31 December 2012


     Beginning with a huge public New Year's Eve celebration in Dublin tonight, Ireland will launch a special 2013 for Irish family historians. THE GATHERING will welcome those of Irish descent--and their friends and family, plus anyone of any nationality who wants to discover Ireland--to a year of locally organized gatherings throughout the country. Many of the gatherings will feature local and family history. Family and clan reunions are planned. Story and song and culture will also be celebrated. What better time to visit Ireland than in a year dedicated to Irish descendants and family/local history? You will find a warm welcome from Irish towns and parishes eager to aid and entertain family historians. Check the web site to find activities and festivals that might help you to find your ancestors:
Town centre, Castlecomer, County Kilkenny

26 December 2012


     Time to take a break from holiday cooking and let the family eat leftovers while you take a few hours to surf the Internet for your ancestors! The genealogy elves at Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP) were busy through December, adding new items to their free databases. Enjoy!
IRELAND General Genealogy Archives
Assorted Irish Gleanings 1700's
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Begnet's & Saggart Cemetery, Lawn Section Cemetery
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Additional Headstones for Mount Jerome
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Deansgrange Cemetery, St. Fintan's Section, Pt. 5
KERRY Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
KILKENNY Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
KILDARE Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
LOUTH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary 1854
Royal Irish Constabulary Men
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary 1854
Royal Irish Constabulary Men
LIMERICK Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
LONDONDERRY/DERRY Genealogy Archives
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
MEATH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
MAYO Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Photos
McKenna Photos
OFFALY (KINGS) Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Military
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary Men
WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Church
WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Addional Dunganstown (CoI) Headstones

20 December 2012


Check out this fascinating web site dealing with the history of Irish emigration:
The site is an interactive documentary that allows the user to follow several Irish emigrants at different points in history (1824, 1894, 1939, and 1975). As the user clicks on different boxes and prompts, the site comes alive with facts, photos, charts, and sounds. As a baby boomer myself, I found the 1975 journey a particularly entertaining one that gave me much insight into the emigration journey of persons about my own age.

17 December 2012


     Peter J. Clarke is the writer, blogger, and researcher extraordinaire who maintains the Internet site Free Irish Genealogy eBooks  ( http://freeirishgenebooks.blogspot.co.uk/ ). Peter has graciously agreed to say a few words about researching  family history eBooks that can be found, for free, online. Thank you, Peter!
     Be sure to check Peter's site frequently for new additions!
     For my interview with Peter earlier this year, see  http://irishfamilyresearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/using-ebooks-for-your-genealogy.html

The Value of Free eBooks to Irish Family History Research
Commercial genealogy sites now boast millions (or is it billions?) of online records allowing people all over the world to research, for a fee, their family histories without ever visiting a library or record office and without ever purchasing (sometimes expensive) birth, marriage or death certificates.   The range of records is astonishing – fully indexed directories, transcriptions of church records, military records, prison records, census data and so on.   Every few months they add a new trove of records giving us new detail for our family trees and a boost to our individual research efforts.

And yet free websites continue to have relevance – whether they are hosted by local or national government bodies or by enthusiastic amateurs photographing and transcribing their local graveyard’s headstones.   My project is the listing and categorising of thousands of eBooks which, by simply clicking on a link, can be read online free of charge using a PC, tablet or e-reader depending on format used by the host site. In general these eBooks fall into two types – family histories and research tools.   In this article I deal with the first of these.
 Family History eBooks
Imagine starting your family history research and finding out that someone has already done it for you! That would of course be the ideal scenario unless of course it is the actual researching that you like rather than the finished results!   In the 19th century and early 20th century thousands of people in Europe and North America wrote and published their family histories.   In Ireland these books were mainly written by well-to-do Anglo-Irish families eager to show their connections with nobility and the ‘establishment’.  A few were written by the descendants of the great Gaelic families.   Intriguingly Irish family histories printed before the Four Courts bombing and fire of 1922 may well have data not available elsewhere.

In North America the motive seems clear enough – people felt some connection with the ‘old county’ and wanted to trace their origins.   They also wanted to pass on to the next generation the story of their origin – in some cases involving poverty, deprivation, religious persecution and in others descent from ancient and noble families.   Millions of Irish people emigrated to seek a better life for themselves and their families and most of these stories show that, indeed, that is what happened.   Many of this first wave of books relate to the Scotch-Irish emigrations which preceded the famine. Now out of copyright and out of print, books which haven’t seen the light of day for decades and some of which were printed for ‘private circulation only’ have been converted to eBooks and made available to everyone without charge on FamilySearch, the Internet Archive and other sites.  

 A second wave of eBooks is much more recent in origin.   Perhaps it was the great 1970’s TV mini-series ‘Roots’ based on Alex Haley’s book telling the story of tracing a slave family back to Africa which gave many around the world (including myself) the inspiration to research and write their own family histories.   The relative ease of modern international travel has meant that some of the authors from North America have actually visited homesteads and locations in Ireland where their ancestors once lived, looked at original parish records and in some cases met with distant relatives.   The invention of computers and the creation of the Internet have also transformed the whole process of family history research.   Using word-processors and then PC’s a new generation of family historians has emerged.   Some have used software programs to ‘write’ their family histories – but these are usually less satisfying – being merely lists of names and dates.   Others have written lengthy chapters on their families and included photographs of family members, copies of documents and other interesting items.  Many of these new authors have subsequently donated their work to FamilySearch who have converted it to freely available eBooks. Other authors have ‘self-published’ using their own websites or the Internet Archive. These later books tend to be about Irish families who emigrated since the famine.

