Tuesday 28 July 2020

Brian Mitchell's NEW Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy

Brian Mitchell's Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy, first published in 1991 with revised editions in 2002 and 2009, has long been a favourite on the Irish family historian's bookshelf. In the 29 years since it was first published, the paperback's content and pagination has grown from 63 pages, to 77, to 90, and now, in a fully revised NEW Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy, to 122 pages, so it's still comparatively small, but don't be fooled by the 'pocket guide' of the title. Brian's book was never pocket sized, either in physical form – all editions have appeared as a 7"x10" softback – or for the breadth of knowledge and essential information it provides to the researcher.

Click to visit publisher's website
When the original Guide was published, access to Irish record sources nearly always required a visit to a repository and some hours spent poring over original or microfilmed copies of historical material. Given that researchers today can view and search digital copies or transcriptions from their own Internet devices, Brian has completely revised his Guide to meet the needs of today’s researchers and direct them to current websites and resources.

However, his original premise has not changed: that the examination of seven major record sets will throw light on most peoples’ Irish ancestry: Civil records of birth, marriage and death; church registers for baptisms, marriages and burials; headstone inscriptions and burial records; census returns and substitutes; wills; Griffith's Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books. Brian describes these and how to get the best from them, after introductory chapters that provide a brief history of Ireland and Irish genealogy and guidance on taking your first genealogical steps if you live in Britain, North America, Australia or New Zealand.

In addition to the seven main types of records mentioned above, the book also looks at 'other sources' such as newspapers, registry of deeds, estate records and ordnance survey memoirs.

A third of the book is taken up with Insights and Strategies, all tried and tested during Brian's nearly 40 years of experience as a genealogist. In this section there is information about DNA testing; contact details and websites for the major record repositories; a look at Irish surnames and identity; where to find and use Passenger Lists; sources for Scots-Irish ancestors; a three-step 'road map' to starting research in the records; and two case studies which illustrate how to apply the steps covered earlier in the book.

The case studies relate to research in areas now in Northern Ireland. This is understandable since Brian has made a speciality out of research into the people, the emigrant ships, the places and the surnames of LondonDerry. He also runs the Derry service for RootsIreland's network of Genealogy Centres and is the genealogist for Derry City and Strabane District Council, but his family history experience covers the entire island. He is also a member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland.

The book appears to be aimed at the beginner or re-starter, and they won't go amiss with Brian's strategic approach and the way he lays out all the basics. But it is also a very handy publication for more experienced researchers, who will find it indispensable when they need to check a detail or revisit the nature of a particular record collection, or to use Brian's experience to find a fresh perspective to stalled research.

Brian's condensed guide to tracing Irish ancestors is on sale through the publisher's website Genealogical.com for US$25, from Amazon UK for £20.42, and from other good booksellers.

ISBN: 9780806359083