29 September 2011


     The news buzz around the Irish genealogy world the last couple of weeks has been the controversy over  the addition of Irish Roman Catholic parish records to Ancestry.com's database. The question being asked  is whether Ancestry.co.uk infringed the legal rights of the NLI regarding the microfilms containing those records. The NLI possesses the microfilm collection of the Catholic parish records.
See IRISH TIMES: National LIbrary Inquiry into Legality of Records Release        
    The copyright and other legal issues involved are difficult and fact-dependent, so I will not comment on the allegations made by the NLI. The Library has been attempting for some time to digitize the collection of Catholic parish records, and to place them online free of charge for the public's use. Currently, a free database has been established under the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht ( http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/ ), but the records available are very limited.
     Be cautioned, however, that the Ancestry.com database available to paying subscribers is very limited, even though it is titled broadly. For example, the collection titled "Ireland, Catholic Parish Baptisms 1742-1881" contains mostly records from Counties Meath (40 percent) and Roscommon (15 percent). My concern is that researchers who do not read the full description of the database will be misled into believing, when they cannot find their ancestor on the database, that the record for the ancestor does not exist at all, when it is simply not included in the collection.
      I will admit that, in my excitement over accessing the Catholic parish records online, I spent quite a long time fruitlessly searching the Ancestry.com collection for Clough parish records that I knew existed on the NLI microfilms. Why wasn't I finding them in the Ancestry database?  My much-more-thorough-fellow-researcher Jack, from the Castlecomer mailing list, directed me to the collection description (Jack saves me from many a research blunder). But mistakes are great learning tools, and this one reminded me to ascertain exactly what records are in any collection before I start plugging information into a search engine!


     The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and the Open University Ireland have teamed together to offer a free public lecture series on Irish local history at PRONI's new headquarters in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. The lectures will take place on the last Thursday of each month, beginning today, September 29th, at 6:30 p.m. For more information:
     Family research must involve local history research. Not only does the knowledge of the history of the locality and of the times in which our ancestors lived help our genealogy research, it provides us with a clearer snapshot of our ancestors' lives.

23 September 2011

Footnote to the Heritage Certificate Post

Please click on the comment left by "Anonymous" after this week's post regarding the Heritage Certificate. The comment is a succinct explanation of the requirements for the certificate. Thanks, Anonymous!

21 September 2011


     The news this week is the launch of the Certificate of Irish Heritage. This certificate will be an official recognition by the Irish State of the Irish ancestry and heritage of those persons, not born in Ireland, who can document their connection to an ancestor born in Ireland. Note that this certificate does not confer citizenship. The certificate seems to have many aims for the Irish government, such as promoting tourism and maintaining ties to descendants of the Irish diaspora around the world.

If my great grandmother Theresa Bowe
wants to be listed on my Certificate of Heritage,
 she had better lead me to her birth records real quick!
 Come on, Theresa, where are you??
      The criteria for obtaining the certificate are rather loosely stated. From early press releases, it seems that a wide variety of records, from birth and baptism records to census records and ship manifests, will be accepted as proof of ancestry. The cost will be 40 Euro, and the process can be completed online with a credit card.
     Although I am somewhat sceptical about the value of this certificate and the point of getting one, I am guessing that, one day soon, I will be visiting the site with my credit card because I just can't resist having one. I just love my family history records and certificates and can't help pursuing one more! A note to early Christmas shoppers: you will be able to purchase Heritage Certificate gift cards for others. They must supply their own documentation, however.

Official web site for the Certificate of Irish Heritage : Note that this site will not be up and running until late September www.heritagecertificate.ie/
Irish Independent article announcing first certificate given to 9/11 hero:  http://www.independent.ie/national-news/first-heritage-certificate-goes-to-firefighter-who-died-in-911-2882515.html
Irish Central article detailing steps to getting your Certificate of Irish Heritage: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/How-to-apply-for-your-Certificate-of-Irish-Heritage-130222958.html

15 September 2011


     The tireless volunteers at the Irish Genealogical Projects have been busy adding more free records to the online databases. Their latest efforts include the records below.
ARMAGH Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
Newtownhamilton; St. Michael's RC Cemetery
ARMAGH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1845 Royal Irish Constabulary
CARLOW Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1845 Royal Irish Constabulary
CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Cavan Military & Constabulary
1845 Royal Irish Constabulary
CLARE Genealogy Archives - Headstone Photos
Kilquane Cemetery, Kilvoydane Cemetery, Dysart Cemetery
CLARE Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1845 Royal Irish Constabulary
CORK Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1845 Royal Irish Constabulary
DOWN Genealogy Archives
Belfast, Knockbreda Parish Church of Ireland (Walled) Cemetery Pt 2
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Cemeter
Glasnevin Cemetery,Glasnevin 11, Dublin, Ireland. (partial only)
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones - Glasnevin, Dublin
St Fintan's, Sutton, Dublin County
Glasnevin Headstone Photos, Part 6
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drummully St. Mary's Church (CoI) & Aghalurcher Cemetery (partial)
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church
Ballyshannon Methodist Circuit.Churches Births recorded at
Ballyshannon, Pettigoe, Bundoran & Ballintra 1835-1932
Ballyshannon Methodist Circuit.Churches Marriages recorded at
Ballyshannon, Pettigoe, Bundoran & Ballintra 1872-1930
Derryvullen North (CoI) Births 1803-1839 Part 1
Derryvullan North (CoI) Births 1840-1871 Part 2
GALWAY Genealogy Archives - Photos
Davis, Margaret Photo
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Fenagh Church of Ireland (partial)
LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Deaths in the Parishes of Templemichael and Ballymacormick 1812 added
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Hollyfort near Gorey; St. John's Church of Ireland

11 September 2011


     I am late with my posting this week. Besides moving to Canada last week, we had to attend the funeral of my father in law. The rabbi at the service related a story about family ties that I would like to share, because the tale made me think of the work that we do as family historians.
     A man was dying in his bed with his family surrounding him. He told his son to retrieve the bundle of sticks, bound by a sting, by the hearth. The son brought the bundle into the room.
     "Now, break the wood in half," the dying father instructed.
     The son attempted to break the thick bundle over his knee, without success. The father told his daughter to try. No success. Then, each of the family members tried to snap the thick bundle of sticks, but no one could break them.
     "Bring the bundle here," the father said.
     The son did as he was told, and placed the bundle on the old man's bed. The father untied the string. One by one, he snapped each stick in half.
     "The sticks are the family members," the man said. "Individually, they can be broken. But when tied together with family love and loyalty, they are unbreakable. Never untie that string."
     The story speaks to us as family historians. We work hard to collect our twigs and branches. We place them in a bundle, and our work is the string that binds the family history together. We also strengthen the bundle when we bind our living relatives together by maintaining contact and holding family reunions. Be the string!

05 September 2011


     Footnote.com recently changed its focus to military records, and has renamed itself "Fold3" to reflect that change. (The third fold in the flag folding ceremony honors the sacrifices of our veterans). I explored the site briefly, and I believe that Fold3 has retained the former non-military Footnote databases, such as naturalization records and city directories. The search engine remains unwieldy as ever--a factor that has often caused me to give up my Footnote searches and membership in exasperation.
(I am not endorsing Fold3 or Footnote).