26 April 2012


In response to the readers who asked about meeting local Irish in places other than pubs, Brian O'Shea sent me additional comments:
"The fellow that asked about being an alcoholic and not wanting to go into the pubs.
He could find a cup of tea, the Irish drink 4 or 5 cups of tea a day, he could ask where to get a proper cup of tea, and be directed to a nice cafe where more often than not he can ask questions. A lot of the pubs will also be restaurants, They won't have the "feel" of a bar room. If he felt pressured he could tell the person he was a "Pioneer" thats a person who doesn't drink http://www.pioneerassociation.ie/ . "
Thanks, Brian!

20 April 2012


      A reader commented on my last post (an e-interview about etiquette in Ireland)  that many family historians have reason not to visit pubs while in Ireland. The reasons are varied, from religious to health concerns about being in a place serving alcohol. While it is true that Irish pubs are promoted as the "go to" spot for tourists wanting to meet "the locals" and hear Irish music, there are other places that family historians should visit during a trip to Ireland where they can meet the local people.
      In fact, the pub as the center of Irish life is in decline. Stringent drunk driving laws have contributed to a decline in pub-going among the Irish, and many pubs are no longer owned by locals.
     For family historians, the first stop in an ancestral locality should be the local or county library. Besides checking the local history shelf, speak with the librarian. You might be lucky enough to encounter a patron or two who has information about the local history, or even about your family. Visiting a local heritage or historical center will also increase your chances of meeting a local who might help you with information.
    I know researchers who have visited the town post offices and have found people willing to impart information.
     Time your visit during a local festival of any kind, and you will find people in an outgoing and festive mood, and therefore more willing to engage in conversation.
     I think the key to successful and informative encounters with locals is not the setting itself, be it pub or library, but the willingness to listen. Not speak--listen! The locals don't want to hear about the five generations of Lagan's I have found, nor do they care that I have spent years tracking my Magee's. Why should they--I can't even get most of my own family to care! Besides, I don't go to Ireland to bend some one's ear about my family. My purpose is to obtain information, information, information.
     Be patient with your listening. You never know when the odd bit of information might lead you to information about your family. Show interest in the locality and its history and its people, and the local historians will be glad to share.

