Thursday 31 July 2014

Genealogy At Lunchtime: 20 talks at the NLI

Each talk starts at 1:05pm. Free. Just turn up.
Tomorrow will see the start of this year's Genealogy At Lunchtime series of 20-minute talks at the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

Organised by Eneclann and Ancestor Network, each of the talks covers an important area of potential genealogical discovery and is followed by a Q&A session when researchers can raise issues relating to that day's topic. The speakers include genealogists, historians, service providers and other specialists and the range of topics is wide.

The first lecture will be delivered by Brian Donovan of Eneclann and FindMyPast who will be talking about digital sources for Irish family history.

Allowing for the bank holiday on Monday, the second lecture will be on Tuesday 5 August, and will see Rev Patrick Comerford present his talk "Hatch, match and beyond… finding trails and tales in parish records".

The series then continues on every remaining weekday in August.

If you haven't already selected the talks you want to attend, it's about time to do so. You can see the full list of topics and speakers posted in May (it's been slightly updated since then). Alternatively, the list is on the NLI website; click the image above.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

The 20,000-records-in-a-day Indexing Challenge

This Saturday, 2 August, will see an attempt to index 20,000 records in one 12-hour period at the LDS Church in Clondalkin, Co Dublin.

A similar event was held last year. The 2013 goal was rather less ambitious at a 'mere' 10,000 records, but the indexers had pushed that target aside by the time lunch was over and just carried on. They ended up with more than 21,100 records indexed. As last year, members of the Church are asking for volunteers to come along and help with entering information from historical records into an online database.

I've no details about which record set they'll be working on (last year it was the UK's Kent Register of Electors 1825 to 1900) but wherever the collection originates, indexing the data will allow other genealogists to research their ancestors.

You don't have to commit to the entire 12-hour session! Just turn up anytime between 7am and 7pm.

The organisers promise lots of fun, lots of food and lots of indexing.

Venue: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9th Lock Road, Clondalkin, Co Dublin.

Bank holiday arrangements, Monday 4 August

There's a bank holiday in the Republic of Ireland this coming Monday, 4 August. Here are the changes to standard opening times for the main repositories and institutions used by genealogists:

Dublin City Public Libraries
will not open on Saturday 2 August or on Monday 4 August. Normal schedules resume Tuesday 5 August.

The National Archives of Ireland will be closed to the public on Monday 4 August and will re-open on Tuesday 5 August at 9.15am.

The National Library of Ireland
Reading Room will be closed on Monday 4 August and there will be no Genealogy Advisory Service operating on that day. However, the Yeats exhibition at Kildare Street will be open 12pm to 5pm. All back to normal (9:30am) on Tuesday 5 August.

The GRO Research Room
at Werburgh Street will be closed on Monday 4 August, reopening Tuesday 5 August 9:15am.

Local branch libraries
will be closed on Saturday 2 August and Monday 4 August, reopening for normal hours on Tuesday 5 August.

Northern Ireland is open for business as usual on Monday 4 August but mark your diaries with a note that it'll be enjoying its own Late Summer Bank Holiday on Monday 26 August.

Just published: the largest-ever book in Irish language

The largest book in the Irish language ever-written by a single author was recently launched at the National Museum of Ireland in Mayo.

Compiled by Dr Fiachra Mac Gabhann, Logainmneacha Mhaigh Eo comprises almost 7,500 pages and is divided into 10 volumes corresponding mainly to Mayo’s baronies.

The author told Irish Genealogy News: "The work took over a decade to complete and features collected historical references to the 3,500 townland and island names of Mayo with attendant linguistic analysis, proposed Irish forms of the names (with translations), collections of non-administrative local names from western parts of the county (such as Achill and Inishturk), complete with indices in both languages.

"The historical references span from the writings of Bishop Tírechán (late 600s) to the Ordnance Survey of 1838."

An extensive array of sources in several languages were employed and over 300 local people were interviewed and recordings of Mayo Irish speakers from the last half century explored.

This mighty work has been published in a limited print edition by Coiscéim; all ten volumes are also available on a cd in pdf format. To obtain a copy, contact Gnó Mhaigh Eo on (094) 9047027.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Merged Waterford Archives upgrade online resources

As you may remember from my report in mid-June, Waterford City Archives and Waterford County Archives have been amalgamated. While there are still two venues, one in the City and one in Dungarvan, 45km away, and no immediate option of bringing the full collection under one roof, there is only one archivist: Joanne Rothwell.

Despite having to now split her time between the two existing venues, Joanne took time out to tell Irish Genealogy News about how more of the archives' materials will be making their way online.

"Instead of the two distinct websites we had before, details of both archives can now be found on the combined City & County Council's brand new site: From the Culture & Heritage section of the Home Page, visitors can quickly navigate to find details of the archives and the collections each holds.

"But the new site has also allowed us to introduce a dedicated section to Researching Family History. It has a much more prominent placement on the Home Page, and we are signposting some of our most popular collections there. Researchers can click through to the type of collection they want – Newspapers or Burial Records, for example –, or they can click the section title to explore a menu of other material."

The result of this is that some of the material previously somewhat 'hidden' on the old sites is easier to find. The Waterford Newspapers War Archive is a good example of this. The database holds an extensive collection of articles dating from 1914 to 1918 and from 1939 to 1947; it's easy to use and a mine of information, but was under-used because researchers didn't know of its existence or couldn't locate it on the old site.

Joanne tells me that some historical City maps will be added in the next week or so, and photo collections will be joining the line up, too. The Burial Registers of St Otteran's, which date from 1862 to 1916 (with a few gaps), will also be added in pdf format, and more newspapers will be added to the general newspaper collection within a couple of months.

It's worth stressing that everything that was available on the two old websitse has migrated to the new site. Nothing has been withdrawn. The intention is only to improve and add to the online offering, not reduce it, and Joanne is working on the new site on a daily basis. Sometimes this may mean a collection or database 'disappears' temporarily. Such events will be short-lived, however. It's usually a sign that fresh text or material is being uploaded to a collection.

The new site is still very much 'under-construction', but it is certainly starting to come together. "We're putting a lot of time into making the new site more user-friendly and making our resources more accessible," says Joanne.

Who Do You Think You Are? TV show returns, 7 August
The show is produced by Wall To Wall
The 11th series of the celebrity-led genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? will open with an Irish themed story at 9pm on 7 August on BBC1.

The show's researchers will dig into the roots of actress Julie Walters to uncover the trail of her great grandfather, Anthony Clarke. He was one of the early members of the Land League, a revolutionary organisation which fought for the right for tenant farmers to own the land they worked.

Walters and the genealogy team visit County Mayo and unearth a tale of poverty, tyranny and triumph, set in a tumultuous time in Irish history.

Three weeks later the show will return to Ireland with Brendan O'Carroll. This episode revolves around Ireland's War of Independence and tells the story of O'Carroll's paternal grandfather, Peter, who was shot by British troops in an execution-style killing in 1920. Brendan's father, a lad of just nine years old, was also deliberately shot, but survived.

Here's the running order of the new 10-part series: Julie Walters, Brian Blessed, Tamzin Outhwaite, Brendan O'Carroll, Sheridan Smith, Mary Berry, Martin Shaw, Reggie Yates, Twiggy, Billy Connolly (the 100th episode).

The night before the new series kicks off – on 6 August, 10.35pm, to be precise – the BBC will celebrate the programme's 10-year anniversary and its upcoming 100th episode.

The War To End All Wars: a day of lectures, 31 August

The Maritime Institute of Ireland in conjunction with the Heritage Council is to host a day of lectures, discussions, debates and music on Sunday 31 August.

The event – The War To End All Wars, 1914-1918 – will be held at the Dún Laoghaire Club (aka Eblana Club), Eblana Lodge, 3 Eblanda Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Here's the programme:

11:30am   Registration
Noon   Build up to war and those opposed, with Roger Cole, Peace & Neutrality Alliance
12:45pm   Living in Dublin 1913-1918 – social aspects, with Padraig Yeates, historian
1:30pm   The sinking of the mail boat Leinster, with Roy Stokes, author
2:15pm   The colonies and the freedom of small nations, with Padraig Mannion, researcher and editor
3:00pm   Uncle Sam's Navy, with Pat Sweeney, author
3:45pm   RMS Lusitania – arms and the ship, with David Snook, author
4:30pm   SS Kelp - Four flags in war, the story of a German ship captured and later used by Allied Forces, with Dr John Treacy, NUI Limerick
5:15pm   Winston Churchill: Worst Lord of the Admiralty? Speaker tbc
6:00pm   Lest we forgot or best we forget? Speaker: tbc
6:45pm   Music & songs of WWI, with William Byrne and guests
8:00pm   Approximate time of finish

Admission is by donation to cover costs. Suggested donation, €5 per lecture/€20 for the day.

More details at

Monday 28 July 2014

Another small, useful & free source from Flyleaf Press

Jim Ryan of Flyleaf Press has published another of his very useful 'Small Sources', this time a list of more than 100 tenants of the Earl of Listowel in Kerry together with their rents due on 29 September 1755. Most of the tenants are recorded with their townland.

This is number 11 in the 'Small Sources' series, and it's free for all to access on the publisher's blog (click link above).

Although I've reported most of the earlier entries in the series, I seem to have missed number 10. This was a list of payments made in 1813, 1817 and 1820 to the poor in the neighbouring parishes of Killinick, Maglass/Mayglass, St Iberius and Kilmacree, all in Co Wexford. Although these are Church of Ireland parishes, some of the recipients may well have been Roman Catholic. See this Small Source here.

Irish genealogy – history events, 28 July to 9 August

With August just around the corner, we're about to enter a very busy events period, what with Heritage Week, the month-long Genealogy at Lunchtime talks at the National Library of Ireland and several lecture series commemorating the start of World War One. To help family historians plan and book ahead for what promises to be a stimulating few weeks, I'll be publishing a 14-day events listing every Monday.

Tuesday 29 July: World War One in County Wicklow, with John Goodman, looking at a number of Wicklow men and their frontline experiences, and how the war directly affected life in the county. Venue: Blessington Library, New Town Centre, Blessington, Co Wicklow. 7pm. Free. Details: 045-891740

Tuesday 29 July to Friday 1 August: Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, Cork. Maldron Hotel and Firkin Crane Centre, Shandon, Cork. Lectures, films, workshops, discussions, social events. Details.

Friday 1 August: Preserving Your Family Papers, with Ketina Taylor, Archivist. Host: The National Archives at Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Venue: Montgomery Plaza location, 2600 West 7th Street, Suite 162, Fort Worth, Texas 76107. From Noon to 1pm. Free but you need to book. Email: or tel: (817) 831-5620.

Friday 1 August: Digital sources, with Brian Donovan. Part of the Eneclann/Ancestor Network 20x20 lunchtime series. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 20-min lecture plus Q&As. Free. No need to book. 1pm.

Sunday 3 August: Mayo Peace Park Ceremony & WW1 Commemoration. Local day of remembrance to honour the Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations. Memorial Peace Park, Castlebar. 2:30pm.

Monday 4 August: Rediscovering the Belfast Nationalists who fought in World War One. Launch of exhibition with Siobhan Brennan Deane of the 6th Connaught Ranger Exhibition research group. Part of Féile an Phobail. All welcome. Venue: Falls Road Library, 49 Falls Road, Belfast BT12 4PD. 1pm.

Monday 4 August: Remembering, forgetting and commemorating Ireland's Great War: Issues for Belfast, with Professor Richard S Grayson and PRONI. The lecture will draw closely on local stories of the war. Part of Féile an Phobail. All welcome. Venue: Falls Road Library, 49 Falls Road, Belfast, Co Antrim BT12 4PD. 7pm.

Tuesday 5 August: The Soul of the Nation: Irish republicans, war and rebellion, with Fearghal McGarry and PRONI. The lecture will explore republican responses to the First World War, particularly how that wider conflict shaped the Easter Rising of 1916. Part of Féile an Phobail. All welcome. Venue: Falls Road Library, 49 Falls Road, Belfast, Co Antrim BT12 4PD. 1pm.

Tuesday 5 August: Hatch Match and beyond…finding trails and tales in Parish records, with Rev. Patrick Comerford. Part of the Eneclann/Ancestor Network 20x20 lunchtime series. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 20-min lecture plus Q&As. Free. No need to book. 1pm.

Tuesday 5 August: Religion, Society and Piety: the churches and people of early medieval Tipperary, with Patrick Gleeson. Cashel Summer Lecture Series. Venue: Cashel Library, Friar St, Cashel, Co Tipperary. 7:30pm. Free.

Wednesday 6 August: The Great War and Unionist Memory, with Philip Orr and PRONI, who will seek to assess why the war continues to feature so much in popular Unionist culture. Part of Féile an Phobail. All welcome. Venue: Falls Road Library, 49 Falls Road, Belfast BT12 4PD. 1pm.

Wednesday 6 August: Shipping records and their usefulness when searching for your ancestors, with Brian Mitchell MAPGI. Part of the Eneclann/Ancestor Network 20x20 lunchtime series. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 20-min lecture plus Q&As. Free. No need to book. 1pm.

Wednesday 6 August: A Kilkee Man in the First World War, with Michael Nolan. Host: Kilkee Civic Trust Summer Talks 2014. Venue: Kilkee Bay Hotel, Co Clare, at 8 pm. Admission free.

Thursday 7 August: Belfast Women and the Great War. Margaret Ward and Lynda Walker will be presenting a visual account of the impact of war in Belfast, looking at how women mobilised to support the war effort; the impact of war on work and social life and also on women's political organisations. PRONI will also give a short presentation. Part of Féile an Phobail. All welcome. Venue: Falls Road Library, 49 Falls Road, Belfast, Co Antrim BT12 4PD. 1pm.

Thursday 7 August:
The Great War Roadshow – songs and stories from WW1. Venue: Town Hall, Cavan. 7:30pm. For details, phone Cavan Genealogy on (0)49 4361094.

Thursday 7 August: The Genealogy of Gaelic clans: sources records and evidence – 11th to 17th century, with Lorna Moloney. Part of the Eneclann/Ancestor Network 20x20 lunchtime series. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 20-min lecture plus Q&As. Free. No need to book. 1pm.

Thursday 7 August: The outbreak of the First World War, with Dr William Mulligan. Part of The Road to War Lecture Series. Hosted by PRONI and National Museums Northern Ireland. Venue: Ulster Museum Lecture Theatre, Botanic Gardens, Belfast. 7pm. Free but booking essential. Email or phone 44+ 028 905 34800.

Friday 8 August: Mothers and Midwifes: The experience of Childbirth and Midwifery in Ireland, 1630–1800, with Phil O’Loughlin. Host: Dingle Historical Society. Venue: Dingle Library, Co Kerry. 7:30 pm

Friday 8 August: Yesterday’s Children: Discover your ancestor’s childhood, with Aoife O’Connor. Part of the Eneclann/Ancestor Network 20x20 lunchtime series. Venue: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. 20-min lecture plus Q&As. Free. No need to book. 1pm.

Friday 8 August: The formation and history of the three Irish Divisions, with Jimmy McDermott. The lecture will examine the politics that drove the formation of the three Irish Divisions. PRONI will also give a short presentation. Part of Féile an Phobail. All welcome. Venue: Falls Road Library, 49 Falls Road, Belfast, Co Antrim BT12 4PD. 1pm.

Friday 25 July 2014

Ancestry's UK & Irish collection is free this weekend
AncestryUK is offering free access to all its Irish and UK records from tonight at midnight (GMT) until Sunday 27 July at 23:59 (GMT). That's a cool 48 hours of access.

Those that don't currently have an account with Ancestry UK can register as a guest to obtain access; registered guests are sent a User Name and Password, and don't have to provide credit card details. Those who have a UK Essentials subscription will automatically be able to search Irish and UK collections that are not included in this subscription package.

The Irish record sets includes Civil Registration Indexes of birth, marriages and deaths, Griffith's Valuation, a collection of Roman Catholic parish registers and many more valuable resources. Find out more about the record sets included in Ancestry's Irish collection.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Latest on bmd indexes fiasco

It's a week now since the brand-new 'enhanced' civil registration indexes were unceremoniously pulled from at the insistence of the Data Protection Commissioner (see blogpost).

Although there was a lot of press coverage on the topic at the beginning of the week – most it being approached from the data protection and privacy angle – there's been no official word to reassure genealogists about what's going to happen next.

I'm pleased to say that after making a nuisance of myself all week, I've finally got something official. Not much, admittedly, but something. It's from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the government department responsible for the website. Here it is:

'The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is currently engaging with both the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Department of Social Protection to ensure that the issues raised by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner are promptly resolved and to ensure that this very valuable genealogical information can be restored as soon as possible.'

My bold.

Much as I love the use of the word 'restored', I don't think we should anticipate a 'restoration' of the 1845/1864 to 2013 indexes in their launch format. Either information such as actual birth dates and maiden names will be redacted for the more recent records or the three government agencies will come to some agreement about a cut-off dates for records to be included.

UPDATE: 26 July 2014 - This from the DAHG was published in the Irish Times today.

Clare County Library links its Townlands to GenMaps

The value of Clare County Library's clever online GenMaps has been raised again (two new features were added only six weeks ago - see blogpost).

This time, the upgrade allows a researcher studying any one of the 2,200 pages about Clare's townlands to link through to one of three GenMaps for that specific area – the 1842 Ordnance Survey map, a Bing Maps satellite view of the area, or a composite map of the two.

You can find out more and see examples on the Clare County Library blog.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

RootsIreland announces imminent website revamp
The latest issue of Clann, the newsletter of the Irish Family History Foundation, has just been published and brings news that the organisation's online database,, is going to be revamped. This has been in the pipe for a while, so it's good to hear it's now going to happen.

There's also the promise that 'substantial amount of new data' will be added before the end of the year. Let the speculation begin!

You can also find out what the folk at Sligo Heritage Centre have been up to, and discover what resources are available at the Dun Laoghaire Heritage and Genealogy Centre and the Bru Boru Cultural Centre in Cashel.

In addition, there's a three-step guide to tracing your ancestors in Derry-Londonderry, details of book releases and summer events, and a couple of stories about successful research.

The digital newsletter is free and can be viewed by clicking the cover page image.

PRONI's July Document has high 'Ahhhh' factor

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland's Document of the Month is a photo, taken at the outbreak of WW1, that aims straight for the heart. As a wise marketing guru (yes, you, Jill) once told me, you can't beat a donkey picture for raising the 'Aaahhhhh' quota. And if you throw some children and a charitable cause into the image as well, you're onto a certain winner. I imagine this particular fundraising stunt was very successful.

The charitable causes in question were the National and Belgium Relief Funds. The latter played its part in bringing a large number of Belgian refugees to Ireland to escape the war. Among them was a group who found a welcoming and safe temporary home in Monaghan; Clogher Historical Society is still hoping to make contact with their descendents. I wrote about this in February, and it's worth a second airing: See blogpost.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Genetic Genealogy Ireland returns to Dublin's BTOP

With only three months to go before Back To Our Past 2014 kicks off in Dublin (17–19 October), details of what's in store are starting to be revealed.

First out of the blocks is news that the Genetic Genealogy Ireland (GGI) conference will be returning. It follows a very successful launch at last year's event and will once again see three days of DNA lectures running in parallel with the main genealogy lecture programmes. As previously, the 2014 GGI programme will be sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG.

There will be seven lectures presented each day. The full line-up of speakers isn't yet confirmed but you'll find more detail and a provisional list of topics on the GGI website.

This will be the fifth year of Back To Our Past and it will again be held in the RDS Industries Hall in Ballsbridge as part of the Over 50s Show.

Monday 21 July 2014

Tánaiste publishes Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2014

With the removal of the 'enhanced' version of the GRO civil registration indexes from and the likelihood that these will not reappear in their launch format, Irish genealogists are not in good humour today. I know I'm not the only one shifting from rage to disbelief to despair, and this blogpost comes with a warning that my temper is a tad short today.

As some know-it-all once said, 'One has to look forward...' and while we all hate a clever dick in total control of their mood, I'm going to follow that advice and point us in the direction of the future: The Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014.

As regular readers of Irish Genealogy News will be aware, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. (and now Tánaiste) took the occasion of the recent launch of the indexes to announce the imminent publication of the Amendment Bill and what it would hold for genealogists. Following Cabinet approval, the Bill was, indeed, published. Here's an edited version of the press release:

"The Bill will provide for a wide range of issues relating to the registration of life events in the State. Representations and recommendations have been made by various groups and organisations since the enactment of the Civil Registration Act 2004 and this Bill seeks to address these issues. The General Register Office which administers the Civil Registration Service has identified areas where legislative amendments are required to streamline the service to the general public.

The principal amendments that will be provided for in the Bill are:

Compulsory registration of father’s name of birth certificates

Where the parents of a child are not married to each other, current legislation does not require the mother or the father to provide the father’s details when registering the birth. This amendment seeks to address the current position by making the provision of such information compulsory other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Tánaiste said "The right of the child to know who both their parents are is a very important right. In recognising this right the Bill is giving every child a greater sense of identity."

Record of deaths of Irish persons abroad

This amendment will introduce a record of the deaths of Irish persons who are normally resident in the State who die while on short term absences abroad. A copy of the record of the death may be furnished on request. The document will have no legal standing and will not replace the original foreign death certificate but will give comfort to families who have lost loved ones

The Tánaiste added "I am pleased to be able to provide a record of deaths abroad so that families who have lost loved ones in other countries can get some comfort and closure by having the death recorded in Ireland."

Other Provisions

The Bill will provide for access to historical registers of life events to allow online access via the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s genealogical website to important information regarding our heritage. The material which will be available is as follows:
  • Births more than 100 years;
  • Deaths more than 50 years;
  • Marriages more than 75 years."
The Amendment Bill will now make its sluggish way through the legal process and will, hopefully, emerge without too many blows having been inflicted.

Privacy concerns close civil registration indexes site

Just three weeks on from the launch of the General Register Office's civil registration indexes on, the entire collection has been taken offline. Seems no one thought to mention to the Data Protection bods that the collection included personal information of living individuals right up to last year. See today's Irish Times article and follow up feature

To say this is a gigantic cock up is an understatement. We waited more than nine months for these bmd records to reach an online and free status, and no one checked out the implications...? Are they kidding us? What the hell were they doing those months? How on earth could this not have been dealt with in that amount of time in a thorough and professional manner.

Embarrassing? It's downright pathetic.

My reaction to this news is unprintable.

I will see if I can find out any more, but I don't imagine the official channels are going to be too chatty for a while.

Sunday 20 July 2014

The Road To War – lecture series ready for booking

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and the National Museums Northern Ireland are getting together to present a joint lecture series exploring the impact and legacy of the First World War in Ireland.

The Road to War lectures will be held in the evenings, starting at 7pm, and will be free to attend. Booking is now open, and you'd be best advised to secure your place early, as these lectures are likely to be over-subscribed.

Here's the programme:

Thursday 7 August
The Outbreak of the First World War, with Dr William Mulligan.
Venue: Ulster Museum Lecture Theatre, Ulster Museum Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB. 7pm.

Thursday 25 September
Ireland’s Entry Into War, 1914: Acceptance or Refusal? with Dr Catriona Pennell
Venue: Ulster Museum Lecture Theatre, Ulster Museum Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB. 7pm.

Thursday 9 October
Militarism in Ireland, 1912–18, with Professor David Fitzpatrick
Venue: PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast, BT3 9HQ. 7pm.

Thursday 23 October
'If the nation is to be saved women must help in the saving’: Women and War in Ireland, 1914-18, with Dr Senia Paseta
Venue: PRONI, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast, BT3 9HQ. 7pm

Booking is essential. Please email PRONI at or telephone (+44) 028 90534800 to secure your place.

Friday 18 July 2014

New GRO records section of IrishGenealogy is offline

Two weeks on from its launch, the Civil Records section of has disappeared! I've no idea where it's hiding, or the reason for this sudden departure from our screens. The dedicated channel url returns a 404 error page.

I became aware of it a couple of hours ago, and I'm awaiting a response from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltact (AHG), but I've been told via Twitter that the section has been on the missing list since yesterday, which is rather worrying.

When the Church Records section has taken an unauthorised holiday in the past (it's happened a few times), the AHG team have always been very quick at restoring it. Whether that'll be repeated this time remains to be seen.

I'll post any update here.

UPDATE 17:25 - Web admins have updated home page to advise that the Civil Records are temporarily unavailable. While this doesn't tell us anything new, it does at least confirm that the message has got through and they're aware of the problem. Let's hope this means they're working to restore it, rather than packing up for the weekend. (May as well work on, guys and gals... no sultry summer evenings forecast for Kerry this weekend!)

UPDATE, Monday 21 July
: Gird your loins. Bad news.

More Dublin City Electoral Lists launched online

Dublin City Libraries have digitised another tranche of Dublin City's early-20th-century electoral lists. This time, it's the turn of 1911, 1912 and 1915, and they comprise just under 140,000 entries.

The line up of electoral lists now spans 1908 to 1912, plus 1915, making a collection total of more than 280,000 fully searchable records. The database can be searched and images viewed, free of charge, at

Dublin City Libraries' project is on-going, and will eventually bring all of the City's Council Electoral Lists from 1898 to 1916 online. They're certainly making great progress; it was only a couple of months ago that the last two lists was released (see blogpost)

Thursday 17 July 2014

PRONI launch for 1641 Depositions, 9 September

Following on from Monday's news of the publication of the first three volumes of the 1641 Depositions, details have been announced of their formal launch at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. The first three volumes of the 12-volume collection relate to Ulster.

The launch will take place on Tuesday 9 September, from 1–2pm, and the keynote speaker will be Professor Raymond Gillespie of NUI Maynooth.

It will be a free public event but booking is essential. To secure your place, email or phone 00 44+ 028 9053 4800.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

GRO Research Room revises its copy cert rules

Family historians may be in for a happy surprise when they next visit the General Register Office's Research Room in Werburgh Street, Dublin.

As of last week, the GRO has decided to increase the number of photocopies of certificates it will produce for those visiting researchers who have paid either the 'specific' or general search fee.

Instead of a maximum of five 'research copies' per day (€4 each), the researcher can now request a maximium of eight.

This isn't a set-in-stone revision. A member of staff told Irish Genealogy News they will operate the 8-copies 'rule' provided they can still deliver an efficient service. If they are too busy, the number you'll be able to get that day will be cut to five.

Irish genealogy & history events, 16–26 July

Until Thursday 17 July: County Waterford in Days Gone By, a photographic exhibition of Great Houses, pubs, shop fronts, railways, maritime scenes, and many unidentified characters from the area. You are invited to see if you can identify anyone. Host: Waterford County Museum. Venue: Unit 7, Dungarvan Shopping Centre, Dungarvan, Co Waterford. 10am to 5pm daily. Free.

Wednesday 16 July: Street names of Limerick, with Dr Matthew Potter. Host: Limerick Council. Venue: Pop-Up Museum, Rutland Street, Limerick City. Free. 7:30pm. All welcome.

Wednesday 16 July: Fieldtrip to Lisselan Estate, exploring the diverse history of the estate and its owners. Host: Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage. All welcome. 7pm. Use Lisselan Golf Course sign-posted entrance on the main Bandon-Clonakilty Road (3km from Clonakilty).

Thursday 17 July: Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf, with Donnchadh Ó Corráin. Venue: Dingle Library, Co Kerry. Free. 7:30pm

Sunday 20 July:
Georgian Day Out. Guided walking tour of City's medieval and Georgian heritage, plus lunch, tour of pop-up museum and performance. Meet at noon, outside St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick City. Details and booking.

Sunday 20 July:  The travels and curious collections of Richard Pocock, Bishop of Meath, a lecture with Dr Rachel Finnegan. Host: Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. Venue: Adbraccan House, Navan, Co Meath. 2:30pm. Free. Places limited. Booking essential. To book, tel:  087 4119633.

Monday 21 July to Saturday 16 August: Wicklow's War: the First World War in County Wicklow. A free public exhibition" will be on display in Blessington Library, New Town Centre, Blessington, Co Wicklow. The National Library of Ireland's exhibition "Gallant Sons", concerning Irish men who fought in WW1 will also be on show. Opening hours.

Tuesday 22 July: Cashel Workhouse: An osteoarchaeological view of the pauper dead, with Linda Lynch. Cashel Summer Lecture Series. Venue: Cashel Library, Friar St, Cashel, Co Tipperary. 7:30pm. Free.

Wednesday 23 July: The Marquesses Conyngham: a great Irish landed family who owned vast estates in Counties Clare, Donegal and Meath, with Dr Matthew Potter. Host: Kilkee Civic Trust Summer Talks 2014. Venue: Kilkee Bay Hotel, Co Clare, at 8 pm.  Admission free.

Thursday 24 July: Ireland, Kerry and the Great War, a century on, with Kevin Myers. Host: Dingle Historical Society lectures series. Venue: Dingle Library, Green Street, Dingle, Co Kerry. 7:30pm.

Friday, 25 July: The West Kerry Experience during World War I, with Thomas F. Martin. Host: Dingle Historical Society lectures series. Venue: Dingle Library, Green Street, Dingle, Co Kerry. 7:30pm.

Friday 25 July: Great Parchment Book Day, a special event at London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB. Tea and coffee will be provided; bring your own lunch. Free event but need to book. 9:30am to 4:30pm. Details. Update: Fully booked but you can still get on the waiting list.

Friday 25 July: In a Time of War Kildare: 1914-1918, by James Durney. Book Launch. Guest Speaker, Frank Taafe. Venue: Naas Public Library, Harbour View, Naas, Co Kildare. 7pm. All welcome.

Saturday 26 July: The Great War Roadshow. Expert lectures throughout the afternoon. Venue: County Hall, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Noon to 5pm. Tickets €10/€8 concession. To book, call (0)1 231 2929. Details.

Saturday 26 July: The Howth Gun Running: 100 years on, a day of lectures. Host: National Museum of Ireland. Venue: Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7. Need to book. Free.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives - mid-July update

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives has been updated with the following items during the past week:

CAVAN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
St. Columba's Headstones (Partial)- Cavan

CORK Genealogy Archives – Vital Records
Deaths HALLAHANS (3)

Genealogy Archives – Military & Constabulary
Irish Constabulary with native county of Londonderry 1849

KILDARE Genealogy Archives – Cemetery
St Michaels Athy CURRAN & HAYDEN (extracts)

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Ennisboyne Old Cemetery, Three Mile Water, Wicklow

Monday 14 July 2014

Schools' Collection now searchable by name and parish

The Schools Collection for Dublin, Mayo, Donegal
and Waterford can now be searched by name
and parish on Dú
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive a guided tour of the National Folklore Collection (at UCD) from Senior Archivist Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh.

What a treasure trove it is! And thank goodness its value has been recognised. It has already started to show its potential with the website Dú, which launched last December (see blogpost). Its first tranche of free material consisted of some 64,000 pages of hand-written folklore and local history recorded in the 1930s by Irish schoolchildren in counties Dublin, Mayo, Donegal and Waterford.

This material is part of the Schools' Collection which was gathered during an eighteen-month period from September 1937 to January 1939. Some 100,000 schoolchildren, aged 11-14, in 5,000 primary schools throughout Ireland took part in the biggest folklore collecting scheme ever mounted anywhere in the world.

"It was made part of the school curriculum during that period," explained Críostóir. "The schoolchildren were encouraged to collect folklore and history material from their parents, grandparents, neighbours and older members of their community. They were given topics to research and write about. These included local history and monuments, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs, games and pastimes, traditional work practices and crafts.

"As a result, the stories are full of both genealogical information and colour."

Their written stories were neatly assembled into collections of 'exercise books', with each story or article recording the name of the child plus the name and details of their informant. These details are typically the relationship of the informant to the child, address, age and occupation.

The total schools’ collection, amounting to a half-million pages, covered every school district in the twenty-six counties

Since the first batch of stories was launched, the website has been further developed so that the stories can be searched by name (this includes the names of the children and the names of their informants) and by parish.

The next batch of these stories to be added to Dú will be from schools in counties Galway, Kildare, Leitrim, Monaghan, Kerry and Laois. Scanning has started. It's too early to give a schedule of releases, but I'll keep you informed.

As well as the Schools' Collection, the National Folklore Collection holds around 17,000 audio recordings, nearly 100,000 photographs and a fabulous manuscript collection of some 2million pages. Just a quick browse discovered details of basket making, festivals, death customs, stockings, a 'thatch' map of the island, clothing... really, this is priceless detail about the lives of our ancestors, and hopefully more and more of it will find its way online.

Published 10:03am

PRONI launches guide to its WW1 resources

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has released a 38-page pdf guide to its First World War manuscript resources. This can be downloaded/viewed here.

PRONI advised recently that it would be holding a conference dedicated to the First World War on Friday 5 September. I'll bring details of the programme when it's published.

1641 Depositions: First three volumes published

The first three of 12 volumes are now available
The first three volumes of the 1641 Depositions have been published. The three books, edited by Aidan Clarke, are witness testimonies predominately from the counties in Ulster. Volume I deals with the counties of Armagh, Louth and Monaghan; Volume II focuses on Cavan and Fermanagh and Volume III document Antrim, Derry, Donegal, Down and Tyrone.

The testimonies are mainly by Protestants, but also by some Catholics, from all social backgrounds, concerning their experiences of the 1641 Irish rebellion. The testimonies document the loss of goods, military activity, and the alleged crimes committed by the Irish insurgents.

This body of material is unparalleled anywhere in early modern Europe, and provides a unique source of information for the causes and events surrounding the 1641 rebellion and for the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of seventeenth-century Ireland, England and Scotland.

In total, 19,010 manuscript pages in 31 bound volumes have been transcribed and will be published across 12 volumes. These just published represent the first three,  as follows:

Volume I: Armagh, Louth & Monaghan, ISBN 978-1-906865-25-2, 356 pp, €50
Volume II: Cavan & Fermanagh ISBN 978-1-906865-26-9, 591 pp, €50
Volume III: Antrim, Derry, Donegal, Down & Tyrone ISBN 978-1-906865-27-6,  605 pp, €50

Publication of the remaining volumes IV- XII will follow over this year and next.

Friday 11 July 2014

Summer Special: British Newspaper Archives for £1
Here's a terrific offer that researchers should take more than a glancing glimpse at: One Month's Full Access to the 8.3million page British Newspaper Archive for just one measly quid. Yep, £1 for a 1-month subscription.

To take up the offer, go to the subscription page, type in the Promotion Code SUMMER01, and hit 'Apply Code'. You'll see the regular price box change from £9.95 to £1. You can then register, if you haven't already done so, with just your name and email.

UPDATE: The full terms of this offer are not readily available on the site so please note: When the one month is up, your membership will automatically renew at the normal monthly price. It's simple enough to avoid this. Go to Account Settings and tick the appropriate box.

The offer needs to be taken up before Sunday 20 July.

The British Newspaper Archive includes a number of Irish newspaper including the Belfast News Letter and Freeman's Journal, and a number of other titles published in Dublin, Cork and Sligo.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Tudor & Stuart Ireland conference, 29-30 August

The fourth Tudor & Stuart Ireland conference will be held at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co Kildare, on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 August.

Plenary papers:
  • 'Love God and hate the Pope’: (un)changing Protestant attitudes towards Catholicism 1600-2000, by Prof. Alan Ford, University of Nottingham
  • A single witness: Ireland and Europe through the eyes of a small man with a big nose, by Dr John McCafferty, University College Dublin.
In addition, 30 research papers will be presented. A tour of Maynooth Castle and a conference dinner are also offered. Draft programme.

More details.

Irish Roots opens new e-store with special offer
Irish Roots Magazine, Ireland's quarterly genealogy title produced in both print and digital format, has a special offer to celebrate the launch of its new e-Store.

The offer allows you to download pdf versions of the seven editions published between December 2012 and March 2014. These issues include features that focus on research in counties Sligo, Cork, Mayo, Galway, and Clare, and on specific record collections such as the Tithe Applotment Books, Ordnance Survey, the Registry of Deeds and Military Service Pensions, as well as bringing expert advice on conducting, progressing and enjoying genealogy research more generally. There are also helpful articles from specialists in Australian and US research.

From the e-Store, just click on the cover pictures to see the full contents of each issue.

Each of the back editions carries a hard copy price of €7, but the pdf version is available at a special price of just $2. I'm not quite sure when the offer ends, so I'd suggest you don't delay.

National Day of Commemoration, Sunday 13 July

The annual National Day of Commemoration, to honour all those Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations, will take place on Sunday 13 July. Ceremonies will be held in Dublin and in other locations in Ireland on that date.

The National Day of Commemoration Ceremony in Dublin will be held in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. It will be attended by the President, the Taoiseach, the Government and the Council of State, as well as members of Dáil and Seanad Éireann, the Diplomatic Corps, the Judiciary and Northern Ireland representatives.

The next-of-kin of those who died in past wars or on UN service and a wide cross-section of the community including ex-servicemen’s organisations, as well as relatives of the 1916 Leaders, have also been invited.

The ceremony will be open to the public and persons wishing to attend should arrive at Royal Hospital Kilmainham before 10:15 a.m. The ceremony will commence at 10:30am with a multi-faith service of prayer, after which the President will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland. A representative body from the Defence Forces will also be on parade.

Regional Ceremonies will also be held in the following locations on the same date. Members of the public wishing to attend should arrive from 30 minutes prior to the commencement times indicated below:

CORK: Fitzgerald’s Park, Mardyke, 11:00am
GALWAY: The Quadrangle, National University of Ireland, University Road, 11:00am
KILKENNY: Kilkenny Castle, 11:00am
LIMERICK: Limerick City & Council, City Hall, Merchants Quay, 10:30am
SLIGO: Sligo Borough Council, City Hall, Quay Street, 11:30am
WATERFORD: John Condon Memorial, Cathedral Square, 11:30am

Additionally, Mayo will hold its commemoration ceremony on Sunday 3 August at Memorial Peace Park, Castlebar, at 2:30pm.

Irish birth, marriage and death registers: the future

Those that read to the end of my Making Sense of the GRO Indexes blogpost last week will already know that early plans were announced at the launch reception for the indexes to be joined online by the 'historical' GRO's birth, marriage and death registers.

The announcement has, inevitably, prompted loads of speculation on social media and in forums about how and when these records will become available to genealogists. Rather worryingly, received wisdom already seems to be that the registers are going to join the line up and will, therefore, be free. Apparently, this is likely to happen within the year, too.

Now, while I'm not party to the proposed contents of the Amendment Bill or to the work schedules of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which runs, I think there's a need to put the brakes on some of this thinking.

Here's what we know so far:
  1. The Civil Registration Act Amendment Bill 2014 will define historical as including all birth entries up to 100 years ago, all marriages up to 75 years ago, and all deaths up to 50 years ago.
  2. The Civil Registration Act Amendment Bill 2014 will allow for these historical records to be made available online direct to the public.
  3. Er... that's it.
Which website will host these records? We don't know. Will these records be free? We don't know. How long before they're online? We don't know, but I'd bet all my worldly possessions it won't be within a year!*

My own view (and, yes, I 'm aware of the irony) is that the records won't be free. They never have been and I really can't imagine any state-run facility in broke Ireland voluntarily throwing away a chunk of income.

More important is the issue of considerate behaviour to our neighbours. Let's remember that GRO Ireland's bmd collection incorporates registrations in counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry-Londonderry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone. I really can't see GRO Ireland introducing a service that undercuts its counterpart in Northern Ireland, where GRONI's online family history site has proved hugely popular since it launched at the end of March despite its small charge to view copies of bmd certificates.

Time will tell, of course, but I'm sure the GRO will opt for an identical or very similar arrangement to that created in Belfast. Even Dublin's definitiion of 'historical records' perfectly mirrors that adopted in the North.

As to the host website... the site currently has no mechanism for taking payment. Doesn't mean a merchant cart couldn't be added, but it seems more probable that the GRO would opt to extend its existing online certificates facility at

My speculation can join the pile.

* Consider: With its vision already well developed, GRONI published an invitation to tender for their digitisation project in June 2012; the site went live a little short of two years later.

New Irish civil registration indexes: one week on

A week ago today, the indexes to the General Register Office's civil registration records of births, marriages and deaths were uploaded* to a microsite on the state-run They are free to search. intense excitement of the launch, which had been 'coming soon' since last October, has now given way to slightly calmer searching as researchers become more familiar with the online database, so this seems a good a time as any to summarize some of its features and to mention a few idiosyncracies that may be causing research headaches.

What does the database hold?

Searchable INDEXES to: ALL civil registration records of birth, marriage and death collected on the island of Ireland from 1845/1864 up to and including 1921 and ALL civil registration records collected in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State/Republic of Ireland since 1922 to 2013.

In what way does this index differ from all existing indexes of the same collection?

All pre-existing online indexes originate from microfilms made by the LDS Church in the late 1950s and end with registrations from 1958. The new index holds records right up to 2013 (an unexpectedly recent date!), is state-sanctioned, and includes details added by General Register Office staff to aid identification. While the LDS/FamilySearch index holds 23million records, this new database holds 27million.

Additionally, a new method of referencing the index is being introduced. Instead of the researcher having to 'create' an index reference using the name, year (and quarter) of event, place of registration, volume number and page number, each registration entry is now being assigned a unique Group Registration ID number. Thus far, these ID numbers have been assigned for all births, marriages from about 1901, deaths from 1924. GRO staff will accept certificate applications using either the old or the new reference. If you're quoting the Group Registration ID, you can download a purpose-made application form from John Grenham's website.

What are the real advantages of this index?:
  • The Birth Index stretches from 1864 to 2013. The Mother's maiden name is included from 1900, albeit rather inconsistently in the first few years. The actual date of birth is included from 1900 to 1928, again with some inconsistency in the early years, and from 1966 to 2013.
  • The Marriage Index stretches from 1845 (for non-Catholic marriages) and from 1864 (for all marriages) to 2013. While entries to the turn of the 20th century are recorded, as in pre-existing indexes, with each partner to the marriage entered separately, marriages from 1912 onwards are indexed as a couple ie you don't need to cross-check two entries for the same reference number. There are some 'joint' entries dating from 1903, but certainly not all.
  • The Death Index stretches from 1864 to 2013. The marital status of the deceased is recorded from 1966.
How easy is the database to use?

Quite a few quibbles here. The wording of existing legislation (which envisioned only an offline search facility) requires that researchers wanting to search the indexes 'make an application', so, in order to get access to the online index, you have to fill in a pop-up box with your name and confirm that you are 'making an application'. I'm sure this step will disappear in the near future, perhaps in the Amendment Bill going through parliament, but in the meantime, you can type anything you like in the pop-up box; your details are not being recorded! For speed, just use initials.

Having got through the 'make an application' box, researchers are confronted with a 'captcha'. Personally, I've not had any difficulty reading these, but some researchers have. Again, I suspect this obstacle will the done away with soon. To avoid re-encountering these obstacles during a research session, use the 'New Search' or 'Clear Filter' options.

Once past these obstacles, the database function is so-so. It isn't slick, that's for sure, and although the site has had a bit of a tart up, it's still very old-fashioned in appearance.  On the plus side, it has good drill down options, with searching possible by registration area, by event, and by decade, and it seems to be coping admirably with demand.

Search weirdness

There are a lot of inconsistencies and many mis-transcriptions. Among the oddities I've heard of are pre-fix surnames – Mac/Mc and O' – that sometimes require a space between the prefix and the main name, the absence of second names (especially annoying when the person's christian name is in two parts such as Mary Jane or Mary Ann), and some pretty appalling mis-spellings. As mentioned in an earlier post, I've even found a birth registration from 1842 (Helena Donohue, born in Roscrea), which isn't possible because registration wasn't introduced until 22 years later. It is one of 7,216 entries with either a 'not possible' date or no date at all.

Overall impression

Mis-transcriptions and typos are inevitable in any database. It's difficult to judge at this stage if this one is any better or worse than others in this regard. All I can say is that researchers will, as always, have to be creative in their searching. And use the other online databases, especially the free option at FamilySearch, when necessary. It's unlikely the same mistake will have been made in both versions.

Despite some moans about clunkiness, the general response to the new database has been hugely positive. Even with its imperfections, it is a big improvement on what we've had before, and it will undoubtedly become the first port of call for Irish genealogists. 

* Launch blogpost 1 and follow up blogpost 2

Wednesday 9 July 2014

New book explores the mid-C19th role of land agents
A new book, The Irish land agent, 1830-60, The case of King's County by Dr Ciarán Reilly, will be of interest to many genealogists and historians.

The book challenges the long-held stereotype of land agents as the tormentors of tenant farmers, and having identified over 100 men who acted as land agents during the period 1830 to 1860, it examines their role and function during a time when their skills and qualifications were truly tested.

Ciarán Reilly is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at NUIM. His study of Land Agents in Offaly, then King's County, took more than seven years to research and write, and he's highlighted the following content as likely to be of special interest to readers of Irish Genealogy News.

  • The book lists:
    • More than 100 land agents who worked in the county
    • More than 100 others who worked as stewards, bailiffs, rent warner's etc
    • Estates sold in the Incumbered Estates Court in Offaly 1849-60 (75 properties)
    • Major evictions which occurred in Offaly during the Famine
  • This book highlights the efforts of land agents to promote new farming methods and crops and challenges the social memory of land agents in Offaly, exploring why many have been demonised.
  • Offaly was one of the most violent counties in Ireland in the mid-19th century, where three landlords, seven land agents and countless estate officials were murdered.
  • The book identifies the reasons for some of the most high-profile murders including the earl of Norbury at Durrow; John Gatchell at Clonbullouge; Charles Trench Cage at Ferbane; Robert Pyke at Killyon; and William Ross Manifold at Blueball.
  • The legacy of the land agents is very much alive in Offaly today and many famous local landmarks are named in their memory, including Cage’s Bridge; Manifold’s Hole; Gatchell’s Bush and Pyke’s Tree.
  • Agents who figure prominently include Francis Berry at Tullamore; Thomas Murray at Edenderry; George Garvey at Durrow & Moneygall; George Heenan at Birr; and John Corcoran at Killyon.
  • It also provides comprehensive insight into landed estates in Offaly in the mid-19th century, delving into the world of the Parsons at Birr; the Digbys at Geashill; the Charlevilles at Tullamore; the Downshires at Edenderry; the Gambles, the Jolys, the Droughts and many more.
The 192-page book is now available through Four Courts Press. A formal launch will take place in early August (date yet to be finalised) at the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society, Bury Quay, Tullamore. I'll bring further details when they're released.

Ciarán Reilly will be talking about his new book on The Moncrieff Show (Newstalk 106-108FM) today at 2pm.

