Tuesday 27 February 2024

A History of St James's Church and Graveyard republished

A History of St James's Church and Graveyard, by genealogist, historian and lecturer Sean J Murphy MA, is now available in hardback and paperback formats.

Paperback £10.50/ Hardback £15.40 via Amazon

Dublin's St James’s Church and Graveyard were founded between 1189-92. Following the Reformation in the sixteenth century, it came under the control of the Protestant Church of Ireland. However, during the Penal Era Catholics were not permitted their own graveyards in Dublin, so St James's had a multi-denominational clientele until modern times. The last burial was in 1989.

About 100,000 people were buried here, including Bishop Conor O’Devany, Sir Toby Butler, the courtesan Peg Plunket, the architect of Kilmainham Gaol Sir John Trail, the distiller James Power and the Easter Rising Volunteer John J O’Grady. Dublin City Council acquired the site in 2010 and it is now being restored as a place of public access.

This book also covers topics such as the pilgrimage to the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela in Spain, St James’s Fair, the Fountain in James’s Street, body-snatching for purposes of medical research, the building of new St James’s Protestant and Catholic churches in the nineteenth century, World War 1 and the War of Independence.

St James’s Church closed as a place of worship in 1963 and in 2013 it was purchased by Inchicore native Dr Pearse Lyons; he and his wife, Deirdre Lyons, converted the restored the church building into the Pearse Lyons Distillery.

The book can be ordered in paperback and hardback versions from Amazon.com and from Amazon's Spanish, French and German sites.

Only the hardback version can be ordered from Amazon UK.


National Library of Ireland: Saturday openings in March

Saturday morning openings of the National Library of Ireland Reading Rooms and Ticket Office during March will be on 9 March and 23 March.

On Saturdays, researchers can visit from 9:30am to 1pm to access the Main, Microfilm and Manuscripts Reading Rooms, provided they have a valid Reader's Ticket.

If you don't have a valid Reader's Ticket, you can apply for one using the online application form, but will need to attend the Ticket Office with photographic id to collect it. 

The Family History Room is not open on Saturdays.


Irish Registry of Deeds Index Project: latest updates to database

The free-to-access database of the volunteer-led Irish Registry of Deeds Index Project has been updated. The main index now holds 580,808 indexed entries gathered from 59,952 memorials of deeds. Looks like there's a big milestone just around the corner!

The Townland Index was updated at the beginning of the month and now has 456,572 entries. These index books are one of the main finding aids for researchers, allowing them to search for memorials according to the townland location of property and land transferred by the paperwork. Just under 20,000 entries have been added to the database since mid-November.

To help researchers gain greater familiarity with the Registry of Deeds' material (and perhaps become a Project volunteer?), the founder and manager of the Project, Nick Reddan FIGRS, draws our attention to a particular memorial each time he updates the database.

This month's highlighted memorial is a marriage settlement dated 27 December 1783 and relates to land and properties in Ballyhaise, Co Cavan.

View the Index entry here and consult the memorial's full text on the FamilySearch image here.

Monday 26 February 2024

All aboard! Ancestry is digitising Irish railway company records

Now here's some news to get you excited! A huge collection of Irish railway company records, held by the Irish Railway Record Society Archive (IRRSA) is being digitised by Ancestry. I don't know exactly which sets of records are involved, but if they are personnel registers, as I suspect, we're going to be in for a treat.

My grandad worked as a clerk for the railway for about 20 years, and when I visited the IRRSA premises near Heuston Station in Dublin some years ago, I was able to find details (start and end dates of each posting, salary, promotions etc) that saw him, a Tipperary lad of just 15 years of age, start his career at Dungarvan station, then moving on to Maryborough (now Portlaoise) and Bagenalstown, where he met and married by grandmother, and then moved with his growing family to Athlone. If your ancestors spent any time employed by the various railway companies from 1880, this collection shouldn't be missed.

As Irish genealogists will be aware, collections involving several unconnected business enterprises often display a lack of uniformity in the records they kept. Their storage choices may also have been sub-optimal in some locations. Either way, the IRRSA's holding of personnel records is not complete; not all the records for each Irish railway company have survived.


Wednesday 21 February 2024

The Connaught Journal joins IrishNewspaperArchives database

The Dublin-based Irish Newspaper Archives has added another title to its online database. It's The Connaught Journal, a regional paper published in Galway and also known as the Galway Advertiser.

It was published from 1754 to 1840 in the city's Cross Street Lower, a stone's throw from the Spanish Arch, and only a relatively small number of hard-copy editions survive. The holding now available at IrishNewsArchives.com provides access to papers published in 1793, 1795 and 1828.

