Tuesday 5 January 2021

Lockdown 3 across the island of Ireland

With tough lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 having been reintroduced over the festive break, the new year has opened with most of the island closed. Depending on individual home and work circumstances, this might give family historians more opportunity to begin, revive or progress their research.

Certainly many beginners who find they have more personal time available will be able to make significant headroads into their reesarch, because most of the surviving major Irish genealogical collections are freely available online (see Best free Irish genealogy databases page on my Toolkit website).

Those with intermediate and advanced level research requirements may find research a little less straightforward, especially those requiring access to the Registry of Deeds, Griffith's Valuation Revision Books (in RoI), RCB Library and other specialist repositories or public research rooms, since all of these are closed to visitors.

Many of them, however, are providing an email service while the doors are closed. You should be able to find their email addresses on their websites. (Some have yet to update their website with news of the latest lockdowns; this doesn't mean they're open!)

I've noticed on Twitter both yesterday and today that quite a few local studies departments within county libraries, as well as a handful of county archive officers have been publicising their readiness to respond to emails from researchers during the lockdown. If you're looking for expert historical knowledge of a particular area, these local resources would always be my top bet.

Genealogical guidance and advice, often of a very high standard, is also freely available from forums. I recommend Boards.ie and RootsChat.com.

In brief, the current official restrictions in the two jurisdictions are as follows:

Northern Ireland
A six-week lockdown began in Northern Ireland on St Stephen's (26 December). A Stay At Home order will come into effect on 8 January; this will restrict people to leaving their homes only for medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work that cannot be done from home. Nearly all schools will be closed until second half of February. Non-essential retail, gyms etc, cultural attractions, museums, and hospitality venues are closed. Libraries are closed except for online services and 'click and collect'.

Republic of Ireland
Lockdown was reintroduced on 1 January, and was intended to last until at least the end of the month. Non-essential retail, gyms etc, cultural attractions, museums and repositories, hospitality venues, and most workplaces (for non-essential services) are closed and movements restricted to within 5km of home. Schools are closed until 1 February (with an exception for 6th year Leaving Cert students who will attend 3 days a week from 11 January).