Friday, June 24, 2011

Genealogy: a prime topic, especially in Ireland

Perhaps I have donned my rose-coloured glasses yet again, but honestly I cannot think of another country in the world in which the subject of genealogy would be a topic for discussion on the floor of the houses of government, but that is exactly what took place in the Dáil Éireann, earlier this week, on Wednesday, 22 June 2011.

Directly quoting from the Houses of the Oireachtas debate:

Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht:

"if he will set up a central genealogy service to capitalise on the recent visit by President Obama in view of the fact that it would provide a comprehensive research facility to the Irish diaspora worldwide and contribute greatly to attract these persons to Ireland."

Jimmy Deenihan, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht replied:

"My approach to genealogical services is to assist the two main national institutions involved in this area which are under the aegis of my Department, the National Archives and the National Library, to make available to the public the records of genealogical interest in their collections, online and free of charge, to gain the highest usage domestically and around the world."

Deputy Deenihan goes on to describe the other initiatives underway to ensure the greatest access of materials to the greatest number of people. He includes mention of, not currently my favourite site, given the snail's pace at which it is updated, but clearly a site which will be of great value once the work is complete.

Further, he makes reference to the fact that the release of the 1926 Census remains in legal limbo, but again, at least they are working on it. There is also discussion of creating a main web portal in order to draw together Irish genealogical web resources currently in use.

To read the entire debate visit The Houses of Oireachtas website debates page.

The significance of all of this is that the Irish government continues to recognize the importance of genealogy. Given the fact that it is good business to give people what they want, some will no doubt see this as a money grab, with the sole purpose of boosting tourism; however, as a researcher, I can only view it as a good thing.

Cheers to all, and Happy Hunting.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What does it mean to say "I am an Irish Citizen."?

Father: Irish Born, Irish Citizen
Mother: Irish Born, Irish Citizen
Brother: Irish Born, Irish Citizen
Me: Canadian Born, Irish Citizen?

Under Irish law, because it is the case that my mother and my father are Irish born, and were Irish citizens at the time of my birth, I am automatically an Irish citizen.


What does it truly mean to say, "I am an Irish citizen"?

Strictly speaking, to be an Irish citizen means that I am a member of a political community, specifically the nation of the Republic of Ireland. With Irish citizenship come certain legal rights; for example, I am allowed to travel on an Irish passport. Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU); therefore, as an Irish citizen I am free to live and work in any member country of the EU. No residence or work permits are necessary for me. It all sounds very nice and uncomplicated; however, with rights come responsibilities, so what is required of me as an Irish citizen?

As an Irish citizen living outside of Ireland there is little required of me, at least in legal terms. I am not allowed to vote in Irish elections, nor am I allowed to be a jury member. I am an Irish citizen, but I am on the outside looking in. In some respects it appears as though the legal designation is a meaningless one; however, for me being a citizen of Ireland is more than just a legal or political designation. To be a citizen is to represent the country of Ireland in the best possible way. Perhaps this explains my tendency to "get my knickers in a knot" when I feel as though Irish research is being misrepresented.

A few years ago when I attended an Irish women's history conference, I had a discussion with a couple of Irish academics about the way in which Ireland is viewed by citizens living outside the country. In the case of my parents, and some other family members who had emigrated out of Ireland, it seemed to me as though their idea of Ireland was frozen in time, as if the country remained exactly as it was when they left it. It also appeared that over time their view of Ireland had changed. In their estimation it now seemed as though the country was a sort of dream-like place, a place without hardship or conflict, a place to look upon with only fond memories. I asked the academics if they thought that ex-patriot Irish could really understand what Ireland was like today. They said that they thought there might be a tendency to view the country through rose-coloured glasses. This certainly makes sense to me.

It seems to me as though to 'lose' a country, by emigrating, is almost like losing a loved one. When we look back over the life we shared with a now deceased family member, the troubles between us lose their edge and fade into the background. The happy times, and all that was good about that individual, come marching into the fore. Perhaps the same holds true for the immigrant when they are no longer "legally responsible" for the country of which they are a citizen. Perhaps an immigrant wants to remember, and to bring to their new country, only all the best of what they knew in their homeland.

In many ways I have taken on my parents' ideal of what Ireland is. It is only when I travel to do research, and meet with family members who still live in Ireland, that I get a very small taste of exactly how things are politically and economically. Despite that, I have always loved the country of Ireland, and it is still my dream to one day live there in the person of a 'real' citizen. Although I may be viewing it through rose-coloured glasses, I am proud to say I am a citizen of Ireland.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Irish Records Updates on 'Finding Family: Research Aids' page

On this Tuesday's Tip I am passing along updates for sites I have listed on my page "Finding Family: Research Aids", as well as additions to the page itself. I add to this page anytime I find a site that proves to be helpful.

Cheers and Happy Hunting to you!


