 6-week 'taster' course. All sessions are to be held on Mondays, 7–9pm, with the last one, a celebration event with traditional Ulster Scots food and entertainment, taking place on 14 April.

The course will include the following topics:
  • Key periods and events in Ulster-Scots history
  • The Ulster-Scots language
  • The story of the Scots-Irish in America
  • Robert Burns and his continuing legacy
  • Ulster-Scots poets and writers
  • Ulster-Scots culture today
Cost: £12, to include all textbooks and handouts.

To find out more and to register your interest, email or phone John Beattie on +44 (0)28 9049 4563.

PRONI to host 'The Story of Belfast' exhibition

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) will host The Story of Belfast exhibition from 4 April 2014.

This unique exhibition focuses on the development of Belfast from pre-Christian times until the present day, exploring its transition from a minor trading post into a Victorian centre of shipbuilding, engineering and textiles.

Visitors will also learn of the the changes and trends that are once again changing Belfast into a noted European capital and tourist destination. Admission to the exhibition is free.

The Story of Belfast has been developed by the Belfast Civic Trust, a charity concerned with the city's built and national heritage, and PRONI will be holding a launch event to formally welcome the exhibition.

It will be held on Friday 4 April, from 11am to 12:30pm, and will open with an illustrated talk on the work of the Belfast Civic Trust by David Flinn, Chairperson of the Trust, who hopes to inspire similar heritage groups interested in unlocking the stories of their own localities.

An illustrated presentation will follow from PRONI’s Ian Montgomery. Entitled Improving Belfast? A glimpse of Belfast in 1911, this will examine the social conditions, built fabric, and physical shape of inner city's communities in 1911. Using PRONI's photographic and textual sources, the talk will provide fascinating insight on society on the eve of a decade of dramatic social, political and constitutional change.

The opening event is free to attend but booking is required. Email or call (+44) 028 90 534800 to secure your place.

Venue: PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ.

WDYTYA?Live: the Irish element

Click for WDYTYA?Live's lecture timetables
In just under 24 hours, the doors of Olympia's National Hall will open on another WDYTYA?Live.

The event, which bills itself as 'the biggest family history event in the World', will run over three days, ending on Saturday. It's the first time it's adopted a Thursday to Saturday format having previously run on a Friday–Sunday schedule, and it remains to be seen how popular (or not) this proves to be.

Those attending the show will be able to find loads of information about what to expect, maps, lecture timetables etc on the organisers website (click logo above), so in this preview I'm just going to provide a handy overview of Irish interest.

First up are the Irish exhibitors (bear in mind that Ancestry (the show sponsors) on Stands 720 & 820; FindMyPast, Stand 830; and Origins, Stand 528, will all have staff available to demonstrate the Irish records on their databases, but I haven't included them in the list):

The Irish Exhibitors
  • Ancestor Network, Stand No 842
  • General Register Office for Northern Ireland, Stand No 332
  • Irish Ancestry Research Centre, Stand No 81
  • Irish Genealogical Research Society, Stand No 844
  • North of Ireland Family History Society, Stand No 44
  • Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Stand No 436
  • Tourism Ireland, Stand No 438
There is also a very extensive lecture programme running across the three days. Many will be relevant to family history wherever your research takes you, and I'll leave you to wade through the organisers website for the full timetables. But if you're after specifically Irish genealogy lectures, here they are:

The Irish-themed lectures

15:15–16:00 Using census substitutes, family lore and folklore in the search for your Irish Ancestral homestead, with Helen Kelly MAPGI  

10:15–11:00 The Poor Laws and the Irish Poor, with Roz McCutcheon FIGRS  
14:15–15:00 PRONI's online resources, with Stephen Scarth
15:15–16:00 Tracing your Irish family history with FindMyPast, with Brian Donovan

12:15–13:00 Starting your Irish family history, with Helen Kelly  
12:15–13:00 Tracing your Irish family history with FindMyPast, with Brian Donovan
15:15–16:00 Researching Irish family history online, with Brian Donovan

UPDATE: Some items have been removed since this page was first published.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Holy Wells, High Crosses & the Landscape from the Air

County Down Museum is to host an unusual day conference on Friday 14 March entitled Holy Wells, High Crosses and the Landscape from the Air.

It includes a morning of lectures and lunch at the museum (The Mall, English Street, Downpatrick, Co Down BT30 6AH), and afternoon visits (transport provided). The cost is £20 per person.

