Friday 30 May 2014

Summer arrives for NLI's Genealogy Service

The Genealogy Advisory Service is free to all
visitors to the National Library of Ireland
The free Genealogy Advisory Service at the National Library of Ireland goes into summertime mode when it reopens after the bank holiday weekend on Tuesday 2 June.

For the third consecutive year, a team of genealogists from Eneclann and Ancestor Network will be enhancing the regular service during its busiest months. It is provided free of charge to all visitors to the Library in Kildare Street, Dublin 2 and operates to these hours until the end of September:

Monday to Friday: 9:30am to 4:45pm
Saturday: 9:30am to 12:45pm

Announcing the start of the summer 2014 season, Eneclann's Fiona Fitzsimons said: "We’re very happy to have been chosen to provide the genealogy advisory service again this year. We look forward to working alongside Francis O’Carroll and Christina McDonnell, our professional colleagues from the Library.

"In both previous years, we saw a significant rise in the numbers that availed of the genealogy service. We hope to welcome a record number of visitors to the Library this summer, too.”

Eneclann and Ancestor Network will also be providing the month-long series of lunchtime lectures on genealogy and history themes. See blogpost 20 x 20 Irish genealogy lunchtime lectures for further details.

Waterford Archives: June closures

The two Waterford Archives will be closed during June, as follows:

Waterford City Archives, High Street, Waterford City, will close at 5pm today, reopening on Tuesday 10 June at 9am.

Waterford County Archives, Davitt's Quay, Dungarvan, will close at 5pm today, reopening on Friday 13 June at 1pm.

NMI Exhibition: Preserving the Peace, opens June
To mark the bicentenary of the Peace Preservation Act of 1814, seen by many as the precursor to the establishment of the Irish Constabulary, the National Museum of Ireland-Country Life will be opening a fascinating exhibition next month: Preserving The Peace: Two Centuries of Policing and Punishment in Ireland (1814-2014)

Dedicated to Irish policing over the past 200 years, the exhibition will focus on organised policing on the island, exploring the degree to which standard policing has metamorphosed or remained static against the backdrop of British and Irish rule.

The exhibition - encompassing three gallery floors at Turlough Park, Castlebar - will open to the public on Saturday 14 June. It will sample the nature of crimes which confronted the forces from the 19th century up to the present day and will also feature an intriguing section depicting state punishment of the guilty in Victorian Ireland.

From the initial crime to capture and punishment, both corporal and capital – Preserving the Peace opens a door onto the sometimes uncomfortable reality of Ireland’s official past. It is considered suitable for all ages and will run until Easter 2015. Several events and talks are planned to be held on policing themes during the course of the exhibition and full details can be found by clicking the logo above.

The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life is at Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co Mayo.

The Kerry Girls: Emigration and the Earl Grey Scheme

The true story of 117 girls from Kerry workhouses
shipped to Australia in 1849/50
A new book – The Kerry Girls; Emigration & The Earl Grey Scheme – tells the true story of 117 Kerry girls sent to Australia in 1849/50 from workhouses in Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney and Listowel, under the auspices of the Earl Grey 'Orphan' scheme.

It will be launched this weekend by Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (details below).

Its author is Kay Moloney Caball, who spoke to Irish Genealogy News about her research. "I ran a restaurant recruitment business which went into free fall in 2009 and I took the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Genealogy & Family History at the University of Limerick. One of my assignments on this course led me to the Earl Grey scheme; I'd never heard of it before. Most people in Kerry had never heard of it, either!

"I thought that the girls – a courageous, resilient, gusty and spirited lot – should be better known.

"I also found that their descendants in Australia were hungry to find out more about their backgrounds, especially their family circumstances and the reasons they were in the Workhouses."

Kay's initial research was based on the identification of the girls from the four workhouses and matching these with shipping and baptismal records. Further study took her to the Minutes of the Boards of Guardians of each workhouse, contemporary newspapers in both Kerry and Australia, British Parliamentary Records etc.

"I was able to trace back quite a number of the girls to their parents through the records on the invaluable I also discovered that, though the scheme was called the Earl Grey 'Orphan' scheme, less than half the Kerry Girls were orphans in the accepted sense; most had one parent alive when they left Ireland."

The 192-page book sets out the circumstances that led to the girls' confinement in the workhouses, their 'selection' and shipping to New South Wales and Adelaide, their subsequent apprenticeship, marriage and life in the colony. While it is not a Famine book, it sets out the terrible circumstances left behind in Kerry and the mixed reception afforded to these 'useless trollops' following their arrival. It questions whether their emigration was an opportunity or a tragedy, and whether they were pawns in a political struggle between Imperial and Colonial interests.

The Kerry Girls is published by The History Press Ireland, price €14.99. It has black & white illustrations/images and photos of some of the girls, provided by their descendants, and the chapters are interspersed with histories of the girls and their families after arrival in Australia, again provided by their descendants. It is available in Easons, Hodges Figgis and Amazon, as well as The Book Depository where there is a special introductory offer and free postage to international destinations.

Launch details:
The Boys’ School, Church Street, Listowel, Co Kerry, at 2pm on Saturday 31 May. Part of Listowel Writers' Week.

Ulster Scots culture gets monthly BBC2 slot

A new TV series celebrating Ulster Scots culture and traditions will start on BBC2 Northern Ireland on Thursday 12 June at 10pm.

The Gaitherin is described as 'a topical new monthly magazine series celebrating the culture, language and lives of the Ulster-Scots' and will be presented by Helen Mark.

Here's the official blurb:

Over the coming weeks and months The Gaitherin team will be taking to the road, out and about all over Northern Ireland from Groomsport to Portrush and beyond, meeting up with local people as they gather together to share songs, poetry, history and comedy all related to the Ulster-Scots tradition.

Each programme will be recorded a short time in advance of broadcast and will also include films about local people who are learning and loving the Ulster-Scots way of life. From the couple who are planning an Ulster-Scots wedding – how can they source Ulster-Scots food, clothes and music for their big day and will they find someone who can lead them in their vows in Ulster-Scots?

The series also follows the fortunes of 13-year-old Kyle and 10-year-old Zoe as they begin their quest to become champions in the world of pipe music, while Anne Morrison-Smyth brings Ulster-Scots poetry to local schools and Fintan Walsh and Nick Brannon consider the influence of Ulster-Scots through archaeological digs and archive footage.

The Gaitherin team’s first stop will be the Walter Nelson Hall, Groomsport in Co. Down, where Helen introduces an evening packed full of entertainment with music from the Broken String Band. A range of guests will join Helen for what promises to be a celebration of Ulster-Scots music, arts and culture.

The Gaitherin has been produced by Tern Television with support from the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund.

As the programme will be shown on BBC2, it will remain on the BBC's i-Player for 7 days after broadcast. I'm not sure if it will be available for viewing outside the UK.

(Thanks to the Ulster Scots Community Network for the advance notification.)

Thursday 29 May 2014

More PRONI lectures and events added to YouTube

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has continued to add recordings of its excellent lectures to its YouTube channel. There's been a rush of them just recently, and now there's another trio joining the line-up:

Improving Belfast 1911: A glimpse of Belfast in 1911
This talk, by Ian Montgomery, formed part of a special public launch of the Belfast Civic Trust's temporary exhibition at PRONI: "The Story of Belfast". The illustrated presentation examined the social conditions, built fabric, and physical shape of the inner city's communities in 1911.