While you probably won’t find a published eBook giving all of your individual family history – you may well find that some branches of your family have already been researched and great detail on the origin of surnames in your tree is now readily available by reading the work of others - living or long dead.   At the very least you can draw inspiration from those who have produced beautiful books crammed with original research.
copyright 2012 Peter J. Clarke
Saintfield, County Down.
13 December, 2012


     The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)  has announced its holiday hours:
PRONI will close at 2pm on Friday 21st December and re-open on Thursday 27th December.
PRONI will not be running a late night service on Thursday 20th and 27th December. On these nights PRONI will close at 4:45pm.
PRONI will also be closed on Tuesday 1st January

09 December 2012


     Our impending move back to the States has me worried about transporting my collection of family history "stuff." Besides the worries of transporting boxes of paper records and notes, I worry about computer accidents and crashes. I don't trust the Cloud, yet I know that papers burn and get lost. Nothing makes a family historian so vulnerable as placing her life's work in another's hands. I want a thousand ways to back up my work!
     I tend to get bored when the B word--backup--is mentioned. Luckily, my husband is obsessive about backing up computer files. While he was setting up my computers for the trip home, I began to drill him on his backup methods. Rather than repeat our conversation here, I will simply direct you to my "interview" with Doug that I posted today on my sister blog, Spilling the Family Beans:
     Read it if you, too, are concerned with the preservation of your own genealogical research and records!

05 December 2012


The server problems of the Ireland Genealogy Projects website has been fixed, and you should have no trouble accessing their records now. Don't forget to check their archived databases as well as the individual county pages. Updates to their databases are below.
CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
CLARE Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
CORK Genealogy Archives
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
DOWN Genealogy Archives - Military and Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Military
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones - Deansgrange
Deansgrange Cemetery, Assorted Photos
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones - Glasnevin
Glasnevin Cemetery, part 12
GALWAY Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Military Records
Royal Irish Constabulary - 1854
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives
St. Ann's (CoI), Annaduff Parish,  Drumsna
 LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Photos
Thomas Bredin, Esq.
LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstone Photos
Newtownforbes Old Cemetery (R.C.)
OFFALY Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
St. Colmcilles Catholic Church Graveyard (Durrow)
TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous Records
Sessional Papers. 1839
 WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Monaseed; St.Patrick's Church Cemetery (RC)
WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Church
Dublin Marriage Licenses - Wicklow 1789-1794

25 November 2012


     There has been quite the buzz in the Irish genealogical community surrounding a research project that is making public the 250,000 signatories to the Morpeth Roll. These signatures are on a roll composed of 652 sheets of paper glued to linen. The signatories came from all walks of Irish life, and they signed the Roll in 1841 to express their appreciation to the outgoing British Chief Secretary of Ireland, George Howard, Lord Morpeth. This lord championed reform and religious freedom in Ireland, and was widely admired by both Catholics and Protestants alike. Besides being of interest to Irish genealogists, the Roll provides historians with a snapshot of pre-Famine Ireland.
     Ancestry.com will supposedly offer the database of names online. The roll itself will be on public display at locations in Ireland throughout 2013.
     For more information on the Morpeth Roll, see the Press Release by NUI Maynoot at their web site:

19 November 2012


          The Soldiers' Wills database is a collection of wills made by Irish soldiers who died in the service of the British Army. The current online database contains wills digitised from World War I, up to the end of 1917, plus some from the South African War of 1899-1902.  According to the Archives, the wills  for the years 1918-1922 will be available in early 2013.
     I have previously posted the link to the online Tithe Applotment Books, but such a valuable resources bears another reminder. The Tithe Applotment Books is a valuable research tool for Irish family historians searching pre-Famine Ireland. These books were made between the years of 1823-1837, and cover the parishes and townlands of rural/agricultural Ireland. They were used by the British government to determine the amount of tithes owed to the Church of Ireland by the occupiers of agricultural holdings of over one acre. Remember, tithes were owed the official Church of Ireland by persons of ALL religions. The books list the heads of households. The database is not only searchable by surname, but includes a browse function, so researchers can survey the parishes and townlands, also.
You can bookmark one link to access the three major online databases--the Irish census, the Soldiers' Wills, and the Tithle Applotments-- on the Archives' site:

18 November 2012


Below is the second half of the new updates on the databases of the Ireland Genealogy Projects. Be sure to check out their archived pages as well as their county pages. They are still experiencing difficulty with their Internet connections, so if you cannot access their pages, please try again later. Their sites are well worth bookmarking.
ANTRIM Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary

ANTRIM Genealogy Archives
Landowners 1870's

ARMAGH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary

CARLOW Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1854 Royal Irish Constabulary

CAVAN Ireland Genealogy Archives
Teampall Chellaigh Cemetery Headstone Photos

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mount Jerome, Dublin - Part 53

KILKENNY Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
From the Sessional Papers 1825

LONGFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstone Photos
Corboy Presbyterian Church Cemetery

LOUTH Genealogy Archives - Census Substitutes
Landowners 1870's - Droheda

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Land Records
List of Landowners in 1870's


     Advance notice to Irish family historians (and those interested in the other British Isles also): The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa will be holding its 19th annual conference September 20-22, 2013, at the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. The focus this year will be on IRELAND! Keep an eye on their Internet site for news of registration :
     In addition, the BIFHSGO has issued the following call for presentations:
"Call for Presentations for the BIFHSGO Conference 2013
The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) is seeking proposals for presentations at its 19th annual conference, September 20-22, 2013 to be held in Ottawa at Library and Archives Canada. The focus this year will be on Ireland. Proposals for other presentations besides those on Ireland are also invited as well as proposals for workshops or seminars on the Friday (September 20, 2013). Details on writing the proposals can be found at www.bifhsgo.ca under the Conference heading. Please send your proposals to conference@bifhsgo.ca before January 31, 2013."

