29 April 2010


   Hello from the National Genealogy Conference in Salt Lake City! I am learning a ton about Irish genealogy sources and will share in this blog in the coming weeks what I am learning here.  But I could not wait to blog about one OUTRAGEOUS source for Irish family historians that I learned about this afternoon at a workshop by David Rencher: the OUTRAGE PAPERS. These papers were compilations of  local offenses and crimes committed by the "unruly" Irish natives. The reports were collected and then sent daily to the Chief Secretary of Ireland. Not only did the papers help the British government to keep an eye on crime, but, more importantly for the British rulers, the reports helped them to identify potential uprisings or areas of political agitation.
   The good news for Irish family historians is that these papers covered the whole of Ireland and have survived the misfortunes that other Irish records have suffered. Timewise, they cover the first half of the 1800's.
   Now, don't put your nose in the air and claim your ancestors could never have been named in a criminal report! Don't forget that many of the "crimes" of that period were often considered acts of Irish patriotism by the native Irish. Other "crimes" were offenses commited by desperate poor and hungry persons. Some of the "crimes" reported in the Outrage Papers were quite peculiar, such as a woman eloping with a servant! Others include stealing sheep, assaulting a "better," or attacking the "big house." Prison riots were noted, as were the common murders, assaults, and thefts.
   These papers are fulll of details about the offenses. Names and locations and dates are included, along with the townlands of the perpetrators and the victims. So, you might discover that your family tree includes a victim of a crime, as well as a "perp."
   Currently, a trip to Dublin or London is required to view these papers, which are kept by the Archives of Ireland and of Britain.

22 April 2010


      I sat down to write about using ghost stories in your Irish research, but I decided to leave that topic for another day (don't forget to check back in a few weeks--preferable at night with a campfire and some marshmallows--I hope to have some spine-tingling tales for those of you with banshees and changelings in your tree!). What changed my topic was an email I received from a reader this morning, while I was packing for my trip to Salt Lake City for the National Genealogy Society conference. The email began like so many others I receive,
     "My dream is to go to Ireland, but first, I need to find..."
     So many of us postpone taking that trip, thinking we need to find that one elusive ancestor or townland before we go. Each expert we consult imparts the same advice: "Uncover every piece of information about your ancestors in your home country before you go to Ireland to research." Yes, that is sound advice, and I give it myself at every presentation. But, my next sentence is
      "Ignore what I just said and GO anyway!"
     At the very least, you will have visited the land of your ancestors. You will gain an appreciation of their lives and your own cultural roots. Isn't that just as thrilling as filling one more box on your chart? And, you just might have a little bit of that Irish luck and discover ancestors--or even living relatives--while you are there.
     Part of the secret of discovering information while in Ireland is to take the time to PLAN AHEAD. With careful planning--which means leaving ample free time for SERENDIPITY and fun--you can maximize your genealogy research during your trip.Take these steps:
1. Determine your research goals (list which family lines, places, and time periods are relevant to your research).
2. Weigh the possibilities and adjust your goals (determine which locales or repositories fit within your budget and time frame).
3. Structure your trip, but loosely. Plan your routes and learn what is at each destination. Don't pack your schedule too tightly--you will want to allow yourself time to follow up on any discoveries you might make. On the other hand, be aware of cultural and fun activities at each destination point in case your research opportunities fall short.
4. Research the locales you will visit. Is there a library? Cemetery? Genealogy or history center?
5. Research the repositories or points of interest you plan to visit. What are the hours, fees, identification requirements, reservation or appointment requirements?
     During your trip, remember that research is more than looking at films at the National Library. You can make genealogical discoveries in many places in Ireland (I know researchers who found relatives or ancestors in each of these ways!) :
1. Visit local libraries and bookshops.
2. Find the local historian--ask at the library or post office or pub.
3. Attend a local church service--and stay for tea after if invited (you will be).
4. Attend a local sporting event, farmer's market, or fair.
5. Ask questions. Of course, mind manners and be polite. Show an interest in the people and the area you are visiting. Bring some small token gifts from home (candy, small book, souvenir) to present to new friends or helpful librarians. The thought will be appreciated, and you will be remembered.
6. Sign any and all visitor logs. Years after a visit to Co. Tyrone, I was contacted by a distant cousin who visited the same heritage centre.
     Most of all, enjoy yourself and leave your expectations at home. Expectations have ruined many a trip! Take success and failure and weather in stride. A "failure" on this trip could lead to success one day. I came home from my first trip to Co.Kilkenny to discover that I had been in the right town, but was researching in the wrong church! But what if I had never gone--I might still be searching the wrong religious records!
Go get those plane tickets! (If the volcanoes in Iceland will only cooperate...) And send me a postcard!