Using PRONI's photographic and textual sources, Ian provided a fascinating insight on society on the eve of a decade of dramatic social, political and constitutional change.

View Improving Belfast 1911 video (50mins)

Mount Stewart & the Wider World – Exploring the Londonderry Family Papers
The papers of the Stewart family, Marquesses of Londonderry, are now in public hands and are a major resource for the study of local and international history. From their home at Mount Stewart, members of the family have played major roles in the history of Ireland, the UK and Europe from the 18th to the 20th centuries. They were also major land owners in counties Antrim, Down and Donegal and in the North East of England.

This workshop, held at PRONI in November last year, highlighted the potential of the collection for family and local historians, academics, authors and film makers. The speakers were Ian Montgomery on the Londonderry Papers in PRONI, Liz Bregazzi on the Londonderry Papers in Durham Record Office, Frances Bailey on Mount Stewart and the National Trust, Anne Casement on Researching the Family and Brian Henry Martin on Using the Archive for Television.

View Mount Stewart Conference video (2hours 20mins)

Na Blianta Luatha: The Early Years of the Irish Language Movement in Northern Ireland
During Spring and Summer 2014, PRONI held a number of public talks focusing on aspects of the Irish Language. Delivered by several speakers, the talks offered thoughts on the historical development of the language in the north of Ireland. In this video, Irish language writer and lecturer Aodán Mac Póilin guided us through the early history of Irish in Northern Ireland. The lecture, delivered in English with some Irish interspersed, was presented earlier this month.

View Na Blianta Luatha video (1hour)

You'll find details of all PRONI's videos here.

The Book of Irish Jewry, 1700-2014, published

Stuart Rosenblatt with some earlier
volumes of his magnum opus
The 19th volume of Stuart Rosenblatt's Jewish Ireland series has just been published.

As with all the earlier volumes, only five copies of this volume – The Book of Irish Jewry, 1700–2014 – will be produced but they will be made freely available on the shelves at the National Archives of Ireland's Reading Room, at the Irish-Jewish Museum and the National Library of Ireland, all in Dublin, and at the Research Room of the Genealogical Society of Ireland in Dun Laoghaire.

Stuart told Irish Genealogy News that this new volume is an updated version of Vol XV: Heritage, The DNA of Irish Jewry, which was published in 2008 with 40,500 names.

"This latest volume has 52,069 entries. It holds details of the ascendants and descendants for the last 300 years of people who had an association, either directly or indirectly, with Ireland. It's in alphabetical order and includes all the information discovered about any one individual ie parents' names, mother's maiden name, names of siblings, plus all birth, marriage and burial details, Hebrew names... 

"Essentially, all the genealogical extracts from earlier volumes relating to any one individual are now in this one volume, in one place."

Given the scale of Stuart's work, you might think he'd be ready for a rest as soon as this latest volume is safely delivered to its various repositories. But no. He's already reaching out for more information to extend the huge genealogical jigsaw he's been putting together for the last near-twenty years.

So, if you've any Irish Jewish connections, please contact Stuart. He'll likely be able to link you to your heritage, and you, in turn, can provide the more recent part of your family's story. He can be contacted by email at or phone him on +353 (0)1 677 3808.

Stuart also runs the Irish Jewish Roots online database.

PRONI adds more Coroners' Reports to eCatalogue

Northern Ireland's Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, has launched an index of more than 13,000 coroner’s inquest files for the period 1969 to 1999. The index files include information on 3,169 people who died as a result of The Troubles and most are not yet open to the public.

Making the announcement, the Minister said: "The creation of this catalogue will allow the public to identify what is held on file and in particular it will be of tremendous benefit to families who wish to find out for themselves if the inquest record of their loved one is held by PRONI. For some this will be an important step forward.

“I realise the need for both transparency and sensitivity in relation to these files and all requests to access the files will be the subject of detailed consideration before determining what should be publicly released. This is a painstaking and time consuming process and will take a number of months to complete in each case.”

These inquest records include varying levels of detail such as the inquest verdict, post mortem report, witness depositions, police report and in some cases photographs of the scene of the incident.

Where the file is closed, PRONI will respond to a written/emailed request under the Freedom of Information Act (2000). This legislation allows for any individual to request access to information held by a public body.

The online index is part of the eCatalogue. You can search it by typing ‘inquest’ and the name of the person, which should bring up the relevant results.

Historical Coroners' Reports

The above news announcement seems a good time to remind family historians that PRONI already holds a collection of coroners' records dating from 1872. Admittedly, there are relatively few reports pre-dating 1960 and The Troubles, but it's always worth checking because if you find a historical report relating to an ancestor, you may be able to discover some serious detail.

Some 6,206 sets of Inquest papers from 1872 to 1920 can be located by using PRONI's online Name Search.  The documents themselves are not online. To view the papers, researchers must either visit PRONI in person or order copies.

The database entries contain details of the surname, forename, address, date of death and date of inquest of the deceased.  The actual inquest papers themselves record much more information than what is listed on Name Search, such as the name of the coroner, the circumstances of death and names of the jurors.

Additionally, coroners' records relating to murder, manslaughter or other criminal prosecutions are not included in the Name Search facility but can be searched using the eCatalogue (link up above).

Bear in mind that PRONI does not give a permanent home to every inquest record created by the coroners. Consequently, if a record does not exist, don't assume an inquest did not take place! By personal experience, I can recommend searching local newspapers for details of Inquests. These won't usually include gory details (but you didn't want those, anyway, did you!), but will typically provide some idea of the circumstances surrounding an unexpected/sudden death.

Monday 2 June: Opening/closing arrangements

There's a long weekend coming up. If you were planning on using the time to enjoy some research, be aware that many relevant institutions in the Republic of Ireland will be operating on bank holiday schedules, as below.

The National Archives of Ireland will be closed on Monday 2 June, reopening at 9:15am on Tuesday 3 June.

The Reading Room of the National Library of Ireland will operate to normal weekend hours (Saturday 9:30am to 12:45pm; Sunday closed), but will not open on Monday 2 June.

Exhibitions at the National Library of Ireland will be open on Saturday and Sunday as usual (Kildare Street: Saturday 9.30am–4.30pm; Sunday: 1:00pm–5:00pm. National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar: Saturday 10am–4.45pm; Sunday: 12pm–4.45pm). Bank holiday Monday opening will be from 12pm to 5pm only at both locations.

Dublin City Library & Archive will be closed from Saturday 31 May to Monday 2 June inclusive, as will most local branch libraries in Ireland.

The General Register Office Research Room at Werburgh Street, Dublin, will not open on Monday 2 June. Reopens at 9:30am on Tuesday 3 June.

The Research Room of the Representative Church Body Library will be closed on Monday 2 June, reopening at 9:30am on Tuesday 3 June.

This bank holiday applies only in the Republic; Northern Ireland institutions will be working to normal hours, having had their early summer holiday last week.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Catholic Family History Society Conference: 4 October

The Catholic Family History Society will be returning to the Salford Diocesan Archives in Manchester, UK, for its annual Day Conference and AGM on Saturday 4 October.

Two lectures will be presented:
  • Tracing Catholic Ancestors, with Maggie Loughran
  • The Protestation Returns of 1642, with Tony Foster
In addition, a Family History Help Desk will be available at lunch-time and late afternoon. Researchers are advised to bring along any documents or materials they would like to discuss.

Tickets cost £15.00 (including lunch & all refreshments) and must be booked in advance.

