27 July 2011


     I was packing my small collection of medieval manuscript pages for my upcoming move, and I thought of genealogy. (Almost anything can produce thoughts of genealogy among the obsessed!!). These pages were written long before photography, but the monks did not simply copy reams of text. They added illustrations in the borders, or made fancy letters with vivid colors, or added gold for glitter--anything to attract the eye to the page. This "eye appeal" is important in genealogy also. I have found that the best way to engage my relatives in the family history is with photographs. Their eyes glaze over when I show them my charts and records, but pop a photo or two in the mix, and their eyes light up!  What's the quickest way to get a crowd around you at a family reunion?  Bring a photo album!

My dad James Large and me about 1957
     I know what many readers are thinking: "Fine advice, that, if only I possessed photographs of my ancestors!"
     I am in the same boat. My parents did not own a camera. The dearth of my own childhood photos has made me treasure those photos and home movies I have been able to obtain from other relatives. Luckily, sharing photographs and home movies has never been easier. (The main problem today is getting obstinate relatives to share--the excuse of not wanting to allow the photographs themselves to "travel" is no longer valid, but some people are still stingy about sharing, even of copies over the Internet. It is one of the most common complaints I hear.).

my great grandmother
Mary Ann Tracy Magee
and my Grandmom May
Magee Large
      When I don't have a photo to "spice up" my charts or books, I try to include photos of places and buildings that were important to the family history. Churches, workplaces, local parks, houses,
schools, cemeteries are all suitable subjects to be included in a visual family history. Check out sites like eBay that sell postcards. Postcards are great visuals to spice up your family history book or collection.
     Posting photographs on the Internet is a growing branch of genealogical research. For some time now, some Jewish genealogy groups have posted virtual "walls" of photographs to help identify Holocaust victims and survivors. Other genealogy groups also have "walls." The Irish Genealogical Project has photo pages, too. Check out some of the links below. You might find an ancestor one day.
DEAD FRED GENEALOGICAL PHOTO ARCHIVES  This site is a "MUST visit" for family historians. Dead Fred has a searchable database of identified and mystery photographs. You just might have a cousin who posted an ancestor's photo. Check it out!
SUBMIT PHOTOS TO THE IRISH GENEALOGICAL PROJECT  and don't forget to search your county of origin for photos
ARCADIA PUBLISHING publishes local history books, most of them chock full of photographs. While I have yet to find an ancestor in one, I have found photos of a priest who performed some of their weddings, and of street scenes where they resided. (Please note, I do not have any interest, financial or otherwise, in Arcadia Publishing. I am merely a purchaser of their books).
YAD VASHEM PHOTOGRAPH ARCHIVE strives to remember and to identify victims of the Holocaust through photographs
JOURNEY TO RECITE THE KADDISH IN UZLYANY  is the blog I keep for my husband's Fox ancestors. I have incorporated photographs into the blog.
GENEABLOGGERS Many of the bloggers who belong to this genealogy blogging group post photographs on "Wordless Wednesdays."  If you go to the main page on a Wednesday, and scroll down the page, there is usually a list of "wordless" bloggers.


20 July 2011


     Co-ordinating your genealogy research trip to Ireland with a local festival not only adds to your fun, but can advance your family history research. Festivals are a perfect venue for participating in the culture of your ancestors, as well as for providing an opportunity to connect with the locals. People everywhere tend to be friendly and outgoing when they are eating, drinking, dancing, playing music, and having fun--so, even if you are a shy sort, you can't help but make a few new acquaintances.

Kilkenny Arts Festival

     I know several researchers who made genealogical discoveries through the people they met at local festivals in Ireland. Their advice? Be friendly and mention your roots in the area to the locals you meet ("mention," that is, don't be boorish!).. Don't do all the talking, but take the time to question, listen, and learn. A festival is a showcase of local talent, arts, customs, or wares, and if you are a willing audience, you will find locals who are willing to share their knowledge of the local history.
    We attended the Kilkenny Arts Festival (August) during one of our trips. At the time, my girls were ten and twelve years old, and the festival was a nice break for them (they were growing quite tired of cemeteries and libraries). I did sneak in some genealogy time with a visit to the heritage centre at the Rothe House. 

Fun for kids at the Kilkenny Arts Festival
(Jill loved her elaborate face paint!).
     So, don't forget to research the calendar of events in the areas you will be visiting.  The types of festivals are boundless, some are quite unique. Religious, musical, art, farm, racing, food festivals--Ireland has them all! See the links below to find one that interests you!

13 July 2011


     Today, I am going to talk dirty. As in genealogical dirt. Earth. Soil.  Stepping in the very mud our ancestors stepped in, toiled in, lived on, and tilled.
     When I visited Co. Tyrone in the summer of 1995, I had hoped to find the townland of my Lagan ancestors. Through a stroke of Irish luck, I found the Kerr family, whose ancestors were neighbors of my Lagan's. I discovered that the Kerr family members were local historians who preserved the history of the families of the townland of Innishatieve. They helped me trace many generations of my Lagan's and Reilly's.  Not only did they escort me through the townland, they took me to the very spot where my Peggy Lagan's stone house once stood.

