Wednesday 22 June 2016

Societies come together for posthumous presentation

The late Randal Gill,
former President of the North of Ireland Family History Society
On Saturday, at the North of Ireland Family History Society's Library and Research Centre in Newtownabbey, a posthumous presentation was made to the family of the late Randal Gill, a founder member and former President of the Society, to mark his election as a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS).

Randal had been a member of the IGRS since 1982, and the Award of Fellowship was made to recognise his outstanding contribution and dedicated service to the genealogy community in Northern Ireland and further afield.

Randal is recognised in Irish genealogical circles as having made an immensely significant contribution to the development of Ulster genealogical knowledge and resources for over forty years. His pursuit of family history began in 1967 when a cousin from Australia visited Northern Ireland and together they began to research the family of Randal’s mother.

This proved to be the spark that inspired his lifelong interest in genealogy and family history.

In 1979, Randal was one of the founding members of the North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS), serving in various roles, including twice as president of the Society. His enthusiasm for Ulster family history drove him to be a most generous individual with his time and knowledge. He thought nothing of travelling the length and breadth of the North of Ireland, attending NIFHS branch meetings and giving informative talks, which were often highly entertaining. His biggest contribution to the NIFHS was the building up of its library to be one of the most important resources for Ulster genealogy and local history. It was fitting then, that after his untimely and sudden death in 2012, that the NIFHS named their library in Newtownabbey 'The Randal Gill Library'.

At the event, IGRS President, Fergus Gillespie, former Chief Herald of Ireland, said: “Our pleasure in recognising Randal Gill’s unique contribution to Irish genealogy in early 2012, with his election as a Fellow of the IGRS, was overtaken by sadness when we learned of his premature death so shortly afterwards. Randal’s work in promoting Ulster genealogy and the North of Ireland Family History Society was unrivalled. He was without doubt a most knowledgeable and generous individual and a man most deserving of this Fellowship.”

NIFHS President Ann Robinson said “Randal was for years a vital part of our Society and his sudden death in 2012 was a great loss to us, as both a committed member and as a friend to so many. We are very pleased that Randal's family are here with us today to accept the Fellowship on his behalf. It is wonderful that this presentation recognises his important contribution to family history across the North of Ireland for over four decades. His legacy lives on in a network of family history branches and in the library materials that are available to family and local history researchers worldwide.”

IGRS President Fergus Gillespie presented a posthumous Certificate of Fellowship of the IGRS to the family of the late Randal Gill, formerly President of the North of Ireland Family History Society. In the photo (L-R) are Fiona Gill (niece), Deirdre Hammond (sister), Adrian Gill (brother), Fergus Gillespie, and Ann Robinson (President, NIFHS).

(Photos courtesy of NIFHS)