Wednesday 31 December 2014

IGRS ends 2014 on a high with 1,000 members

With just two days to spare, the Irish Genealogical Research Society has achieved its number one resolution for 2014 – to increase its membership to 1,000.

IGRS Chairman Steven Smyrl told Irish Genealogy News that the Society has been striving to increase its membership over the past four years. 'For some years the current paid-up membership roll was stuck resolutely at around 350. But, with many new benefits now available to members and the publicity that followed the launch of our award-winning website,, membership has increased year on year.

'It stood at just under 850 at the beginning of 2014 so we set ourselves a goal to increase it to 1,000 by the end of the year. We've added more than 150 family historians during 2014.'

It was decided to reward the 1,000th member of the IGRS with an additional year’s membership – two years for the price of one. That 1,000th application application was received yesterday from Ivan Fitzgerald of Killiney Bay, just south of Dublin. Existing members of the IGRS may recognise his name as one of the contributors to this year’s edition of the Society’s annual journal, The Irish Genealogist, which was despatched just before Christmas. He is a native of Tramore, Co. Waterford, with an MA in Modern Irish History and a recent graduate of the UCD certificate course in Irish genealogy taught by Sean Murphy MA. His interest in genealogy was stimulated by the publication online of the Irish 1901 and 1911 census returns in 2009.

Ivan is a regular contributor to Facebook, where he is always happy to help others in their research with helpful suggestions and pointers. He regularly ‘hangs out’ in the FB page for County Waterford Genealogy.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

FindMyPast launches First programme to all territories

Having introduced an exclusive range of benefits to annual subscribers of a couple of months ago, FindMyPast is now extending the programme to its three other territories: Ireland, USA & Canada, and Australia & New Zealand.

FindMyPast say they have introduced First as a way of saying thank you to its customers for choosing their service. And isn't it always nice to receive a thank you!

Each 'territory' offers its own range of benefits, but in each case they are available only to those with 12-month subscriptions.

FindMyPast Ireland's benefits include:
  • Exclusive discount to Lifebook autobiography project
  • Free download of Save Your Stuff
  • Free access to digital memorial website, Lives of The First World War, worth £50
  • Exclusive discount to Irish Roots magazine
  • The chance to win an hour’s consultation with Ancestor Network
  • Free, archive safe A4 pockets from My History
In addition,all First members will be able to have their say about the records sets they'd most like to see released next, will receive priority support email, and will be the first to hear of developments by FindMyPast.

There will also be monthly competitions (the first one offers a prize afternoon with one of's genealogists), and monthly webinars. The first of the webinars will be hosted by Brian Donovan, CEO of, on Friday 23 January.

So there's all the more reason to check out this 50% discount being offered on all annual subscription packages. Don't delay... it expires at 11.59GMT on Thursday 1 January 2015.

Monday 29 December 2014

Latest AncestryIreland release dates from 1657

The Ulster Historical Foundation has squeezed another useful database into its Members-only collection on AncestryIreland.

This latest arrival is the 'Forfeiting Proprietors in Ireland, under the Cromwellian Settlement, 1657’ dataset, which holds more than 4,000 names of those whose estates were confiscated as part of the Cromwellian settlement of the 1650s. Most were Roman Catholics and they are identified by county and barony.

In some cases the actual locality was recorded, in others a note describing the person was included, for example ‘killed at the siege of Derry, as a beseiger’, or ‘A Scotch Protestant, and in Arms against, the State, in 1649’.

Counties covered were Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Fermanagh, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Londonderry, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Sligo, Tyrone and Wexford.

This list of names has been transcribed from O'Hart’s Irish Landed Gentry when Cromwell Came to Ireland.

This new resource joins more than 200 other databases on, including eight databases added shortly before Christmas (see blogpost).

PRONI merges archival and modern photos of Belfast

A series of archival photos of Belfast, taken at the turn of the 20th century, have been merged with pictures of the same locations in the present day. The photos can be viewed on the Flickr feed of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

The idea was developed during PRONI’s preservation week, which took place in the first half of December, as a new way of presenting the archives. PRONI's Sam Crombie explains: “We had so many brilliant photographs of street scenes in the collections, we wondered what it would be like to go out and take them again today, and put the two side by side.” The results are striking.

“Paradoxically, the two things that people have noticed are the similarities and the differences," he says. "They show how much things have changed in the past hundred years, but also how much they have stayed the same. The streets and buildings are still there for the most part, and it’s still Belfast, but the life around them is almost unrecognisable.

“Looking at the photographs, the biggest change is transport. Boats and trams have been replaced by cars and buses, and the infrastructure of the city has evolved with this. Cobbled streets have given way to roads, tram tracks are now bus lanes.”

The PRONI team has had plenty of feedback. "People have their own favourites," says Sam. "But the most popular seems to be the photo of Queen’s Bridge. However, it is the scene that has probably changed the least over the last 100 years.”

These photographs (which feature Queens Bridge c1888, City Hall c1914, Shankill Road Mission c1910, May Street Market Street 11th Feb 1915, Linen Hall Library c1902, Castle Place c1880-1900, Cavehill Road Antrim Road c1915 and Cromac Square Cromac Place 11 Feb 1915) are the latest addition to PRONI's growing online archive of images, which includes thousands of photos from several collections.

British Newspaper Archive adds two more Irish titles
Offer expired on 4 January 2015
The British Newspaper Archives (BNA) hasn't let the Christmas Pudding and mulled wine slow it down over the last week! It's been hard at work while we've been over-indulging.

Two more Irish titles – the Wexford Conservative (1843) and Roscommon Journal & Western Impartial Reporter (1829–1843) – have made their first appearance and many of the existing titles have received a top-up of editions.

The most significant of the top-ups have gone to the Tipperary Free Press, the Waterford Mail and the Galway Examiner & Connaught Advertiser.

This means there's even more reason to take advantage of the BNA's current 50% discount on annual subscriptions. It reduces the price of the annual subscription from £79.95 to £39.98. Just click the image to reach the BNA subscription page. Enter XMASDEAL in the promotion code box, and click Apply button. You'll find the page will automatically update with the reduced price.

The offer will expire on Sunday 4 January 2015.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Ancestry: free access to global records

Ancestry is offering free access to its 'best collections of 2014'. I'm not quite sure of their selection criterion, but no specifically Irish record sets have made the cut. However, there are certainly some very useful collections included in the list (see below) for finding Irish ancestors who emigrated to the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA.

As far as I can see, this is a straightforward opening up of certain record sets, with no requirement to register or to use a password.

The free access started on St Stephen's Day (sorry, I missed it) and continues until Monday 29 December at 11:59 EST / Tuesday 30 December 04:59 GMT. Free access has ended.