14 November 2012


     Don't get me wrong, I spend oodles on online genealogy sites. Some days, it seems to me that genealogy as a passion is more expensive than skiing or owning pro sports teams or other cash intensive endeavors. And, since finding information about my ancestors is priceless to me, I can't say I don't get a return on my buck.
     But, what does bother me is paying for data that is free online.
     You have probably heard of the furor in the genealogy world created recently when Cyndi Howells, the owner of Cyndi's List, accused someone of copying her entire site and placing it in a for-profit site. A a lawyer who has dealt with copyright issues, I will not comment here on her accusations, because the legal issues involved are very intricate, and I only know of her allegations.
     But I do know that we often end up paying for records and data (and sometimes erroneous transcriptions of both!), that we can obtain for free online with just a bit of searching. I suppose that some family historians would rather pay a fee to search "under one roof" for convenience sake.  That is certainly the attraction of a site such as Mocavo, where the user can substitute a search engine, designed for genealogy purposes, for his or her own skill in conducting searches.
         But, if you must budget the funds you spend on genealogical research, you would be wise to spend some time examining the databases of a subscription or for-profit site before you charge your credit card. I recently received an email from a site offering Irish records, many of which I know I can obtain for free elsewhere. Take some time to examine the list of databases, and determine if any of them 1) are free elsewhere, and 2) could actually be pertinent to your own research. Then determine whether the search capabilities of the website might aid your research and might be worth the cost itself.
     For a start, I will list below just a few of the Internet sites containing free databases of Irish records that are included in for-profit sites. The list is incomplete, and I invite readers to share others in the comment section. Your search should include looking for the website of the Irish county library in your county of focus. You would be amazed at some of the databases that the local libraries in Ireland have placed online!
(The following  link is for the Clare County Library, search for other county libraries's online collections)
IRISH NEWSPAPERS (limited years)
FLAXGROWERS LIST (and other databases)
FAMILY SEARCH (LDS CHURCH) (various records)
IRELAND GENEALOGY PROJECTS (tons of free Irish records transcribed by volunteers)

08 November 2012


The volunteers at the Ireland Genealogy Projects continue to place valuable Irish records online for free, so check their sites often. Give them a thanks and a pat on the back, please, because they provide Irish family historians with free resources--and free stuff is getting harder to find these days!
NOTE: The IGP has been experiencing technical difficulties recently. If the links do not work, please check back and attempt to access their sites later.
Carlow Genealogy Archives
List of Landowners 1870's

Cavan Genealogy Archives
Derver Catholic Graveyard, (Photos added)

Clare Genealogy Archives - Memorial Cards
Additional Memorial Cards

Derry Genealogy Archives Ireland)
Kilcronaghan (Church of Ireland) Parish Church

Donegal Genealogy Archives
List of Landowners 1870's

Down Genealogy Archives
Belfast, Knockbreda Cemetery, Belfast - Part 2

Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mount Jerome, Dublin Dublin - 600 new photos

Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Deansgrange Cemetery Nessan's Part 4

Galway Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Kerry Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Killarney, St. Mary's (Church of Ireland) Memorials
& Muckross Abbey - KELLY

Laois Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Leitrim Genealogy Archives Headstones
Diffreen R.C. Cemetery
& Manorhamilton Church of Ireland

Leitrim Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Limerick Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Longford Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Louth Genealogy Archives
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Mayo Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Meath Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Monaghan Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Roscommon Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Sligo Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Military Tipperary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Waterford Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary men

Wexford Genealogy Archives
Wexford Voters 1835-1836

04 November 2012


      Female ancestors are often difficult to find, particularly in records before the twentieth century, due to name changes and records based on the husband's name. Even after a husband's death, an Irish woman of earlier times was often identified through his name. I have encountered many instances, especially in Irish estate records and in ship lists from the early and mid 1800's, in which a woman was identified as "Widow," instead of by her first name. For example, I have records from the 1840's in which my Bridget Large is listed as "Widow Large" and "Widow Thomas Large." Other such women are listed in like manner. While searching an online database, I found this Bridget in Canadian records by searching for "Widow Large." (I can deduce that the result was my Bridget because of other facts on the record).
      If you are searching for a female ancestor in online records, have you thought of using "widow" as a first name or as a keyword term in the search engine?