19 April 2012


     Rude manners on a genealogy trip can affect your family history research, especially in Ireland. If a tourist is perceived as impolite or pushy, the Irish will shut up tighter than a clam shell. How do you approach an Irish person, especially in your ancestral locality, to engage him or her in conversation?
     I have made plenty of etiquette blunders when I have visited Ireland. To a certain extent, cultural misunderstandings are inherent in travel. Cultural cues are often very subtle. Thankfully, the people I have met in my travels have been forgiving of my bad manners and have helped me to make huge leaps in my family history research. Since I am not the Irish Miss Manners, I asked for help from a seasoned tourist and former Irish importer and retail shop owner, Brian O'Shea. Brian writes the excellent blog Ireland Favorites, which is about Irish travel, etiquette, tips, and stories. Brian also covers Irish music and food in his blog. www.irelandfavorites.com
     Brian, what should American family historians know regarding etiquette when visiting Ireland?
"Many Americans in their eagerness to experience Ireland act in ways that guarantee they will be disappointed. The pub is a social gathering place different than what we consider a bar to be, it's not uncommon to have young children in the pub along side the local sports team, If you go to www.irelandfavorites.com, checkout pub etiquette, and the pub tutorial--the pub tutorial is where I was taught the hard way. There is a growing percentage that take offense at people born outside of Ireland referring to themselves as Irish.The Irish don't like comparisons such as 'the fries here are not like what I'm use to or in Chicago the roads are better or the Irish drive on the wrong side of the road.' Really all are non intentional insults, which will result in being ignored politely. If you have a specific question about directions or where to eat the rules are similar, just be polite. Really politeness goes a long way. For genealogy, the halls of records or museums or tourism bureaus will handle all questions, you don't invite yourself into regular peoples homes, there may be a common name that you might want to pursue but unless you are invited into the conversation show respect.
Don't talk about the trouble between north and south, avoid politics completely, take your time stay to yourself and once the locals have looked you over a bit they will probably ask you why you are there, once asked into the conversation you can ask all you want. Most Irishmen are proud of their town and county, listening goes a long way. Bartenders in Ireland are paid a decent wage tipping is not expected, If someone buys you a drink you are expected to reciprocate, restaurant tipping is fine around 10% or less. Don't flash your money around act like a big shot or demand service. The smaller the town the more adherence to the rules of etiquette, the locals will know you are a tourist as soon as you speak."
     Can you give us an example of pub etiquette?
"I had visited my daughter in Galway and after leaving to go back to my hotel I stopped for a night cap in the busy center of Galway city, one place was fairly empty, I entered ordered a pint of Guinness, thanked the bartender and stayed to myself, halfway through my pint a group of young men from Philly poured into the pub and yelled "where's the Music, who's gonna sing", I thought to myself this is going to get ugly. The bartender looked them straight in the eye and said "Bars closed" as the argument fumed I nervously hummed a tune under my breathe, another local fellow  calmed things down and these boys headed down the road, none too happy,I went to order one more pint when the fellow next to me asked if I was going to keep that tune to myself all night and what part of Boston was I from. That's the difference of using or not using pub etiquette."
  Any general advice on socializing and conversation?
"If you are at a person's house, expect to stay for a bit, expect to be offered tea and biscuits (cookies), or more, they are offering you their hospitality, accept it, you will be there a bit but refusing the hospitality is a bit of an insult. If you don't have a lot of time at least have a cup of tea.
The rules are different for locals than they will be for you. Once you are in a conversation most Irish folks are eager to help. The younger generation (and in Dublin) you may find some anti-tourist sentiment, and frankly some rude behavior, let it go, move on. Avoid politics you are there for such a short time save the debates for your local coffee shop."
     What is one of the biggest differences between the American style of conversation and that of the Irish?
"Americans are use to starting conversations, in Ireland you have to wait and be introduced into the conversation. In towns where you know nobody, this can take time, be patient, if you have some information bureau you are looking for you can ask the bartender, the bartender in the pub is the only person who is required to speak with you. Many times a question asked of the bartender will be answered by someone near the bar, or the bartender will ask a patron if they know anything about it. If that happens you have been invited into the conversation and can ask away."
     Other thoughts?  
"Don't speak with a fake Irish accent. Don't pretend to know. If you don't know what you are supposed to do, it is alright to ask, as long as you are polite."
     Thanks so much, Brian, for sharing your advice and observations with us today. Family historians can use this advice to maximize their chances of interacting with locals and having a good experience in Ireland.

15 April 2012


     News and updates from the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP) as follows:

We have been working to tweak our search engine to make it easier to
search the web site.
You can now search all of a county from the County Table of Contents
page. You can also search
the Headstones from the Headstone Table of Contents for each County.
We now have a search page where you can search any of three ways from this page:

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives Births
Assorted McElhinney Births
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mount Jerome, Dublin - Parts 41 - 44
MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Ardbracken/Ardbraccan Graveyard (used as for Catholic & CoI burials)
Ashbourne, Immaculate Conception (R.C.) Churchyard
Athboy, St James (Church of Ireland) Cemetery
Athboy, St James (Old)
Athboy, St James (R.C.) - Plaques
Laracor, St. Peter's Church Graveyard
Summerhill, Agher Cemetery, Co. Meath
MEATH Genealogy Archives - Cemetery Records
Galtrim Headstones
St, James Church Of Ireland Cemetery, Athboy  (completed)
St. Lawrence Cemetery [RC] Rathmore, Athboy, Co. Meath (partial)
MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Ballinode Church - Tydavnet Parish, St Dympna's (updated)
MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1840-1841 Royal Irish Constabulary
ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1840-41 Royal Irish Constabulary
TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Land
List of Claims - Forfeited Estates - Tipperary 1700 Pt. 3
TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Desertcreat Church of Ireland (4 headstones & sign)
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Land
Records Claims - 1700 (pdf) 27K Apr 2012 Mary Heaphy Wexford Archives
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Photos
United Irishmen Commemoration Stone - Gorey
WEXFORD Genealogy Archives
List of Claims - 1700 (pdf)