The collections included:
  • 1911 Census of Canada
  • 1911 England Census
  • 1921 Census of Canada
  • 1940 United States Federal Census
  • Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922
  • Australia Death Index, 1787-1985
  • Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950
  • Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980
  • Canada Obituary Collection
  • Canada, British Army and Canadian Militia Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, 1795-1850
  • Canada, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  • Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1857-1922
  • Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980
  • England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915
  • England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915
  • England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915
  • Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934
  • Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003
  • Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913
  • Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947
  • Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928
  • Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
  • Selected U.S. Naturalization Records - Original Documents, 1790-1974
  • U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
  • U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992
  • U.S. Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995
  • U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012
  • U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  • U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014
  • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
  • U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
  • United States Obituary Collection
  • Web: Canada, GenWeb Cemetery Index
  • Web: Index
  • Web: Obituary Daily Times Index, 1995-Current

Saturday 27 December 2014

Half price sale on Eneclann's titles until 12 January

Publisher Eneclann is offering a seasonal 50% discount on nearly all of its book and CD titles (only a few items that are already subject to special offers are excluded from this festive price reduction).

You've got until Monday 12 January to browse through the online shop and make your selection from the wide range of half price CDs and digital downloads available. Obviously, if you select the digital options, you won't be paying postage and packing, so you can really pick up some bargains here.

Most of the titles relate to Ireland but there is also a good number of directories, reports, reviews and compilations of records relating to England/Wales. Follow these links:

Friday 26 December 2014

Start Your Family Tree Week: 50% off FindMyPast

Findmypast is celebrating Start Your Family Tree Week with a seven-day programme of new record releases (see below), exclusive content, expert advice, a webinar and a very healthy introductory 50%-off any annual subscription package.

The discount offer is valid across all four FindMyPast territories, so pick the most appropriate link from the four options below:
The offer is valid from Friday 26 December until 11:59pm on Thursday 1 January 2015. Terms and conditions can be found on the above landing pages.

To coincide with Start Your Family Tree Week, FindMyPast has also released 7.6million records. None of them are specifically Irish records, but they could be of great use in tracking down some of our migrating or wandering ancestors:
  • New South Wales Births 1889-1914: More than 2.2m entries in this index to the birth certificates from two distinct separate sets of records: the NSW Pioneers Index (1788–1889) and the NSW Federation Index (1889–1918).
  • New South Wales Marriages 1788-1945. More than 1.6m records.
  • New South Wales Deaths 1788-1945. More than 2.6m records.
  • More than 60,000 Devon Social & Institutional Records, gathered from 127 separate sources covering daily life in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Yorkshire, Sheffield Quarter Sessions 1880-1912. Some 11,000 records appear in this record set from the Quarter Sessions court, established in 1880.
  • More than 17,000 South Yorkshire Asylum admission records spanning the years between 1872 and 1910. Records can reveal not only when a patient was admitted to the asylum, but also the suspected cause of their insanity and whether or not they recovered.
  • Burial Index of Sheffield's Cathedral Church of St Peter & St Paul: More than 45,000 records dating from 1767 to 1812.
  • The People of New Lanark, 1785-1935: This collection of 41,000 records was formed using all surviving Lanark church records (baptisms, marriages, communion lists, irregular marriages and cases of fornication), Sheriff Court and High Court records (small debt and minor and major crime), as well as the Lanark prison register.
  • Revolutionary War Pensions containing the details of more than 90,000 Revolutionary War veterans and their families. Pension applications for veterans of the Barbary and Indian wars can also be found.

Half price offer from British Newspaper Archives
Offer expired on 4 January
Now with more than 50 Irish titles in its online database, the British Newspaper Archives (BNA) is offering a 50% discount on all 12-month subscriptions taken out between Friday 26 December and Sunday 4 January 2014. This discounts reduces the price of the annual subscription from £79.95 to £39.98.

To take advantage of this offer, click the image to reach the BNA subscription page. Enter XMASDEAL in the promotion code box, and click Apply button. You'll find the page will automatically update with the reduced price.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Genealogy Service at NAI: Request for Tenders issued

The National Archives of Ireland has issued a Request for Tenders (RFT) for the provision of its Genealogy Service, which is available free to visitors without appointment in a room adjoining the Reading Room in Bishop Street, Dublin.

As the RFT explains, 'the Genealogy Service is provided free of charge to all visitors to the National Archives who wish to obtain professional genealogical advice. It is intended primarily for first-time visitors, and enables them to discuss their research with experienced and professionally accredited genealogists, and to have assistance from the latter in consulting some of the most important finding aids. More experienced family historians may also avail of the service in order to obtain expert advice on problems arising in the course of their research.'

The contract will be awarded for a period of one year. The existing contract, fulfilled by a consortium of members of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland, expires at the end of January.

Full details of the Request for Tender can be downloaded here.

Ancestry IE and UK free until 26 December
This offer has now expired
While most family history databases and suppliers tend to concentrate their promotions on the post-Christmas to New Year period, Ancestry has decided to offer a Christmas Eve to St Stephen's Day freebie.

There's free access to Ancestry's Ireland and UK collections from now until 23:59 pm GMT on 26 December 2014 (all promotions say 'UK' collection, but I've checked the list of datasets available and found that all the Irish ones are included).

To take advantage of the free access offer, you need to register with your name and email address. You'll be sent an automatically generated user name and password to allow you access to the billion or so records held in these collections.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Check in on 26 December for great discounts

I'm pretty much ready to put up my feet for a well-earned holiday but I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open for any important news during the break. Have to say I'm not expecting anything, though.

However, I do know that 26 December – St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day, Back to Work Day... whatever it is to you – will see the delivery of great discounts to make genealogists smile. So don't bother with all those boring furniture and clothes sales on the (sadly) jam-packed high street. Check in with Irish Genealogy News on Friday to get the pick of the special offers!

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves.

Merry Christmas!

Finance Compensation Files: NAI invites tenders

The National Archives of Ireland has issued three Invitation to Tenders today relating to the Post-Truce Finance Compensation Files. The contracts, for a Preservation Assistant, a Project Assistant (Data Input) and a Project Supervisor (Data input and coordination of work) will start in February 2015 and run through to the end of November.

This collection of files deals with claims for compensation for loss of or damage to property that occurred as a result of military action between July 1921 and March 1923, under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923. Claims relating to property in counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Longford and Louth are already catalogued on the website.

Full details of the job and person specifications can be found on the NAI website or by clicking the links above (pdf download). The application closing date for each position is 23 January 2015,

If you get a chance for a quiet break over the holiday...

For me, the festive season is 'merely' a holiday, an enjoyable break from the normal routine, and a chance to spend more time with the people I love. The focus on eating and drinking scores rather highly, too!

It also usually brings a certain amount of downtime, and, if I'm really, really lucky, an opportunity to reacquaint myself with my genealogy research and take stock of where I'm at. Perhaps I'll have a lightbulb moment when I cast a fresh eye over one of those 'tricky' ancestors who don't want to reveal their secrets. Or maybe I'll actually make some progress with my one-name study and get it organised into some coherent shape.

But what I'm determined to achieve this year is a bit of learning from the experts! With that in mind, I've been saving up some videos, podcasts and online reading, and I thought I'd share them in case others find a wee bit of quiet time over the break. Here they are (and they're all free to access):


History Ireland Hedge School: Dublin at war, 1914-1918. Recorded at the National Library of Ireland on 25 November.