Here's the programme:

9.15- 9.40 Registration & Welcome

9.40 Struell Wells: History and Archaeology, with Finbar McCormick, Queen’s University, Belfast

10.40 Tea/coffee

11:00 Recent Aerial and LIDAR surveys of the Downpatrick area, with Johanna Vuolteenaho, NIEA

12.00 Moving the Downpatrick High Cross, with Mike King, Down County Museum

1.15 pm Lunch in the Museum Café (included in cost)

2.15pm Viewing of the Downpatrick High Cross after conservation and a visit to the Donaghmore High Cross, 5 miles north of Newry

5.00 pm Return to Down County Museum


Emerald Ancestors adds Ballygilbert baptismal records
Baptismal records for Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church have been added to the birth database on Emerald Ancestors.

These entries cover the period 1891-1901 inclusive, and include the child's name, father's name, mother's name and date of birth. Details of the townland are also included in a number of entries.

Microfilm copies of the registers from which these records have been transcribed are held in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) under MIC 1P/392.

Irish Roots magazine Spring issue is published
The Spring issue of Irish Roots has been published and is now available in bookshops across Ireland. It's also in digital format via the magazine's website.

This issue includes features on Irish first names and naming patterns, tracing ancestors from County Cork and Irish soldiers in World War One. There's also a very topical article exploring the Philomena Lee project, which aims to bring hope for those seeking their natural families, and a How To feature about reconstructing a parish for genealoglical research.

Heading off to the Diaspora, there are features on Irish slave children who may be discovered in colonial court records, Irish soldiers in Australasia and helpful advise on using historical American newspapers for your research.

Regular items include news from around the societies, opinion pieces and Question & Answers, plus my own What's New Review, updating readers about the latest developments and record releases to help you progress your own genealogical research.

The magazine costs €4.50/£3.35 in the shops. A digital copy costs $5. See more more payment and subscription options available here.

Monday 17 February 2014

Irish genealogy and history events 17–22 February

Monday 17 February: Life in Ballyrickardbeg 1830-1900 – Through the eyes of my ancestors, with Linda Hooke. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society. Venue: Larne Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club- 112-120 Glenarm Road, Larne BT40 1DZ Co Antrim. 7:30pm.

Monday 17 February: Military Archives, with Commandant Padraic Kennedy. Host: Ormomnd Historical Society. Venue: Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh, Co Tipperary. 8.30pm. €5 for non-members.

Monday 17 February: Living the Dream – life in Offaly's medieval castles, with Caimin O’Brien. Host: Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society. Venue: Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co Offaly. 8pm – 10pm. €2 members/€5 non-members. Details.

Monday 17 February: The Black & Tans, with Sean Hogan. Host: Bir Historical Society. Venue: Resource Centre in Costcutter Car Park, Birr, Co Offaly. 8:15pm. All welcome.

Tuesday 18 February: Patrick Cleburne, Hero of the American Civil War, an illustrated lecture by Orla Murphy. Host: Muskerry Local History Club. Venue: Ballincollig Rugby Club, Ballincollig, Co. Cork. €3. 8pm.

Tuesday 18 February: The Irish Republic 1964–2014: What the hell happened and why? with Dr Diarmuid Ferriter. Venue: Granary Library, Michael Street, Limerick City. A Limerick City of Culture 2014 event. All welcome. 8pm. Free. Booking required, tel: 00 353 (0)61 496526 or email.

Wednesday 19 February: The Carpet Factory in Abbeyleix, with Mairead Johnson. Host: Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society. Venue: Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow. 8pm.

Wednesday 19 February: Understanding an Ancestor's Neighbourhood - The Griffith's Valuation Books, Maps, and Revision Books, with Dr Bill McAfee. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. Part of PRONI's Overlooked Archival Sources lecture series. 1–2pm. Admission is free but you need to book by email.

Wednesday 19 February: Women in the American Civil War, an Irish angle, with Aidan O'Hara. Host: Carrick on Shannon and district historical society. Venue: Bush Hotel, Main St, Carrick on Shannon. €5. Members free. 8:30pm.

Thursday 20 February: Education in Wicklow: From Parish Schools to National Schools, with Michael Seery. Host: Greystones Archaeological and History Society. Venue: The Family Centre, Holy Rosary Church, Greystones, Co Wicklow. 8:30pm.

Thursday 20 February: The Big House in Ireland – Past, present, future: Castle Leslie and others, with Dr Terence Dooley. Host: Friends of Monaghan County Museum. Venue: Monaghan County Museum, Hill Street, Monaghan. 8pm. Free admission. Details, tel: 353 (0) 47 82928.