11 April 2012


     While I was disappointed in Finding Your Roots, I must say it made me think. Both Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are (although in a more subtle and less "in your face" manner)  ask us to consider some very important questions about ourselves and our ancestors:
  • To what extent are we "who" we are today because of our ancestors' actions and our family history?
  • Are we "where" we are today--in a social and economic sense--because of, or in spite of, the actions of our ancestors?
  • To what extent are we responsible for the actions of our ancestors? Are we responsible in a moral or ethical sense? An economic or political sense?
That's enough to chew on for now. Think and discuss!

10 April 2012


     Since I have written several times praising last season's Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and alerting readers to his new show Finding Your Roots, I feel that I must comment upon my disappointment with the latter. Finding Your Roots is a study of race and slavery that is thinly disguised as a genealogy program. If it were presented and titled as a exploration of American racial issues, I would have no complaint. In fact, the show has presented issues that I found very thought-provoking. But, it bothers me that it is marketed without being honest about its agenda.
     The show describes itself as follows: "The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. . . "
      So far, most episodes have found their way to the question of race and slavery. I tend to think that Gates sought to get his messages across to a viewership of genealogists who might otherwise not have tuned in. The Kyra Sedgewick/Kevin Bacon episode in particular seemed like an ambush and was an attempt to extract a mea culpa from them for their ancestors' possession of slaves.
     If the program is about race in America today and yesterday, then I think the program presents these issues in a thought-provoking and intelligent manner. It has made me think. But, please, just package it honestly!

09 April 2012


     I have written previously about the Ireland Reaching Out(XO) project. The project is gaining steam, and is planning another "Week of Welcomes" this June. Even if you can't be in Ireland this June for the Week of Welcomes, do check out the project's web page. Individual parish pages are being set up--be sure to sign up on your ancestral parish registry
     Below is the press release from the Ireland Reaching Out (XO) describing this great family and local history gathering:

The Ireland Reaching Out project is seeking to identify those who left Ireland, in order to trace them and their descendants worldwide. The Week of Welcomes – an integral part of the Ireland XO programme - is an opportunity for people of Irish heritage to explore their past and connect with the people and places of their forefathers.
It is a week organised by the Parishes for their own Diaspora and an opportunity to meet in a place of common ancestry, with which a deep and real connection is shared. Above all, the Week of Welcomes builds on the paper trail of the records that may only get you so far, by providing that final link of local knowledge. You get to speak to people from the communities of your ancestors and use their knowledge to perhaps finally discover that elusive headstone, or the spot where the ancestral home once stood, or even seek out some long-lost cousins...and have some fun along the way!
The Week of Welcomes in South East Galway is an absolutely unique, personal and intimate experience - we will meet and greet you, taking you deep into Ireland, its parishes and townlands. With stops at must-see places, as well as those that are off-the-beaten path, we will entertain you with history, stories, music, and lively discussions about Ireland’s past, present and future.
Have a look at the Week of Welcomes Brochure here!
 Itinerary in Brief...Come for the Week or just the Weekend!
Jun 24 Open Event & Welcome Reception
Jun 25 ‘This is who you are’ Day
Jun 26 Shannon River Cruise – Garden Tea Party
Jun 27 Historical & Heritage Tour of local areas
Jun 28 Free Day – Irish Night
Jun 29 Culture – Crafts – Heritage: all things Irish!
Jun 30 Country Market - Hurling Match – Farewell Event
Jul 01 Departure Day
The Week of Welcomes in South East Galway includes:
passionate, knowledgeable local guides and historians
individual local assistance to trace your family roots
a week of guided touring
receptions and events in local castles and country estates
bus and walking tours of local parishes and the region of South East Galway
visits to heritage and ancient sites of interest
an exceptional evening of Irish music & craic. No canned music here!
Cost is €299 for the full week or €149 for a long weekend (Sun-Wed or Thu-Sun). Sign up now via our online booking form (you'll also find a link to accommodation options here). Need more information? Contact us by email: wow2012@irelandxo.com or ‘phone: +353 (0)91 842013.
Your IrelandXO Team