The Genealogy Radio Show: Since launching her weekly show on Raidió Corca Baiscin, Lorna Moloney has interviewed a good number of Irish genealogy's best-known names on a wide range of topics. I've listened to several of the recorded interviews but missed others that are of interest. See the full menu of recordings here.

Fin Dwyer's Irish History: Fin is a historian who runs tours, writes books and publishes a blog. He also creates podcasts. I'm planning on listening in to his two most recent ones: Grubs up – Food in Medieval ireland (which includes a look at 'the strange, lethal and somewhat scary world of takeaway food'), and Cannibalism, Famine & Fun – 4 Ferocious Medieval Winters. You'll find them easily enough on Fin's blog,

Timeline Research: In the past, I've attended a couple of lectures presented by Timeline's MD Nicola Morris (a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland) and I know that she's an excellent speaker who really knows how to grab and hold the attention of her audience, so I'm sure her two recent podcasts – one on tracing WW1 ancestors, the other on researching Dublin family – will be top drawer.

Online reading/Mixed media:

Preservation week at PRONI: Once a year, the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland restricts some of its public services in order to focus on its important role of preservation. This year, the PRONI team published a series of articles and videos was published to inform researchers of what went on behind the scenes in early December.

Letters 1916: I haven't kept up as well I should have with this interesting crowdsourcing project, but I plan to correct this situation! The latest addition to the website is a series of ‘Featured Letters’ which have been contextualised by the team, allowing a great appreciation of the written words.


PRONI on YouTube:
PRONI's YouTube channel is home to some terrific lectures. While I don't have any ancestors from the North, there's plenty to be learned from these presentations because many of the research methods and record sets consulted are the same on both sides of the border. I shall be checking out the recent Road to War lecture series and the Irish language and culture talks.

Genetic Genealogy Ireland on YouTube: All the presentations from this year and last year's Genealogy Genealogy Ireland Conference at the Back To Our Past show are now online. I wasn't able to attend more than a couple of sessions at each of the shows, so there's now a whole load of these lectures demanding my attention. They're free to view, and definitely worthy of time being set aside for watching.

I can't wait!

Friday 19 December 2014

Surgeon ancestors? Examination registers now online

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has uploaded scans of the College's Examination Register to its online Heritage Collection, which is free to view.

The registers date from 1784 to 1803. They're arranged alphabetically (after a fashion) and record those who were examined in the RCSI for Letters Testimonial, Mateship, Army Surgeon, Surgeoncy, Army Mate, Navy Mate, Assistant Surgeon and to be a ranked mate to a ranked officer.

When first established by Royal Charter in 1784, the College did not offer its own training for surgeons. It was set up to control and regulate standards and act as a type of accreditation board. Candidates for the examination would have learned their craft, typically as apprentices, from third parties and could then be tested by the RCSI to see if they met the required standard for the Army or Navy, one of the principal employers for those with such skills. You can see the information recorded in the sample below.

From being a regulator of standards, the RCSI quickly moved into the provision of education. Those who studied at the College in Dublin and successfully passed its examinations were licenced to work as surgeons, not just for the Army and Navy, but also in private practice. The licence gave them the freedom to chose where they used their skills. All graduates signed the Roll of Licentiates, and added their current 'term time' address in Dublin (a few gave their home address). The Rolls from 1828 to 1890 are available for viewing here,

RCSI Archivist Meadhbh Murphy has told Irish Genealogy News that the Rolls for 1891 to 1950 will be added in early 2015.

Famine Relief Commission Papers: Indexing Phase II

Ancestry's last World Archive Project (AWAP) to get underway in 2014 is the Ireland Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1844-1847. These papers consist of a variety of lists and letters from the Commission which was established in November 1845 in response to the failure of the potato crop; its purpose was to administer temporary relief supplementary to that provided by the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838.

Ancestry's Rhona Murray told Irish Genealogy News that this collection gives an insight into the destitution being experienced across Ireland at this time of hardship and struggle. Letters tell of pleas “for aid towards the relief of the starving poor who are now in the greatest state of destitution and complete starvation”; as well as reports of workhouses being closed or indeed full; and the fighting spirit of the community working day and night in an attempt to save people from “death by famine”.

An earlier AWAP project on this collection resulted in 6,747 records being indexed by the name of the author of each letter, the location, and an abstract of the subject of the letter. This project was carried out by Ancestry's WAP volunteers across the world and, in keeping with ethos of this community, the indexes are searchable free of charge.

'Revisiting' the images will allow more names to be extracted from the body of the letters, as well as subscription lists that accompany the letters – the list of landlords, list of chairmen and secretaries of relief committees. By extracting additional names from the collection, further light should be shone on the individuals involved in the relief efforts.

Rhona says Ancestry would welcome assistance from those in Ireland and across the world who would like to volunteer their time and help extract additional names from this valuable collection of papers. The collection is ready for keying (the handwriting can be difficult but it's generally legible) and volunteers can begin by downloading the AWAP keying tool.

Once logged in to a free registered guest account, volunteers can select the option to key the Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847, and will be provided with detailed keying instructions of the information to extract from the images. All indexes keyed by the AWAP community will be then made available for free on the Ancestry website.

The original data for this collection is held by the National Archives of Ireland, as follows:
  • Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847. RFLC3/1, Incoming Letters: Numerical Sub-series. The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.
  • Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847. RFLC3/2, Incoming Letters: Baronial Sub-series. The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.

FindMyPast adds 1871 worldwide British Army index 1871 worldwide British Army Index has joined FindMyPast's World and Britain collections. Estimates suggest that at least a third of the British Army in the mid-19th century was made up of Irishmen, so this Index has good potential for Irish family historians.

It comprises nearly 209,000 entries recording the whereabouts of officers and other ranks serving in Britain and elsewhere in the Empire on 2nd April 1871. At least, that is what was intended. In practice, it includes details for slightly longer, sometimes up to December. It also includes many civilians attached to the military.

Each record is a transcript of original source material extracted from the War Office army pay lists, held by the National Archives in Kew, London.

The information provided varies but usually includes name, service number, rank or description, regiment or unit, location of regimental headquarters, National Arcchives reference, date of the record. Some 36,000 records include additional notes, and these can be very illuminating. Below are three sample entries pulled from the records.
  • Cornelius Bartlett, Service number 1487, Private with the 97th (Earl of Ulster's) Regiment of Foot, HQ location: Mullingar, Ireland.
  • Neill Wynne, Service number 1407, Private with the 1st Bn 18th (The Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot, HQ location: Curragh Camp, Ireland. Notes: Deserted. Discharged on 6 May 1871 at Curragh, Ireland. Butcher. Born Dublin, Ireland. Mother Anne, 18 Barnard St, Dublin, Ireland
  • John Driscoll, Service number 1449, Private with the 2nd Bn 18th (The Royal Irish ) Regiment of Foot, HQ location: Devonport (England). Notes: In civil confinement from 1 April to 24 June 1871. Location not indicated. Bad character. Discharged on 24 June 1871 at Devonport. Born Cork.
I'd recommend you read this indepth Introduction to the 1871 Index which provides historical context and a useful explanation of how the record set was compiled.