01 November 2012


     I have had great difficulty writing this blog for the past year or so because the world of genealogy has undergone many rapid changes. On the bright side, amazing amounts of records are now available online. But, as the online databases have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands--both commercial and non-commercial--the costs of researching our ancestors has risen, while the accuracy of the transcriptions has fallen. The pricing structures have become so convoluted on a few sites that I no longer browse their records. I felt as if my reporting on the world of genealogy was rapidly becoming free advertising or endorsing for these sites.
      The sophistication of many search engines has also given rise to a new kind of family historian: the "cutter-paster." I am alarmed at the explosion of online trees containing my ancestors in error. I was especially depressed when I found a "cut and paste" tree that contained my late father and brother. I cannot verify that my family belongs in that tree at all.
      I was hurt and angry because I felt as if the owner of the tree did not know my dad nor my brother. He or she did not know the story of these two lives, and obviously they did not care. The person did not know that my father was a policeman nor that my brother loved to listen to Grand Funk Railroad. Jim and Jimmy Large are only two more beans in that family pot.
      So, I turned to the work that comforts me when I am feeling down--finding and sharing family stories.
      I have found that many family historians are timid about collecting and preserving their ancestral lore. Some of us have been put off by genealogists who scoff at family tales as worthless unless the stories provide a useful tool for finding records. But, there is a worth in every family story if it is approached with tact and reason. Many of us are afraid of picking up that pen or hitting that keyboard because we feel that we are missing the writing skills necessary to produce a first-class, written family history.
      I hope to convince you otherwise! There is no one way of preserving your stories, and the important point is that you DO preserve them, no matter how terse or inelegant the form. Along the way, I hope to convince many readers to begin to write about their own lives, too.
      Let's go spill the family beans!  Visit my new adventure of collecting and preserving family lore at
     Keep up with posts by becoming a follower or subscribing by email.
     I hope to continue to update Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors, so please check back here often as well!

04 September 2012


     Some news items from the world of Irish genealogy!

  • The Irish Family History Foundation/Roots Ireland has added records from Armagh, Mallow and Waterford. Remember, this site requires payment.  IFHF HOME

  • Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) continues to expand its efforts in tracing descendants from that side of the pond. For those of you in the New York City area, Ireland Reaching Out will be reaching out to the Irish diaspora in the USA at The Genealogy Event in New York on October 26th and 27th.  For more information: THE GENEALOGY EVENT   IRELAND XO WEB SITE

  •  Ireland Genealogy Projects. New files in the IGP Archives for the second half of August:
Antrim Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary, 1847
Clare Genealogy Archives - Memorial Cards
Assorted Memorial Cards
Dublin Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Charitable Institutions Dublin - Candidates for admission 1824-1842
Dublin Genealogy Archives - Memorial Cards
Assorted Memorial Cards
Kildare Genealogy Archives - Memorial Cards
Assorted Memorial Cards
Louth Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drogheda; St. Peter's Parish Cemetery, Part 3 - additional headstones
Leitrim Genealogy Archives -  Headstones
Dromahaire, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cemetery
Tyrone Genealogy Archives - Military Royal
Irish Constabulary, 1846, additional
Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous Records
List of Teachers, 1824, Barony of Eliogarty
Pawnbrokers 1827- 1837 Electors and Voters polled, Barony of Clonmel, 1835
Electors and Voters polled at the General Election 1835
Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary, 1846, additional
Waterford Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary, 1846, additional
Wicklow Genealogy Archives - Military
Royal Irish Constabulary, 1846, additional
Wicklow Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Delgany Old Cemetery
Wicklow Genealogy Archives - Land
Rentcharges for the years 1832-1835
Wicklow Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
Assorted Memorials (Delgany)
Wicklow Genealogy Archives - Church
Dublin Diocesan Marriage Licences - Wicklow Names: 1789-1794, A-K
Westmeath Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary, 1846, additional

20 August 2012


     Before Mass last Sunday, I was reading through commentaries in the missal (Canadian Official Roman Catholic Missal 2011-12, 19 August). Sunday's commentary dealt with the meaning of the word "mystery." Naturally, my mind went straight to family history!
     After all, most family historians are also detectives. Although some of us are lucky enough to have been blessed with a family history documented back to the Four Kingdoms, most of us spend two percent of our time organizing and ninety eight percent investigating.
      We usually regard a mystery as a problem to be solved, as the commentary stated. The genealogy world is filled with references to solving the mysteries in our family history. We researchers trade tips about tracking clues, breaking brick walls, learning research strategies, and finding elusive ancestors. "Case cracked." "Problem solved." "Ancestor captured."
     But, according to the Missal, a mystery reveals itself continuously. What a wonderful way of looking at family history, I thought!
     Sometimes we are so "hot" on the record trail of an ancestor that we don't allow the family story to reveal itself to us. We need to stop at times and to be receptive rather than proactive. We are often so busy chasing records that we forget to listen to the mystery whispering to us through the years.
     One way to allow the mystery to reveal itself is to take the time to peruse the records and photographs you have already found. Sit back with a cup of tea on a few long afternoons, and simply look over your collected records as if you were reading a story for the first time. Allow your mind to wander--yes, wander aimlessly, even! The people in those records are speaking to you. What are they saying? What do they want you to know about themselves? What was the meaning of their lives?
     When you interview relatives, allow time for reminiscing and for storytelling. Don't be like Jack Webb on the old TV show Dragnet and insist on "just the facts, ma'am." Allow time for personal reflection in your conversation with relatives. Allow silences. Police officers and psychiatrists know that silence is a very effective interview tool. A period of silence can bring forth important revelations and memories, allowing the mystery to unfold.
     In other words, don't think too much. Make room for inspiration and intuition in your research methods. Allow your family mysteries to reveal themselves!