16 April 2010


     We often think of You Tube as the site to go to for funny pet videos or celebrity clips. I have my own You Tube channel, filled with videos of Oscar the Cat and of my recent travels. It never occured to me to use You Tube as a genealogy source until a fellow research pointed me to a video clip of Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny. So, of course, that suggestion led to hours of searching through videos of Irish towns, Irish music, and Irish culture.
     We can use You Tube as a genealogy vehicle in many ways:
1. as a way to display and share our own family videos (be mindful of the privacy concerns of your family members)
2. as a research tool, to find videos of the areas you are researching
3. as a learning tool, to obtain information about Irish genealogy
     I will comment on making family history videos in another post, but for now I would like to note that it is far easier than you would think to create your own family history video and to upload it to You Tube. Putting your family history in video form is a wonderful way to reach other family members who are not interested at looking at charts and records. I love making my own family history videos and dvd's and sending them out as holiday treats. I don't post them on You Tube, but I do share them with family members on Facebook.
     Have you searched You Tube for videos of your ancestors' place of origin? Try searching for the city or townland or county. More and more Irish people, and tourists, are making local history videos and sharing them on You Tube. You might even try a name or surname search. I have seen several videos dedicated to the memory of an ancestor.
     You can even learn about Irish genealogy research on You Tube. I enjoy the videos that have been uploaded by "Teapot Genealogy," a group of Irish genealogists in Australia. The Teapot presenters inlcude Billie Jacobsen, Wendy Dzubiel, and Kaye Vernon.  They began their discussions about making genealogy videos over a cup of tea, leading Kaye's daughter to suggest the name of "Teapot Genies."
     Their videos are discussions of Irish family history, often made at places of historical significance in Ireland and Australia. Often, the Teapot Genies' videos include interviews with record-keepers and historians in Ireland. Sample video subjects include Skibbereen, Irish church records, and the Famine.
COFLUN'S CHANNEL (Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny videos)
DBFX1954 (my channel--sorry no genealogy videos YET)


     First, I would like to thank the genealogy bloggers who have passed on the "Ancestor Approved Award" to my blog. I am still "learning the ropes" of blogging, slowly but surely. In between trying to figure out how to maintain my own page, I have been surfing through the world of genealogy blogging. I am amazed at all the fine blogs that are out there. Many belong to Geneabloggers, an online community of genealogy bloggers.
     Since we can learn so much from our fellow researchers, I would like to urge you to check out the world of genealogy blogs. I hope to add many more blogs to my list of blogs that I am following. If you click on My Profile, you will see some of the blogs I have discovered in the past few weeks. You will be so excited by the blogs you will discover, you might soon start your own!

14 April 2010

UPDATE: Wicklow Church of Ireland records now online

The Irish Family History Foundation has uploaded Co. Wicklow Church of Ireland records. As with their other county databases, the search is free, but each record costs 5 euro.

08 April 2010


     Time was, I belonged to every genealogical association and society I could find. In the days before Al Gore invented the Internet, these organizations were a lifeline to information on genealogy, especially for sources in Ireland. That was also when the cost of genealogy as a hobby amounted to a roll of stamps and the occasional charges for shipping films from Salt Lake to my local Family History Center. Today, the amount of information available online to family historians is mind-boggling to us genealogical dinosaurs, but the monetary cost of access to that information has also risen geometrically. So, over the years, I cut back drastically on paying dues to organizations. I made one big mistake--I let my membership lapse in the Irish Genealogical Society International (IGSI).
     Then one day, I was cleaning out my files and came across a box of issues of The Septs that I had saved over the years. The Septs is the the quarterly journal of the IGSI. I realized that I was missing an important resource and that I needed to rejoin the IGSI. I was pleased to discover that membership was still a bargain--$25 for US and "electronic," and $35 for international mail.
     The main benefit for me is to have access to a society and a publication that consolidates topics and news in Irish genealogy. I consider myself a decent web surfer, but the IGSI helps guide me to information I might miss otherwise. Each issue of The Septs features, among other things, a few articles around a theme, such as Canadian Records (see my archive of past posts for that topic and an IGSI link) or Siblings. I like such an in-depth exploration of a topic and usually find some angle of research that I missed.
     I contacted Diane Lovrencevic, Vice-President of the IGSI and Tom Rice, Managing Editor of The Septs, for their input on the resources their society offers. They responded:
     "IGSI is a full service, international genealogy organization that offers a high quality quarterly publication, an instructional website, an extensive Irish genealogy library, expert research service, an eNewsletter, quarterly meetings, and Irish repository trips. We are very welcoming to new members and are supportive of their Irish heritage and genealogy research efforts."
   Diane and Tom said that the special benefits to members include the quarterly journal, the IGSI website, research services for members, access to one of the best Irish genealogy libraries in the US, an online bookstore with many hard-to-find Irish genealogy resources, quarterly meetings with speakers who are leaders in Irish genealogy, monthly classes, and research help.
   In addition, the IGSI has sponsored trips to research sites. Past trips included Salt Lake City, the US National Archives, and Canadian repositories. This fall, the society is offering a trip to Dublin. These trips are open to non-members. They have been able to find roommates for those persons who traveling alone but would like to share expenses and company.
   Diane said, "We have heard from others about wanting to go somewhere for research but not wanting to go totally alone. We thought offering our trips would be a good way to provide this kind of service to people."
     I want to thank Diane and Tom for taking the time to "walk me through" the IGSI. For more information on the society or their upcoming trip to Ireland, please click on the link below.
IGSI Trip to Ireland