    It is difficult to put into words the visceral feeling one gets while standing on the soil of ancestors. This connection to the past is not the cerebral connection that we researchers experience when discovering new records. Standing on the ancestral dirt, literally, involves many senses. I connected with my ancestors through my feet, standing on the same earth; through my eyes, seeing the same sights; through my ears, hearing the breeze stir the sycamore leaves; through my nose, smelling the green fields; and through my skin, touching the stones they once placed their hands upon.
     So, take a genealogical trip this summer. If you can't get to Ireland, visit a local place with significance to your family history--a town your grandmother knew, a church your great grandfather attended. Look about you with their eyes, sit still for a moment and listen and breathe. Your ancestors are speaking through the years.
Below: a short video I made of my1995 visit to Peggy's home:

(In memory of Michael Kerr, God Rest His Soul)

11 July 2011


     I missed posting this past week because I was in Toronto, trying to find a place to live. The sheer volume of paper and forms and requirements just to move across the US/Candian border is mind-boggling. Immigration is much easier for me than it was for my great great grandmother Bridget Large, but it is still a headache!
     Seems like a bit of quiet has descended upon the Irish genealogy world this summer. Even the email lists are rather quiet!
     However, as always, the good folks who volunteer with the Irish Genealogical Project are busy as usual. Below are the updates to their databases:
GENERAL IRELAND Genealogy Archives - Education-Alumni Dublineses - additional
ANTRIM Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Antrim 1844
ARMAGH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Armagh 1844
CARLOW Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Carlow 1844
CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Cavan 1844
CLARE Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Clare 1844
CORK Genealogy Archives
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Cork 1844
DOWN Genealogy Archives - Military and Constabulary
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of DOWN 1844
DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
-RIC Enlistments, Natives of Co. Donegal, 1844
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones & Military
-Mount Jerome, Dublin - Part 23 & 24
-Glasnevin Cemetery, (officially known as Prospect Cemetery), Part One,
-Deansgrange Cemetery, North Section Part 3
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Military
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Dublin 1844
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Military & Church Records
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Fermanagh 1844
-Ballinamallard - Births recorded at Ballinamallard Methodist Church 1879-1919
-Ballinamallard - Marriages recorded at Ballinamallard Methodist Church
Jun 30 2011
KERRY Genealogy Archives
-Kilgobbin Church Of Ireland, Near Camp, Kerry, Ireland - Quirke (partial)
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Land
-In the Matter of the Estate of JOHN WILLIAM JOHNSTON et al, Lot No. 1, 1858
LIMERICK Genealogy Archives - Photos
-Spillane, Peter 1900 - Ancestory photo
LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Church & Cemetery Records
-Deaths in the Parishes of Templemichael and Ballymacormick 1802-1810 (updated
to 1810)
-Ardagh, St. Patrick's, (Church of Ireland)
-Drumlish Old Cemetery 2002
MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Military & Cemetery
-Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Monaghan 1846 (partial)
-Abbey Graveyard, Clones
SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Land Records & Cemetery
-Encumbered Estate of THOMAS HOWLEY - Lot 1 (Quigue)
-Encumbered Estate of JOHN WILLIAM JOHNSTON, AND SEVERAL OTHERS - Lot 2 (Correa)
-Encumbered Estate of THOMAS HOWLEY - Lot 3 (Owenbeg)
-Ballymote Carrowanty Cemetery
-Ballymote Churchyard of the Immaculate Conception
-Collooney Cemetery 2006
-Gurteen Cemetery 2001
-Templeronan Cemetery, 2004
TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Photos & Newspapers
-Butler, James 1900 (Ancestor Photo)
-Insolvents in Ireland - Tipperary 1836
WESTMEATH Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
-St. Feichin Churchyard New Cemetery, Fore, Co. Westmeath
-St. Feichin Churchyard Old Cemetery, Fore, Co. WestmeathGenealogy Archives
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives Miscellaneous & Church
-Freemen who registered to vote in March 1835, pt 1, A-W
Some Abstracts from Parish Registers of Taghmon, Wexford - mostly CARTY

01 July 2011

Genealogy in the Movies

     Genealogy has become so popular that Hollywood has taken note of it and is using it as a plot device! In the recent comedy Little Fockers, Robert DeNiro plays a family historian who is obsessed with the future of his family dynasty. He has an elaborate family tree on the wall of his study. The ancestral name is "Byrne," so I am assuming an Irish connection (by the way, both DeNiro, famous for his portrayals of Italian characters, and Ben Stiller, who plays the Jewish main character, have Irish roots).
     The movie made me think about other movies that contain genealogy themes. The Shipping News is my favorite, both for its exploration of the theme of ancestry and its fabulous musical score. Quoyle, the main character played by Kevin Spacy, moves to his ancestral home in Newfoundland and discovers the dark side of his family history. While not strictly an "Irish" family, the town and seafaring characters reflect the Celtic heritage found in that part of Newfoundland.
     ( Watch the Trailer for THE SHIPPING NEWS )
     While not strictly genealogical in theme, the movies Far and Away and Gangs of New York can be helpful to family historians who would like to understand the hardships that their Irish ancestors may have encountered in coming to and settling in the United States in the 1800's.
     I shouldn't forget (or maybe I should!) to add The MatchMaker, in which Janeane Garofalo plays an assistant to a U.S. senator. The senator is facing re-election and is in need of Irish American votes, so he sends his assistant to Ireland to "dig up" his Irish roots and to find present-day Irish relatives. While you won't learn much about Irish genealogy from this very "light" comedy, you might like some of the shots of Ireland.
     So, get out the popcorn and rent some DVDs with a genealogy theme! (By the way, I am not guaranteeing that you will LIKE any of these movies, just noting their connection to Irish genealogy!) Readers, know any more genealogy movies?