Monday 3 March 2014

Exclusive: April is the new March

March is a special month for people of Irish heritage, and not just because of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations! Modern tradition has it that this is the month when lots of records get released.

This year may be an exception, at least in terms of island-wide genealogy packages. Admittedly, is expected to release its first batch of records of County Clare (these will be transcriptions of Roman Catholic registers), and PRONI will be adding a huge chunk of Will Calendars to its online database on 13 March, but I don't think researchers should bank on any other major releases before the end of the month.

It seems to me that for 2014, at least, April will be the new March. As we already know, the brand-new online facility for viewing birth, marriage and death records for counties in Northern Ireland is officially expected to make its debut in early April. It's possible, of course, that its launch will just about scrape in before the end of this month, but I wouldn't put any money on it.

As to the 'enhanced’ version of the bmd indexes held by the General Register Office of Ireland, the upload to is now running more than two months behind the original schedule. The new collection was promised as a Christmas 2013 present but behind the scenes work took longer than planned. Much longer, it seems. Two weeks ago, Irish Genealogy News was advised that a six-week quality control test had been commissioned. If I'm reading my calendar correctly, this suggests that the collection may see online daylight in early April.

The race is on!

And what of those other records that were supposed to be under the tree in December? The release of the National Archives of Ireland's collections of census fragments and house, field & tenure books has also shifted along to April! The NAI's Catriona Crowe has told Irish Genealogy News that the test sites are functioning and work now starts on integrating them with the existing Genealogy site. It doesn't end there. The collections are to launch on three distinct sites at the same time: the NAI Genealogy site, Family Search and FindMyPast (they will be free to access in all cases), so there's a good bit of co-ordination going on.

Catriona will be spending most of this week writing the contextual material for the new collections while the technical teams deal with that co-ordination.

Given the previous delays in the release schedule, I can't help thinking there's a fair bit of slippage in the dates now being offered, but I'm hearing 'six weeks' from several quarters, so if nothing else all parties seem to be working to the same hymn sheet.

If the online record launches can be squeezed into March, all well and good, but let's not set ourselves up for disappointment.

Let's look forward to April.