Three other record sets also joined FindMyPast today:

Deaths & Burials from England, 1538-1991
Deaths & Burials from Wales, 1586-1885
Minute Books from Bexley Asylum in Kent.

Thursday 18 December 2014

More records added to IGRS Early Marriage Finder

Following its most recent update, the Irish Genealogical Research Society’s Early Irish Marriage Index ends 2014 with an impressive 62,065 records in its database.

These records, which include some 139,000 names, pre-date civil registration (1864). The latest update of more than 4,000 records has drawn new material from the Registry of Deeds and from the surviving manuscript and published indexes to Church of Ireland Marriage Licence Bonds (MLB) from the diocese of Cloyne, Kildare and Elphin, among others. Bear in mind that Roman Catholic couples may also have applied for MLBs to ensure their marriage was accepted as a legal union.

The Early Irish Marriage Finder was launched last year and is free to view on the Society's website.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Latest from Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives

Headstone in Mt Jerome Cemetery.
Photo copyright Yvonne Russell
The following items have been added to the Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives since the beginning of December. They've all been submitted by volunteers and they're free to view.

CORK Genealogy Archives – Photos
COLTHURST (nee AHERN?) and O'FLYNN photos

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives – Vital Records
Assorted deaths – 1869

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Mt Jerome Cemetery, Dublin – Part 93

Genealogy Archives - ChurchRecords
Muckross, St. John's (CoI) Marriages 1869-1899
Muckross, St. John's (CoI) Burials 1892-1899

SLIGO Genealogy Archives – Photos
Toormour Abbey Plaque & Board

Genealogy Archives – Miscellaneous
Subsidy Rolls Parish of Termont M'Goork Parish, 1666

GENERAL IRELAND Archives – Newspapers
Freemans Journal, 19 Mar 1844 Repeal in America, Sydney, Cape Breton
Freemans Journal, 19 March 1844 Repeal in America, Charleston
Freemans Journal, 3 October 1843 Repeal in America, Niagara District
Freemans Journal, 19 March 1844 Repeal in America, Chicago, Halifax & Miramichi

Echoes of their Footsteps, I & II, launched in Dublin recent Dublin launch of two books by Kathleen Hegarty Thorne – Echoes of their footsteps: The Quest for Irish Freedom, 1913–1922, and Echoes of their footsteps: The Irish Civil War, 1922–1924 – may be of interest to Irish family historians.

With a strong emphasis on the individuals involved at the grass roots level, the books are based on some 22 years of research into the War of Independence and the Civil War which followed. Each has been extensively indexed and includes thousands of names of genealogical interest.

The indexes include names, townlands, details of photos and other information of interest to genealogists and can be viewed as a pdf file at no charge. Simply log onto the publisher's website at, pick a book and click the 'download index' link.

Echoes of their footsteps: The Quest for Irish Freedom, 1913–1922 is hardbound, 408 pages long and has 214 illustrations. It has a 27-page index that includes names of Volunteers mentioned, place names, county Brigade and Battalion information, and themes addressed in the book. $49.95.

Echoes of their footsteps: The Irish Civil War, 1922–1924 is also hardbound and has a 24-page index. The main crux of the book a running historical calendar of events about the IRA interspersed with various tidbits of notable Irish happenings and articles about the various hunger strikers. $49.95.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Ulster Historical Foundation adds eight new databases

The Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) has added a bumper crop of eight new databases to the members' section of its website at In total, this latest upload adds more than 36,300 names to its online collection.

The largest single new database holds more than 27,000 indexed records from the burial registers of Milltown Cemetery on Belfast's Falls Road, which is the main Catholic cemetery in the city. The register dates from 1869, when the cemetery opened, to 1895 and contains the name, age and address of the deceased as well as the date of burial. It's an invaluable resource for researching Belfast ancestors, many of whom, like most city dwellers, moved frequently.

In addition to the burial register, a separate database holds the names and addresses of more than 1,600 buyers of burial plots in Milltown Cemetery between 1924 and 1931.

The other new databases fall into two categories:

19th century records:
More than 5,400 names by townland and parish from the 1803 Agricultural Census for County Down, as well as the names of those subscribing to the publication of the ‘Historic Memorials of the First Presbyterian Church in Belfast’ in 1887 and the names of members of First Derry Presbyterian Church by pew number from the year 1883.

Earlier records: These have been transcribed by the UHF's volunteers and include a petition by residents of the parishes of Kilrea and Tamlaght O’Crilly in County Londonderry which declared the signatories to be opposed to the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland in 1745; a list of those who were restored to their estates in Ireland by King Charles II in 1660; and a list of those people who were issued with transplanters’ certificates in 1653 and 1654 to move to Connaught.

Together with an existing collection of 200+ databases holding more than 775,000 names, these eight databases are available free to members of the Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild. You can find full details of the benefits of membership (a year's subscription is currently £33) at AncestryIreland.

Monday 15 December 2014

British Newspaper Archive adds 50th Irish title

Another week, another delivery from the British Newspaper Archive (BNA)! This latest bundle of six 'new' titles brings the total number of historical Irish newspapers available on the database to 50.

At least half of the publications already in the database have also received top-up editions, some of them in significant numbers. Among the biggest beneficiaries in the last few weeks have been the Tipperary Free Press, Limerick Reporter, Newry Examiner & Louth Advertiser, Tralee Chronicle and both Waterford papers.

Don't forget that online access to all these newspapers is also available via the BNA's sister company, FindMyPast, as part of its Ireland and World subscriptions.

As 50 is such a nice round number, I thought it was time for all the titles to step forward for a bow. Here's the full list, with the six most recently-added titles identified in grey.

Advocate, The or the Irish Industrial Journal
Allnut's Irish Land Schedule
Athlone Sentinel
Belfast Mercury
Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser
Belfast Morning News
Belfast News-Letter
Catholic Telegraph
Clonmel Herald
Connaught Watchman
Cork Examiner
Downshire Protestant, The
Drogheda Conservative Journal
Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser
Drogheda News Letter
Dublin Builder, The
Dublin Evening Mail
Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent
Dublin Medical Press
Dublin Mercantile Advertiser and Weekly Price Current
Dublin Monitor
Dublin Morning Register
Dublin Weekly Register
Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet
Farmer’s Gazette & Journal of Practical Horticulture
Freeman's Journal
Galway Mercury and Connaught Weekly Advertiser
Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser
Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty
Irish Racing Book and Sheet Calendar, The
Journal of the Chemico-Agricultural Society of Ulster and Record of Agriculture and Industry
Kerry Examiner and Munster General Observer
Limerick and Clare Examiner
Limerick Evening Post
Limerick Reporter
Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser
Northern Whig
Pue's Occurrences
Roscommon Messenger
Sligo Champion
Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier
Statesman and Dublin Christian Record
Tipperary Free Press
Tralee Chronicle
Ulster General Advertiser/Herald of Business and General Information
Ulsterman, The
Waterford Chronicle
Waterford Mail
Westmeath Journal
Wexford Independent

Friday 12 December 2014

Festive season at major Irish genealogy institutions

National Library of Ireland, Dublin: Reading Rooms will be closed from Wednesday 24 December until Thursday 1 January 2015 inclusive. Exhibitions will close from Wednesday 24 - Sunday 28 December (incl), reopening from 10am to 4.45pm from Monday 29 - Wednesday 31 December (incl), and then closed on Thursday 1 January 2015. Normal opening hours will resume Friday 2 January.