While this is a small holding, the newspaper gives us an insight into the Ireland our ancestors knew, and would have influenced their world view through its reporting of news and events in London and Europe and even further afield. It also published obitaries and local news of social and economic concerns. It also carried classified advertising, which can also be infomrative of the times.

The entire archive holds some six million pages of newspaper articles and other content from titles published across the island of Ireland. It is available on subscription and much of the holding can be accessed free at local libraries. To find out more, click the image.

Ancestry adds index to Armagh & LondonDerry Absent Voters Lists, 1918

Ancestry has created a searchable surname index to another record collection held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. It's the Armagh and Londonderry Absent Voters Lists, 1918.

In that final year of WW1, special provision was made for people serving in the military, the Merchant Marine and the Red Cross to vote while away from home, and these lists survive for just two Irish counties.

The index for Armagh holds c.3,500 names; the list for LondonDerry c.4,500.

The Ancestry collection links to the relevant page of the original lists, while on PRONI a pdf of the lists for each constituency is freely available to download for Armagh and LondonDerry.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

New musuem to celebrate Northwest Ireland's maritime, trade and industrial heritage to open in summer 2026

Some £12.7million of funding and a formal green light have been confirmed for a new museum that will celebrate the story of Derry City and the island's north west region's unique connection with the sea.

Nearly £3m of this funding has come from the UK's National Lottery Heritage Fund, a sum that will see the repair and refurbishment of the space at Ebrington where the Derry-Londonderry North Atlantic Museum* will be created. This location (see image below), which is linked to the famous Walled City by the pedestrian Peace Bridge across the River Foyle, will help to extend visitors' experience to the Waterside.

Work is expected to start on site in November, with construction and fit out completed in time for Summer 2026.

The funding will also make the City’s archive and collections more accessible, highlighting its role as the gateway to the Atlantic and sharing its lesser-known international history and global connections. Work is already underway on the interpretative content for all of the galleries.

A series of engagement sessions and events with key stakeholders and citizens will begin shortly aimed at raising awareness of the status of the Museum project and its interpretative content. This process will continue during the Foyle Maritime Festival and beyond.

Commenting on the project reaching this milestone, Economy Minister Conor Murphy said: “This museum will add to the already vibrant tourist offering in this beautiful and historic city. The interactive attraction will showcase the significant heritage of the city and region and it will tell the story of how it has been shaped, with particular focus on the stories of people who have lived and worked in the area."

* While delighted this important project is now going ahead, I think its ungainly name needs to be reconsidered. Quite apart from its failure to stir any excitement, the name of the delivery phase has already been abbreviated to the DNA Project. This is quite likely to stick, and simply misleading.


Monday 19 February 2024

TheGenealogist database adds Irish Almanacs and Directories

Last month, some five million records from residential and trade directories published between 1744 and 1899 were added to TheGenealogist database.

Although the bulk of the additions related to England, Scotland and Wales, together with the Channel Islands and a small number of former British Empire colonies, there were also a number of Irish publications in the mix.

I can't confirm the new additions, but the following titles make up the site's updated holding of Irish Directories:

  • The Dublin Almanac & General Register of Ireland, 1840 
  • Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory, 1855 
  • Thom's Irish Almanac & Directory, 1863 
  • Thom's Irish Almanac & Directory 1864 
  • Thom's Irish Almac & Official Directory of Gt Britain and Ireland 1867 
  • Thom's Directory of Britain and Ireland 1913 
  • Thom's Directory of Ireland 1934 
  • Thom's Directory of Ireland 1941

Friday 16 February 2024

Latest record releases for English, Scottish and Welsh genealogy

Below is a three-week summary of newly-released and updated genealogy collections for England, Scotland and Wales from the major family history database providers. (For previous list, see 26 January blogpost.)

My regular summary of releases and updates relating to British collections is designed to help researchers whose Irish ancestors migrated, temporarily or permanently, to England, Scotland or Wales.

By default, it will also be useful to anyone carrying out research in those three nations, regardless of the origin of their ancestors.

The figures in parentheses in the New Collections section are the numbers of records (or images, if browse-only) in the new record set.

Unless otherwise stated, the figures in parentheses in the Updated Collections section reflect the number of records added to the collection in the recent update. In some instances, the supplier has not made this figure available so the figure is the new total. Where two figures are given, the first is the number of additions, the second is the new total.

Please note that I don't usually include updates of fewer than 1,000 records.