Thursday 20 February: Methodist Records, with Robin Rodie. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society North Down & Ards Branch. Venue: 1st Presbyterian Church Hall, Main Street, Bangor, Co Down. 7:30pm.

Thursday 20 February: Administrative Divisions And Genealogical Records, with Paddy Waldron. Host: Clare Roots Society. Venue: Civic Rooms, Ennis Town Council, Drumbiggle Rd, Ennis, Co Clare. 8pm. €5.00 to Non- Members.

Thursday 20 February: Theobald Wolfe Tone's grave at Bodenstown: From long silence to milling crowds, with Dr Christopher J. Woods. Host: Trinity College Dublin and Glasnevin Trust. Venue: Milestone Gallery, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Finglas Road, Dublin 11. 7pm. Tickets €10. To book please contact the Museum call: (0)1 882 6550 or email:

Thursday 20 February to Saturday 22 February: WDYTYA?Live at Olympia, London. Europe's largest genealogy get-together. Preview.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP): mid-February update

Stranorlar church. Photo: Eimer Shea
Each of the County Pages of Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP-web) has been updated with a Google Search facility and there is now a brand new page for unidentified photos.

In addition, the following items have been added to the Archives section:

Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Deansgrange Cemetery, St. Brigids Section, pt5

Fermanagh Genealogy Archives - Church
Enniskillen (CoI) extracts for WILSON & CROZIER - 1726-1794

Galway Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Inverin, Knock Cemetery (Partial)
Barrna Cemetery (Partial)

Donegal Genealogy Archives - Photos
St. Mary's Church, Stranorlar

Monaghan Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Carrickatee, St. Mary's (R.C.) Church Cemetery
Cahans Presbyterian Church - additional headstones

Waterford Genealogy Archives - Cemeteries
The French Church Memorials - (HURLEY/NAISH)

Wexford Genealogy Archives - Memorial Cards
50 New Memorial Cards

Friday 14 February 2014

Access to Irish Newspaper Archives is FREE for 24hrs one day only, the Irish Newspaper Archives is offering free access to its huge database.

As mentioned in a post earlier in the week, the online archive, which holds titles from the 1700s to the present day, has been undergoing a major redevelopment in the last five or six months. While the site has been upgraded with many new features, scanning of old publications has continued. Among the most recent uploads are editions from the Cork Examiner, Skibbereen Eagle and Fermanagh Herald.

You can view the publications held in the database via this nifty county-by-county map.

Here are the codes to gain free access until 11am Saturday 15 February:
Login User: freebie84
Password : freebie84

Enjoy yourselves!

Thursday 13 February 2014

More County Armagh records added to RootsIreland has added a sizeable chunk of Armagh church record transcriptions to its searchable database.

The latest upload includes 6,327 baptisms, marriages and burials from Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Quaker registers.

Those with ancestors from County Armagh should take a look (here) at the full list of records now available on the database. There have been a lot of additions recently.

Free Genealogy Day in Limerick: 15 March

Christ Church Limerick, 15 March. FREE.
Following on from last year's success, Limerick's Genealogy Day 2014 is gearing up to be a must-visit family history event. It's to be held on Saturday 15 March – St Patrick's weekend – in Ireland's City Of Culture, and it's completely free to attend, so it already has a lot to recommend it!

As last year, the organisers are bringing together the historical church registers from several denominations in and around the City: Church of Ireland, Methodist, Presbyterian and Quaker. This in a rare opportunity to view the original baptism and marriage records, and is being made possible under the guidance of Limerick Council Archivist Jacqui Hayes who is setting up the systems and protocols for handling and accessibility.

Limerick Genealogy, Clare Roots Society, and members of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) will be providing free genealogical help and advice to visitors, whether they are completely new to family history or have already started their research.

And regional historical groups and societies will be ready to answer queries about local history issues.

This year's Genealogy Day will also have a special emphasis on the 100th-year anniversary of the start of the First World War, so the Royal Munster Fusiliers Association will be in attendance and may be presenting a talk in the afternoon. Also marking Ireland's Decade of Centenaries, will be a team from Trinity College Dublin's 'Letters of 1916' project.

This is the first public humanities project in Ireland. Its goal is to create a crowd-sourced digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916). The project will include letters held at institutions (in Ireland and abroad), alongside those in private collections and will feature letters by private individuals, soldiers, and officials, with comment about the world around them: the Easter Rising, literature and art, the Great War, politics, business, or ordinary life.