National Archives of Ireland, Dublin: The Reading Room of the National Archives will be closed from 12.30 on Wednesday 24 December until 9.15 on Monday 29 December. Note: there will be no Genealogy Advisory Service on Christmas Eve. The Reading Room will also be closed on Thursday 1 January, reopening on 2 January.

Representative Church Body Library: The RCB Library will close for Christmas on Tuesday 23 December at 5pm and reopen on Monday 5 January at 9:30am. Please note that it will also be closed on the morning of Wednesday 17 December (opening 2pm) and from 12:30pm on Friday 19 December.

General Register Office, Dublin: The GRO Research Room in Werburgh Street will be closed from 12:30pm on Christmas Eve, Wednesday 24 December, until 9:30am on Monday 29 December. Normal working hours on 30 and 31 December. Closed Thursday 1 January. Reopening with normal hours Friday 2 January 2015.

Dublin City Library & Archive: The Pearse Street Library will close at 8pm on Tuesday 23 December and reopen at 10am on Friday 2 January 2015.

Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Belfast
PRONI will close at 4:45pm on Tuesday 23 December and remain closed until 9:00am on Monday 29 December. Regular hours will operate Monday 29 to Wednesday 31 December inclusive. Closed Thursday 1 January 2015. Reopening 9:00am Friday 2 January. (Note: There will be no late night Thursdays at PRONI until 15 January.)

General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI), Belfast
GRONI's Search Room will be closed on Wednesday 24 December to Friday 26 December inclusive, reopening for normal hours from Monday 29 December. Closed Thursday 1 January and returning to normal schedule from Friday 2 January.

Irish Genealogical Research Society Library, London
The Library, currently operating on Saturday afternoons only from the Society of Genealogists in London, will be closed on the Saturdays 27 December, 3 & 10 January. Normal pattern resumes 1:30pm Saturday 17 January 2015.

Society of Genealogists, London
The Society closes for Christmas at 2pm on Wednesday 24 December and reopens 10am on Tuesday 30 December. It will close at 2pm on Wednesday 31 December for the New Year holiday followed by stocktaking until 10am on Tuesday 13 January 2015.

The National Archives UK, London
TNA will close at 5pm on Tuesday 23 December, reopening Tuesday 30 December and Wednesday 31 December. It will then close on Thursday 1 January, returning to normal schedules on Friday 2 January.

Thursday 11 December 2014

FindMyPast completes Irish Petty Sessions upload

FindMyPast has completed uploading the Irish Petty Session Registers to its database. The final tranche of 710,000 entries sees the records for the courts of Kilmainham in Dublin and Balla and Charlestown in County Mayo join the line-up. In addition, coverage has been extended for some courts already in the collection.

Launched in February 2012, the collection comprises more than 22 million order book entries dating from 1828 to 1912. These books include details of victims, witnesses and the accused, such as address, date in court, details of the offence, details of the verdict and the sentence.

More than 70 courts in the 26 counties of what is now the Republic of Ireland are covered; see the full list of courts, and their relevant years of coverage, here.

Legal go-ahead for online historical GRO registers

Just for the record, the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 completed its passage into law last week, five days ahead of schedule. You can download a pdf of the amendments here.

Much of the deliberation has been about registration issues relating to stillbirths, deaths abroad, forced marriages and civil partnerships; for genealogists, the important element of the Bill is the approval for online access to both the civil registration indexes and the civil registration registers, the latter providing images of birth, marriages and deaths that took place 100, 75 and 50 years ago respectively. You'll find these issues dealt with on page 35 of the pdf, in section 61(b) 2A.

It's good to have had the path cleared for these records to be placed online. However, as this year's debacle over the online civil registration indexes has proved, actually getting the records to a screen near you make take some time. Don't hold your breath, in other words.

Note also that the Bill refers to payment of fees. Let's hope this means the records will be professionally presented and indexed and not an in-house bodge job.

National Archives seeks Paper Conservator

The National Archives of Ireland has published a Request for Tenders for a paper conservator to work on the second phase of conservation and repair of ED/1 National School application forms.

The 12-month contract offers a four-day week starting in early January.

Applications need to be submitted by Tuesday 23 December, and further details are available here.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

FindMyPast's Dog Licence register kills off my ancestor week I reported on another huge (3.6million+) chunk of records joining the Irish Dog Licence collection on FindMyPast (see blogpost here).

Well, I followed up the clue from the dog licence registers and popped along to the GRO Research Room yesterday to order a copy of the death certificate for the Patrick Tierney who died in 1869, and sure enough, it was my gt gt gt grandfather! He died of influenza just a couple of weeks after registering his dogs.

Another surprise was his age. Based on the birth year of his first son, I had rather assumed he was born in the 1815-1825 period. It's always worth receiving a slap on the wrist for making assumptions! He appears to have been considerably older than I expected. His wife records him as being 73 at the time of his death, which means he was probably born shortly before the 18th century expired. Sadly, there's a gap in the local RC parish registers for the period in question, so neither a trip to the National Library of Ireland today, nor a rummage in's database turned up his baptism. Chances are, then, his wife's notion of his age wasn't too far out.

It is, of course, always good genealogical practice to 'kill off' your ancestors ie find documentary evidence of their death, so I'm as pleased as punch to have found Patrick's death record. And I love that I've found the evidence thanks in no small part to such an unlikely record collection as the Dog Licence Registers. Just goes to prove that you never know what you'll find, so long as you keep looking.

Tudor and Stuart Ireland conference: 85 free podcasts
The fourth Tudor and Stuart Ireland Conference took place this year at NUI Maynooth, bringing together speakers from a range of disciplines including history, English, archaeology and art history.

Since it started in 2011, more than 100 speakers have presented papers, and some 85 podcasts are now available, free of charge, to download on iTunes and to stream on Soundcloud. The topics range from the esoteric to the broad stroke, so there's sure to be something here that catches your eye (or ear). The full list can be viewed on History Hub.

The fifth Tudor & Stuart Ireland Interdisciplinary Conference will be held at Maynooth University on 28 and 29 August, 2015. I'm sure I'll be alerting you to the call for papers or the event nearer the time.

Monday 8 December 2014

Extra funds heading to National Library & Museum

An extra €2 million has been secured to fund the national cultural institutions including the National Museum of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

The money was announced by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD following warnings by both institutions that they may have to shut down services or charge admissions fees if their budget allocation was not increased. The free Genealogy Service at the NLI was said to be one of the areas that could face cuts.

In response to the announcement by the Minister, Catherine Fahy, Acting Director of the NLI, said: “We are very pleased and relieved that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has indicated that there will be additional funding available for the national cultural institutions, including the National Library of Ireland, in the coming weeks.

“We are hopeful that this funding will enable us to keep our doors open across all the services we currently provide. We also hope it will enable us to play our full part in the 1916 commemorations and the Decade of Commemorations overall.