NEW COLLECTIONS


Ancestry

BritishNewspaperArchive and FindMyPast

MyHeritage

UPDATED COLLECTIONS


Ancestry

DeceasedOnline

FindMyPast

TheGenealogist

Some of the above content contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you buy via these links. This does not affect the price you pay as a consumer, but it does contribute to keeping Irish Genealogy News online. See Advertising Disclosure tab above.

A rare treat: Newspapers.com's entire database is free for four days

Newspapers.com, Ancestry's specialist database of historical news publications, is free to access until 11:59pm MT on Monday 21 February.

The online archive holds images from more than 24,000 titles and 924million pages of newsprint from around the world. More than 90% are from the USA, but there are also 550-ish titles from Great Britain and another 30 from the island of Ireland, while Canada is the source of up to 200 more.

When searching, you can focus on obits only, BMD announcements only, your preferred location, or really go for it with a search of the full collection.

If you don't already have one, you'll need to register with Newspapers.com to take advantage of the free access. This is a quick and easy process.

Click the image above right to reach the free access landing page.

Thursday 15 February 2024

Flexible online course in Irish genealogy research starts next week

A ten-week online course in Irish Genealogy, presented by Tony Hennessy MAGI, will be starting next Wednesday, 21 February.

Tony has been hosting his popular course from Waterford for some years, and it has a customer-friendly formula. Classes are presented live from 6:30 to 9pm (GMT/IrishTime) on Wednesdays, but the course is designed to also accommodate those with a busy schedule and those who are in different time zones. 

Each weekly class is recorded and the recording is shared with all participants the following day, along with a PDF of the presentation.  This gives participants the option of catching a live class or indeed the whole course at their own time and pace. 

To book your place, contact Tony by phone, email or Facebook PM, as noted in the image above.

Wednesday 14 February 2024

NLS adds new layer to 6-inch-to-the-mile OS mapping of Ireland

The National Library of Scotland has added a new georeferenced layer of 6-inch to the mile OrdnanceSurvey mapping for Ireland. You can now compare the change between the first editions (1830s-1880s) and the second editions (1888-1915) in the NLS Side-by-Side Viewer.

In the example below, I've screengrabbed some of the townlands of Aghada parish, which overlook Cobh Harbour and lie about 5km southwest of Midleton, in East Cork. The older map, on the left, captures Aghada as surveyed in 1841-42 and published in 1845. The map on the right shows the same area as surveyed in 1896-97, and was published in 1902. In the intervening years, the small rural community had hardly changed, except perhaps for a bit of development around the pier. Even today, despite a bigger population and a good sprinkling of housing along some of the old roads, the layout of the area has hardly altered.

You can explore the 1841 and 1897 maps by clicking on the image below. On the landing page, make sure the Swipe On is highlighted to move slider left or right. To zoom in, move the toggle up and down on the far left of the screen (the toggle may be behind the 'Side By Side - Help' pop up).


Rolling years of civil BMD records added to IrishGenealogy.ie

The state-managed IrishGenealogy.ie database has received its annual rolling years update. The additions are civil records of Births for the year 1923; Marriages for 1948; and Deaths in 1973.

Disappointingly, register images for deaths recorded from 1864 to 1870 have still not been uploaded; this is the long-awaited update most Irish genealogists would prefer to see.

Here, then, is a summary of the records available, free of charge, at IrishGenealogy.ie:

Births:
1864-1921 – index and register images, all-island
1922-1923 – index and register images, Republic of Ireland only

Marriages:
1845/1864*-1921 – index and register images, all-island
1922-1948 – index and register images, Republic of Ireland only

Deaths:
1864-1870 – index only, all-island
1871-1921 – index and register images, all-island
1922-1973 – index and register images, Republic of Ireland only

Civil BMD records registered in Northern Ireland from 1922 are available online via the General Register Office in Northern Ireland (GRONI), subject to the 100-75-50-year rule. Details.

*Civil registration of non-Catholic marriages started in 1845 across the island. Catholic marriages were added to the civil registers from 1864.


Tuesday 13 February 2024

Looking for Love? MyHeritage opens its 254 Marriage collections

As the world gets lovey-dovey this week, MyHeritage is opening up its Marriages collection to free access until Sunday 17 February.

The collection holds 746m historical records in more than 250 record-sets from across the globe.

While there are four Irish marriage related record-sets, the wide geographical coverage of the collection could mean you'll find yourself some ancestral connections in far-flung and maybe surprising corners of the world.

Take a dip by clicking the image, right.


