Wednesday 16 September 2020

Back To Our Past: 35+ Irish genealogy lectures for €10

Ireland's only island-wide genealogy conference, Back To Our Past, returns this autumn but for the first time will be virtual event. A programme of more than 35 talks has been scheduled and, thanks to its new home online this year, it will be accessible to researchers all around the world.
I'm sure all the speakers will give interesting and informative presentations. I've no reason to doubt that, judging by the names I recognise. However, you may find the organisers' website somewhat lacking in detail. Clarity and precision have never been a strong point of BTOP's marketing efforts. If you've checked out the website with the intention of getting yourself prepared for the event, you won't be alone in being confused.

Officially, BTOP 2020 starts on Friday and runs for three days. But the website also says the talks will be accessible online on Wednesday (tonight). Presumably this means all the talks will be available in one hit, ready for us to view at our own convenience over the three days ie not at scheduled times.

The website goes on to say that when the three official days come to an end, the talks will remain accessible for one month. (So why mention three days?) Just to muddy the waters even more, in an email received today, the access period has been extended to three months.

I guess all will become clear in due course. (See update below)

So back to the better features of BTOP: the lectures and the experts delivering them. There's a good mix of traditional Irish family history, most of them aimed at beginners, plus local and social history, some general Irish heritage topics and a handful of genetic genealogy presentations. Here's the line-up:

  • Introduction message by Tourism Ireland, with Niall Gibbons, CEO Tourism Ireland
  • Discovering Irish Pets and Their Families on Ancestry, with Dr. Jennifer Doyle and Valerie B. Prince
  • Tracing your Irish ancestors in Australian records, with Debra Carter, Ancestry
  • Basic Genealogy Principles; Combining DNA & Traditional Research Methods, with Eamon Healy, Ancestry.
  • Exploring Belfast’s Shipyard Heritage, with Dan Gordon
  • Using the National Archives to research your ancestors, with Tom Quinlan, NAI
  • How young people can become Family History Detectives, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
  • How Emigration Changed Ireland, with Dr Maurice J Casey, DFAT
  • Discovering the Forgotten Soldier in Your Family History,  with Thomas Murphy, IGRS
  • The history of GAA Football – Part One, with Eoghan Corry
  • The history of the GAA  – Part Two, with Eoghan Corry
  • The history of Hurling – Part Three, with Eoghan Corry
  • Finding Irish Ancestors in Glasgow City Archives (GCA), with Dr Irene O’Brien, GCA
  • Church records in Scottish archives, with Dr Irene O’Brien, GCA
  • Poor Law Records in Glasgow City Archives, with Dr Irene O’Brien, GCA
  • Tracing Irish emigrants to Australia, with Rhona Gleeson, Ancestry
  • Sources for researching a convict ancestor, with Tom Quinlan, NAI
  • Using for Irish family research, with Brian Donnelly, NAI
  • Researching Irish Emigrants to the United States, with Pamela Holland
  • Preservation and storage of family history documents, with Christine Deakin, Irish Genealogy Solutions
  • Introducing Accredited Genealogists Ireland, its work and members, with Anne Marie Smith MAGI
  • Researching in the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland, with Nicola Morris MAGI
  • Searching for ancestors in Irish Civil Records, with Sandy O’Byrne MAGI
  • How to find what you’re looking for in Irish Roman Catholic records, with Joan Sharkey MAGI
  • Territorial Divisions in Ireland, with Helen Kelly MAGI
  • Being Prepared for Researching in Irish Records, with Paul Gorry MAGI
  • The Importance of Griffiths Valuation in Family Research, with Michael Walsh MAGI
  • Researching the Irish Diaspora, with Lorna Moloney, Merriman Research
  • The Story of Skelig Michael, with Lorna Moloney, Merriman Research
  • The origins of Irish family names, with Lorna Moloney, Merriman Research
  • A personal appraisal of William Butler Yeats, with Sir Bob Geldof
  • Being a lifetime James Joyce groupie, with Roger Cummiskey
  • How to trace Northern Ireland ancestors, with Brian Mitchell MAGI, Derry Genealogy Services
  • The evolution of Generic Genealogy in Ireland, with Gerard Corcoran,  ISOGG Ireland
  • Using Genetic Genealogy to understand Celtic Migrations, with Gerard Corcoran, ISOGG Ireland
  • Towards a Genetic Genealogy driven Irish Reference Genome, with Gerard Corcoran, ISOGG Ireland
  • Riverdance, a video

Click the image above to book your tickets. (The purchasing process is fine.)

UPDATE 16 September, 6pm: An email has just been issued to all registered delegates. This sets out the running order for the lectures over the three days. Apart from the introduction from Tourism Ireland, the lectures will not be repeated over the official event weekend. When the weekend is over, however, all ticket-holders will be able to view all the lectures in whatever order they want, whenever they want.

UPDATE: 18 September, 1pm: The password that registered delegates were meant to receive last night was not issued. An email received at 11am this morning apologised for delays caused by 'a few technical glitches' and promised they'd be resolved by noon. Right now, there are eight of the planned 15 Friday presentations available to view. No password seems to be needed. Unfortunately, three of the available presentations link to the wrong recording! Geez. In response to queries (please, no more) from other irritated researchers, all I can tell you is that, based on my own experience, the BTOP organisers are hellishly inefficient, so delays and cock-ups are pretty much par for the course, whether BTOP is online or offline, but they'll probably get it sorted sometime over the weekend. UPDATE: 18 September, 4pm: There are now 12 of today's scheduled 15 presentations available to view. The incorrect links mentioned in my last update have been corrected in the last hour.