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 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.



BritishNewspaperArchive and FindMyPast







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A rare treat:'s entire database is free for four days, 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 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

The state-managed 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

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

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

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.