Friday 9 February 2024

National Archives of Ireland: Reading Room open hours updated

If the headline above gets you excited, please take a moment to downsize your expectations.

Yesterday saw the start of a new opening timetable for the Reading Room at the National Archives of Ireland. At least, I think that's the case.

Home page of the National Archives of Ireland (my blue circles)

The NAI's website isn't sure, and if you phone the Bishop Street offices for clarification, you'll hear a recorded message* that doesn't seem aware of any change. According to the message, the opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, with a one-hour shutdown (and 'everyone out' rule) from 1pm to 2pm.

However, if you explore further on the website – and you really shouldn't have to – you might be intrigued by a new notice on the home page declaring the Reading Room semi-open across the 1pm to 2pm period on Mondays.

This will allow reserchers to continue their work without having to leave the building. No materials can be requested and no real service will be provided during that hour, but you won't have to interrupt your research.

Remember: Mondays only. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, out into the cold you go.

I suppose offering the opportunity of one nearly-full-day-of-research-a-week is better than none, but c'mon, this is pretty rubbish, isn't it? We're talking about the National Archives, not a weeny heritage centre staffed by volunteers on some remote Atlantic view peninsula.

The fact that this one extra hour of uninterrupted research will be available each week is positive, if measly. And if someone at the NAI updates the website and recorded message, pronto, maybe next week some researchers may even know to take advantage of it. Otherwise, that member of staff working the lunch hour shift will be eating his/her sandwiches in an empty Reading Room.


*The recorded message works hard. It seems to kick in no matter what time of day you call. No humans available, it seems. Contact is by email only. This is shameful. It also made me cranky this morning.

Friday 2 February 2024

Republic of Ireland Bank Holiday closures on Monday 5 February

Yesterday was St. Brigid's Day, or Imbolc in the Gaelic calendar, which traditionally marks the beginning of spring in Ireland. Usually the weather doesn't play along with this, but never mind. The weekend ahead will see many celebrations and events tied in with Ireland's only female patron saint, and Monday will see a second outing of the now annual Lá Fhéile Bríde, a national holiday.

As such, all local public libraries will be closed in the Republic of Ireland, as will archives and most national institutions and state agencies including the National Archives of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland (except exhibitions), schools and most businesses. Public transport schedules are also restricted.

All will return to normal opening hours and timetables on Tuesday morning.

This public holiday does not apply in Northern Ireland, where normal working hours will be the norm.

Thursday 1 February 2024

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives: January uploads

The first monthly upload of 2024 to Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives has seen newly-donated material made available from nine of the 32 historical Irish counties. Quite a haul. If you are exploring ancestors from counties Carlow, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Tipperary, Tyrone or Wexford, there could be some headstones and church records of interest to move on your research.

From St Enoch's graveyard, Killinick, Co Wexford.
Sacred | to the memory of | REBECCA FELTUS alias BALL
| the beloved Wife of | ADAM BLOOMFIELD FELTUS |
of Hollybrook | in the County of Carlow Esqr. | who departed
this life | September 15th 1815 | aged 78.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Meadows Rousseau and IGPArchives

CARLOW Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Ballon Cemetery

CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
St. Joseph's Cemetery Pt 1, Loughduff

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Church Records & Headstones
Raphoe Cathedral CoI Marriages 1845-1921
Holy Cross Graveyard, Dunfanaghy

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Roslea R.C. Marriages (Dio. of Clogher) 1857-1881

KILKENNY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Old Dunkitt Graveyard, Kilmacow

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Headstones
St. Patrick's Graveyard, Newtowngore (Additional)

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
St Mary's RC, Ballyneale, Pt 2 (Finished)

TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Church Records
2nd Ardstraw [Drumlegagh] Presbyterian, 1845-1921

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstones
St. Enoch's Graveyard & Plaques, Killinick
St. Stephen's Graveyard (partial), New Ross


Tuesday 30 January 2024

Deansgrange and Shanganagh: the missing burial register images

While headstone photos, inscriptions and maps from both Deansgrange and Shanganagh cemeteries in South Dublin are freely online via the EverAfter website, images of the burial register entries for each deceased resident have 'disappeared'. I'm not quite sure when this happened but they've been on the missing list for at least a couple of months.

Fortunately, the reason has nothing to do with the recent 'Glasnevin / FindAGrave hokey-cokey', which saw offline burial records uploaded without the agreement of the Trust responsible for the nation's necropolis, and then removed pronto when they found out. The lack of access to the two South Dublin registers is not a repeat of that particular incident, so let out a sigh of relief.

