Monday, July 19, 2010

Madness Monday: Misinformation makes me crazy!!

Misinformation makes me absolutely, positively, stark-raving, barking mad! Did I use enough adjectives there? Please bear with me.

Recently I have come across sites presenting completely inaccurate information about records in Ireland pertinent to family history research. I do not believe the people who post this misinformation are doing it out of any sort of maliciousness; rather, I think they are simply ill informed or making incorrect assumptions.

The most significant piece of inaccurate information I have come across so far has to do with Irish Civil Registrations of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. There is a misconception afoot that these records (pre-1922) were lost in the fire following the siege of the Four Courts during the Irish Civil War.

The Four Courts

In order to clear up this misconception I thought I would go straight to the horse's mouth, so to speak. According to Colm O'Dalaigh, Manager of the Public Office and Central Applications Division of the General Register Office:

(and I'm quoting now)

"Yes, there were a lot of important documents and records lost [in the Four Courts fire], including some Parish registers and other documents containing some genealogical data."


"The Civil Registrations of Births, Deaths, and Marriages were NEVER housed in the Four Courts." 

Got that? NEVER!!

The misconception about records of birth, marriage and death, may stem from an assumption that the Public Records Office and the General Register Office are one in the same, when in fact they are not.

In 1922 the Public Records Office was located in a building in the Four Courts Complex which was damaged by fire, thus the loss of the records referred to by Colm O'Dalaigh. (The functions of the Public Records Office and the State Papers Office are now handled by the National Archives, established on 1 June 1988.)

A Brief History of The General Register Office (They moved A LOT)

The very first repository for the records of the General Register Office (GRO) was the Kings Inns (1848-1872). From there the GRO moved to Charlemont house in Dublin (1872-1929). Relocation to the basement of the Custom House on the river Liffey took place in 1929; the GRO remained there until 1983. For accommodation reasons, as well as health and safety, in 1983 the Office moved once again, this time across the river Liffey to Joyce House. In the same period the Superintendent Registrar's Office for Dublin was also accommodated on the ground floor of this new building.

In 1992 then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Albert Reynolds made a commitment that would see the General Register Office relocated to Roscommon in the West of Ireland. As this move involved a major modernisation programme for the entire Civil Registration System, the relocation did not take place until April 2005.

The Research Room of the General Register Office, with its leather bound tomes, remains in Dublin. It is in the Irish Life Centre in Lower Abbey Street where members of the public still visit daily in order to carry out research.

Thanks for letting me be MAD on Monday; I feel much better now.
Irish Life Centre: Interior Courtyard

UPDATE: As of Autumn 2013, the Research Room of the General Register Office is now located on Werburg Street in Dublin. See this post.

Copyright ©J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010

1 comment:

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Cheers, Jennifer

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