Visitors to Genealogy Day will be able to bring along suitable letters held at home and add them to this virtual collection or they can help in transcribing previously uploaded letters.

Plans are still coming together, but it's already looking very focussed and worth attending. You can download the Limerick City Of Culture programme by clicking the logo below (Genealogy Day is on page 29), or follow the Facebook page here. WEB.pdf

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Irish Genealogical Research Society's Spring lecture

The Irish Genealogical Research Society's Spring Lecture – The Irish in India – will be presented on Wednesday 19 March at 7pm.

Presented by Peter Bailey, chair of the Families in British India Society, the lecture will introduce family historians to a largely untapped source of Irish ancestral records.

The venue is a new one for the IGRS: the Helen Roe Theatre, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 63 Merrion Square South, Dublin 2.

Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture. There is no charge and no booking, but early arrival is recommended to ensure you get a seat.

More details and a map on the IGRS website:

Ballymena genealogy resource heading for upgrade

The Genealogy section of the Mid-Antrim Museum website will be revamped during the course of this year and some new records added.

The current database offers free access to transcriptions of headstone inscriptions from 41 of Ballymena's 42 graveyards (only the Old Churchyard is not included).

Museum Assistant Noreen Mullan told Irish Genealogy News that the planned revamp will include a map of the churchyards and a trail for researchers to follow. The trail will also be the subject of an exhibition planned for November.

Additionally, records of interments and plot owners in 17 burial places* will be added. There is already one such collection – Clough Interments – available to download in pdf format from the website. This sets out details of interments from the late 1880s and include the age of the deceased, address, rank or profession. Depressingly, the churchyard seems to be full of farmers and locals recorded as 'poor man', 'poor woman', or 'poor man's child'.

Also on the site is a well-designed free booklet on researching ancestors in Mid-Antrim. It will soon be joined by a summary of genealogical resources held by Ballymena Borough Council.

* While we await the revamp, those eager to search these records should skip over to GenealogyGirl's blog where they can be downloaded.

Excavation starts at 12th-century Carrickfergus Castle

Excavation works started today at one of Ireland’s best-preserved Anglo-Norman castle: Carrickfergus Castle.

Archaeologists will be conducting test excavations as part of ongoing work to uncover more of the castle’s history and to inform future development of the castle.

The castle has been continuously occupied for more than 800 years since its construction on a rocky promotory overlooking Belfast Lough by John de Courcy soon after his 1177 invasion of Ulster.

Test excavations will be carried out at two locations to find out more about the date and survival of archaeology in the inner and outer wards. The first area of testing will focus on the remains of the Great Hall in the Inner Ward, one of the most important public areas of this Medieval Castle when it was first built by John de Courcy. The second area of testing will be in the outer ward to find out what archaeological layers survive there at present. Neither of these areas has been subject to such detailed investigation before. Excavation is vital before new projects are put in place at the castle.

Although the excavations will be fenced off for safety purposes, visitors to Carrickfergus Castle during the next three weeks will be able to view the excavation team at work and see what the archaeologists are uncovering.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Book reprint: The Famine in Ulster

‘The Famine didn’t happen in Ulster’ has been one of the most unchallenged myths in recent Irish history.

This volume corrects that distortion by giving an account of how each of the nine northern counties fared during ‘this great calamity’. Ulster was indeed spared what a local newspaper called ‘the horrors of Skibbereen’. Nonetheless, the severity of the famine for much of the population, particularly in the winter of 1846-7, is all too apparent in each of the counties. Ninety-five inmates of Lurgan workhouse died in one week in February 1847; 351 people queued to get into Enniskillen workhouse in one day, emigration continued at an increasing pace and fever hospitals were full.

What was done to limit the tragedy? Contentious issues such as the effectiveness of government relief measures, the response of local landlords, absentee and otherwise, to the distress of their tenants, and the role of the churches as the crisis unfolded are all assessed.

This thorough account of the famine in Ulster was the first to refute that oft-quoted claim … ‘sure it didn’t happen here’. First published in 1997 under the title 'The Famine in Ulster: the regional impact', the book has been reprinted (it is not a new edition) with a dramatic new cover design and alterations to the title pages.

It's available from this month, the book can be ordered from BooksIreland at a price of £8.99.

Irish Newspaper Archive's revamp nears completion Irish Newspaper Archive has been undergoing a slow but steady redevelopment over the past several months. It has introduced a number of improvements while also adding new titles and editions to its database (The Fermanagh Herald 1910-1958 is the latest update, added over last weekend).