I've contacted EverAfter, who provide the PlotBox technology that runs the specialist cemetery database, and been told that the Deansgrange and Shanganagh burial register images disappeared from the public view when an update was made to the overall plotbox site. It wasn't intended. They are still held on the site, but not on the publicly viewable parts of the site.

The tech team will correct this is due course, but there's currently no ETA for when that will happen.

While this is frustrating for researchers in the short term, at least it's not a permanent removal of the registers. They'll be back.

Monday 29 January 2024

MyHeritage uploads Northern Ireland telephone directory collection

MyHeritage has added a new record-set that might be of interest to researchers with connections to Northern Ireland. It's a sizeable collection, too, holding 492,777 records of NI Telephone Directory entries for the years 2001 and 2003.

As I don't have a subscription to the MyHeritage database I can't check what information is provided – MyHeritage says only that a person's name and residence is given – nor if this collection holds details only of individuals or includes business accounts. If the former, the number of records covers about 77% of households across Northern Ireland in 2002 (based on a total NI population of 1.693million people living in an average household size of 2.65 people).

Similar telephone directory collections have also been released for England, Scotland and Wales in the last few days.

Ancestry adds topographical map of Ireland from 1855

New to the Ancestry Irish collection is an island-wide topographical map published in 1855. The cover page of the map describes itself as 'A General Map of Ireland to accompany the report of the Railway Commissioner shewing (sic) the Principal Physical Features and Geological Structure of the Country. Constructed in 1838 and engraved in 1837-38', adding 'The Geology was revised and improved in 1855.'

The images are beautiful. What a labour of artistry and skill they must have required.

The original report by the Irish Railway Commission was aimed at providing information to allow the planning of efficient railway lines. This 'quarter inch' map shows many of the earliest train routes to become operational:

Click image to explore the map
  • Dublin and Kingstown Railway (1834)
  • Ulster Railway(1839)
  • Dublin & Drogheda Railway (1844)
  • Dublin & Belfast Junction Railway (1845)
  • Belfast & County Down Railway (1848)
  • Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway (1850)
  • Dublin to Galway (1851)
  • Cork, Bandon & Sth Coast Railway (1851)
  • Waterford & Tramore Railway(1853)

The first train journeys started in 1834, and this new form of transport continued to expand until 1920, by which time there were 5,600 km (3,480 miles) of tracks across the island. Only about half of this remains.

Friday 26 January 2024

National Archives of Ireland website offline on Saturday 27 January

The National Archives of Ireland has advised that its website will be offline tomorrow, Saturday 27 January.

This downtime will facilitate essential maintenance and updates to the main site and all sub-sites.

Researchers will not be able to use the Genealogy site, which provides free access to the Irish Censuses, Census Search Forms, Tithe Applotment Books, Will Registers and other important collections for genealogical research, nor the Chief Secretary Office's of Registered Papers site.

Two small Irish parcels delivered in this week's FindMyPast Friday

This week's FindMyPast Friday delivery included two small parcels of Irish records. Brief details of each are below.

Sample listings of Belfast businessmen

Britain, Jewish Commercial Directory 1894

This Commerical Directory was a one-off publication that listed the names of Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh Jewish businessmen, together with their occupation and residence.

Of the 4,200 entries in the directory, there are 142 related to Ireland. These include individuals trading in the cities of Cork, Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Londonderry and Waterford.

Ireland Memorial Inscriptions

FindMyPast describe this as a new and improved record set. It holds 682 images and transcriptions spanning 1711 to 2019.

The memorials are from four cemeteries in Dublin: Arbour Hill – the burial place of the executed 14 leaders of the 1916 Rising (the names on their memorials are in Gaelic, but have been transcribed in English for searching); Christ Church Cathedral, a Viking church founded more than 1,000 years ago; the Huguenot Cemetery, near St Stephen's Green; and St Patrick's Catherdral, with a celebrity line up of some of Ireland's most renowned poets and writers.

The 'find out more' information for this collection advises that FindMyPast will be adding more memorial inscriptions from a wide range of publications.



Some of the above content contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you buy via these links. This does not affect the price you pay as a consumer, but it does contribute to keeping Irish Genealogy News online. See Advertising Disclosure tab above.

New & updated collections for English, Scottish & Welsh genealogy

Below is a 10-day summary of newly-released and updated genealogy collections for England, Scotland and Wales from the major family history database providers. (For previous list, see 15 January blogpost.)

My regular summary of releases and updates relating to British collections is designed to help researchers whose Irish ancestors migrated, temporarily or permanently, to England, Scotland or Wales.

