Thursday 11 April 2019

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, by John Grenham - 5th edition published

When a non-fiction book reaches its 5th edition, it's fair to assume the title has achieved a classic status among its intended audience. It's also reasonable to conclude that its presentation and format 'works', its content and author is trusted, and that its topic has undergone sufficient change and development since the last edition to warrant an update. So the publication last week of edition number five of John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors – a title designated by many in the industry as the 'bible' of Irish genealogy – was, if anything, overdue.

Now available via the Book Depository
for €22.11/£21.60 with free postage worldwide.
While many new editions of standard reference books may see only minor changes, John's 5th edition is substantially updated. It has just under 20% more pages than the 4th edition published eight years ago, and is only 50 pages short of having twice the page count of the 2nd, publshed in 2000. This extra pagination is not due to John infilling with waffle (as if) nor with strategic use of white space in a new layout. No. The blueprint of the presentation is comfortably familiar and repeats the 15-chapter structure of the last edition, even if the content of a few of them has been 're-ordered'.

As John explains in his Introduction: 'The ease of access created by digitisation has changed the balance of priority between record sources, and this is reflected in this edition.'

The running text in which he introduces the history, value, limitations and accessibility of the various record types has been subtly updated and rarely significantly extended.

There are new sections of text about Genetic Genealogy, the online arrival of the National Library of Ireland's RC Registers, an overview of the major online sites, and tips and techniques to overcome the inconsistencies of some of the search engines. The bashful author even manages to slot in an important note about the National Archives of Ireland's census database being uniquely updated with thousands and thousands of user-submitted corrections without referencing himself as the person who carried out that vital, time-consuming and probably rather mind-numbing task.

Where most of the extra 110 pages have been used is to dramatically extend Chapter 8 - Emigration and the Irish Abroad, which now includes online sources for each of Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and the UK, as well as an indepth bibliography for research in Africa, Australasia, India, Europe, North America and South America.

The other major winner of additional content and pagination is Chapter 13 - County Source Lists, which now reference online access to specific local records held in all the major commerical databases, county or town archives and other smaller websites.

Every Irish genealogists with any research under their belt probably already has an earlier edition of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors on their bookshelves (it'll be the well-thumbed one), and they'll be missing a trick if they don't update to the new edition with its gloriously long listings of sources. Those new to Irish family history will also make a wise investment in buying John's book, tried and trusted as it is delivering an understanding of how Irish records work and how and where to find them.

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors is published by Gill Books. It is now available in bookshops in Ireland and via Amazon UK and other online booksellers including Book Depository and Easons. It will be launched in North America in due course.
ISBN 10: 0717174654; ISBN-13: 978-0717174652. 688-pages. Paperback.