09 October 2013


Below is a press release concerning Genetic Genealogy Ireland. Thank you, Dr. Gleeson, for keeping us updated on genetic genealogy. As more and more Irish become interested and get tested, families across the pond, and around the world, will connect!
Press Release: Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 is a 3-day series of presentations that runs at Back to Our Past at the RDS, Dublin, October 18-20, 2013. The lecture series is sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy), and runs in parallel to the usual traditional genealogy lectures sponsored by rootsireland.ie and organised by APGI (Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland).
93% of people would have a DNA test to find their ancestors
by Dr Maurice Gleeson
ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy)
A new survey reveals that 93% of people would be interested in having a DNA test done to help find their ancestors. The survey is being carried out as part of the run-up to Ireland's first conference on genetic genealogy at the Back to Our Past exhibition at the RDS in Dublin from October 18th to 20th. 

The overwhelming majority of people who responded to the survey (at www.ggi2013.blogspot.ie) gave a resounding yes when asked "would you be interested in doing a DNA test?". This suggests that the Irish public is more open to DNA testing than previously thought and many more people may undertake such testing in the future.

A peculiarly Irish problem
Genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies worldwide, and the Irish are no exception as regards popular interest in this addictive past-time. Last year 20,000 people attended the Back to Our Past exhibition in the RDS, and this year it plays host to Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 - a 3-day series of lectures and presentations on how DNA can help people trace their ancestors.

Ireland has a particular problem when it comes to family history research due to the vast destruction of records in the Four Courts fire of 1922. Eight hundred years of Irish history was reduced to smoke and ash in the space of a few hours. As a result, many people will hit a "Brick Wall" on most of their ancestral lines around about 1800. Only the very lucky can trace back into the 1700's. But DNA testing can help break through these Brick Walls.

What do you want to find out?
You can get several things from a DNA test, depending on which test you take, and which company you test with. For example, your DNA can tell you about your deep ancestry, and reveal the route your ancestors took when modern humans left Africa about 60,000 years ago. Only 14% of respondents selected this option when asked "what would you want to find out from a DNA test?". And of these 9% were interested in the deep ancestry of their direct male line (i.e. the father's father's father's line) and only 5% in the deep ancestry of their direct female line. The gender gap exists in genealogy by virtue of the patrilineal descent of surnames in Western cultures and the fact that we are a male-oriented society. Men appear in historical records more often than women. 

Deep ancestry makes for some interesting cocktail party banter, but it does a lot more than that - it helps to root us all in Africa, the place of our ancestral birth. We are all ultimately Africans. And this cuts across notions of race and how at the end of the day we are all genetically human, no matter what the colour of our skin. In fact, as time goes on, notions of race will become far less important than one's actual genetic makeup. It is quite possible for two people of the same "race" to have more genetic differences than two people from "separate races". There is a lot more to human beings than skin colour. Genetically, what's under the skin is much more important.

Still on this topic, 17% of respondents suggested they would be most interested in discovering their ethnic makeup from a DNA test. This is a rather strange result as one would assume that most people in Ireland would be predominantly European or Caucasian by ethnicity, with very few people having African, Asian, or Native American Indian ancestral origins. Maybe there is a romantic notion that an African influence was introduced to Ireland by virtue of the Spanish Armada or trading with Spain, which after all was the first muslim country in Europe thanks to the Moors, who themselves were a mixed bag of Arab, Berber, and sub-Saharan African. Or perhaps Irish people are more interested in discovering what percentage of their DNA came from European ethnic subgroups - Viking, Norman, English, Scotch. As technology advances in this field, the biogeographical analyses that underlie these particular tests will become much more sensitive enabling more accurate assessments of ethnic admixture to be undertaken.

However, the majority of people (65%) are more interested in their recent ancestry with equal numbers wishing to explore their direct male line specifically (28%) and connect with cousins on all their ancestral lines (28%). Only 9% of people were interested in exploring the recent ancestry of their direct female line. As usual, our female ancestors get a raw deal. Along the female line, the surname changes with every generation, and it is easy to lose the traces of our female ancestral heritage. This seems particularly unfair given that the majority of genealogists are women.

So what test do you want to take?
The last question in the survey asks "what DNA test would be the most important for you?" and again a clear gender bias is obvious with 25% choosing the Y-DNA test (which measures the father's father's father's line) and only 8% choosing the mitochondrial DNA test (which measures the mother's mother's mother's line). 

However, the vast majority of people in the survey chose the autosomal DNA test (66%). This looks at all the chromosomes and therefore assesses all one's ancestral lines. In short, not just one's direct male and female lines, but those too and everything else in between. It also provides you with a breakdown of your ethnic makeup and can reveal information about physical traits and medical risk (depending on the testing company). So it kills several birds with the one stone.