By default, it will also be useful to anyone carrying out research in those three nations, regardless of the origin of their ancestors.

The figures in parentheses in the New Collections section are the numbers of records (or images, if browse-only) in the new record set.

Unless otherwise stated, the figures in parentheses in the Updated Collections section reflect the number of records added to the collection in the recent update. In some instances, the supplier has not made this figure available so the figure is the new total. Where two figures are given, the first is the number of additions, the second is the new total.

Please note that I don't usually include updates of fewer than 1,000 records.


NEW COLLECTIONS


Ancestry

BritishNewspaperArchive and FindMyPast

FindMyPast

MyHeritage


UPDATED COLLECTIONS


Ancestry

FamilySearch
FindMyPast

FreeBMD

Scotland's People


Some of the above content contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you buy via these links. This does not affect the price you pay as a consumer, but it does contribute to keeping Irish Genealogy News online. See Advertising Disclosure tab above.

Free access to MyHeritage's Australian collection this weekend

Australians observe their official (and controversial) national day today, marking the anniversary of the First Fleet's landing in Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. Cue smoking ceremonies, solemn processions, choirs, bands and performance art, barbecues, parties and protest marches.

Plus a generous hug from MyHeritage in the form of a free access weekend for its entire database of Australian records.

This database holds more than 108 million Australian records from 299 collections, including electoral rolls, historical newspapers, registers, birth and death indexes, marriage records, burials, and school records.

A highlight in the Australian collection is the New South Wales Gaol Inmates & Photos collection which offers a unique glimpse into Australia’s penal history. This fascinating archive, added last year to MyHeritage, holds prison records, and features photographs of prisoners from several jails in New South Wales between 1870–1930.

If you haven't already registered for a free MyHeritage account, you'll need to set one up to gain access to the free records. This is a quick and easy process and doesn't require you to part with anything other than your name and email address.

The free access period will end on Sunday 28 January.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Ulster Historical Foundation launches new website

The Ulster Historical Foundation's website has had a pretty radical overhaul. It's a lot brighter and less cramped, and as a result, it's easier to find what you're looking for.

The home page draws attention to the organisation's database of more than 2million records, some pay-to-view, some free; its genealogical educational tools such as online and offline courses and conferences; its highly regarded publications and book store; its research services; and its Guild Membership package which offers savings on all these items.

An important change to note is that the old AncestryIreland url has been retired.

Instead, you'll need to add the new address – https://ulsterhistoricalfoundation.com – to your favourites and bookmarks. (For the present, if you use the old url, your browser should automatically redirect you to the new one.)

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Gentle history: TG4's Sloinne tells the stories of Irish surnames

Sloinne, a seven-part series on the origin and heritage of specific Irish surnames (one per episode), launched on TG4 on Sunday evening.

I didn't get to watch it live thanks to Storm Isha and her disruptive blow through, so I was pleased to find it on catch up. As far as I can tell, the series will be freely available to view worldwide; each episode will be released online after its broadcast.

The series will not only explore the surnames themselves but also the history of the areas and locations closely linked to their origins. This will include visits to ancient strongholds connected to the surname, reliving battles and feuds over land possessions, and recalling stories of more recent surname bearers.

Other surnames in the first series will be Murphy (Ó Murchú), Kelly (Ó Ceallaigh), Joyce (Seoighe) and O’Connor (Ó Conchubhair).

Episode One followed Mazz O'Flaherty, a Dingle Record Shop owner, on visits to Loch Hackett and Oughterard in County Galway with historian Adrian Martyn to learn the early history of the O'Flahertys. She then travelled to the Aran Islands with historian Gerry Hanberry, who explained the clan's seafaring and piracy connections and the surname's link with Oscar Wilde. Still on Inis Mór, Mazz's next stop was Kilmurvey House, a fine stone house built by an O'Flaherty in the mid-1800s and now the home of Treasa Hernon Joyce who showed her guest some old O'Flaherty family letters that she'd discovered during lockdown in a trunk under the stairs.

The two women also enjoyed the story of James O'Flaherty whose portrait hangs in the House; he was a friend of Oscar Wilde's father but was known locally as the White Billy Goat, such was his reputation as a gallivanter.

The second half of the programme was set in County Kerry. In Killarny, Mazz learned the story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty and how he earned the soubriquet of Scarlet Pimpernel by setting up an escape organisation in Rome during WW2 to helping people fleeing Nazi Germany, and then, through Dr Conor Brosnan she discovered more about her own great great grandfather, John Joe O'Flaherty, a local hero. Finally, she met up with Dingle Druid Juilí Ní Mhaoileoin whose recent research has identified John Joe's grave for the first time.

