Thursday 12 January 2017

Irish Genealogy News: The Catch-up Dozen

Over the last couple of months I've struggled to keep up to date with Irish Genealogy News. It wasn't so much that the quantity of items was exceptional – it wasn't... in fact, it was relatively quiet – it was more to do with my own workload, which was overwhelming. While I managed to keep up with the most important news items, there were a dozen or more not quite so time-sensitive stories which I just didn't get to.

I was planning to splurge these out in individual posts in the first two weeks of the year, but my schedule is simply not going to allow me to do so. I've now waved the white flag. Instead of individual posts, I've gathered twelve outstanding items into one blogpost and written them up in brief. I'm sure you'd rather receive the news in this format than not receive it at all. They're all below. Doing this should allow me to get straight back to normal posting once this current period of overload has passed (a week or two). Here goes:

New genealogy site aimed at secondary school students
A free website aimed at helping secondary school students explore their family history has been launched by the National Archives of Ireland and It's called 2016 Family History and is hosted on a distinct area of, which is managed by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

It's still being tested but is expected to be formally launched later this month.


PRONI uploads two more lecture videos to free online library

Click image for full library of PRONI lecture videos
PRONI's YouTube channel has grown with the addition of two more videos of lectures held at the Belfast repository during November. They are:

The Presbyterian Children’s Society, with Paul Gray. The talk explores the organisation formerly known as The Presbyterian Orphan Society and The Presbyterian Orphan & Children’s Society,  which has helped 43,000 children from 17,500 Presbyterian families since it was established 150 years ago.

Steelboys, Oakboys & Bad Boys: Disturbances in County Armagh, 1750-1800, with Dr Eoin Magennis. While the social landscape of 18th-century Ireland was by and large peaceful, County Armagh was one of the exceptions in the 1750s. This talk looks at the changing composition and character of secret peasant societies in Co Armagh in the second half of the century.


FindMyPast's Irish Petty Sessions Court Records completes

More than 227,700 new records have been uploaded to complete FindMyPast's collection of Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers.  The collection tots up to 22.8million records relating to civil and lesser criminal offences and include names and addresses  of victims, witnesses and the accused, as well as details of the offence, verdict and sentence.

Unfortunately, no details have been provided by FindMypast about the courts to which these additional records relate.

For more information about this record collection, see Irish Genealogy Toolkit.


Offaly History Archives releases more Digby Irish Estates papers 1890-1916
Following its online launch last August, Offaly History Archives have released the next two series of records from the Digby Irish Estates Papers. These comprise the annual reports from land agent Reginald Digby to the 9th Lord Digby between the years 1873 and 1889, and to the 10th Lord Digby from 1890 to 1916. His reports are particularly valuable for the information they hold on the agrarian unrest of the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, or the Land War as it was known

See also an introduction to the collection on the Offaly History blog.


Help preserve Ireland's minor placenaames

A crowdsourcing tool for pooling, storing and sharing data about minor placenames has been launched. Meitheal gives users the opportunity to promote the toponymic heritage of the country in the digital age by mapping and sharing minor placenames online. This will enable the preservation of minor placenames, and minor placename data as well as raising public awareness on the subject.

Minor placenames, in the context of this project, are placenames other than administrative placenames and population centres.

Administrative placenames include the names of counties, baronies, civil parishes, townlands, and electoral divisions. Population centres include the names of cities, towns, villages and street names. Minor placenames include physical features (e.g. lakes, rivers, bays, headlands, islands, mountains, hills, etc.), and names of man-made features (e.g. ring forts, churches, abbeys, graveyards, bridges, crossroads, etc.)


Post-Truce Compensation Files 1921-23: Counties Cavan, Kildare, Offaly and Roscommon added

Files can be inspected in the NAI's Reading Room
The National Archives of Ireland (NAI) has added the Post-Truce Compensation Files 1921-23 for Counties Cavan, Kildare, Offaly and Roscommon to its catalogue. This leaves only the files for three counties – Galway, Waterford and Wexford – still to be listed.

The Post-Truce Compensation Files relate to claims for compensation for loss of or damage to property that occurred as a result of military action between July 1921 and March 1923. Claims were made under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923.