“We have worked closely with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in recent months to look at how best to resolve the funding challenges we currently face. This announcement of additional funding is the outcome of our work, and is a very positive result. We look forward to receiving more detail about the additional funding in the coming weeks.”

Ireland's stone specialists win top architectural awards

Any way you look at it, this post is not about genealogy, but I just wanted to point the day-job spotlight on the island's natural stone industry, once a major source of skilled employment for our ancestors, which picked up two major architectural awards at a ceremony in London on Friday.

Waterford Medieval Museum in the oldest part of the city
The 'Natural Stone Award for New Build – Modern Style' went to Waterford Medieval Museum, a new landmark at the heart of the city's Viking Triangle.

It was designed, with a striking (and technically highly impressive) series of curved layers of Bath Stone limestone, by Robert Maddock, Waterford City Council's architects and the principal stone contractor was S McConnells & Sons of Kilkeel in County Down.
LondonDerry Guildhall – a feast of sandstone
The family-owned McConnells firm was also the principal stone contractor behind the second big award of the night: The 'Natural Stone Award for Repair and Restoration', which went to The Guildhall in LondonDerry.

This gloriously flamboyant sandstone building, which was constructed between 1887 and 1890, has hosted several exhibitions with a historical theme since it reopened in 2014 after a nearly four-year conservation project.

Just for good measure, McConnells appeared again in the credits for a third major award: The Natural Stone Award for New Build – Traditional Style Stonemasonry, which went to the Bomber Command Memorial in London's Green Park.

If you're interested to find out a bit more about the Waterford and LondonDerry awards, click on the relevant pictures to download a pdf,
courtesy of Natural Stone Specialist Magazine.

Irish genealogy & history events, 8 – end December

With most of Ireland 'shutting up shop' for the second half of December, there's not much left in the calendar in the way of Irish family history events. I'm not expecting to come across many more events before the New Year, but if I do hear of any, I'll update the list below.

Monday 8 to Friday 12 December: Preservation Week at PRONI. Limited service. There will be no Document Production but the Public Search Room, including Self-Service Microfilm area, will operate as normal at Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. More.

Tuesday 9 December: Dying in 11th-century Dublin, with Barra O Donnabhain. Last 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 9 December: Researching a Family Business – Resources in the Dublin City Library and Archive, with Eithne Massey. Host: Genealogical Society of Ireland. Venue: Dún Laoghaire FE Institute, Cumberland Street, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. 8pm. Admission: €4.

Wednesday 10 December: Book Launch: 'Tracing your Kildare Ancestors' by Karel Kiely, Mario Corrigan and James Durney. Formalities to be conducted by Johnny Doyle. Venue: Kildare Town Library. 7pm. Free. Everyone welcome.

Thursday 11 December: The Making and Breaking of the Country House in Europe during World War One, with Professor Christopher Ridgway. Part of the CSHIHE/Carton Lecture Series. Venue: Carton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare. Admission fee €10, includes refreshments. 7:15pm. Followed by optional dinner, see details. Enquiries: tel: (01)6517708 Email:

Thursday 11 December: Christmas in County Wicklow 100 years ago, with James Scannell. Host: Enniskerry History Society. Venue: Powerscourt Arms Hotel, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. 8:30pm. €3.

Monday 15 December: St Dympna’s and the Care of the Mentally ill in Nineteenth Century Carlow, with Dr Catherine Cox. Host: Carlow College, Free Public Lectures series. Venue: Cobden Hall, Carlow College. 1:45pm-3:00pm. All are Welcome and Admission is free.

Monday 15 December: Ulster Scots, with Matthew Warwick. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS), Larne Branch. Venue: Larne Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club, 112-120 Glenarm Road, Larne, Co Antrim BT40 1DZ. 7:30pm. All welcome.

Wednesday 17 December: Brickwalls demolished. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, North Armagh Branch. Venue: Town Hall, 15-17 Edward Street, Portadown, Co Armagh BT62 3LX. 7:30pm. All welcome.

Thursday 18 December:Big Houses and their families, with Roger Dixon. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS), North Down & Ards Branch. Venue: 1st Presbyterian Church Hall, Upper Main Street, Bangor, Co Down. 7:30pm. All welcome.

Friday 5 December 2014

Book launch: Cavan History and Society
The latest volume in the County History and Society series from Geography Publications – Cavan History and Society – will be launched tonight at the Radisson Blue Farnham Estate Hotel in Cavan, Speaking at the event will be Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, Cardinal Sean Brady and Tom Sullivan, County Librarian.

Within its 744 pages, the book comprises 29 chapters on this wonderful county of drumlins, lakes and waterways. It's been edited by Drs Jonahan Cherry and Brendan Scott and brings together a range of specialists from within and without the county to present Cavan's story; among the themes explored are the county's historical religious make-up, post-famine emigration, landlordism, the turbulent 1790s, folklore collections, medieval settlements and many more revealing topics. You can see the full range of essay titles on the publisher's website.

The book (ISBN-10: 0906602696; ISBN-13: 978-0906602690) will be on sale at the launch, which is being jointly hosted by Genealogy Publications and Cavan County Council. If you'd like to attend, telephone (01) 4566085. The launch will be at 7pm.

WDYTYA?Live 2015: Early bird tickets go on sale

Tickets for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 have gone on sale and the Society of Genealogists' extensive free workshop programme has been published.

The show will be held at the Birmingham NEC (next door to Birmingham Airport) on Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 April.

The workshops are available on the day on a first-come, first-served basis, but you can reserve a place for £2 at your chosen lecture at the same time as you book your entry ticket (max two such reservations per entry ticket).

Among the lectures are five Irish-themed topics, as follows:
  • Place of birth Ireland: How to find out more, with Maggie Loughran – Thursday
  • Irish Soldiers and Rebels: Tracing WW1 and Irish Revolutionary ancestors, with Brian Donovan – Friday
  • Irish Valuation Office Records, with Maeve Mullin – Friday
  • Irish Catholic Church Records, with Dr Jim Ryan – Saturday
  • Who will you find in the Registry of Deeds in Dublin? with Fiona Fitzsimons – Saturday.
Early bird entry tickets – £22 for two tickets – are on sale until 17 December. They can be ordered at or you can phone 0844 873 7330. Use the code EARLY2422 to get the discounted Early Bird price.

The standard price is £16 per person per day.

Thursday 4 December 2014

More Irish dog licence registers join FindMyPast has added another huge chunk of Dog Licence records to its Ireland and World collection. This latest upload of 3.6million individual records, sees the dog licence registers of 186 'new' courts added to the collection, as well as 'top-up' records from 40-odd courts already in the collection.

See the list of 300-odd courts included so far.

The total number of online records in the Irish Dog Licence Registers collection now stands at just over 6million, and there's still more to come.

One of the courts making its first appearance in the collection is Cahir, in County Tipperary, where my maternal grandfather was brought up. This particular court's records span 1866 (when the Dog Licence was introduced) to 1913, and I can plot dog ownership by my granddad's family right across this period, starting with my gt gt gt grandfather, Patrick Tierney(one male yellow 'mongrel greyhound' and one male brown terrier), through his son, Philip Tierney (a number of sheep-dogs throughout the 1870s and early 1890s), to HIS son, another Patrick Tierney, who had two collies when my granddad was born in 1913.