The episode ran for 50 minutes and it was a slow 50 minutes. I don't mean that as a criticism. Far from it. Unlike certain other genealogical shows that leave the audience exhausted from the stress, rush and perfectly framed moments of emotion along the chosen celebrity's 'journey', Sloinne's more gentle formula of local historians putting the past into a wider context, and pulling out stories of individuals, as well as having a soft genealogical tie-in, was much more relaxing.

I particularly enjoyed listening in to the oral telling of these lives while Mazz and the historians sat at a homely table, on a quay-side wall, or a street bench, rather than gawping at old documents in a climate controlled archive or learned institution and having to race from place to place to force the tale into chronological order. The programme wasn't as slick in presentation as the 'bigger' shows, but it felt much more real... more personal.

I have no O'Flaherty connections and of the other six surnames scheduled to feature in the series, only O'Sullivan appears in my direct ancestral line (as it stands so far). I'll be watching more Sloinne episodes, though.

Sloinne is presented in Irish (Gaeilge) and English. Subtitles can be turned on via a widget below the progress (timer) bar.


Tuesday 23 January 2024

FindMyPast commits to growth of BritishNewspaperArchive holding

Earlier this week, FindMyPast released a press release about its successful partnership with the British Library which, since it was set up in 2011, has seen the digitisation of more than 73 million pages of British and Irish historical newspapers dating from the 1700s.

This resulting online newspaper archive is the largest collection of British and Irish newspapers in the world and includes the Daily Mirror, Liverpool Echo, Belfast Telegraph and Dundee Courier, as well as a trove of other regional publications that are now out of print.

The initial aim of the partnership was to digitise 40 million pages by 2021. This was achieved well within the time frame and the online pagination numbers has continued to grow to the 70m milestone during 2023.

FindMyPast has now announced a commitment to digitise a further 19 million pages over the coming years, all available to explore on any device.

How many additional papers from the island of Ireland will join the database remains to be seen. However, an increase of digitised news pages published in the 20th century has been noted of late, in both British and Irish titles. Examples in the last few weeks include the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph (1997 & 1999); Derry Journal (1991 & 1999); Larne Times (1930), Portadown Times (1998); and both the Galway Observer and Dublin Leader (1964).

It seems likely that more recent editions, particularly those filling gaps of existing holdings, will be the main growth factor. But let's hope there will be some more new titles in the mix, too.

* The BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk is owned by FindMyPast Newspaper Archive Ltd.

Monday 22 January 2024

Ulster Historical Foundation's 2024 lecture tour heads to Oz & NZ

Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt of the Ulster Historical Foundation are gearing up for their next lecture tour in the Southern Hemisphere which starts in just over two weeks. It's the first time these popular lecturers from Northern Ireland have headed for Australia and New Zealand since 2017, and they have a busy programme on offer.

The Australian slice of the tour starts on Saturday 10 February in Melbourne with a day of one-to-one personal research consultations (all fully booked) and ends on Monday 20 February with a full day of lectures in Sydney.

Then it's on to New Zealand from Friday 23 February with four days spent at three locations in Auckland, followed by seven more locations across North and South Islands, with the tour wrapping up in Wellington on Saturday 2 March.

For the full schedule, a description of each location's bespoke programme, and details of how to book (where spaces are still available), see the Ulster Historical Foundation website.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Industrial action expected to disrupt PRONI services tomorrow

Industrial action is expected to cause some disruption tomorrow (Thursday 18 January) to services at the  Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. 

The one-day mass strike by public sector workers will be the biggest industrial action to take place in Northern Ireland for many years.  

As a result, onsite services are likely to be reduced and PRONI advises any researchers planning to visit PRONI to telephone 028 9053 4800 before travelling. 

 

UPDATE, 18 January 7:30am

In view of snow and freezing temperatures (and the fact that most roads would not be gritted because of the strike) PRONI took the decision last night to close its doors until Friday morning.

 


Andersonville Irish Project identifies more Irish Civil War soldiers

The Andersonville Irish Project has announched that 950 Irish men have now been identified among those buried at the former prisoner of war camp (Camp Sumter), which is preserved at the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia.

Ireland's US Civil War dead - click for interactive map

Only three months ago, when a memorial to Irish-American Civil War soldiers and their families was unveiled at the site by the Government of Ireland, the number of identified individuals was 851, so the painstaking research work, most of which is carried out by unpaid volunteers, has been moving on at a pace. You can watch a video of the memorial dedication on the IrishAmericanCivilWar.com site here.