Among the recent improvements is the option to search across a selection of newspaper titles, rather than just one paper or all papers, as it was previously.

In addition, a full date range search is now possible. You can perform searches across days, weeks, months and or years using dd/mm/yyyy (or even the US Standard of mm/dd/yyyy!), allowing you to really home in on news stories etc with much improved precision.

It's been a while since I last ventured into the Archive and while the 'delivery' of files still seems a bit slow, the overall expererience of using the archive is hugely improved. The reading views offered are so much better than they used to be and there is now a transcription view in nice big text – perfect for eyes grown weary from gawping at small print in poorly typeset paragraphs.

Phillip Martin of Irish Newspaper Archives told Irish Genealogy News that Citation Information is also now included when articles are saved to pdf. The information noted is the name of the publication, the date and page number.

He added that by the end of this week, video tutorials will be available to help those new to the site get to grips with its workings.

Monday 10 February 2014

New book: Ireland in the medieval world, AD400–1000

Aimed at the student and general reader, Ireland in the medieval world, AD400–1000, Landscape, kingship and religion is a study of Ireland’s people, landscape and place in the world from late antiquity to the reign of Brian Bórama.

Its author, Edel Bhreathnach, CEO of the Discovery Programme, narrates the story of Ireland’s emergence into history, using anthropological, archaeological, historical and literary evidence. Subjects covered include the king, the kingdom and the royal household; religion and customs; free and unfree classes in society; exiles and foreigners.

Published in paperback by Four Courts Press this week, the 316-page book has colour illustrations and is priced at €24.95.

ISBN: 978-1-84682-342-8

Irish genealogy & history events 10–15 February

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 February: Through the lens of a 1930s Press photographer, with Sandra Ardis. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Newtownabbey Branch. Venue: Drama Theatre, Glengormley High School, 134 Ballyclare Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 5HP 7pm. Details.

Monday 10 February: The History of the Stormont area of Belfast, with Aidan Campbell. Host: Carryduff Historical Society. Venue: Committee Room in the Lough Moss Centre, Hillsborough Road, Carryduff, Co Down. 8pm. Talk is in support of the Marie Curie Hospice. £2 non-members.

Tuesday 11 February:  19th Century Property Tax and Griffith’s Valuation, with Aiden Feerick MAPGI.  Host: Genelaogical Society of Ireland. Venue: Dún Laoghaire College of Further Education, Cumberland St., Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. 8pm. €3.

Tuesday 11 February: Folklore and Folk Cures, with Doreen McBridge. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society Lisburn Branch. Venue: The Bridge Community Centre, Railway Street, Lisburn. 7:30pm.

Wednesday 12 February: "Maps from Snaps": Archive Mapping and Aerial Photography for Local and Family History, with Drew Ferris. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. Part of PRONI's Overlooked Archival Sources lecture series. Admission is free but you need to book by email.

Thursday 13 February: Illustrious Corpses, Burying Nationalist Ireland's Heroes, with Professor Michael Laffan. Host: Trinity College Dublin. Venue: Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Finglas Road, Dublin 11. 7pm. &euros;10. To book, Tel: +353 (0)1 882 6550 or email:

Thursday 13 February: The archaeology of Monaghan, with Liam Bradley. Host: Friends of Monaghan County Museum. Venue: Monaghan County Museum, Hill Street, Monaghan. 8pm. Free admission. Details, tel: 353 (0) 47 82928.

Friday 14 February: The last stronghold – the siege of Clogh Oughter Castle 1653, with Conleth Manning. Host: Military History Society of Ireland. Venue: Griffith College, South Circular Road, Dublin 8. Time: 8pm. Non-members very welcome.

Friday 14 February: Before Banna: politics, society & sport in Kerry 1912-1916, a History Ireland Hedge School. Venue: Seanchaí—Kerry Writers’ Museum, Listowel, Co Kerry. Members of the audience take part in the debate and provide valuable insights and information. Free. No booking but arrive early to ensure a seat. Starts 7:30pm. POSTPONED, due to weather issues.

Friday 14 February: The history of surnames, with Aodán Mac Póilin. Venue: Killyleagh Library,52 High Street, Killyleagh, Co Down BT30 9QF. 1:15pm. Free. For more information, tel: 028 4482 8407.

