06 March 2012


     There are a handful of books on Irish genealogy that I schlep with me when I shuttle between my Toronto and New Jersey residences, and an even smaller number that I take with me to Ireland. But what is the one book that will be with me and George Clooney if we are stranded on a desert island?
     No question: Tracing Your Irish Ancestors by John Grenham (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co.).
     If I am lucky enough to be stranded on the tropical island with Mr. Clooney after April, I will be taking the new FOURTH edition of the Bible of Irish genealogy.
     I will be writing a review as soon as I get my pre-ordered copy. In the meantime, I am honored to present an e-interview with Mr. John Grenham in which he describes the new material to be found in the fourth edition. He also has advice for American family historians (good advice for family researchers everywhere, actually).
My soon-to-be-retired, well-worn copy
of the 3rd edition of Grenham's authoritative
 When will your book be available in the US?
     J.G.:  The US edition will be announced in Genealogical Publishing Company's April 2 mailing list. It will be available on their website in late March.
What is different about the 4th edition?
     J.G.:  The biggest change from previous editions is in its approach to the Internet. The nature,  quality and quantity of Irish records online have changed out of all recognition in just the past three years. Online research is now an essential part of any Irish family history project. The fourth edition integrates detailed guides to Irish online records into the familiar three-part structure, discussing the idiosyncrasies of the digital versions of sources and outlining detailed research strategies.  The sheer scale of digitisation can make it both easier and more confusing to do research: if you don’t know what you’re searching, you can’t understand what you're finding.
What is the biggest mistake Americans make in researching their Irish roots?
      J.G.:  Not doing enough research in the US. Again and again, I've had to tell visitors to Ireland that they don't have enough information to do meaningful research here and that the only place to get that information is back home.
What is your best advice for Americans planning a research trip to Ireland?
     J.G.:  Make sure to pick all the low-hanging fruit before coming. There are still plenty of records that are only offline, but be sure to cover all the online ones before travelling.
THANK YOU, John, for taking the time to share your news and thoughts with Irish researchers. And, thank you for sharing your knowledge and your expertise with us through your books.
     Click on the links below to visit John Grenham's web pages: