Thursday 16 October 2014

One day to BTOP: focus on the exhibitors

In less than 24 hours, the doors will open on Back To Our Past (BTOP), Ireland's only major genealogy fair. As ticket holders walk into the Industries Hall at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, they'll find themselves at the heart of a bustling marketplace, and, indeed, the heart of the show with genealogy products, services and free advice at every turn.

Click to download 50% discount on entrance ticket
The Big Boys – Ancestry and FindMyPast – will be coming out to play, of course, and they'll be opening up their databases to all visitors to their stands. Also in attendance will be all four of the island's genealogical membership groups: the Irish Genealogical Research Society, the North of Ireland Family History Society, the Irish Family History Society and the Genealogical Society of Ireland. They will be joined by the Society of Genealogists, the Federation of Local History Societies and the Guild of One Names Studies, so no excuses for not finding out how membership of such associations can help your research along.

Research advice and direction will also be on hand on the stands of the National Archives of Ireland, the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (making its first appearance at BTOP), the Ancestor Network and Eneclann consultancies and, of course, the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland (APGI), where free one-to-one consultations may be possible. See my Focus on the learning experience blogpost  for more.

In terms of publishers, you'll be able to meet the team from Irish Lives Remembered, the free digital bi-monthly magazine, peruse the full range of Flyleaf Press books on the Ancestor Network stand, and drop in on the Antiquarian Booksellers for a leisurely browse through their shelves. You can also buy discounted copies of the highly popular Irish Family and Local History Handbook from Robert Blatchford's stand, and take advantage of special show offers for Irish Roots magazine, the long-established quarterly print title (both back copies and subscription offers will be available, I believe).

Worthwhile discounts will also be found on the My History Supplies stall, a UK-based company with a huge catalogue of items to lift the heart of any genealogist, and you should also take a good look at the extensive range on offer from County Waterford-based Irish Genealogy Supplies. Also making the trip from Waterford will be Tony Hennessy of Great Great Great Family Trees, who will be found from time to time on the APGI stand giving consultations.

Discounts of 10–20% will also be available on the Family Tree DNA stand for those purchasing genetic tests (see yesterday's blogpost focussing on the Genetic Genealogy Ireland conference, which is an integral part of BTOP).

If you're serious about developing your family history and keen for further study, you should also pop in for a chat with the folk from the University of Limerick's Irish Ancestry Research Centre and the Univesity College Cork's Ancestral Connections Summer School.

Reflecting the inclusive heritage theme of BTOP are several exhibitors – many of them first-timers – from the island's heritage sector. They include Titanic Belfast, the Little Museum of Dublin (make sure to ask about their outstanding lecture programme for 2014-15), Glasnevin Trust, Athlone Castle Museum, and the National Irish Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House in Roscommon, while the knowledgeable guys from the Western Front Association, always such a busy stand, will do their level best to answer your military queries.

As there is no show-guide or official list of exhibitors available yet, it's perfectly possible that I've missed someone... I shall be on mea culpa duty during the show. However, there are a small handful of names that you might have expected to be at the show but are not. These include the National Library of Ireland (this is not really a surprise as they haven't attended since the first BTOP), the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (Dr Ann McVeigh will, though, be giving a lecture), and RootsIreland, Ireland's largest and most important database provider. The absence of RootsIreland is a shame. I was looking forward to discussing their recent switch to subscription-only access with them.

Never mind. There's a strong enough list of exhibitors to ensure a thoroughly enjoyable stroll around the market over the next three days. There's free advice to be had, essential goodies to buy, all manner of products and services to investigate and plenty of opportunity to carry out some research in the process.

Have fun.

(Free tickets are flying around all over the place. If you haven't managed to bag one, download a 50% discount voucher by clicking the image above. It'll cut the admission price on the door from €10 to €5.)