See the Society's website for full details.

3-month countdown to The Genealogy Event, Limerick

22-23 August 2014 in Limerick
It's less than three months to The Genealogy Event in Limerick.

The main events – lectures and exhibition – take place on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 August (the tail-end of Heritage Week) and there are optional social events available to delegates and non-delegates alike.

Read more about it in my interview here with Bridget Bray of BBNY, the organisers, or click the logo (right) to check out the full programme.

Early Bird tickets are still available but you'll need to be quick. The 10% discount will expire this Saturday. Book here.

Follow the signpost to Belfast's WW1 projects
There's no denying that the WW1 centenary is earning a lot of attention in the run up to the anniversary of the start of the conflict. While this focus, of course, well-deserved, such a spread of initiatives is making it difficult to keep up with some of the worthwhile and most interesting projects.

Help is at hand if your primary area of interest is Northern Ireland. A new website – BelfastWW1 – has been launched. It's run by History Hub Ulster and has been set up as a signposting site to guide the public towards some of the small Belfast-based research and community projects focussing on the War.

Many of these projects have Facebook pages but no dedicated website of their own, which means they are not discovered through regular Google searches, and miss reaching the majority of the public who don't use Facebook.

Among those projects included on is Living Legacies 1914-1918, which was featured on Irish Genealogy News last month. Many of the other projects are new to me (I'm one of those still to be seduced by Facebook), so the new website is clearly succeeding in its job as introduction agency.

Latest issue of Irish Roots magazine published

After a rather hectic few days, I finally got a chance to sit down and read the latest issue of Irish Roots magazine, which is now in the shops and also available online in digital format.

This edition carries features on the Surnames of Munster and the Children's Employment Commission. It also takes an in-depth look at resources for tracing Galway ancestors and examines the Military Service Pension Collection's potential value to researchers around the world. For those with connections to Australia and North America, there's guidance on finding records of the Irish who went to work in the Outback and of those who joined up to fight in the US Civil War.

There's also an unusual feature by Roisin O Brien, who shares her experience of creating a digital archive and offers it as a model for novices.

Always full of the latest news, Irish Roots also brings you updates from local, national and worldwide family history societies, details of recently published genealogy and history books, and my own What's New Review, giving details of all the essential record releases and other developments in the world of Irish genealogy.

The magazine costs €4.50/£3.35 in the shops or by post for €7 inclusive of worldwide postage. Subscriptions also available.

Monday 26 May 2014

FindMyPast Newspaper stories ready for download
In the course of trying to put right some of the pretty disastrous changes made to its database, FindMyPast has introduced a long-awaited feature: the facility to download (for keeps or printing) pages from its British & Irish Newspaper Collection.

I'm delighted with this. The download arrives as a pdf which means you can zoom in on the columns you want to read. It's long been a bug-bear of mine that I couldn't do this, so I'm really happy to defy the baying crowd and give the FMP techies a bit of applause.

This little discovery led to another when I went wading in to look for any report of the 1868 drowning of one of my Santrys – Cornelius – and his wife, Anne, in Dungarvan Harbour. I've had the death certificates for years. They show the coroner recorded verdicts of accidental drowning of the 33-year-old coastguard, but I'd never had any joy in locating more information. And yet this time, there it was, a Freeman's Journal report telling that the two, just two years married, took off to Dungarvan with one of Cornelius's colleagues, a chap called Atheson, who also died.

Here's the report. It doesn't give a lot of detail, but enough to satisfy my curiosity.

Finding Irish WW1 soldiers – workshops in Dublin

A workshop on researching Irish WW1 soldiers is to be held next month.

Hosted by Eneclann and Ancestor Network, and presented by Maeve Mullin, the full workship title is Finding Forgotten Irish WWI Soldiers: a case-study of Glaslough, co Monaghan.  Maeve will use her own community of Glaslough as a case study for recovering the names and personal histories of locals who fought and died in World War One.

The workshop will take place on two dates:

Thursday 5 June: The Edmund Burke lecture theatre, Trinity College, Dublin. 3pm.
Saturday 7 June: Trustee's Room, National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 2pm.

The workshops are free but you need to book a place. To do so, email and indicate which of the workshops you wish to attend.

Irish genealogy and history events 26–31 May

Monday 26 May: The Battle of Clontarf, 1014, witih Eimear Ging. Host: Clondalkin History Society. Venue: Áras Chrónáin, Watery lane Orchard Lane, Clondalkin, Dublin 22. 8pm.

Monday 26 May: Garda mutiny in Kildare, with Brian McCarthy. Host: Kill History Group. Venue: Parish Meeting Room, Kill, Nr Naas, Co Kildare. 8:30pm.

Tuesday 27 May: 200 years of Pilkingtons in Clare and Australia from family letters and diaries, witih Katrina Pilkington. Host: Kilrush and District Historical Society. Venue: Teach Ceoil, Grace Street, Kilrush, Co Clare. 8pm.

Tuesday 27 May: Lockout to Rising: Liberty Hall and the legacy of the 1913 Lockout, with Francis Devine. Host: Howth Peninsula Heritage Society. Venue: Howth Angling Centre, West Pier, Howth, Co Dublin. €5 Non-members. All welcome. 8pm.

Tuesday 27 May:Medicine, Charity and the Infirmary in the 18th century, with Alun Withey. Venue: Edward Worth Library, Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin 8 (opposite Heuston Railway Station). 3:00pm . Lecture followed by launch of the launch of the ‘Dr Steevens' Hospital: A History’ online exhibition. Details, see

Tuesday 27 May:
Was the Great War a good war?, with Padraig Yeates. Venue: Fingal Local Studies & Archives, Clonmel House, Forster Way, Swords, Co Dublin. Free. All welcome. 7:30pm

Wednesday 28 May:
The Uses of Photography in Ireland, 1839-1900, with Dr Peader Slattery. Host: Balbriggan & District Historical Society. Venue: Town Hall, Balbriggan. 8pm.

Wednesday 28 May: Rebel Girls: Rosie Hackett and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, with James Curry and Meredith Meagher. Host: ICHLC. Venue: Town Hall, Galway. 8:30pm. Tickets, €3 (€2 concession). Advance booking advisable.

Wednesday 28 May: WB Yeats and Arthur Griffith: Art versus Politics, with Anthony Jordan. Part of the Bealtaine Festival. Venue: Pembroke Library, Ballsbridge, Dublin. 1pm. Booking recommended on (01) 888 9575.

Wednesday 28 May: Quenching the Prairie Fire: the collapse of the GAA in 1890s Ireland, with Richard McElligott. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. All welcome. 7pm. Admission free. No need to book.

Thursday 29 May: Place-name scholarship in Ulster from O'Donovan to the present day, with Dr Nollaig Ó Muraíle presenting the Ulster Place-Name Society's annual Deirdre Flanagan Memorial Lecture. Venue: Main Building, Queen’s University (Lanyon OG/074), Belfast. 8pm. All welcome.

Thursday 29 May: 800 years of the Book of Kells, with Bernard Meehan. Host: Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Venue: RSAI, 63 Merrion Square South, Dublin 2. 7:30pm.

Thursday 29 May: DNA workshop, and general Irish genealogy advice. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society. Venue: Braid Arts Centre, 1-29 Bridge St, Ballymena, Co Antrim BT43 5EJ. 7.15pm. £1 members/£3 non-members.