    Ireland Reaching Out
    Cusack House
    25, Dunkellin Street
    Loughrea, Co. Galway, Ireland.
    T: +353 (0)91 842013, www.irelandxo.com

05 April 2012


     Were your ancestors involved in a disaster? Killed in a fire or train wreck? Or, perhaps, involved in a rescue operation? Much family history can be preserved by researching the event.
Laura Jakubowski
      My great aunt Laura Jakubowski perished in the Hollingshead "Whiz" fire in Camden, New Jersey, on July 30, 1940. For the people of that time in South Jersey, the fire was one of those "where were you?" type events, much like the Kennedy assassination is for my generation, and, sadly, 9/11 is for my daughters'. While many stories of the fire have been passed down in my family, I learned much more about my aunt, and also other ancestors, by researching the fire itself. Although I have been researching the fire for about twenty years, I still find new sources and stories as more online resources become available. I'd like to share some of the tactics that I have found successful in researching such a disaster.
     1. Cast your research net wide! Even if a disaster was local in nature, news stories can often be found coast to coast, or even internationally. Don't stop your research at local newspapers. I found news of the fire in newspapers from New York to Oregon to Louisiana.  While many of these papers repeated the same Associated Press story, some papers, such as the New York Times, sent their own reporters to the scene who wrote independent accounts.
     2. Look in newspapers for "anniversary" pieces in the years after the event.
     3.  Check historical societies and libraries near the disaster location to see if the institution has a file or exhibit about the event. If there is a police or fire fighter archive in the area, that, too, might have kept records.
     4. Is there a local memorial or monument for the victims or one  commemorating the event?
     5. Check eBay, book dealers, antique dealers, and Google books for items, books, and papers about the event. Don't forget WorldCat's online library resource.
     6. Search for video or film of the event.  A few years ago, I found that an online film archive had film footage of the fire.
     7. Check court records for lawsuits, plus insurance company files or publications for investigations or settlements.
     8. Check government records for investigations or hearings into the event. Did the event give rise to safety or workers' rights legislation? To political repercussions?
     9. Search for survivors or their descendants to gather their stories and share those of your family's.
     And, especially if you don't live in the area of the event, check for local observances on the major anniversaries of the event, such as twenty five or fifty years later. You might even consider offering to work with a local civic or historical society to hold an observance or mount an exhibition honoring the event. Such events affected those who died, survived, rescued, and witnessed, plus the families of all. You will be surprised how much family history you will be able to uncover.

04 April 2012


     With all the controversy surrounding the costs of the Irish Family History Foundation's online database, it is nice to be able to post again about the efforts of volunteers at the Ireland Genealogy Projects. The IGP provides valuable resources FREE to Irish family historians.
New in IGP Archives Mar 16-31
CLARE Genealogy Archives - Church
Assorted Memorial Cards
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones - Mount Jerome, Dublin
Mount Jerome Cemetery parts 39 & 40
FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church
Trory, Deaths recorded at St. Michaels C.of I Trory  1802-1950
CAVAN Ireland Genealogy Archives Cavan - Photos
Cochrane, Robert and Sarah (nee Strong)
LAOIS (Queens) Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Abbeyleix Church of Ireland Graveyard
Coolbanaher Church of Ireland Graveyard
LEITRIM Genealogy Archives
Carrick on Shannon, St. George's, Church of Ireland (partial)
Drumcong Roman Catholic Church Graveyard (partial)
Kiltubrid (Old) Graveyard (McGOVERN) (old stones - one legible)
MEATH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1840-1841 Royal Irish Constabularykl
Monaghan Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Transcription of St Patrick's, Part 2, Monaghan Town
Sligo Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Ballinakill Burial Ground (partial)
Ballysumaghan Parish Church Graveyard (partial)
Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Land
List of Claims - Forfeited Estates - Tipperary 1700 Pt. 2
Westmeath Genealogy Archives - Church
Baptisms (CoI) Mullingar 1877-1900
Marriages (CoI) Mullingar 1844-1899
Wexford Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1840 & 1841 Royal Irish Constabulary