01 August 2012


     Researching one's surname can be helpful in many ways. Some Irish surnames, especially those identifying a distinct or official clan, have documented histories stretching in time before the Four Kingdoms of Ireland. Others might have histories limited to a specific geographic area at a certain point in time. Surname studies can provide a family historian with clues and can lead to contact with distant cousins or others who are researching the same surname.
     With the explosion of genetic genealogy, surname projects took a huge leap in value to family historians. A DNA surname project can now map out genetic trees and branches among people with a common surname or DNA matches. I have personally benefited  from a surname project. I was able to obtain a place of origin in Ireland (Co. Laois) for both my Bowe and Kelly families because of the assistance provided by the Bowes DNA project and One-Name Study.
     Martha Bowes is the hard-working (volunteer) Administrator of the Bowes (and variants) DNA  Project  and  registrant of the Bowes (and variants) One-Name Study. Martha also maintains the Facebook page for the study and project. I am a member of various surname/DNA projects, but have not found any that are as comprehensive and as well maintained as those run by Martha. Hers are the finest models I have encountered for surname and DNA projects.
     Martha was kind enough to take the time out of her busy-beyond-belief schedule (does she sleep?) to answer my questions about surname studies and DNA projects. Her explanations illustrate the huge potential of surname projects and provide a guide for persons thinking of launching such studies for their surnames.
     Thank you so much, Martha! Links to online resources follow the interview below.

Deb:  Under the auspices of what organizations is each group based?
MARTHA: My one-name study is registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies, an organization founded “to promote high-quality documentary one-name research.” The Guild provides -- through many services and facilities -- an enormous wealth of experience and guidance.
     My DNA project is administered through Family Tree DNA, the largest genetic genealogy company for conducting Y chromosome research into a surname. They extend discounts to my project participants for ordering a test through the surname study, and provide me with an unparalleled range of advanced, online tools for organizing and interpreting the data.

Deb:  Briefly explain the purpose/goals of the a) the DNA study group b) the One Name study group?
MARTHA: While traditional genealogy zooms in on a particular pedigree, one-name studies zoom out on a surname generally, encompassing all of its lineages. The central aims of a one-name study are data collection, analysis, synthesis, responding to inquiries, publicizing, publishing, and safeguarding and preserving the study.
     The DNA project is part of the one-name study. With a surname as frequent and complex as Bowes (and its variants), the DNA project is an essential tool to complement documentary research. It will take years to reconstruct the family trees (we are making some progress!), and even when it’s “complete,” it won’t always be clear what families are related to which other ones.
     The Y chromosome -- serving as a sort of ID tag for a given surname line since the two transmit largely unchanged from father to son over centuries -- provides a reliable means for bridging many of those gaps. Families whose males match on the Y chromosome are related. That allows us to group families into subgroups by DNA, which in turn can provide participants with new family research ideas. Meanwhile, these subgroups help inform inquiries into surname origins, frequency and distribution.

Deb:  Describe briefly any databases/spreadsheets for each that you maintain.
MARTHA: Currently, thanks to the generous contributions of some other researchers, we have work-in-progress spreadsheets of over 3000 records from throughout Ireland and over 1500 records from Durham/North Yorkshire, England.
     In addition to these documentary resources, I am gradually reconstructing family trees and connecting lineages where possible in a gedcom database. I’m able to consult the spreadsheets others are working on to provide primary source documentation for the information in the family tree database.
     My ever growing contacts database is now over 250 people, cross-referenced into groups based on country and county of origin, where emigrated, DNA subgroups, Facebook page and the like, with pertinent notes saved in the individual records.
     Finally, our DNA Project includes a chart showing our participants’ Y chromosome results in matching groups, while its administrator tools include more detailed data about each participant’s matches and haplogroup.

Deb:  Have you had any notable successes or made any interesting discoveries in either the DNA or One Name Study group?
MARTHA: We’re beginning to have enough data collected to make determinations about some of the true variants of the Bowes name, where a branch assumed a new spelling, as opposed to rogue spellings found in the records. For example, so far, Bowe in England is not a variant of Bowes there, while Bowes in southern Ireland is a variant of Irish Bowe, and distinct from the Bowes of England.
     Using surname mapping techniques it’s become clear that the geographic origin of the English Bowes name is not around Bowes village in Durham, as most would suspect, but in the area of Helmsley. In Ireland, the geographic origin of the Bowe standardization of earlier Irish versions of the name is the Kilkenny/Laois border area.
     The DNA project is firming up some significant subgroups for Ireland. One exhibits the Y chromosome signature of the O Carroll clan of Ely Carroll from Offaly and northern Tipperary. This is one of fewer than 20 old Gaelic chiefly families for whom the blood line can be traced to our times. Several scenarios could explain why this Bowe subgroup is carrying the O Carroll Y chromosome. We don’t have enough participants with English background to begin seeing subgroups yet, but they are beginning to emerge.

Deb:  Any advice for other administrators, or for others thinking of setting up a DNA or surname study?
MARTHA: For one-name studies, without question, join the Guild of One-Name Studies for its small annual fee and be on their mailing list (just one of many offerings). I don’t think there is any other place where you can obtain so much help by so many bright minds knowledgeable in this field.
     Similarly, if you run a DNA project, the International Society of Genetic Genealogists is your go-to organization (free) with a mailing list to draw from others’ experience.
     I would use these groups as launching pads for other resources that are best suited to your particular study as it begins to take shape.