Friday 30 May: Investigations into Griffith's Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books for Achill, with Dr Theresa McDonald. Host: Achill Historical and Archaeological Society. Venue: Folk Life Centre, Dooagh, Achill Island, co Mayo. 8.30pm. All welcome.

Saturday 31 May: Launch of The Kerry Girls: Emigration and the Earl Grey Scheme, a new book by Kay Caball. Launch will be conducted by Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at 2pm at the Boys’ School, Church Street, Listowel, Co Kerry. Part of Listowel Writers' Week.

Saturday 31 May: Tour of Magheross Cemetery. A free guided tour will be held in Old St Finbarr's graveyard, one of county's oldest cemeteries, with headstones dating from the 1660s (all searchable online). Starts 11am, from Carrickmacross Workhouse, Shercock Road, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.

Saturday 31 May: Brian Boru Seminar Day. Host: East Clare Heritage. Venue: St Cronins, Tuamgraney, Co Clare. Six lectures. Booking essential – tel: 0619-21351. See programme.

Saturday 31 May to Monday 2 June: Galway Hooker Festival, the city's traditional hooker regatta in association with The Latin Quarter. Races on all three days.  Galway City.

Friday 23 May 2014

MyHeritage military records free for Memorial Day
MyHeritage is offering free access to its US military records this weekend (23 to 26 May inclusive) to mark Memorial Day (a federal holiday when those who have died while serving in the US armed forces are remembered; it dates back to the end of the Civil War). Just click the image to go direct to the free access page.

The records in MyHeritage include WWII Enlistment and Prisoners of War, Revolutionary War and Confederate Civil War Records and Historical US Army and Air Force Registers, plus many additional collections including Vietnam and Korean war records, army casualties etc.

Obviously, there are a good number of Irish and Irish-American families included in this collection, so this is a great opportunity to seek them out. It's also perhaps a good opportunity for those researchers on this side of the Atlantic who haven't already done so to take a fresh look at MyHeritage. The database is really not very established over here but its collections are growing so it's got to be worth looking in.

I've just had a quick scout around. It claims to hold some four billion historical records and one billion newspaper entries (?). Its headline collections are the US federal censuses since 1790, England and Wales censuses for 1841 to 1901 and a handful of Canadian censuses. It also holds the England & Wales bmd indexes, the US Social Security Index and a good number of bmd indexes for eastern European countries.

Its Irish/Ireland collection is not strong, to be frank. Beyond a few Thom's Directories, some issues of the Belfast Gazette and some fairly ubiquitous texts and indexes, there's nothing here to get overly excited about in terms of records originating from Ireland. That's not very surprising given that so many of Ireland's most important record sets are either online free of charge via the National Archives of Ireland and PRONI or on an exclusive arrangement via

However, this is a database I'll be returning to (I'll take up the free 7-day trial offer when I next get a free weekend) to seek out extended emigrant family and to check out some of the texts available. What has leaned me towards giving it an indepth 'go' is the interface... it's so clean and straightforward. It's easy to locate the different collections and the search mechanism seems to stick to what you've entered rather than overloading you with stuff that's irrelevant. It makes me feel I'm in charge of my search. And I can't say I've felt that on Ancestry and FindMyPast for some time.

UPDATE: Regarding the 7-day free trial.... it might be worth doing this sooner rather than later because MyHeritage is currently offering an exclusive 35% discount to readers of Irish Roots Magazine who sign up for the annual Premium Plus + Data subscription.

Irish Ancestors hones in on registrar districts

Click image to view interactive map
Click image to view interactive map
John Grenham's Irish Ancestors database on the Irish Times website has had another very useful upgrade this week.

It's now possible to view a list of all townlands/place-names within any local registrar's district.

If you select a Poor Law Union/Superintendent Registrar's District from this interactive map (click image), you'll see a list of all place-names within that District (with their corresponding parish name), plus a list of the local registrars' districts. If you click on the latter, you'll find a list of all the place-names within just that local district of the PLU/SRD.

So, for example, in Clonakilty Poor Law Union (Cork), there are three local districts: Clonakilty, Rosscarberry and Timoleague.

Checking through each local district's list I can see that my father's family living in Tullyneaskey East would have registered bmds in Rosscarberry until they moved to the neighbouring townland in Curragh when they'd have crossed the boundary for the Clonakilty local registrar's district.

Another very helpful addition to the free resource section of the site.

Late Spring Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland

Monday 26 May is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland so all public libraries (local and county) and main repositories will be closed.
  • PRONI will close at 4:45pm today, reopening on Tuesday 27 May at 9am.
  • The Linen Hall Library will be open normal hours on Saturday (9:30am to 4pm), closed on Monday. Reopening Tuesday 27 May at 9:30am.
  • GRONI will close at 4:00pm today, reopening on Tuesday at 9:30am.
This bank holiday does not apply to the Republic of Ireland.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Advance notice: GRONI offline Friday 23 May

The General Register Office of Northern Ireland has advised that its database of civil registration records (GRONI Family History) will be offline on Friday 23 May from 8:30am until 11:30am.

They've been very prompt with these downtime sessions in the past, so I don't imagine they'll exceed these hours.

Magic Moments in Maynooth

A symposium on Charms and Magic in Medieval and Modern Ireland will be held by the Department of Early Irish at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) next month.

It will bring together scholars from diverse backgrounds such as religious studies and folklore, archaeology and philology, to discuss magic, charms and their mindset in the past and in the present. The contributions will span more than a thousand years and will shed light on some of the more obscure corners of Medieval and Modern Ireland.

Dates: Friday 6 June 5:30pm–7:30pm and Saturday 7 June, 9:30am–5:30pm.
Venue: Physics Hall (reception Friday evening: Russell Library), South Campus, NUIM, Co Kildare.
Registration fee: €20 (€10 for students): Includes tea/coffee and lunch on the Saturday.

Further details (pdf).

PRONI: The greatest 'Match' the world has ever seen

Click image to go to PRONI site for full view
With just three weeks to the first kick of the World Cup in Brazil, PRONI's getting itself into football fever mode with its Document of the Month for May.

The chosen document from the archives is an example of recruitment literature used by the British armed forces after the initial stages of the First World War made evident that hostilities were not going to be over by Christmas and the Allies needed more men to throw in front of the enemy. It's a poster designed to look like a football match-day programme and it describes the War as a Grand International Match taking place 'somewhere in Germany'.

You can view a larger image of the document and find more contextual information by clicking the image above.

TNA uploads 36th (Ulster) Division's WW1 diary
The National Archives in London (TNA) has uploaded a third batch of WW1 unit diaries from France and Flanders to its First World War 100 portal.

This batch consists of 724 diaries (WO 95/2432 – WO 95/3154) including those from the Kitchener Divisions and those of the Territorial Force.

While Irish men served in any number of units, this batch is especially interesting for those of Irish heritage as it holds the diaries of the 36th (Ulster) Division, which suffered many casualties on 1 July 1916.

The unit war diaries provide interesting accounts of battles and events, as well as insights into the daily routines of British troops on the Western Front. Also included in the diaries are accounts of troops' sports activities which helped keep them motivated and continue fighting until the end of the war.

You can find out more about this latest batch on the TNA website (click image). For details of the two previous uploads and an overview, see my January announcement of the War Diaries project.

WDYTYA?Live in Scotland: Early bird tickets on sale

Early Bird tickets are now available for WDYTYA?LIve Glasgow, which will be taking place from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 August in Scotland. It's the first time the show has been held outside of London.