The National Archives describes these files as recording 'the name and address of the claimant and the amount paid in compensation and also a brief narrative of the military action or incident that led to the loss of the property, along with an inventory of the property lost. Using these files, a detailed picture of every incident causing loss of, destruction of, or damage to property during the Civil War can be established.'

While unlikely to help your research in a genealogical sense, these files can add to your understanding of your family's experiences, and those of their neighbours, in the early 1920s. 

For some reason, searching this collection via the catalogue is a rather hit and miss. Instead, you'll find a workaround is to select the county of interest on this overview page of the Post-Truce Finance Compensation files and then browse through the entries. Each entry provides a very brief description of the compensation claim. The original documents can be inspected in the NAI's Reading Room in Bishop Street, Dublin 8.


Irish Registry of Deeds Indexes online at FamilySearch

A small but useful selection of images of Registry of Deeds Indexes have been released online by FamilySearch.

The LDS Church microfilmed the ROD files back in the early 1950s and has a holding of 2,686 reels which can be ordered for viewing via any Family History Center. It has now released, with public access via the internet, images of about 50 of these reels.

The images are of Grantors Indexes (37 reels) and Land Indexes (13 reels). There are not of the Memorials of Deeds. However, if you can identify an indexed entry of interest, you can then order it a copy of the memorial directly from the Registry of Deeds in Dublin.


FindMyPast adds 5,000 congregational records to its Irish Quaker collection
FindMyPast has added 5,000 Irish Quaker Congregational records to its comprehensive Irish Quaker collection.

The records date to the mid-17th century and comprise minutes from half-yearly meetings of the congregation.

These minutes note details of the meeting attended and information about the activities of individual members within the local community. Each entry includes both an image of the original handwritten record and a transcript.


Ancestry uploads Presbyterian bmds from 38 states

Ancestry has added a bumper collection of 770,000 US Presbyterian records (and more will be added in future updates).

The collection includes baptism, marriage, death, burial, and other records from Presbyterian churches in 38 states and spans 1743 to 1970.

The records originate from the Presbyterian Historical Society and include a good number of Irish men and women and their descendants.

The example above records the wedding in New York City of William Barnes and Rosann Gormley, both of Co. Tyrone, on 3 July 1866, by Pastor W A Scott (42nd St Presbyterian Church).


Later date and more funding for Culture night

The Minister for Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, has confirmed that funding for Culture Night in 2017 will be increased by 20%.

In addition, this year's event will be held on the later date of Friday 22nd September in response to popular demand.

Minister Humphreys is providing a total of €300,000 in 2017 to assist local authorities the length and breadth of Ireland to expand culture night activities.

This year will also see a new annual cultural day join the calendar: Cruinniú na Cásca. This will be held nationwide on Easter Monday, as part of the Creative Ireland programme, and will replicate the successful Reflecting the Rising event held in Dublin last year. It will strongly complement the success of Culture Night and will go to the very heart of embedding culture in every county and community nationwide.”


Valuation Office Books: House Books Translator launched

You'll remember the Field Books Translator launched back in October by Irish genealogist John Schnelle from Boston (see blogpost). It aims to reveal the details of land-use for each land-holding, explaining not just what crops might have been grown or its suitability for livestock, but also to suggest how the land would have been managed over the years.

John has moved on to the next phase of his in-depth research into the Valuation Office Books and has now launched the House Books Translator to complement the Field Books Translator.

Working from a size of landholding and geographic location, the new Translator reveals details about the property, the social status of the occupier in the local community and the out-houses and layout of their farm.


Old Irish Graveyards (Sligo and Leitrim) published as e-books

Two books from the Old Irish Graveyards series have been published in e-book format. They cover County Sligo and County Leitrim and can be purchased from The Kabristan Archives, as follows:

COUNTY SLIGO BURIALS from 1797, Part 1, by Eileen Hewson FRGS
91-page pdf: £3.00
Contains c855 records from 10 burial grounds.

COUNTY LEITRIM BURIALS from 1799, Part 1, by Eileen Hewson FRGS
77-page pdf: £3.00
Contains c896 records and 17 burial grounds.