International Society of Genetic Genealogists: http://www.isogg.org/
Guild of One-Name Studies: http://www.one-name.org/
Bowes One-Name StudyWebsite: www.bowesonenamestudy.com

11 July 2012


     On July 14th, I will be thrilled to watch my family history open a new chapter with the addition of a son-in-law. I've thought of bringing my laptop back to the sacristy and enter Frederick's name into my family tree program as he and Kelly signed their marriage record. But I promised to behave myself, so I will leave the computer at home.
     I've noticed that friends and family members  have asked me two related questions about my new son-in-law: "Do you like him?" and "Does he make your daughter happy?" I have also noticed that the latter question is usually asked by women with married daughters, so I deem it the most important, and yes, he makes her very happy.
     I know I am lucky because I can say "yes" to both questions! How can I not like Frederick--he is a history buff! I know that sooner or later the genealogy bug will infect him. Even if it doesn't, that's okay. I enjoy his company and conversation, and that makes me a very lucky mother-in-law. I am thrilled that my family tree will include him.
     My extended family of Irish and Polish cousins will celebrate with us that day. In the past decade, the Large clan has lost the last members of the generation of ten children born to May Magee and William Large. My generation of cousins has become the eldest generation. We've had too many funerals the past couple of decades, so I hope the wedding will be a chance for us to reconnect with joy and celebration. We have asked my Burdalski aunts and uncle to carry the communion gifts at the Mass, and I will be excited to see a generation walking up the aisle to the altar together.
     On second thought, perhaps I won't quite behave myself. I will cry tears of joy, laugh loud and often, and dance (even if my hips jiggle more than they swivel).
     As my husband's family will be saying at the wedding, "L'Chaim!" I love that toast most of all:
     To Life!

26 June 2012


     While on vacation or genealogy trips this summer, don't forget to keep your eyes open for public memorials, monuments, and plaques. Many small towns have honor rolls of local war heroes or signs commemorating historical events. Sometimes these memorials are located in a public square or park, often they are found at churches or cemeteries. Even if your ancestor is not named on the monument, the event listed might have happened during their lifetime, leading you to a greater understanding of their lives.
     I was visiting a church in Toronto this past Sunday, St. Paul's Basilica, and saw a pieta near the front entrance. The statue is dedicated to the Irish immigrants who died of fever in 1847 and were buried near the present day church. In my travels, I often find memorials to our Irish ancestors who suffered so much while trying to survive, both here and in Ireland.
     So don't pass by those memorials without reading them!

22 June 2012


Time for the updates from the folks at the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP):
DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Donegal 1846 (update)
DOWN Genealogy Archives - Photos
Saint Patrick grave, Down Cathedral
DOWN Genealogy Archives - Military and Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Down 1846 (update)
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Glasnevin Cemetery, part 11
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Military Records
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Fermanagh 1846 (update)
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Freeholders Registered to Vote 1747-1768
KERRY Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary Records
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Kerry 1846 (update)
KILDARE Genealogy Archives - Military Records
Royal Irish Constabulary with native county of Kildare 1846 (update)
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives
Drumsna Historic Graveyard (partial)
Rosinver New Cemetery
Rosinver Old Cemetery
MAYO Genealogy Archives
Bushfield (R.C.) Cemetery
MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones - St Loman's, Trim
St Loman's, Trim
ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Croghan, Estersnow Cemetery
SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Achonry Church Graveyard
Collooney; St. Paul's (CoI) Church graveyard
Easkey; Abbey Graveyard
Easkey (R.C.) Church
Easkey; St Anne's (CoI)  Graveyard
Roslea Cemetery- Mostly R.C.
TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Moycarkey Graveyard (additional)
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives
Extracts from Old Parish Registers - Fethard
WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Church
Baptisms At Rathdrum C.of I. 1825-1841 - CLARE
Derralossary Assorted Baptisms, EDGE, LONG, GILBERT, BELTON, HORAN, HATTON
Asst. Marriages Derralossary, HATTON, GILCHRIST, TYNDALL BELTON & others
Asst. Marriages from Kiltegan C of I. 1881 - 1914
Assorted Derralossary Burials, HATTON, GILCHRIST, BELTON & others
WICKLOW Headstone Index
Kilquade Cemetery, Pt. 2 (update)

15 June 2012


     Sticky Situation #1: A relative does not seem to know that his "mother" was, in fact, his grandmother and that his sister was his birth mother.  The mother and the sister are both deceased. You are putting together a family history and plan to share it with the extended family, and you are sure this person will obtain it.
     Sticky Situation #2: You are discussing the family history with a relative, and it becomes apparent that he has no idea that his mother had been married and widowed before she married his father.
     Sticky Situation #3: You are helping a dying man find his roots. He tells you that he knows there are mysteries in his family, but he does not know quite what they are. You discover that his birth parents placed him and one of his sisters (there were other siblings kept by the parents) with another family. You contact his relatives (with his permission), and discover that it is an "open secret" in the "adoptive"family that he was not a blood relative. The family members beg you not to tell this man the truth, claiming it would destroy him. Plus, they claim the sister, also elderly and ill, does not know about her "adoption" either.
     Each one of these situations was encountered by a family historian. Naturally, the solutions to sticky situations are dependant upon the people involved. What works for one family might not work for another. But these type of situations do remind us that we do not research our family history in a vacuum. Our work and our discoveries have the potential to affect lives, emotions, and relationships. Sometimes, we have to tread softly when asking questions or sharing information.