Other than the price of tickets, there's very little information available so far about the main attractions of the show. By the main attractions, I mean the exhibitors and the workshop programme. But it seems the Glasgow show will follow the established and successful format of the London event by offering clebs, Ask the Expert one-to-one sessions and photo experts.

Early Bird tickets can be bought until 4 June at a special price of £20 for two. Follow the link and use the code EB20. Alternatively, phone 0844 873 7330.

General information about tickets.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Yet another batch of PRONI videos goes on YouTube

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has added yet more videos of past lectures to its YouTube channel. It's well worth exploring these videos. They cover some extremely interesting and useful topics that any family historian is likely to find of interest.

Although the focus is, naturally, on Northern Ireland's history and records, many of these lectures are pertinent to those who, like me, have no connections in the North. Check out the list below, and take a look at my recent listing, too, for a full menu of the subjects available.
  • Home Front Conference: Northern Ireland in the Second World War. This half day conference, held last November, looked at various aspects of life in Northern Ireland during WW2. It also saw the launch of Dr. Phillip Ollerenshaw's new book, Northern Ireland in the Second World War: Politics, Economic Mobilisation and Society, 1939-45. The conference is covered in five video parts.
  • Plantation Families – People, Records and Resources. This lecture, presented in a two-part video, is particularly useful for family history stretching back to the sixteenth century
  • Local History lecture series: PRONI and The Open University in Ireland (OUI) delivered a Local History lecture series from September 2011 to April 2012. It examined major themes – Poverty, Industrialisation, Crime, Religion, Urban History and Families, and local history sources. PRONI staff complemented the lectures by presenting examples from the collections. Each of the lectures is available in five or six videos.

Two new Irish collections added to FindMyPast part of its 100 x 100 project, FindMyPast has added two new collections of marriage and death reports published in American newspapers.

The first – Irish Marriage Notices In American Newspapers – is a small package of just 2,500 marriage notices printed in four New York newspapers between 1835 and 1860.

The records report news of weddings involving Irish men and women from around the world, not just those in New York, and from a number of religions.

Each wedding notice was submitted by the bride or groom, or one or other's family. The amount of information listed varies, but the announcements usually include the names of the bride and groom and their birthplaces, the names of their parents, the date and place of marriage and the name of the officiating minister.

The records, which can be searched by the names of both spouses and year of marriage, are transcribed from the New York Herald, The Brooklyn Eagle, New York World, and Phoenix

Search the Irish Marriage notices in American Newspapers set.

The second new record set – Irish Death Notices in American Newspapers – is a considerably larger set of more than 35,000 transcripts of records dating from 1845 to 1909.

Each death notice was submitted (usually by the family) to advise the death of an Irish man or women. The death may have occurred anywhere, not necessarily in America.

As with the marriage announcements, the amount of information published in a death notice varies but can be very illuminating. Usually they include date and place of death, age and occupation, the names of spouse/parents/other relatives, the cause of death, birthplace and place of burial.

The records have been transcribed from the New York Herald, The Brooklyn Eagle, Phoenix, Chicago Citizen, Chicago Tribune, Illinois State Journal, New Orleans, Picayune, and The Baltimore Sun.

Search the Irish Death notices in American Newspapers set.

Monday 19 May 2014

Irish Directories' Database launched
The days of pulling your hair out when you want to find a historical directory for a particular place are over!

A collaboration between Joe Buggy, an Irish genealogist (and blogger) now based in Washington, and Shane Wilson, a family historian based in Dublin, has seen the creation of a database of more than 550 links to online directories. These directories are scattered across the web, held on both free and subscription sites. Some are free, some are not. Some are available for purchase on CD, others for download.

The Irish Directories' Database is held on Shane's website (a great resource for those with Dublin ancestors) and is provided free for the benefit of all researchers. Definitely one to bookmark.

Nice one, you guys!

Irish genealogy and history events 19–24 May

Monday 19 May: A celebration of the life of Rosie Hackett, with James Curry. Hosts: Irish Labour History Society and SIPTU. Venue: Liberty Hall, Dublin. Wine reception and music. Everyone welcome. 8pm. Free.

Tuesday 20 May: Belfast post-1945: a society in transition, with Dr. Peter Smyth. Host: PRONI. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 1pm. Free but booking essential; email or telephone 02890 534800 to reserve your place.

Wednesday 21 May: The Downshire Family and Hillsborough Castle, with Jason Diamond. Host: North of Ireland FHS, North Armagh Branch. Venue: Town Hall, 15-17 Edward Street, Portadown, BT62 3LX. 7:30pm.

Thursday 22 May: The Irish in Australia, a double bill of lectures. Emigration of Dublin orphan girls during the famine, with Dr Perry McIntyre, and The Irish in Australia through objects, with Dr Richard Reid. Host: Rathfarnham Historical Society. Venue: Ballyroan Library, Orchardstown Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14. 7:00pm. All welcome.

Thursday 22 May: Revolutionary women, with Liz Gillis to celebrate the centenary of Cumann na mBan. Venue: County Library, Library Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24. 6pm to 7:30pm. Free. All welcome.

Thursday 22 May: Headstones as postcards from the past, with John Tierney. Venue: Irish World Heritage Centre, Irish Town Way, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, UK. 7:30pm. £5.

Thursday 22 May: World War One and Leixlip, with James Durney. Host: Leixlip History Club. Venue: Leixlip Library, Captain's Hill, Leixlip, Co. Kildare. 7:15pm.

Thursday 22 May: Paupers, Presbyterians and the Poor Law in 19th-century Ulster, with Dr Olwen Purdue. The Robert Allen Memorial Lecture. Host: Presbyterian Historical Society. Venue: Union Theological College, Botanic Avenue, Belfast. 8.00pm:

Friday 23 May: Sunningdale, the Ulster Workers Council Strike and their Legacies: The Struggle for Democracy in Northern Ireland, a special conference at PRONI. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 9am to 4pm. Programme. Free but booking essential; email or telephone 02890 534800 to reserve your place.

Friday 23 May: 100 years a diggin'. A century or archaeological excavations in Waterford city and county, with James Eogan. Host: Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society. Venue: Edmund Rice Heritage and Conference Centre, Barrack Street, Waterford. 8pm. € 5.00 non-members (members free)

Saturday 24 May: IGRS Open Day. Host: Irish Genealogical Research Society. Venue: Dublin City Library & Archive, Pearse Street, Dublin. 10:00am to 4pm. Four lectures. Programme. Free and all welcome.

Saturday 24 May: Ulster Scots Innovators Gallery to open. Part of the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival (continues to Monday 26 May). The Ulster-Scots Agency and Northern Ireland Science Park will officially launch the Ulster-Scots Innovators Gallery in the Thompson Dry Dock, Northern Ireland Science Park, Belfast. The gallery will celebrate ten famous Ulster-Scots who made major discoveries, altered our understanding of the natural world and developed products and services of worldwide significance. Formalities at 11am.

Friday 16 May 2014

History of Childhood in Ireland: conference, 9–10 June

A conference on the history of childhood in Ireland will be held at St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin, on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 June.

Twenty years a-growing: an international conference on the history of Irish childhood from the medieval to the modern age, to give it it's rather too long full title, aims to create a forum for scholars and researchers working in this field and to facilitate and foster debate on the historical role of childhood in Ireland.

You can view the full programme here.

