02 December 2010


     The new year will bring many a smile to the faces of Irish family historians. Those of us whose ancestors hailed from Northern Ireland received good news this week from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: the projected public opening of the new PRONI facility is scheduled for 30 March 2011, well ahead of schedule. In the email announcement, Culture Minister Nelson McCausland said that the new headquarters will be in a state-of-the-art facility and will provide the public with better access to records. Over 40 km of "unique, irreplaceable and ... priceless documents" are being moved to the new facility, which will be in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.
     PRONI had more good news for "armchair" researchers. Now available online is a fully searchable index to the will calendar entries for the District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast, and Londonderry. The database covers the period 1858-1919 and 1922-1943. Those for 1921-22 will follow soon. In addition, the digitized images of entries from the copy will book from 1858-1900 are now available online. Reseachers can now view the full contents of those wills online. The collection contains 93,388 will images.
     Wait--there's more from PRONI! Over fifty years of wedding and family portraits are now available for viewing via the photo-sharing website, Flickr. The photos are from the Allison Photographic Studios in Armagh. There are now 200 digital images online, with more being added, until all 1530 images are posted.

   Not to be outdone, the National Library of Ireland announced its intention to digitize and make available online all of its Roman Catholic parish register microfilms. These are IMAGES, yes, IMAGES! This is a revolutionary leap in online genealogy research. Currently, researchers must visit the Library in Dublin or obtain the films from the Latter-day Saints if they want to see actual images of the registers. Since we Irish family historians rely so heavily on church records, especially for those years before civil registration began in 1864, this online collection will be a dream come true. The collection covers 1200 parishes on 520 reels.


PRONI photos on Flickr
PRONI Will Calendars