11 June 2012


The following is a press statement issued by the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland.
"The crisis facing our cultural institutions is an issue all too familiar to the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI).  As an organisation at the forefront of developments in Irish ancestral research, APGI has heard the rhetoric about our cultural assets while observing the deterioration of our cultural institutions. Increasingly limited access to valuable genealogical records housed in our cultural institutions only frustrates and disappoints visitors of Irish ancestry who come here specifically to research their family history.

The proposed merger of the National Archives into the National Library is indeed ill-advised, but it serves to highlight the longstanding lack of appreciation for these and other national record repositories by those who control finances.  Investment in heritage-related tourism facilities is being drastically reduced. At the same time the government is promoting The Gathering, a nationwide event for the Diaspora being held in 2013.

To its credit, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has funded two acclaimed projects in recent years.  The digitisation of the 1901 and1911 Census returns and that of various parish registers from Carlow, Cork, Dublin and Kerry has won enormous praise internationally.  This is largely because they have been made available online free of charge, a gesture much appreciated by the Irish Diaspora.

Unfortunately, when members of the Diaspora arrive in Ireland to convert the online experience into a personal visit they find the facilities far from impressive.  They encounter queues (and even unscheduled temporary closures) at the General Register Office Research Room.  They find time restrictions on ordering documents in the National Archives.  In the National Library they find the core services so diminished that books and newspapers can be ordered only every two hours, while the self-service parish register microfilm area is unsupervised. The staff in these repositories valiantly strive to provide good service despite shortcomings in terms of funding.

Last September Jimmy Deenihan,T.D., Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, held a meeting ‘to establish the current position regarding the provision of genealogical services and to discuss options for further development of these services’.  It was a very worthwhile meeting, attended by public and private sector organisations (including some from Northern Ireland)involved in the provision, use and dissemination of genealogical records.  Since then there has been no follow up.  We believe the Minister was sincere in wishing to enhance an area much lauded for its contribution to heritage-related tourism.  Evidently his colleagues in government fail to see the connection between adequately equipping our national record repositories and impressing tourists who wish to research their ancestry.

Our expertise and understanding in this area is a resource that the government could be calling on in advance of The Gathering 2013."

For more information about APGI, please visit the website: www.apgi.ie

09 June 2012


     Here is another great reason to visit Ireland soon--free professional consultations will be available at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and the National Archives, beginning Monday, June 11th.  The NLI has had a consultation service for years in their genealogy room, but the availability of a professional genealogist was spotty at best (although I have received great advice from library staff members, so don't ever discount their help and expertise--they might not be genealogists, but they are knowledgeable).
     Eneclann, one of the professional genealogical services that will be providing the free consultations, has sent this announcement:
"The joint consortium of Eneclann and Ancestor Network are delighted to announce that they will provide genealogy services in the National Archives of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland in the coming year, following a competitive tendering process.  The Consortium has increased the number of genealogy experts delivering the service, to provide a wide and comprehensive range of expertise to anyone looking for help and advice in tracing their family history."
The free consults will be available during the following hours:
National Archives of Ireland: Monday to Friday, 10am to 1.30pm
National Library of Ireland: Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 1pm, 2-5pm, Saturday 9.15am to 12.45pm
      For more information, click on the links below.

06 June 2012


    If you haven't visited the land of your ancestors yet, 2013 will be a year to remember. The Gathering, as this nationwide tourism effort is named, is a country-wide project to bring visitors to Ireland next year. The year promises to be a special one in Ireland, with a range of events both local and national. The Gathering has an evolving list of happenings and events, visit their website to keep current: http://www.thegatheringireland.com/home.aspx

01 June 2012


Going to Ireland or to another ancestral location this summer? Preparation is key to a successful trip! My monthly article for the Certificate of Irish Heritage contains tips for a successful trip to the land of your ancestors:

30 May 2012


This week brings two news items of note for Irish family historians!
A new series of videos has been uploaded to You Tube by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). Check out their great series on Local and Family History.
PRONI states, "The last in the current PRONI/Open University Exploring Local History lecture series, entitled ‘Families’ by Dr Janice Holmes is now available on the PRONIonline channel on YouTube, by following the [below] links."

Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0r2uAU7y7w
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuMeCeiqeu8
Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p2FAN8KyU0
Part 4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R8Z-IeJFz4
Part 5 - http://youtu.be/bzfmNA6Z3O4100%

     Before the month of May ends, we have another update from those fabulous volunteers who work hard to add to the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP) databases:

IRELAND Genealogy Archives - Marriages
ROBINETT Marriages 1773-1824

IRELAND Genealogy Archives
List of Converts and Protestant Settlers in Ireland

CARLOW Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1846 Royal Irish Constabulary Men

CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1846 Royal Irish Constabulary Men

CORK Genealogy Archives
1846 Royal Irish Constabulary Men

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives
Assorted Funeral Entries - 1630's (7)

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives
Old Tarmon Abbey (partial)
Drumshanbo Famine Cemetery