The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has announced that a temporary self-service mircrofilm facility will be available to the public for research purposes during PRONI's forthcoming closure. The facility will be open from September 2010, and will be located at the Cregagh Library in Belfast. See the PRONI website for more details:

02 April 2010


The Surnames of Ireland
Guide to Irish Parish Registers
Directory of Irish Archives
New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, Second Edition
Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, Third Edition
Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History, Revised Edition
    Irish Church Records
      There are quite a few guidebooks on Irish genealogy research available these days. I am constantly asked which ones I recommend. And, surprise, I DO have a definite opinion! I have shelves upon shelves of genealogy related books, but there is one shelf for those books I could not live--or research--without.
     For years, I searched in vain for records that do not exist (I should call this blog "Learn from My Mistakes"). Years ago, I discovered two books that turned me into a more efficient, and better informed, researcher. The first was John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. Not only is Grenham's text on the type of records very concise and informative, his county by county source lists and Roman Catholic register charts are invaluable.
     My equally favorite book is Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History by James G. Ryan. This is a big, heavy tome, but it is worth 100 times over its weight in research value. Ryan's book is especially helpful to those searching records of Church of Ireland and Protestant denominations, along with Roman Catholic records. The print is large, and his layout is very easy to follow and search. The layout is very "visual" and organized.  It is a wonderful county by county guide of what records of all sorts are available in Ireland, and of where those records can be found.
     When I travel to Ireland to research, I leave these two books home. First, I would not want to lose them. Second, they add to the luggage weight. Instead, I copy the pages relevant to the area I am researching. When my trip is done, I throw out the pages, thereby saving room for souvenirs. Another travel tip: I buy many books in Ireland, which I ship home rather than pack in my luggage. It is fun to get a package from yourself after arriving home, and these days the postage is cheaper than airline luggage weight surcharges. Do compare prices at bookshops, however, as one shop in Dublin would have charged 45 euro for the same set of books for which the store across the street charged me 16 euro.
     James Ryan also edited Irish Church Records. It is a nice companion to his aforementioned Irish Records, in that it includes essays by various experts on the various denominations found in Ireland. He includes information on Quakers and Huguenots that is invaluable.
     A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland by Brian Mitchell is another must-have. Maps, maps,maps--need I say more? Mitchell also authored A Guide to Irish Parish Registers,which presents its information in chart form.
     One fairly slim volume that you might consider taking to Ireland with you is Directory of Irish Archives by Seamus Helferty and Raymond Refausse. This directory contains addresses, hours, phone numbers, and more for over 200 archives, libraries, museums, schools, and religious institutions. Might be smart to check online or call the institution you wish to visit first, though, in case hours have changed.
     I am always asked about books treating the subject of surnames. I caution these researchers not to rely on these surname origin books for a definitive place of origin for their own ancestors. However, it is fun and informative to know a bit of the history of one's surname. The most intelligent of these type of books are MacLysaght's The Surnames of Ireland and Bell's The Book of Ulster Surnames. A fun resource is O'Laughlin's The Book of Irish Families Great and Small, which includes family crests. Not to sound like a broken record, but these surname books don't replace research, and should not be used as a definitive guide to your family's origins.
     So---Go dust off a bookshelf and make space for your Irish research library!