New portal website for finding search accessible archival collections:

The Irish Archives Resource (IAR) is a web portal that enables researchers to search for publicly accessible archival collections that are located in Ireland. The IAR is funded by the Heritage Council of Ireland and is supported by the Archives and Records Association (Ireland). This portal is useful now, depending on your research interests, and with the possibility of future institutional partnerships, it holds the promise of growing into a far reaching and valuable resource.

They describe it as follows:

"The IAR consists of an online database which provides searchable archival descriptions that are created in accordance with national archival guidelines and international archival standards. Web links from each descriptive entry lead to repository home pages, detailed item level finding aids, databases, or digital objects.

The purpose of the IAR Portal is to:
  • Allow users to locate archival collections that are relevant to their research.
  • Stimulate the increased use of archival collections across the whole of Ireland by directing researchers to the relevant repositories/archives services.
  • Encourage the development and publication of comprehensive, standardised archival descriptions.
  • Facilitate access to documents/items by linking to detailed finding aids/descriptive lists, web pages, or digital objects, that are held, for example, on the web site of each repository/archives service."

Link to the site here:


Irish Family History Foundation: Wicklow Church Marriage Records

The IFHF is pleased to announce the online addition of 95,000 church marriage records from the Wicklow Family History Centre for Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland parishes in Co. Wicklow. See the Wicklow Sources List for full details.

Use this link and login using your existing IFHF login details.


Ancestry Ireland (Ulster Historical Foundation)"Explore Ulster's History and Genealogy":

These records are not just limited to the modern day state of Northern Ireland, but cover the Province of Ulster, including areas which are not part of Northern Ireland.

Here is a full listing of all that they have in their database, including newly added records:



I've added a link to the Irish cemetery pages at Despite the fact that it's a bit of an eyesore, I've also added a 'Find A Grave' customized search box for graves in Ireland. Ireland and Northern Ireland pages:

Find A Grave: Irish Cemeteries:

See 'Find A Grave' customized search box on 'Finding Family: Research Aids' page.


The National Library of Ireland Digital Photographic: You don't have to pay in order to view photographs from the National Library Digital Photographic Archive. Just click on the link below, which I've added to my research page, and you will be able to access over 33,000 digital images, including those from the collections of Lawrence, the Keogh Brothers, and the Irish Independent newspaper.

National Library of Ireland Digital Photographic Archive


Copyright© J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.
Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the great graphic.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Madness Monday: Misinformation Makes Me Crazy!!! Part Three

Uh oh, you may be thinking, here she goes again. Back in March I posted part two about my madness over misinformation, made reference to my first "bout of madness" in July of 2010, and wrote about how I don't usually give in to an inclination to rant. Now, here I am in June of 2011 and I'm feeling that itch again. Three upsets in the space of one year? I'm going to give myself a break and say it's okay.

Once again I made one of my forays around Internet Land, and once again I was surprised at some of the little nuggets that I came upon about doing genealogy research in Ireland. Here are just a few.

1. "It takes two hours to get a reader's ticket at the National Library of Ireland". 

Really? Two hours? What the heck were you doing during that time?

Getting a reader's ticket at the National Library of Ireland is very easy and should take, at most, about fifteen minutes.

One: you fill out the application (now via computer in their lobby).
Two: you present i.d. (your passport is best), and get an i.d. photo taken in their gift shop.
Three: the staff member prints out the ticket with photo, laminates it, and puts in on a little chain so you can wear it.

Tah Dah!

You're ready to research.

(You might spend a few more minutes if you'd like to have a chin wag with the gift shop staff member or the security guards.)

2. "Irish Research Centres are really expensive to search in."


Okay, if a man in a trench coat approaches you on the street and says, "Psst, want to buy some research from my research centre?", then RUN as fast as you can to the National Library of Ireland (NLI) or the National Archives of Ireland (NAI), both located in Dublin City.

Both the NLI and the NAI provide a FREE genealogy advisory service, and they are staffed by very helpful personnel. They will direct you to the library and archive resources which you may want to view (again free). Also, both the NLI website and the NAI website provide research guides to Irish genealogy, and details about all of their holdings, including materials such as parish registers (NLI, on microfilm), Tithe Applotment books, wills and testamentary records (NAI). As is the case with all libraries and archives, you do have to pay for photocopies or microfilm copies.

For those searching online, individual county based genealogy centres have been involved in the transcription and digitization of Irish church records for many years. Most of them are part of the Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF), and their records can be accessed online through the IFHF website. You may search this site for free; the viewing and purchase of an individual record will cost 5 Euros (about $6.50 USD). If you are in Ireland, it is best to stick with such places as the National Library, the National Archives, Dublin City Library, or other local libraries for research. The county centres provide a research service based on the indexes they hold, but do not normally allow members of the public direct access to them.

As is the case elsewhere, if you contract with a professional researcher/genealogist to do research for you, then yes, you must pay for the services of that person. I have been doing research in Ireland for years, and I have never, at any time, paid to do my own research.