You can also view the 400 locations in Ireland associated with each of the 950 victims on IrishAmericanCivilWar's updated interactive map. Click on the image right.

Camp Sumpter was the largest and most deadly of the 150 military prisons of the Civil War. Controlled by the Confederate Army, it was created in February 1864 abd served as a prisoner of war camp until April 1865. 

Of the approximately 45,000 Union soldiers imprisoned there, nearly 13,000 died. The crowded conditions were horrendous, and most of those who died were suffering from scurvy, diarrhea or dysentery. More than 25% of the identified Irish dead died in August 1864, the deadliest month at the camp.

In addition to Camp Sumter (aka Andersonvill Prison) the Andersonville National Historic Site, which is managed by the US National Park Service, is home to the National Prisoner of War Musuem and Andersonville National Cemetery. The latter has 13,714 POW graves and is also used as a burial place for more recent veterans and their dependents.

2024 marks the 160th Anniversary of Camp Sumter Military Prison.

Monday 15 January 2024

Summary of new records for English, Scottish and Welsh genealogy

Below is an overview of newly-released and updated genealogy collections for England, Scotland and Wales from the major family history database providers. (For previous list, see 15 December blogpost.)

My regular summary of releases and updates relating to British collections is designed to help researchers whose Irish ancestors migrated, temporarily or permanently, to England, Scotland or Wales.

By default, it will also be useful to anyone carrying out research in those three nations, regardless of the origin of their ancestors.

The figures in parentheses in the New Collections section are the numbers of records (or images, if browse-only) in the new record set.

Unless otherwise stated, the figures in parentheses in the Updated Collections section reflect the number of records added to the collection in the recent update. In some instances, the supplier has not made this figure available so the figure is the new total. Where two figures are given, the first is the number of additions, the second is the new total.

Please note that I don't usually include updates of fewer than 1,000 records.


NEW COLLECTIONS


Ancestry

BritishNewspaperArchive and some FindMyPast subscriptions

FindMyPast

MyHeritage

National Library of Scotland

UPDATED COLLECTIONS


Ancestry

BritishNewspaperArchive

FamilySearch
FindMyPast

FreeBMD

TheGenealogist

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Wednesday 10 January 2024

Register of Electors for County Monaghan joins RootsIreland

RootsIreland.ie has added the Register of Electors for 1938–1939 to its County Monaghan database. This Register, which holds some 36,600 records, may help family historians locate 'lost' ancestors or confirm continued residence at a place already known.

For an up-to-date list of sources for County Monaghan click the logo above or to search these records, go to https://rootsireland.ie/monaghan and login or subscribe if required.

Latest developments to Irish holdings in BritishNewspaperArchive

The BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk (BNA) has added more historical newspages from the island of Ireland to its database.

The only 'newcomer' title is The Coleraine Times, a relatively new weekly paper that reports on news and events from the town of Coleraine in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The pages now available to view date from 1990 to 1999.

Updates to existing holdings have also been added from the Cork Daily Herald for the year 1868, The Portadown Times for 1998, The Larne Times for 1930, and for both The Dublin Leader and Galway Observer, issues published in in 1964.

BNA shares its entire database with FindMyPast (FMP), its sister company, where it is included in some FMP subscriptions.

Another development has seen both the Dubln Hospital Gazette (1856-1860) and Freeman's Journal (1820-1900) joining the BNA's list of free-to-view titles. The latter paper, published four times a week, carried local, island-wide and international news and is an important title for Irish genealogists wanting to learn of the events and issues their ancestors lived through and experienced.

Happy New Year from Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives

Here's a great way to start the New Year: a very worthwhile bundle of church records and headstone photos from the volunteers at Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives. Many of these useful records won't be available online elsewhere or may be held behind a paywall, but you'll find them free to access at IGPArchives.

       Gravestones to four priests in Loch Gowna cemetery.

CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Loch Gowna RC Cemetery Pt2, Loch Gowna (Completed)

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Castlefinn Congregational Church Marriages - 1879-1916

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Belleek CoI Marriages, 1865-1921
Belleek Methodist Marriages, 1877-1919

KILKENNY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Ballinamorahan Graveyard, Kilmacow

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Nine Mile House Cemetery
Ballyneale Old Graveyard

TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Drumalong CoI Marriages - 1868-1920
Strabane Methodist Marriages - 1861-1921
1st Newtownstewart Presbyterian Marriages 1845-1921

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Johnstown Castle Private Cemetery