Saturday 15 February: Irish Family History morning with the Irish Family History Forum at Bethpage Public Library, 47 Powell Ave, Bethpage, New York, USA. 10am: Genealogist Kathleen McGee who will moderate a help session for those researching their Irish roots. 11am: Dorothy Dougherty, Public Programs Director at National Archives at NYC, will discuss the many resources available at NARA for genealogists and family historians. Free admission and open to the public. Details, tel: 631-673-9114.

Saturday 15 February: Oliver Bond and the king-killers of Pill Lane. The dissenters of Church Street in 1798, with Fergus Whelan. Host: Stoneybatter & Smithfield People's History Project. Venue: The Cobblestone, 77 North Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7. Time: 4:30pm.

1824 Dublin Evening Mail joins newspaper line-up

All 156 editions of the Dublin Evening Mail from 1824 have been added to the British Newspaper Archive. The available editions of this newspaper tots up as follows:

Full years of coverage
1824, 1841, 1849, 1850, 1852, 1854–1855,

Partial years of coverage

1871 June to December
1926 January to 16 April

There are a number of pay to view options at BNA.

Alternatively, if you have a UK, Ireland or World subscription to FindMyPast, you have access to all BNA publications, including this latest addition from the Dublin Evening Mail.

Friday 7 February 2014

GRONI online bmd facility: latest news

The North of Ireland Family History Society has an important update about the long anticipated online service from the General Register Office of Northern Ireland. See their Facebook note.

For those attending WDYTYA?Live in a few weeks, see also my recent blogpost about the new facility.

Book review: Finding your Irish Ancestors in NYC

Written by Joseph Buggy, or Joe as I know him, Finding your Irish Ancestors in New York City aims to present a comprehensive overview for anyone who wishes to trace their Irish ancestors within the five boroughs of the Big Apple.

Joe didn't set out to tell the story of Irish emigration either generally or specifically to New York; his focus is very clear: to direct the family historian to relevant resources and to provide research strategies for when things get tricky, which, let's face it, they often do when trying to narrow down the place of origin beyond the ubiquitous 'from Ireland'.

The strength of that focus probably comes from the fact that Kilkenny born-and-bred Joe, who only recently emigrated and settled with his wife in the USA, has had to learn the hard way where to find genealogical records on his new patch. His voyage of discovery is our gain! The narrow focus has also resulted in a tightly edited publication. There are no meanderings, here.

Although he includes some context to each grouping of resources, his explanations are succinct. Possibly a complete beginner to family history might need a bit more hand-holding, but I suspect many who seek out this book will be happy to get stuck straight into its hard core data.

Two early chapters run through the 'introductory' record sets – the federal census, the New York State Census, the birth, marriage and death collections that American researchers call Vital Records, City Directories and Naturalisation, and Will & Letters of Administration – and underused resources that, because of historical realities, are of particualar value to Irish research: almshouses, Potter's Field paupers' cemetery, pubic sector employment, newspapers and criminal records.

From there, the book digs deeper into research strategies for those who hit brickwalls, looking at how immigrants from certain counties tended to settle in specific parts of the city, how accents may have impacted on a surname's spelling, and the need to follow forward in time the papertrail of all relatives (especially children) known to have emigrated with the immigrant ancestor.

More than twenty sources are provided of records where details of origin might be located, and there is an entire chapter dedicated to the difficult process of locating Roman Catholic baptism and marriage registers. They are, so I learned, all held at parish level, and there are 396 parishes in New York City. Contact details and the relevatnt dates of their registers are carefully detailed according to district – Manhatten, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island – right down to phone number and email address.

Cemeteries get a similarly intense listing, and there is a 25 page listing of periodicals, websites and reference books to seek out.

As Joe explains in his intro, the book is written primarily with US researchers in mind, especially those with 19th and 20th century immigrant ancestors who didn't leave a ready record of their place of origin, and given the depth of reference contained in the 165 pages, the book is going to help many to discover that Holy Grail.

On this side of the Atlantic, I come at it from a different perspective having spent a lot of time thrashing around in the main online databases hoping to discover where members of my extended family, especiallly the single women emigrants, settled in New York. I know where they came from; I don't know where they went to. Joe's book will, I'm sure, bring a greater clarity to my research and give me some new avenues to explore.

From either angle, Finding your Irish Ancestors in New York City earns a permanent space on the bookshelf and will not disappoint anyone trying to get to grips with, or find new ideas for tracing their Irish roots in NYC.

Finding your Irish Ancestors in New York City
by Joseph Buggy is published in soft back by Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore. It is available from the publisher's website for $19.95. From Amazon £12.56. ISBN 978-0806319889.