3. Few records exist because, "they [the Irish] were taught not to make records".

This bit of nonsense nearly made my head explode. Taught NOT to make records? Was there a training course? Did everyone just sit in the classroom and stare at the chalk board?

Consider for a moment a micro-mini history of Ireland...

12th and 13th centuries:

The Norman invasions: burning, pillaging, rack and ruin: Yes, probably loss of records.

17th century:

That little darling Oliver Cromwell stopped by, ripping up the south and east of the island in his bid to "reconquer" Ireland for England. Catholic Churches were deliberately razed by cannon fire. More burning and pillaging, and yes loss of records, hiding of records, and who knows perhaps even avoidance of making records.

18th century:

1798 Rebellion: some damage to property, perhaps even some destruction of records.

19th century:

1845: legislation provides for the registration of civil marriages and the regulation of all non-Catholic marriages, and creates the Office of the Registrar-General responsible for the collation and custody of all birth, death and marriage records.

1864: further legislation provides for the inclusion of Catholic marriages, together with all births and deaths.(For the history of civil registration in Ireland visit this GRO site history page).

20th century:

1922: during the Irish Civil War: fire at the Four Courts Complex results in the destruction of the Public Records Office and with it the loss of about two-thirds of the pre-1870 Church of Ireland parish registers, as well almost all 19th century census documents, and pre-1922 probate records. (see this post for further information)

YES, throughout Irish history there have been times when records have been destroyed, either deliberately or inadvertently, but the Irish being "taught NOT to make records"? I think that's more than a bit of a stretch.

As always, I thank you for reading/listening to my Monday Madness. Sigh! I feel so much better.


Copyright© J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.
Note: The money image is of defunct Irish legal tender, an old £20 note; the Euro is now the standard used.
Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the black and white graphics in this post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and Archivists

When you think about the people (both real and imagined) in your life who rarely disappoint you, to whom would you point? When I was a child it was Santa Claus who might deliver what was requested (often a beloved story book). The Tooth Fairy could usually be relied upon to come up with a quarter, or perhaps even two, for the little incisors that I might tuck under my pillow. Now that I am an adult, historian, and family history researcher, I find Archivists fit nicely into the same category.

After participating in "Ask an Archivist" day last Thursday on Twitter, I asked myself about the last time an archivist said "NO" to me, and I honestly couldn't think of a single instance. On twitpic I posted the photograph which you see below, because I am trying to identify all of the men in it. They are, I believe, members of the Dublin Active Service Unit. The two men I can identify are Michael Magee (back row, far right) and Bernard Ryan (front row, 2nd from left), about whom I've previously written on this blog.

On "Ask an Archivist" day, I asked if anyone at The National Library of Ireland would view the image and possibly be able to identify the other men in the photograph. I posted my query and less than 2 minutes later received an enthusiastic reply with further questions, suggestions, and the offer of help. The photograph has been forwarded to their photo archivist, and they asked if they could distribute it to their wide audience of followers, and anyone else who might be helpful. WOW!

This made me think about the fact that as researchers we regularly ask Archivists (and Librarians) for help, and they never say no to us. If it is possible to locate a document or film, or material of any kind which is helpful to us, Archivists step up and bring it along. Often I have found myself in situations in which I not only received the information I requested, but was also given extra materials. The sentences, "this might help you" and "you might find this interesting or useful" are ones I hear a lot when I am doing research.

Today, on this Thankful Thursday, I am so very thankful for Archivists and Librarians, so I want to say thank you to each and every one who has helped me along my way, and might help me in the future.


Friday, June 10, 2011

New page for this blog: Faces of Genealogy

Last week Thomas MacEntee alerted us to the publication, by an L.A. newspaper (which shall remain nameless), of an offensive image within the body of an article about the SCGS Jamboree. At that time Thomas asked us to publish images on our blogs which feature the faces of those people who represent the face of genealogy for us.

When I saw the outpouring of photographs and articles on this topic, I felt so very proud of all of us who are members of the GeneaBloggers community. Personally, this exercise was very meaningful, because it meant I took the time to go through all of the images I have in order to look for that defining one which is, for me, "The Face of Genealogy". Ultimately I ended up publishing a grouping of photographs which I thought fit the bill.

In light of the fact that doing this meant so much to me, I have decided to create another page for this blog. On this page, which is entitled "Faces of Genealogy", I have published photographs which are especially meaningful to me. I hope that you will enjoy viewing them as much as I do. As I have stated at the top of the new page, "These are the faces of some of my family members. These are the faces of some of those who have inspired me, driven me to do research, and haunted my dreams. These are the faces of my family history and genealogy."

Monday, June 6, 2011

This Is The Face of Genealogy

These are the faces of some of those who have inspired me, driven me to do research, and haunted my dreams. These are the faces of my family history and genealogy.

Click on photograph to view larger version.
Copyright© J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.
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