Apart from adding a bit of colour to my family history, this information may also help me with my genealogical research because I've never been able to ascertain exactly when my gt gt gt grandfather died, nor, other than a complete guess of around 1815, when he was born. He appears in Griffith's Valuation (1851) and might have died at any point from then to the start of civil registration in 1864, or possibly for even a few decades after. With so many Patrick Tierney deaths recorded in the civil birth indexes for the relevant registration district, I'd have needed a lottery win to buy all those death certs and still might not have found him!

But the dog licence registers gives me a clue that Patrick may have died between his last licence application in 1869 and his son Philip's first licence application in 1871. Family Search shows there was just one likely Patrick Tierney death in that timeframe, so I'll stump up €4 for a research copy cert at the GRO Research Room on Monday and see if this record collection has delivered a bit more than some furry friends to my family research.

I'll be back.

British Newspaper Archive: Looking good at 40-plus
The British Newspaper Archive is adding Irish titles so quickly, it's getting difficult to keep up!

With more than forty titles already online, the BNA database has seen three additional 19th-century regional titles put in an appearance this week. By my reckoning, there are now a total of 44 Irish papers available.

The newest are:
  • Connaught Watchman – 1852
  • Kerry Examiner & Munster General Observer – 1844, 1846-48, 1854
  • Limerick and Clare Examiner – 1847

These titles have also joined the Irish newspaper line-up in FindMyPast's Ireland and World subscription packages.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Nothing beats a well Mammy

I'm not much given to publishing personal stuff, but I feel I owe some explanation to the many people whose emails I've not responded to, and whose news I've appeared to have overlooked over the last six or seven weeks.

Truth is, my mother was rushed to hospital on the evening that Back To Our Past finished (she assures me the two events are unconnected) and underwent emergency surgery the following day. She then remained in hospital – 140 miles from my home – for five weeks. Only today, a fortnight after being released to the care of community nurses and yours truly at her home, has she been officially 'signed off' the hospital ward list.

That news even managed to trump yesterday's announcement from the National Library of Ireland about the Catholic Registers heading online! Nothing beats a well Mammy.

As I'm sure you'll appreciate, this has been an incredibly worrying time for the entire family, not to mention disruptive of work and normal life routines. I've been living out of a suitcase for most of this period, with only intermittent wifi connections and, with concentration levels running low, I haven't been able to follow up some news developments that deserved attention. While I was able to pass on or disown my full-time work commitments, the blog is a part-time one-woman show so delegation wasn't an option. I didn't abandon it, but I couldn't keep up with it properly, either.

So, to those who may have felt I was ignoring them, my sincerest apologies.

Fingers crossed, my mother's recovery will continue to be steady and sure, and I'll be able to gradually catch up again. If 'catching up' takes too long, I may simply draw a line, close up early for Christmas and re-emerge in the New Year. We'll see.

Ulster-Scots Hub opens in Belfast

A new hub for all things Ulster-Scots has opened in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Housed in the Corn Exchange Building, it is home to several key Ulster-Scots organisations including a Discover Ulster-Scots Visitor Centre, the Ulster-Scots Library and Archive, and a newly-designed exhibition of the historical links between Scotland and Ulster.

Speaking at the launch, Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: 'The Discover Ulster-Scots Centre provides an imaginative and informative presentation of the historic link between Scotland and Ulster. It is a ‘one-stop’ shop for all those interested in these important connections at home and abroad, be it culture, heritage, tourism, language or genealogy.

'The exhibition highlights the many ways in which Ulster-Scots culture, history, heritage and language has shaped Ireland and the province of Ulster in particular. Ulster is a multicultural province where Irish, English and Scottish strands have been intertwined throughout history... I hope [the hub] will open up Ulster-Scots to everyone – people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, here and beyond these shores'

One of the main aims of the development is to promote greater collaboration within the Ulster-Scots sector by bringing several groups together physically in one building. Its new tenants include the Ulster-Scots Agency; the Ulster-Scots Academy Ministerial Advisory Group; the Ulster-Scots Community Network, as well as the Library and Archive mentioned above.

Here's a video, courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph, from the opening night:

Ruan National School Roll Books now online

Roll Books for Ruan National School (parish of Dysart and Ruan) in North-East Clare have been uploaded to the County Clare Library website. They were transcribed and donated by Linda Hogan and Frances O'Halloran and can be freely viewed in chronological order or alphabetically by surname.

Comprising 838 records, the books for girl pupils date from 1871, while those for boys start a little later, in 1890; both run to 1939.

County Leitrim stories added to Schools Collection

Digitisation work has continued at the National Folklore Collection with the upload of County Leitrim to the online Schools Collection at

This county's collection comprises stories collected from 145 schools under a project run across the 26 counties of the Irish Free State in 1937–39. The pupils collected stories – topics included folk legends, weather lore, local history, proverbs, pastimes, trades and crafts – from their local communities, and recorded the names of their informants, often grandparents or older members of their family or neighbours.

You can find out more about the Schools Collection in this earlier blogpost which I wrote following a visit to the National Folklore Collection at UCD.

An Irish Surnames Index has also been added to the Duchas website. It is a database of 2,810 surnames developed from work carried out by the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930s, when local, non-standardised versions of surnames were collected. It does not claim to be a comprehensive list of the surnames of Ireland (which is just as well, since my surname doesn't appear in it!) nor an authoritive spelling guide to Irish surnames.

While there is no surviving account of the criteria followed in selecting advised versions or recognising related versions of a surname, it is assumed that the Commission's scholarly team would have conducted extensive research before making its choices.

The variation of surnames from area to area, or even from household to household, is significant. The surname Cafferky provides a good example, with the following variations recorded: O’Cafferky, McCafferky, McCafferty, Mac Eachmharcaigh, Ceafarcaigh, Ó Ceamharcaigh, Ó Ceafarcaigh, Cafferkey and Mac Ceamharcaigh.

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives: latest updates

More than 150 memorial cards
added to Wexford Archive
Below are the updates made to Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives in the last two weeks of November.

All the records, transcriptions, headstone photos and images of memorial cards held in IGP-web's online archives are donated by volunteers and made freely available on the site for the benefit of other researchers.

Do you have any similar items that you could contribute? If so, use the IGP submission form.