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Emigration Records (5)
Declaration of Intention, Kings Co., NY - 1915

MAYO Genealogy Archives - Emigration (6)
Declaration of Intention, Kings Co., NY - 1915

MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Brannockstown, Trim
Cannistown Church Cemetery (near Navan)
Castlerickard, Trim
Castletown Kilpatrick Old Graveyard
Castletown Kilpatrick Graveyard New (Left Side)
Castletown Kilpatrick Graveyard New (Right Side)
Dunderry, Churchtown Cemetery
Trim-Newtown Abbey Graveyard
St Patrick's Cathedral Trim

SLIGO Genealogy Archives (4)
Declaration of Inention, Kings Co., NY - 1915

22 May 2012


     Before I begin my rant, I want to make two things clear: 1) I truly appreciate the work done by repository staff, especially volunteers, and 2) I have worked in genealogical repositories and centers in both professional and volunteer capacities. I've been on both sides of that particular fence.
     Bad staff behavior at certain repositories and archives? The stuff of genealogical legend! Mention certain facilities at a genealogy gathering and eyeballs go rolling. Most of us researchers have encountered a staff person who seemed intent on being a linebacker instead of a guide.
     I recently had an experience at a historical society that ruined a research trip. I had done as much preparation as I could. I checked to make sure the library was open. I checked their holdings to pinpoint exactly what records I needed. I had my questions listed. I brought all relevant research with me.
     The people at the facility were extremely nice, which is one reason I don't want to identify the place. But the staff member in charge insisted on being a partner in my research. However, his interest was not in my research, but in impressing me with his knowledge. Since this was a facility where most of the records were accessible only through staff retrieval, I was pretty much at his mercy. Rather than retrieve the records I needed, he brought me records that he wanted me to see, records that were not pertinent to my research. When I insisted, very nicely, that I really needed to look at certain record books instead of the ones he brought, he suddenly became very busy with other library matters and patrons. After wasting an hour, I decided to move on to other places I wanted to visit. I planned to return the next day, hoping that someone else might be on duty, but other matters prevented my return. I don't know when I will be able to return to this locality.
     The ideal staff member--and I have met plenty in my travels--is a person who quickly assesses a patron's requests and needs. As a former head of a historical library myself, I know that a patron's skill level and need for assistance can be evaluated fairly quickly. Some people need additional help, and they usually ask for it. Most patrons are helped by a quick description of the holdings and their methods of access. Pertinent suggestions may be helpful. The occasional neophyte may need extensive help with research methods and direction. But few patrons need someone to conduct their research for them, and if they do, their need is obvious.
     Volunteers and professional staff members need to check their egos at the door. Patrons already assume that the people helping them have a vast and superior knowledge of the facility's holdings and of the local history. They are there to research, not to be impressed.
     I once had an experience with a volunteer at an LDS family history center that almost stopped me from researching my family history. This happened back in the 1980's, before genealogy really exploded on the Internet. I had heard that the family history center had records and resources that could help me begin my research. But, the man at the center insisted on doing my research. He took a few of my ancestors' names and searched for them in the collection of discs the center had. He found none. I asked him where I could search next. He told me that I would never find my ancestors because all my resources were exhausted. To this day, I can't figure out if this encounter was one of miscommunication or whether this man was the worst genealogical volunteer in history.
     Thankfully, I didn't believe him!

16 May 2012


     Don't forget to check the Ireland Genealogy Projects pages for new additions to their databases. If you haven't yet discovered the IGP county pages and the IGP archives, don't waste another minute. Click on the links and begin exploring this FREE and valuable resource.


CORK Headstone Photos
Cobh, Clonmel (Old Church) Cemetery - Lusitania Dead
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Photos
St Patrick's Day Parade 1935
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mount Jerome, Dublin - Part 45
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church
Colaghty: List of young persons confirmed by the Bishop of Kilmore on 16/6/1856
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Newtownbutler (CoI) Cemetery (6 old headstones)
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drumkeerin Church of Ireland Cemetery (partial)
Dromahaire, Killanummery Friary also known as Creevelea (partial)
LIMERICK Genealogy Archives - Emigration
Declaration of Intention, Kings Co., NY - 1915 (6)
MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Batterstown; Ballymaglassan Church Cemetery
Batterstown Church Cemetery
Batterstown; Rathregan Cemetery
Beauparc; Knockcommon, New Cemetery
Beauparc; Knockcommon Old Cemetery
Beauparc; Knockcommon, Old Cemetery (inside old Church)
Beauparc; Old Cemetery
Beauparc; Yellow Furze Cemetery
Bective C of I Church and Graveyard
Bohermien R.C. Cemetery, Navan
Boyerstown Cemetery, Navan
TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Photos
Group Of Soldiers Taken In Castle Yard, Roscrea Co Tipperary 1922
TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Military
1840 & 1841 Royal Irish Constabulary Enlistees
TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Castlecaulfield Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Crossdernott, All Saints (Church of Ireland)
Carland Presbyterian
Upper Clonaneese Presbyterian Cemetery
WESTMEATH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary Records
1840-1841 Royal Irish Constabulary Enlistees
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1847 Royal Irish Constabulary Enlistees
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives
Clonmines  (Hist. of the Town & County of Wexford)
WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Photos
Coolmoney Camp - 1930's
WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Military
1840-1841 Royal Irish Constabulary Enlistees