Thursday 12 December 2019

Steven Smyrl elected Fellow of Society of Genealogists

Dublin-based genealogist Steven Smyrl has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists (SoG).

The London-based organisation is one of the oldest and most prestigious bodies dedicated to ancestral research and it is a great and rare honour to be awarded Fellowship. His election comes in due recognition of many years of distinguished service to the field of Irish genealogy.

Steven’s most significant contribution to the wider genealogical community, and to society at large, relates to civil registration in Ireland. He was the driving force behind a successful campaign which achieved fundamental change on both sides of the border.

Steven Smyrl
He argued that to bring integrity to the civil registration system there was an overriding need to improve the calibre of death registrations through broadening the data recorded. While there had been some helpful changes in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s, the system had remained completely unchanged in the Republic of Ireland since registration of deaths
first began in 1864.

Steven’s tireless advocacy ensured that since 2005 the Republic’s death registrations began recording each deceased person’s date and place of birth and their parents’ names. He followed this by securing the Northern Ireland Assembly’s backing in 2009 to begin recording parents’ names in all Northern Ireland death registrations.

Subsequently, his achievement was described in The Irish Times as ‘spectacular’.

He is a highly respected professional genealogist, holding credentials since 1991 as a Member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland, the island's regulating body for professional genealogists.

As well as specialising in legal and probate research, Steven is an authority on sources for Irish Dissenting Protestants.  His most significant published work is the Dictionary of Dublin Dissent – Dublin’s Protestant Dissenting Meetinghouses: 1660-1920, published in 2009.

Television viewers will know Steven from the IFTA-nominated RTE TV series Dead Money, which was based exclusively on probate research undertaken by his firm, Massey and King. Readers of Ireland’s only independent family history magazine, Irish Roots, will also be familiar with Steven’s regular column ‘And another thing …’ through which his knowledge, expertise and his wit are given a regular public airing.

Steven is well-known for his contributions to the world of Irish genealogy in a voluntary capacity.  He has served terms as both Hon. Secretary and later President of Accredited Genealogists Irelan. He was twice Chairman of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations and since 2010 he has been Chairman of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

In addition, Steven has compiled comprehensive manuscript catalogues to surviving records in the Republic for both the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. In many cases his work uncovered records long thought to be lost.

On a personal note, I would like to add that Steven is extremely generous with his genealogical knowledge. He has helped me on many many occasions with specialist background information that I've needed either for this blog, my website or when I was writing my book. There be treasures in his head about Irish record collections and I'm not alone in being grateful for his kind sharing of them, so I am delighted he has received this well deserved recognition from SoG.

The Fellowship of SoG is the second such honour granted to Steven.  Twelve years ago in 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.