UPDATE, 14 August: The Irish land agent, 1830-60, The case of King's County will be formally launched by Professor Terence Dooley of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates on Thursday 21 August at 8pm. Venue: Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. For details email Four Courts Press.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Famine Ration Book reveals Thurles ancestors

A recently discovered book, the Gratuitous Relief Ration Record Book, also known as The Distribution Book, has been digitised and can be instantly searched for names by visitors to St Mary's Famine Museum in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Dating from 1847, it covers the electoral divisions of Holycross, Thurles and Ballycahill, and will be of huge interest to anyone with ancestors from these areas.

Historian and museum curator George Willoughby told Irish Genealogy News: "There are lots of names in the handwritten book. It contains the names of the heads of household and, in many instances, the names of all the adults in the household, along with the number of rations each householder was to be allowed. There are also lists of people, from the Bishop to the local middle class, who donated money to provide this early form of social welfare. Because the book was kept by the local Board's inspectors, all kinds of details and observations were noted ie that 'this person is also getting food from another soup kitchen' or 'he made waistcoats', as well as a recipe for the soup doled out to the needy and the costs of the ingredients."

George tells me the recipe produces a watery soup that, while palatable, has practically no nutritional value.

This extremely rare book, which provides records of the food rations distributed from May to September 1847 and part of 1848, was discovered by George in an apple box retrieved from the church roof after a partial floor collapse. "There were several of these boxes among the damage; most were filled with old tattered hymnals, and then I dusted off the Gratuitous Relief Ration Record Book. Inside was a note, signed by the Committee chairman, Archdeacon Henry Cotton, stating that the book was to be retained as it 'may perhaps be useful in case another season of distress or misery should occur'."

The book, together with a second discovery, the minutes of the Thurles/Rahealty Famine Food Committee, is currently accessible only to personal visitors to St Mary's Famine Museum (opening hours Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 4:30pm and Sunday 2:00pm to 4:30pm).

But all is not lost to those who can't make a personal visit; George says the Gratuitous Relief Ration Record Book may be uploaded in pdf format to the Hidden Tipperary website. This may be before the end of the year.

Monday 7 July 2014

National Archives of Ireland: latest catalogue additions

The National Archives of Ireland (NAI) has added the following lists to its online catalogue:
  • General Prisons Board: penal files of prisoners who escaped, died in prison or were transferred to lunatic asylums, 1860–1926 (but mostly 1880s to the 1920s)(GPB/PEN/3). Most of the prisoners listed either died or were transferred to Dundrum Lunatic Asylum, Co Dublin.
  • Applications to the Commissioners of National Education, Co Galway, 1859–1889 (ED/1/35-37)
  • Castlebar District Probate Registry: testamentary lists from 1983–1991
  • Cavan District Probate Registry: testamentary lists from 1983–1990
  • Clonmel District Probate Registry: testamentary lists from 1983–1988
  • Cork District Probate Registry: 1990 transfer of testamentary records (2011/5)
  • Probate Office, 1983 transfer of testamentary records (2004/74)
  • Department of Local Government: files relating to the provision of services by local authorities in Co Cork, 1922–1982 (ENV/4, 2014/16)
  • Department of Local Government: files relating to the provision of services by local authorities in Co Cork, 1917–1974 (ENV/5, 2014/19)
  • Irish Girl Guides: records (PRIV1235, 2007/21)
In addition, the NAI has listed the Chief Secretary’s Office Irish Crimes Records 1848–1893, under the reference code CSO/ICR. This series includes annual returns of outrages from local constabulary offices reported to the Constabulary Office at Dublin Castle, between 1848 and 1893. The earliest returns record offences from 1837. Returns include monthly statistics for every county and province arranged by type of offence. From 1863, descriptions of homicides are recorded from the previous year, with name of victim and perpetrator, motive and punishment.

The first two entries in the list, CSO/ICR/1 and CSO/ICR/2, are printed annual returns of outrages for the years 1848–1878 and 1879–1893, and digital copies of these documents are available to view with the descriptions.

I took a look through the annual returns for 1854 to see what was happening across the island 160 years ago. Here's a flavour: Infanticides outnumbered homicides (110 and 106, respectively), while cattle stealing was rife in Leinster (161 cases) and Munster (132 cases). Only 60 cases of highway robbery were reported and of the 69 cases of rape, nearly half (32) occurred in Munster. There was one case of Administering a poison (Co Donegal), one case of kidnapping a child (Co Meath), and two cases, both in Leitrim, of bigamy.

Irish genealogy and history events, 7–13 July

Tuesday 8 July: Passenger Lists, Censuses, & Naturalizations: The Big 3, a workshop. Venue: National Archives at Boston, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Massachussetts, USA. From 2pm. Free. All welcome. Need to register: T: (866) 406-2379; E:

Tuesday 8 July: Insular monasticism in the Glen of Aherlow; survey and excavations at Toureen Peakaun, Co Tipperary, with Tomas O'Carragain. Cashel Summer Lecture Series. Venue: Cashel Library, Friar St, Cashel, Co Tipperary. 7:30pm. Free.

Tuesday 8 July: Childhood in 11th-century Dublin, with Denise Keating. Second of the Living and Dying in a medieval city – Dublin in the Age of Clontarf lunchtime lecture series. Host: Friends of Medieval Dublin. Venue: Wood Quay Venue, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8. Time: 1:05pm to 1:45pm. Free.

Tuesday 8 July: The National Archives – current services and future developments, with Gregory O'Connor. Host: Genealogical Society of Ireland. Venue: Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute, Cumberland Street, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. 8pm. €3.

Thursday 10 July: Reading Belfast - Book Borrowing in the Nineteenth Century, with Dr Pamela Emerson. Host: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 12:30pm to 1:30pm. Admission is free but you need to book your place. 1pm - 2pm, Tel: 028 90 534800

Saturday 12 July: Genealogy Workshop – practical tips, with Mayo Genealogy Group. Venue: National Museum of Ireland, Country Life, Turlough, Castlebar, Co Mayo. 11am–1pm. Free. Non-members welcome. Details.

Saturday 12 July: WW1 RoadShow. Day-long programme of free events, talks, cooking demonstrations, music, theatre and family activities. Includes free genealogy advice from 10am to 4pm. Bring along your family's memorabilia for review by National Library of Ireland team (fully subscribed). Venue: Trinity College Dublin. Hosts: RTE, TCD and NLI. Download programme (pdf)

Saturday 12 July: Pinpoint Origins With DNA Testing, with Dr Tyrone Bowes. Venue: NMI-Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co Mayo. 2.00pm-3.00pm. Booking.

Sunday 13 July: National Day of Commemoration to honour all those Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations:
DUBLIN: Royal Hospital Kilmainham, commencing at 10:30 am. Members of the public need to be in place by 10:15am latest.
CORK: Fitzgerald’s Park, Mardyke, 11:00am
GALWAY: The Quadrangle, National University of Ireland, University Road, 11:00am
KILKENNY: Kilkenny Castle, 11:00am
LIMERICK: Limerick City & Council, City Hall, Merchants Quay, 10:30am
SLIGO: Sligo Borough Council, City Hall, Quay Street, 11:30am
WATERFORD: John Condon Memorial, Cathedral Square, 11:30am

Saturday 5 July 2014

Lobbyists respond to launch of online bmd index

Representatives of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) were at Thursday evening's launch of the new online index to Ireland's civil registration records (see my last two blogposts) and were understandably delighted by the newly-released online bmd indexes.

Since it was established in 1992, CIGO has been one of the lead groups campaigning for free public access to a computerised version of the General Register Office's indexes. This was one of the primary aims of the group, which represents most Irish family history societies in the Republic and North of Ireland, in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia, as well as several other genealogical and heritage organisations.

As their press release says, the launch on "vindicates CIGO's long years of lobbying the Department of Health (which originally had oversight of the General Register Office) and the Department of Social Welfare (which assumed responsibility at the time of the passing of the Civil Registration Act 2004)... All-in-all, Thursday 3 July was a good day for CIGO: one more of the issues it has long lobbied for having been delivered and another one [the online registers] promised."

