Monday 7 April 2014

The Genealogy Event in Limerick is Irish to the core

22-23 August 2014 in Limerick
Ireland's first City of Culture – Limerick – is to host a major family history conference and get-together this summer.

Straddling Heritage Week, The Genealogy Event will be taking place on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 August and is centred on the Strand Hotel, which overlooks the River Shannon and the city centre.

Compared with most conferences, The Genealogy Event has a slightly untraditional format as well as some additional features that set it apart. The programme includes two-days of lectures; built-in time for relaxed interaction with other researchers, speakers and exhibitors; an exhibitor marketplace and a lunch, all taking place at the Strand, but it also includes evening social events for delegates and non-delegates at other venues, both in and out of the city, and even a walking tour. The whole is divided into segments and optional specials (see Programme Overview), so that family historians can create their own 'pick and mix' event to suit their research level, sociability, schedule and budget.

St John's Castle, Limerick
While the name cuts straight to the chase, it doesn't stress one fundamental feature: the event's exclusive focus on Irish genealogy. Most exhibitions/shows/conferences, call them what you will, cater to a deliberately wide range of nationalities and heritage. The Genealogy Event in Limerick is Irish to the core.

The doors are open to anyone, whether they live in Ireland or are part of the Diaspora, who wants to explore their Irish roots or to develop their existing Irish family history research, and to enjoy some good craic with similarly minded people.

The Genealogy Event is being brought to the West of Ireland by Bridget Bray, a Canadian with Irish and British roots who, although resident in New York, is also a well-known face in Castleconnell, Co Limerick, her great-grandfather's village. She's a woman of great energy and a born-organiser, with a genuine interest in genealogy, and she knows what it's like to make that first real connection with your roots and set off on the exciting trail of ancestors.

"Six years ago, all I knew was that I had a great grandfather called Ryan who had lived in Ireland and died in London," she remembers. "I had a death certificate, so I went armed with this to WDYTYA? at Olympia. I saw a sign that said 'Probate', and the exhibitor helped me to discover a family will with a matching name and townland of origin. I've been back and forth to Castleconnell ever since!"

Take a morning walk to the Milk Market
Inspired by her first serious foray into her family history and never one to let the grass grow, Bridget returned to New York and quickly set up the Irish-British Genealogy Group, which now has about 280 members, and runs regular events. A few years later, she decided that New York deserved its own genealogy fair and held The Genealogy Event in the city in 2012.

It was repeated last year, and there will be a third outing this Autumn at a new venue.

But why Ireland?

"I've come to really love Limerick City, Castleconnell, and the surrounding area," she says. "When I discovered the City would be the Ireland's Capital of Culture 2014, I immediately wanted to be involved in some way. And the best route seemed to be to follow what had actually prompted my own discovery of this beautiful area: genealogy. At the same time, I want to celebrate the locality, so the social events show very different aspects of the region. On the eve of the event, there's a BBQ at a pub with a superb setting overlooking the Shannon. On the Friday night, there's a trip to the Greyhound Stadium. And the event wraps up at a 'Fork Supper' of traditional fayre at One Pery Square in the city centre.

"During the day, there are several breaks between sessions when people can interact, so this won't be just a 'listen and learn' or 'transactional' event. Genealogy can be such an insular activity, and I think many people will gladly seize the opportunity to break out and interact, share and discover. And have fun."

Shopping in the City of Culture
In organising The Genealogy Event in Limerick, Bridget has connected with Ireland-based companies and organisations. The Irish Ancestry Research Centre is Event Partner, Lorna Moloney of Merriman Research and Training is co-ordinating the speaker component and Eneclann is sponsoring the Advanced Segment on Saturday afternoon, while the Exhibitor Marketplace will see organisations and individuals offering their online databases, genealogy research services or products relevant to Irish family historians.

For more information about The Genealogy Event, and how to book tickets, take a look around the website. You can see the overview, which includes details of the social events, by clicking the logo above. For the learning component, follow these links below:

Friday 22 August programme
Saturday 23 August programme
Buy tickets