The Conference registration fee is €50 for the waged/€25 for students or unwaged. Places are limited. As of this morning, there are still spaces available but if you're hoping to attend you should book as soon as possible by emailing The registration fee will be payable by cash or cheque on arrival at the conference registration desk.

Mid-May updates from IGP-Archives

Here's the mid-month update from Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives, revealing the latest batch of records to have been made freely available.

IGP-Archive doesn't ordinarily upload a single baptism record but an exception's been made for the Michael Callaghan now added to the Sligo archive. This baptism entry represents the final triumph of years of dogged research! The researcher was previously unable, despite Michael's reasonably well-documented life, to conclusively connect him through paper records to her family. A DNA test has now proved the connection, and Michael has finally been 'reunited' with his parents on the family tree.

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Deansgrange Cemetery St Patrick's Section, Part 17
Deansgrange St. Ita's Section, Part 2

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Mount Jerome, Part 78
Mount Jerome, Part 79

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
Irish Constabulary with native county of Dublin - 1849

LIMERICK Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Kilteely Graveyard, Kilteely MITCHELL headstone

MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives – Emigration Records
Assorted records for McGurk and Caulfield

SLIGO Genealogy Archives – Church Record
Baptism of Michael CALLAGHAN 1824

British Newspaper Archives hits 8m-page milestone" width="0" height="0" border="0"> <A href="">The British Newspaper Archive hit a mega milestone today with more than 8million pages (8,002,998, to be precise) of digital newsprint now available for easy online research.

Seems a good occasion for a reminder that the BNA recently put their subscription prices under the microscope and came up with a massive permanent reduction. A monthly sub is now only £9.95. This gives you access to all 8m pages, which include newspapers from Belfast, Dublin and Cork.

Also worth pointing out that these same papers are included in sister-company FindMyPast's British & Irish newspaper collection.

Thursday 15 May 2014

FMP's WW1 Army collection contains new discoveries;id=123532FindMyPast has added 4.2million WW1 British Army records from the National Archives' catalogued War Office collections WO363 (service records, known as the Burnt Documents) and WO364 (pension records). About one-third of the records survives; the rest was ing destroyed during WW2.

These collections have been searchable on Ancestry for some time, but, by re-indexing the record sets, FindMyPast have captured an additional 600,000 names. The company says this is down to a more thorough transcription process which allowed it to identify and index lists of 'names that appear tucked away in individual service papers'.

"The vast majority of men appearing in these lists have been indexed for the very first time," says the publicity material. "While the information may only extend to a line or two of printed matter, for many thousands of people this will be the first time they have uncovered details of their ancestor’s participation in World War 1."

The record of any one individual may consist of between one and a hundred pages that cover everything from physical description of the soldier to details of the battles and campaigns he participated in and remarks on his conduct and character.

Within the collection are some service records for men who fought in the Boer War, and also men who should not be included in these series at all. FindMyPast say the earliest pension record discovered is for a man born in 1832, who enlisted in the 94th Regiment of Foot in 1850!

National and Military Archives receive 2015 funding

National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin,
receives funding for exhibition and storage facilities
Both the National Archives of Ireland and the Military Archives in Dublin are to receive funding for major developments from the €200m handout announced by the Government earlier this week.

Some €22 of the overall fund will be administered by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and is earmarked for investment in a range of major national commemoration projects in 2015. The six flagship projects are:

Military Archives: Refurbishment of existing premises at Cathal Brugha Barracks to provide front-of-house facilities for visitors to the archive and for a state of the art storage facility for the Military Pensions Archive.

GPO Interpretive Centre:
Construction of an extended exhibition and interpretive centre at the O'Connell Street landmark housing a permanent exhibition of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Kilmainham Courthouse and Gaol:
The adaptation of the former courthouse building will result in a new visitor facility for Kilmainham Gaol.

Teach an Phiarsaigh, Ros Muc:
The project envisages completion of a proposed new visitor centre at Pearse's Cottage.

Tenement Museum: No. 14 Henrietta Street will be redeveloped as a centre for the exploration of tenement life in North Inner City Dublin.

Richmond Barracks: This project will see the refurbishment of the barracks, where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were held after their surrender, into a cultural, educational, training, heritage, tourist and community facility.

The funding will also support the following projects, which are included in the commemorations programme:

National Archives of Ireland Project (Phase 1): The project will entail the redevelopment of the National Archives at its Bishop Street HQ to provide state-of-the-art exhibition and storage facilities in three phases up to 2020.

National Concert Hall redevelopment works: The project entails the development of the recital rooms – including the Kevin Barry Room, where the Treaty Debates took place – as well as ancillary works to front of house facilities.

Yeats 2015: This ambitious year-long programme will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of WB Yeats and will be a celebration of Irish culture across a range of genres: poetry, literature, drama, music, fine art and craft.

The Irish Parliamentary Party Monument: Restoration work to the burial vault of John Redmond, the politician and statesman, who died in 1918.

Making the announcement at the GPO, Minister Jimmy Deenihan welcomed the funding allocated to projects under the auspices of his Department:

“As Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – and as Chairman of the Commemoration and Decade of Centenaries Programme – I am delighted to be here with Minister Howlin as we announce this significant funding for 2015.

"The social and political developments of the decade from 1912 helped to form modern Ireland. We are commemorating these momentous events, and the people so closely associated with them, especially in the lead in to the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916. This funding for 2015 is extremely important in our preparation for that major centenary."

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Glasnevin Museum is looking for WW1 artefacts
Glasnevin Museum is offering free historical assessment of your family's First World War artefacts this Friday and Saturday. All you have to do is bring along your family's WW1 treasures and momentos – documents, letters, diaries, medals, uniforms and other objects.

Military historian Conor Dodd will be evaluating all items brought along (any valuations are for insurance purposes only) and is hoping to help people unlock some of their family history. "Many returning soldiers brought back small items and often these objects tell the story of the war, or highlight some aspect of it," he told Irish Genealogy News.

"There might be a family story attached to the item, or the soldier's descendents may have no idea what the object is. We plan to identify these momentos and help the families join up the dots of their family's involvement in the war."

Some of the items brought along might, with the family's permission, obviously, be destined to appear in a temporary exhibition at Glasnevin Museum during the Summer. The exhibition will be a major part of the Museum's programme to commemorate the start of WW1.

So if your family has an item from this period with a story attached to it, or if you have an item from this period that you know nothing about, take it along to Glasnevin on either Friday 16 May or Saturday 17 May to discover more about it. There's no need for an appointment. Just turn up with your treasure between 10am and 4pm.

Look with pity on the plebians: NAI's May Document

The National Archives of Ireland has published its Document of the Month for May, which features a letter written in 1847 from Richard Lewis of Coothill, Co Cavan.

He requests that the recipient "Look with pity on the Starving condition of the plebians of this Locality" and asks that a relief store be established to “remove a great calamity”.

