Friday 16 October 2015

Meet Ancestry's Dublin team of ProGenealogists!

Regular readers of Irish Genealogy News will remember that Ancestry surprised the Dublin genealogy community back in the spring with an announcement that it was seeking to recruit four full-time genealogists to work at its office on Sir John Rogerson's Quay.

After an in-depth and rather lengthy selection process, the new Ancestry ProGenealogists team was formed during the summer. It is the first ProGenealogists 'satellite' team outside the USA, where more than 70 staff are based, but won't be the last – recruitment is currently underway for a second intake of genealogists who will be based in Dublin and London.

L-R: Joe Buggy, Eimer Shea, Kyle Betit, Sheila O'Donnell, Joanna Fennell

Senior Genealogist Research Manager Kyle Betit, who was one of the founders of ProGenealogists some 15 years ago and stayed with the company when, in 2010, it was purchased by, is based at the Salt Lake City (SLC) HQ and heads up the new team. I asked him to describe the work of the Dublin team. "The genealogists in Dublin are primarily working with our Research Managers in SLC in conducting research, gathering records and compiling results," he explained, adding that the research might relate to Irish, British or other European family history, depending on the direction of each client's project.

"But their skills and experience can also be garnered to provide imput into other parts of Ancestry such as software, content and dna product development. This widens out their roles beyond straight research, which is beneficial to their careers and good for the company.

"They are also very quickly becoming the public face of Ancestry in Dublin."

And that's certainly the case. If you don't bump into them in the GRO, as I did, purely by chance, back in July, you might find them presenting family history lectures and workshops around the capital, or conducting free one-to-one consultations at events such as Back To Our Past last weekend.

I've put names to the faces in the photo above, and here's some brief bio on the four Dublin team members:

A graduate of University of Limerick, Kilkenny-born Joe Buggy worked for five years as a professional genealogist in New York City and Washington, DC. His comprehensive guidebook Finding your Irish ancestors in New York City was published in 2014, and I happily recommended it to anyone whose family history passes through the Big Apple. Joe also publishes the Townland of Origin blog in which he highlights records and resources in US/Canadian collections where North American researchers may discover this crucial detail about their Irish ancestors.

I worked with Joanna Cicely Fennell on the Council of the Irish Genealogical Research Society for a couple of years, so I was thrilled to hear news of her appointment as Associate Genealogist in Dublin, her home town. She holds a Post Grad Cert in Genealogical Studies from the University of Strathclyde and is a member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland (MAGI). Jo has a diverse family history that includes Anglo-Irish families in the East India Company, Irish Quakers and Unitarian families of Manchester, England. She's the former Irish Representative of the Families in British India Society (FIBIS).

Sheila O'Donnell is from Westmeath and she's been conducting genealogical research for more than five years. Seriously bitten by the family history bug, she joined Ancestry's Member Services team two years ago – about a year after the office opened – before moving to ProGenealogists as an Assistant Genealogist in May.

Prior to taking up her post as Assistant Genealogist with Ancestry this summer, Donegal's Eimer Shea gained a post-grad qualification from University of Ulster in Library and Information Management, worked as a teacher in Korea, as a freelance genealogist and as an Ancestry Officer with the Donegal Diaspora Project. She also volunteers with the Monreagh Ulster Scots Heritage Centre.

The current round of recruitment will see more genealogists join the Dublin team and the creation of another satellite office in AncestryUK's Hammersmith HQ. AncestryProGenealogists is clearly aiming to make its presence felt on this side of the Atlantic.