CIGO does, however, highlight a peculiarity of the new database in failing to record more than one 'christian' name in cases where the original hardback indexes recorded two or more names. "This is a big drawback where a researcher is trying to identify one possible record from among many with the same name (Mary Murphy for instance)."

Friday 4 July 2014

Making sense of the GRO database...
your attention will be rewarded

History, history. There's always some historical background to consider in all developments in Irish genealogy, and yesterday's launch of the General Register Office's civil registration indexes (see blogpost) is a perfect example. The history is, I'm afraid, rather complicated; it's worth getting to grips with, however, because it will explain why some information is available in the indexes for some years and not others.

So stand by, and take notes, because you may find yourself being tested on this later:

As we all know, the Church of Latter Day Saints (Family Search) microfilmed the GRO's birth, marriage and death indexes from 1845/1864 up to 1958. In due course, the microfilm was scanned and digitised and has been available on Family Search for the last several years. Ancestry and FindMyPast's versions originate from the same microfilms. In effect, researchers have had just one set of the index available to them up to 1958, whether they searched online or lifted the hard back books from the shelves of the GRO's Research Room in Dublin.

Just a few years after the LDS created their microfilms, the GRO decided it was time for an update and set out to improve the annual indexing method. From 1966, GRO staff started to enhance their paper indexes by including actual dates of birth, marriage and death, the surnames of both marriage partners, and the marital status of the deceased. This process became the standard from the mid-60s and continued until the early 1990s.

Because this new 'standard' was such an improvement, the GRO set up a project to give historical indexes the same treatment. Work started on the 1900 to 1902 birth indexes. For whatever reasons, this first batch of 'improved' indexes did not apply consistencies. Maiden names might be included in some cases; the actual date of birth for others.

The project continued with the 1903 to 1928 birth indexes and was generally done to a higher standard. Not perfect, but better. Although maiden names and dates of birth should be available in the vast majority of entries, there are loads of mistakes (guesses?) in spellings of names, and even some examples where a date of birth has been incorrectly read ie the abbreviation Jan for January may have been mis-transcribed as the abbreviation Jun for June, etc.

The GRO's first 'modernisation' project ended with the 1928 birth indexes. This means that the indexes used by the GRO themselves for births from 1929 to 1958 are the same as those microfilmed by the LDS. Those from 1958 to 1965 follow the same format. In other words, from 1929 to 1965 maiden names were automatically included in the birth indexes but dates of birth were not.

In recent years, other 'enhancements' have been made to the indexes used by GRO staff. Whereas older marriages (1845 to the turn of the 20th century) are still recorded with each partner to the marriage entered separately, necessitating the need to cross-check the reference details to find a match, GRO staff started indexing the bride and groom as a couple. For example, the marriage of John Doyle and Catherine Faul on 01 October 1904 is found whether you search for his name or her name – no need to cross-check. These 'joint' entries have been indexed back to 1912; they're a bit hit and miss from 1903 to 1911.

These 'improved' indexes have only ever been available to GRO staff. Until now. These are the indexes now available at

The final part of the history lesson takes us to 2005 when the GRO decided that, going forward, the old system of indexing according to Registration District, Volume and Page numbers was obsolete. Instead, a Group Registration ID was introduced. As its name suggests, every individual registration would, in future, be allocated its own identifier. To introduce an element of security, the numbers are not continuous, I'm told.

To create this new database, Group Registration IDs have been created retrospectively for all births, for marriages since 1903 and for deaths since 1924 only. I imagine these identifiers will eventually be allocated to all entries in the the historic registers.

In future, then, if you're applying for a certificate to the GRO, you'll need in principle to quote only the name of the person to which the event relates and the Group Registration ID, where one exists. (Personally, I'd give them that info plus the SRD/PLU, Volume and Page number, just for certainty!)

One irritation of the 'enhanced' indexes is that, even where a date of birth, marriage or death has been provided from the registers, the database is stuck in a 'year of registration' groove. An example from the birth index will explain this: You're looking for your ancestor John Martin Ryan who you know was born on 12 December 1928 but you don't know where. So you search for him using his name and the year 1928. You won't find him.

The reason you won't find him is that his birth was registered in 1929 and you have to use that date in the search fields to locate his birth record, the very birth record which will show the December 1928 birthday! Infuriating, but definitely worth remembering when you can't find someone. This applies for births, marriages and deaths.

I am hugely indebted to Steven Smyrl, President of APGI and Executive Liaison Officer of CIGO, for helping me to make some sense of apparent inconsistencies in the new database (many thanks for this morning's history class, Steven!) and hope the resulting explanation above will help many researchers understand the new resource.

If you've read this far, you deserve another treat. You might need to sit down for this one. I did. I thought I'd misheard!

Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection (and, as of half an hour ago, the new Leader of the Labour Party, and Tánaiste) made a surprise announcement at last night's launch of the online GRO database. This is what she said:

“This [the GRO indexes online database] is an investment for the future which allows us to access our past from the comfort of our living rooms. The availability of electronic records is essential for the development of modern genealogy services. With this in mind, I will shortly be publishing the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 in which I will be providing for certain historic records to be made available online direct to the public. I look forward to further developments on this wonderful initiative which will allow us, and future generations, access to invaluable information regarding our ancestors."

She went on to say that these historic records would be full register records for births up to 100 years ago, marriages up to 75 years ago, and deaths up to 50 years ago.

I hope to bring you more about this in due course.

You read it here first!

Thursday 3 July 2014

'Enhanced' online bmd indexes searchable up to 2013

The General Register Office's 'enhanced' indexes to Ireland's civil registration records are in the process of being uploaded to Test pages are running at the moment so the site is a bit wobbly and probably won't be up to full speed until later.

Like the Church Records, the Civil Records have their own dedicated section of the site, which is reached via the horizontal menu.

I'm just about to start making my way into the City ahead of tonight's formal launch at the Royal Irish Academy, so I haven't time to play with this as much as I'd like, but here are some brief details of what this version of the indexes holds:

Geographical coverage: Indexes to the registers of births/marriages/deaths from 1845/1864 to 1921 for the entire island of Ireland. Indexes to the registers of births/marriages/deaths from 1922 for the 26 counties of the Irish Free State and the Republic of Ireland ie not counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry-Londonderry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

Births: From 1864 to 2013 with the mother's maiden name and actual date of birth included in the returns from 1903. As it happens, one of my searches found an entry dated 1842 (really!) and a 1901 record with a mother's name, so I guess the criteria aren't set in stone.

Marriages: From 1845/1864 to 2013. Names of both partners show up in search returns in some instances (haven't quite worked out the date limitations)

Civil Partnerships: From 2010 to 2013

Deaths: From 1864 to 2013. Search results show marital status.

With the extended range of dates, this is a huge improvement on what we've had up to now. But I've a number of queries. Hopefully I'll get these resolved this evening. I'll do a fuller post tomorrow, along with any other info gleaned from the official 'do' tonight.

Friday 4 July: Please see follow-up post. It's a long one, and requires some effort from you, but I promise it's worth it!

July/August issue of Irish Lives Remembered published
The July/August edition of Irish Lives Remembered has been published. No whimsical black and white photo on the front this time; instead, there's a smiling George Clooney. He's earned his position on the cover not only because he'll send many female researchers into a dreamy dither, but also because this issue includes a feature about his connections in County Kilkenny.

The main research focus in this edition is County Tyrone, with several pages detailing some of the available records and other sources of help for those with ancestors from this area of Northern Ireland. The USA feature this month looks at Kentucky, while the Australia feature looks at post-1901 military records.

To view or download the digital magazine, click the image.

Ireland Genealogy Projects: end of June update

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives has made only a handful of updates in the second half of June due to the team being on holiday. Here they are:

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1849 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

LIMERICK Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1849 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

OFFALY/KINGS Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1849 Irish Constabulary Enlistees