You can view both a copy of the letter and a transcript here.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

More videos of PRONI lectures added to YouTube

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has been adding videos of recent lectures to its YouTube channel. The following selection is now available:

  • Exploring Your Archives in Depth: Practical Workshops in Family and Local History, Jan-Feb 2014. These lectures include 1641 Depositions, Using Church Records, GRONI Family Trees, Archive mapping and aerial photography, and Understanding an ancestor's neighbourhood (Griffiths)
  • PRONI Showcase Evening: Maps, Photographs, Anecdotes, Politics, Feb 2014. These lectures looked at the scale and variety of PRONI's resources.
  • Open University Exploring Family History Lecture Series, Autumn 2013. This series was themed by occupation or vocation and expressly sought to explore archival records that shed light on the working lives of families. The lectures topics were Farmers & Labourers, Teachers & Pupils, Officers & Soldiers,
  • The History of Witchcraft, Magic and the Devil in Ireland Conference, Oct 2013. This was an evening conference, originally held on Halloween, which examined various aspects of belief in the supernatural in Ireland, prior to the twentieth century.
  • Volunteering in Ireland, 1912-16 Lecture Series, Aug/Sept 2013. These lectures examined the various volunteer organisations which emerged in Ireland during the years before the First World War. They included Unionist Volunteers, Young Citizen Volunteers, and Volunteering & Women.
I'm particularly looking forward to watching the Witchcraft lecture. This was so incredibly popular (fully booked in next to no time), that PRONI put on a second presentation to cater for those that didn't get a seat the first time round!

Great line-up for IGRS Open Day, 24 May

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) Ireland Branch will be holding its annual Open Day on Saturday 24 May at its usual venue: Dublin City Library & Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

As always, there's a terrific line-up of experts presenting four lectures. Here's the programme:
10:00–10:20 Registration & coffee. (Tea & coffee available in Library Cafe on 1st floor.)
10:20–10:30 Welcome
10:30–11:10 Stories from the Great War: the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association Archive, with Dr Mary Clark
11:15–11:55 A most patriotic Volunteer – the onine military service pension collection and the genealogist, with Hugh Comerford
12:00–13:30 Lunch (at own expense)
13:45–14:25 Single female emigration to Australia 1830–1840, including famine orphans, with Dr Perry McIntyre
14:30–15:10 Why you can't find your ancestors online, even though you know there are there, with John Grenham
15:20–16:00 Ask the Experts! Q & A session

The Open Day is free to attend and everyone is welcome.

Monday 12 May 2014

Irish genealogy and history events, 12 – 18 May

Monday 12 May: 1014 – 2014, the Battle of Clontarf – what new insights?, a panel discussion
chaired by Professor Sean Duffy. Venue: Trinity College Dublin. Host: Clontarf Historical Society and Raheny Heritage Society. 8:00pm. €4.

Monday 12 May: The management of the Londonderry Estates in Down, Derry, Donegal and Antrim during the Great Famine, with Dr Anne Casement. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Foyle Branch. Venue: City's Central Library, 35 Foyle Street, Derry-Londonderry BT48 6AL. 7pm.

Monday 12 May: Plantation: Aspects of 17th-century Ulster society, with Dr Brendan Scott. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 1pm. Free but booking essential by email at or by telephone (+44) 02890 534800.

Monday 12 May: History is to blame, by H E Daniel Mulhall, Ireland's Ambassador in London. A public lecture to discuss this often misunderstood period of Ireland's history. Venue: The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. Free, but you need to book. Tel: 0151 794 3837. 6pm.

Tuesday 13 May: Technology and genealogy from a layperson’s point of view, with Maura Flood. Host: Genelaogical Society of Ireland. Venue: Dún Laoghaire College of Further Education, Cumberland St., Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. 8pm. €3.

Tuesday 13 May: From Flax to Fabric, with Gillian Topping. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Lisburn Branch. Venue: Railway Buildings. Bridge Street, Lisburn. 7:30pm.

Tuesday 13 May: Brian Boru – myth and reality, a History Ireland Hedge School. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 7pm. Free.

Tuesday 13 May: Irish peace keepers, with Michael Whelan. Host: Tallaght Historical Society. Venue: County Library, Library Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24. 7pm. Free. All welcome.

Wednesday 14 May: Shaping Belfast: from early beginnings to Victorian expansion, with Dr Paul Larmour. Second of PRONI's series of public lectures on the historical development of Belfast. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 1pm. Free, but book by email to or tel:028 90 534800.##

Wednesday 14 May: Family history tutorial and discussion, with Gerard Naughton and Paul Greaney. Host: Western Family History Association. Venue: Lackagh Parish Centre, Co Galway. 8:15pm. Details. All welcome.

Wednesday 14 May: The Lisnavagh Story, with Turtle Bunbury. Venue: Irish Georgian Society HQ, City Assembly House, 58 South William Street, Dublin 2. 6:30 to 8:00pm (tea/coffee from 6pm). No admission after 6:40pm. Tickets €10 via +353 (0)1 679 8675 or email

Thursday 15 May: Clearning hovels and building homes: an architectural history of Dublin housing, 1930 to 1960, with Ellen Rowley. Host: Royal Society of Antiquities of Ireland. Venue: 63 Merrion Square South, Dublin 2.

Thursday 15 May: A history of Methodism in Bray and North Wicklow, with Revd D A Levistone Cooney. Host: Bray Cualann Historical Society & Bray Methodist Community. Venue: Bray Methodist Church, Florence Road, Bray. 8pm. Free, but donation requested.

Friday 16 and Saturday 17 May: Remembering the Great War. Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Dublin 11. The Museum is looking for artefacts and stories for a new exhibition. Bring along your documents, letters, uniforms, weapons, medals etc for a free historical assessment. Details:

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 May: The Irish Workhouse – Past & Present, a weekend conference. Venue: Portumna, Co Galway. See blogpost.

Saturday 17 May: An introduction to genealogy, with Paul Gorry MAPGI. Venue: Ballyroan Library, Orchardstown Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14. 11am–1pm. Free to attend. To book your place, phone the library on +353 (0)1 4941900.

Saturday 17 May: Irish genealogy help session with Kathleen McGee at 10am. What's in a name? Trouble, with Ron Arons at 11am. Host: Irish Family History Forum. Venue: Bethpage Library, 47 Powell Avenue, Bethpage, NY, 11714.

Friday 9 May 2014 adds Cork & Dublin church records, the family history website run by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has uploaded a great bunch of records – just over 29,000 Roman Catholic church register entries and nearly 700 Church of Ireland. Some of these (the Cork ones) have been promised for a while, but they're now free for searching, each one with an accompanying image from the church register.

The registers concerned are:

Bandon: 17,667 RC baptisms and marriages
Iveleary: 11,411 RC baptisms and marriages
St Michaels, Dublin: 660 Church of Ireland records

Search here.

As to the long-awaited Monaghan records and the 'enhanced' civil registration records – I've asked – there's no update available just now.

UPDATE 11 May: The home page of the IrishGenealogy site has a problem. May not be resolved until Monday. In the meantime, be sure to use the link above, which takes you direct to the church records database.

UPDATE 12 May: All access points restored.

Certificate in Local Studies course starts September

A Certificate in Local Studies course will be taught at Dublin City Library & Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 this September.

Classes will be held on Tuesday evenings from September to April. In addition to class-based tuition, the course includes three visits to archives services and two full-day field trips. The course gives participants a formal and practical training in how to carry out research in local studies, with an emphasis on the history and heritage of local places, and how to write up their findings in the form of a dissertation.

The course fee is €500.

For full details of the Lord Mayor's Certificate in Local Studies and how to apply download the brochure (pdf 1.9Mb)

The closing date for applications is Friday 29 August.

Bursaries are available, deadline 14 August; email for details.

Silent respect for our ancestors who suffered: 9&11 May

Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has invited all people of Irish heritage around the globe to join with the people of Ireland and observe a minute of silent reflection on Sunday 11 May as a gesture of respect for our ancestors who perished, suffered and emigrated during the Great Irish Famine.