CAVAN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Blacklion, Thornhill Cemetery
Old Dobally, Dowra Graveyard

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Mount Jerome Cemetery, - Part 92
Deansgrange Cemetery, St Brigids Section, pt 9, and St Itas Section, Pt. 3

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives
Church Records:
Births Recorded in Killadeas (CoI) 1880-1941
Marriages Recorded in Killadeas (CoI) 1883-1935
Burials Recorded in Killadeas (CoI) 1888-1951
Lisnaskea, Marriages from Holy Trinity CoI 1804-1867
Vital Records – Assorted Death Certificates - 1869

KILKENNY Genealogy Archives – Miscellaneous
Contributors to fund for Christian Brothers School 1866
Contributors to Anti-Father Robert O'Keefe Supporters Fund 1875

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Mohill, St. Mary's Church of Ireland Cemetery

MAYO Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Bushfield Headstone Transcriptions - Part 1

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives – Memorial Cards
More than 150 Memorial (Funeral) Cards

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Baltyboys Cemetery, Part 4

Monday 1 December 2014

National Library confirms plans to release Irish Roman Catholic registers online

Further to this morning's announcement by John Grenham (see my earlier blogpost), the National Library of Ireland has confirmed that it is to make almost 400,000 images of Catholic parish register microfilms available online for free. Here's the official announcement:

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has today unveiled details of its most ambitious digitisation project to date. The project will see the Library’s entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms made available online – for free – by summer 2015.

The records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

Commenting today, Colette O’Flaherty, Head of Special Collections at the NLI, said: “This is the most ambitious digitisation project in the history of the NLI, and our most significant ever genealogy project. We believe it will be of huge assistance to those who wish to research their family history. At this stage, we have converted the microfilm reels on which the registers are recorded into approximately 390,000 digital images. We will be making all these images available, for free, on a dedicated website, which will be launched in summer 2015.

“Anyone tracing Irish family history will be able to access this site – from anywhere in the world – and search for the parish in which they are interested. They will be able to see a list of registers for that parish, and will be able to click on whichever registers they like to browse through the images contained within.

“The information in the registers varies from parish to parish but, typically, includes the dates of the baptisms or marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses. Obviously, such information is extremely valuable for both amateur genealogists and professional researchers.

“The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s. However, this project means that, for the first time, anyone will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”

Contribution of the Catholic Church

Ms. O’Flaherty said the registers are a wonderful legacy of the Catholic Church to Ireland.

“The role of the Catholic Church in creating and maintaining these records during some of the most turbulent times in Irish history must be acknowledged and praised,” she said. “Most census records from this period were destroyed in the Custom House (sic) fire of 1922*, so these parish registers are the most comprehensive surviving source of information on Irish families in the 1700s and 1800s.

“The NLI has worked with the Catholic Church to preserve these registers since the 1950s, when we were initially invited to make microfilm copies. Now, in the 21st Century – and in keeping with our aim of enhancing accessibility through making our collections available online – we are delighted to embark on this major digitisation project.”

What Type of Information Will be Available?

The 390,000 digital images due to be published by the NLI will be searchable by parish location only. They will not be transcribed or indexed by the NLI, and the images will be of the microfilms of the original registers, which – in some cases – were in poor condition when the microfilming took place. The images will be in black and white.

“Anyone who has traced their family history knows it can sometimes be frustrating due to illegible handwriting on original records or poor-quality reproductions or transcriptions,” said Colette O’Flaherty. “Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to transcribe or index the images we are making available.

“We are fortunate, though, that the network of local family history centres throughout the country holds indexes and transcripts of parish registers for their local areas. We would envisage direct access to the digitised registers will complement the work of these local centres by enabling researchers to cross-reference the information they uncover, and assisting them in uncovering wider links and connections to their ancestral community.”

Further details of this digitisation project will be announced by the NLI in the coming months.

*It was, of course, the Four Courts fire.

Irish genealogy and history events, 1–13 December

Tuesday 2 December: The heritage sites of County Kildare, with Ger McCarthy. Host: Naas Local History Group. Venue: Community Library, Harbour View, Naas, Co Kildare. 7:45pm.

Tuesday 2 December: Women in Waterford History, with Andy Kelly. Venue: Town Hall Theatre, Friary Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford. 8pm. €5. All welcome.

Tuesday 2 December: The trial of Lundy Winter School. Venue: The Courthouse, Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PQ. Dr Padraig Lenihan will evaluate the 'Book of Evidence', followed by a History Ireland Hedge School panel discussion on the theme: 'Lundy: hero or traitor?'. Admission free. Doors open 6:30pm for tea/coffee with proceedings getting underway at 7pm. All welcome.

Wednesday 3 to Friday 5 December: Reading Room closed to public for annual media review. National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin. Details.

Wednesday 3 December: Ulster and the First World War, with Jonathan Bardon. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. 1pm. Free but need to reserve your place by email to or telephone 02890 534800.

Thursday 4 December: Cork and the Great War, an illustrated talk with Gerry White. Host: Coppeen Archaeological, Historical & Cultural Society. Venue: An Caipín, Coppeen, Co. Cork. 8:30pm. €5 non-members. All welcome.

Thursday 4 December: The Story behind the Name, with Eddie Lowe. Host: North of Ireland Family History Society, Belfast Branch. Venue: Belmont Tower, 82 Belmont Church Road, Belfast, BT4 3FG, Co Antrim. 7:30pm. (Please note change of venue as Holywood Arches Library is being refurbished.) All welcome.

Thursday 4 December: Something of the Nature of a Massacre: The (1922) Bandon Valley Killings Revisited, with Dr John Borgonovo. Host: School of History's Research Seminar. Venue: G19 Kane Building, University College Cork. 6pm. Free. All welcome.

Friday 5 December: Ireland, Australia and the First World War, with Dr Jeff Kildea. Host: Military History Society of Ireland. Venue: Griffith College, South Circular Road, Dublin 8. Non-members welcome. 8pm.

Saturday 6 December: The Families in British India Society (FIBIS) Day Workshop. Venue: Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP, UK. 10am to 4pm. Free but booking essential. Details.

Saturday 6 December: Survival and revival – Ireland's historic gardens and demesne landscapes, with Finola Reid. Venue: Tipperary County Museum, Mick Delahunty Square, Clonmel, Co Tipperary. 10am to Noon, with refreshments provided. €5 per session. Bookings: or 076 106 5564.

Monday 8 to Friday 12 December: Preservation Week at PRONI. Limited service. There will be no Document Production but the Public Search Room, including Self-Service Microfilm area, will operate as normal at Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. More.

Tuesday 9 December: Dying in 11th-century Dublin, with Barra O Donnabhain. Last 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 9 December: Researching a Family Business – Resources in the Dublin City Library and Archive, with Eithne Massey. Host: Genealogical Society of Ireland. Venue: Dún Laoghaire FE Institute, Cumberland Street, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. 8pm. Admission: €3.

Wednesday 10 December: Book Launch: 'Tracing your Kildare Ancestors' by Karel Kiely, Mario Corrigan and James Durney. Formalities to be conducted by Johnny Doyle. Venue: Kildare Town Library. 7pm. Free. Everyone welcome.

Thursday 11 December: The Making and Breaking of the Country House in Europe during World War One, with Professor Christopher Ridgway. Part of the CSHIHE/Carton Lecture Series. Venue: Carton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare. Admission fee €10, includes refreshments. 7:15pm. Followed by optional dinner, see details. Enquiries: tel: (01)6517708 Email:

Thursday 11 December: Christmas in County Wicklow 100 years ago, with James Scannell. Host: Enniskerry History Society. Venue: Powerscourt Arms Hotel, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. 8:30pm. €3.