Minister Deenihan said: 'As Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, I warmly welcome the tireless efforts of the many communities and organisations abroad to commemorate the victims of the Great Famine and to enlighten new generations about the terrible plight of the Irish people who suffered and perished or emigrated during this tragic period in our nation's history.

'I now call on you to join with the people of Ireland in observing a minute of silent reflection on Sunday 11 May, in honour of all those who suffered loss of life, loss of home and loss of family during this time. We also honour the extraordinary achievements of the Diaspora – all those whose instinct for survival and will to live brought them to new and distant places where their determination to survive in the most difficult of circumstances inspired them to leave their mark in the new societies in which they settled.

'We must always strive to ensure that the devastating events of the famine are never forgotten and that the extraordinary contributions of those who emigrated and of their many descendents abroad are justly celebrated. We have come such a long way since that desolate time, but it is important that we do not forget our past and the experiences that have shaped us as a people. Today, we extend the same genuine compassion and generosity to those who are suffering from hunger, disease and poverty in the modern world. This spirit of empathy has transcended the generations to become embedded in the Irish psyche – it defines us as a people. This is the only way that we can truly honour the victims of the past.'

The 2014 National Famine Commemoration is taking place on Sunday 11 May in Strokestown Park House, County Roscommon, with an overseas commemoration also planned for New Orleans (7-9 November). Minister Deenihan has already invited over 4,000 schools nationwide to observe a minute of silent reflection at noon on Friday 9 May as a gesture of respect for those who died or suffered loss during the famine. He has also invited cultural and sporting organisations in Ireland to observe a minute's silence at public events taking place on Sunday 11 May in honour of the famine victims. This minute of silent reflection in schools and at public and sporting events, large and small, will inspire people of all ages to reflect on this tragic period in our nation's history.

Thursday 8 May 2014

National Archives of Ireland: latest catalogue updates

The National Archives has added the Chief Secretary’s Office: Convict Department, convict petitions and memorials to its online catalogue.

Dating from 1909–1922, and under the reference code CSO/CD/1, this series of more than 1,000 files contains convicts’ petitions or memorials appealing for remission of sentences or discharge from penal servitude made to the Lord Lieutenant or Chief Secretary, with by the prisoner or on their behalf. Most of the catalogue entries provide name and townland of the prisoner, as well as the nature of their activity. Here are a few examples:
  • John Crowley of Crossmahon, Bandon, Co Cork. August 1921. Non attendance as juror. Cork Winter Assizes. (CSO/CD/1/2)
  • William Cathcart of 13 Ventry Street, Belfast. May-June 1921. Loitering at the Queen's Road Belfast with intent to commit felony and being a rogue and vagabond, June 1917. (CSO/CD/1/262)
  • Michael King of Aughoose, Kilcommon, Erris, Co Mayo. Belmullet Petty Sessions; being in possession of illicit utensils for distilling, 21 March 1921. (CSO/CD/1/456)
The majority of the files relate to the period between 1918 and 1922, but some files include earlier petitions. They include cases from Courts of Assizes and Quarter Session Courts around Ireland, as well as some other smaller courts such as Petty Sessions, Parish Courts and Field General Courts Martial.

The cases include minor offences such as non-attendance of jurors; possession of illicit spirits; family cases including child neglect and assaulting the wife; and criminal cases such as larceny; receiving stolen goods, assault, murder and infanticide. There are also some files for political convictions, including Whiteboy offences; rioting; and breaching curfew regulations in Belfast in 1921.

There are also daily reports on the condition of hunger strikers from prison governors to the chairman of General Prisons Board, 1922.

If you find an entry of interest, a personal visit to the NAI is required to study the file.

20 x 20 lunchtime genealogy talks return to NLI

This August will see the return of the 20 x 20 lunchtime talks at the National Library of Ireland.

Organised by Eneclann and Ancestor Network and taking place every working day of the month, the talks feature a short introduction (20 minutes) to an Irish genealogy topic and are followed by Q & As. Each talk will start at 1:05pm. It's free to attend and there's no booking required.

Here's the list of talks:

Fri 1 August Digital sources, with Brian Donovan
Tues 5 August Hatch Match and beyond…finding trails and tales in Parish records
with Rev. Patrick Comerford
Wednes 6 August Shipping records and their usefulness when searching for your ancestors,
with Brian Mitchell
Thurs 7 August The Genealogy of Gaelic clans: sources records and evidence-11th to
17th century,
with Lorna Moloney
Fri 8 August: Yesterday’s Children: Discover your ancestor’s childhood,
with Aoife O’Connor
Mon 11 August Researching the history of Irish surnames and clan-names,
with Paul McCotter
Tues 12 August The exile of Erin, researching the poor Irish in Victorian London,
with Else Churchill
Wednes 13 August Under-used Irish records in the National Archives in England,
with Audrey Collins
Thurs 14 August Genealogy and sporting records – from sporting Laurels to Family Trees,
with Hilary McDonagh
Fri 15 August Did you come from Dublin dear? Understanding Dublin city through maps
with Jacinta Prunty
Mon 18 August Using to trace your family History,
with Rhona Murray
Tues 19 August Reading Headstones primary sources carved in stone,
with John Tierney
Wednes 20 August Using the College Archives for family history research,
with Ellen O'Flaherty
Thurs 21 August Digitising Irish newspapers: how we bring Ireland’s stories back to life, with Ian Tester
Fri 22 August Irish in European armies, with Lar Joye
Mon 25 August Census-related records on the National Archives website,
with Catriona Crowe
Tues 26 August Doing Local History,
with Ray Gillespie
Wednes 27 August Finding women in the records,
with Mary McAuliffe
Thurs 28 August Niall of the Nine Hostages and the genetic architecture of Irish surnames, with Dan Bradley
Fri 29 August Uncovering the Irish of the American Civil War, with Damien Shiels

Get your diaries out!

Join the Letters of 1916 team at Maynooth today

The Letters of 1916 project, which aims to create an online archive of images and transcription of letters written around the time of the Rising, has moved from Trinity College Dublin to NUI Maynooth.

The move signals the start of the next phase of the project's development at An Foras Feasa, The Institute for Research in Irish Historical and Cultural Traditions.

To mark the occasion, the team are holding a special launch today and anyone who is interested in learning more about the project and/or finding out how they can help, is welcome to attend.

From 5pm at Iontas Building, North Campus, you can visit the Scanning Lab and the Transcribing Lab. If you have a letter written from someone in Ireland between 1 November 1915 and 31 October 1916, you should bring it along for scanning. If you'd like to discover some of the hidden stories of this pivotal period of Ireland's history, you might like to help transcribe some of the hundreds of letters already in the database; you'll get a tutorial at the Transcribing Lab.

At 6pm the formal launch reception will be held and will be followed by talks by project director Professor Susan Schreibman; Robert Doyle, the historian and author who discovered a cache of letters from Eamonn O’Modhráin in his in-laws attic; Dr Brian Hughes, the project's Associate Editor and an expert on Michael Mallin; and Lar Joye, Curator of Irish Military History at the National Museum of Ireland.

It's free to attend, but you need to confirm your attendance at EventBrite.

The project team is also delighted to announce that the Letters of 1916 will be a demonstrator project for the National Digital Repository (DRI). Over the next year, they will be creating the fully-searchable online archive of images and transcriptions of letters, augmented by a variety of methods (such as sentiment analysis and topic modelling), as well as visualisations allowing users to engage with the corpus in new and innovative ways.