And in terms of breaking down Brick Walls in your family tree, the autosomal DNA test holds out the most promise. This test will identify about 99% of first and second cousins, 90% of third cousins, 50% of fourth cousins and 10% of fifth cousins. Typically, about eight weeks after you have tested, you will get an email from the testing company instructing you to go to your own personal (private) webpage where they have uploaded your results together with a list of the people in their database who match you - your DNA cousins, so to speak. Given that the average age for the intrepid family historian is about 70 (i.e. born around 1940), and allowing 30 years per generation, most Irish genealogists will be interested in contacting DNA cousins who are estimated to be their third or fourth cousins, and who therefore share a common ancestor born about 1820 or 1790 respectively. This collaboration between genetic cousins may help break down Brick Walls in your family tree occurring around the 1800 timepoint. 

Many of these genetic cousins are likely to be American and some of them will have more extensive family trees than you do. After all, American records were not blown up in 1922. In fact, despite the US and Canada being relatively "young" countries historically, their genealogical records frequently go back much further than ours in Ireland. And this can provide a rich source of information when Irish records run out. Sometimes the way to go further back in Ireland is to jump across the Atlantic and trace those distant cousins who emigrated to the New World. Many of them will have recorded information about their parents that will help you push a particular ancestral line back an extra generation.

What does the future hold for our past?
Autosomal DNA testing is still at an early stage of development and the testing companies need to provide more tools and utilities for manipulating, analysing, and interpreting the data. There are many areas where automation is possible and this would help prevent people getting bogged down in their results. In time, as more people take this test and the tools for analysis improve, people will find this a very powerful method for identifying common ancestors.

Because of the joint patrilineal inheritance of surname and Y-chromosome (it is only passed from father to son), the Y-DNA test is helping to elucidate the history of Irish surnames and it won't be long before specific surnames are linked genetically to the ancient Irish genealogies. Much of the current ongoing Irish DNA research will be presented at the forthcoming conference at Back to Our Past in the RDS.

DNA testing is an additional useful tool for the genealogist's armamentarium. The results merit careful interpretation. Oftentimes DNA will not provide definitive answers, but it will frequently help focus your research and hint where to look next.

As a science, genetic genealogy is relatively young (the first tests only became commercially available about ten years ago) but the fact that so many people are interested in DNA testing augurs well for the future of genetic genealogy in Ireland.

Additional information
The survey results thus far are based on a maximum sample size of 152. The survey was widely advertised on Facebook and people were encouraged to complete the survey if they were Irish. Most of the 10,700 visitors to the GGI2013 website to date are from the US (36%), Ireland (27%), and the UK (20%). The survey can be found at www.ggi2013.blogspot.ie  

Maurice Gleeson is a medical doctor and genetic genealogist. He has used DNA testing to break down a Brick Wall in his Spierin line and to confirm a common Gleeson ancestor with a family in Australia. He runs the Spearin Surname Project and is co-administrator of the Irish Mitochondrial-DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA. He is an active member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG).

24 September 2013


Press Release from the APGI: 
The Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) are offering the following service at Back To Our Past in the RDS Dublin this October (18-20).
"Book a free session with an APGI Genealogist at Back To Our Past
The Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) are hosting a free advisory service at Back To Our Past in the RDS from 18th-20th October 2013.  You can book a 20 minute session with a professional accredited genealogist to get advice on researching your family tree.
To book your free session, fill in the booking form at:  http://www.apgi.ie/consultationform.html on the APGI website.

13 September 2013


Interested in how genetic genealogy can aid your Irish family history research? Able to be in Dublin in October? Don't miss GENETIC GENEALOGY IRELAND 2013 sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organized by the International Society of Genetic Genealogists. 
 Press Release: 
Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 is a 3-day series of lectures and presentations on DNA and its usefulness in Irish family tree research. The presentations are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA, organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogists), and scheduled to run at the Back to Our Past exhibition at the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin from Oct 18-20. 
DNA and genealogy
More than one million people around the world have had their DNA tested as part of their family tree research and it has helped them break through "brick walls" where the paper trail of traditional records is either absent or has failed to help any further. This is particularly relevant to Irish research where there is a relative lack of documentary evidence prior to 1800. DNA testing has become increasingly affordable in recent years with basic tests available for as little as 40 euro.
Irish DNA Research
There has been a flurry of interest in DNA in Ireland over the last ten years and some incredible work has been undertaken by passionate Irish genealogists (many working independently and voluntarily) which is changing the way we think about ourselves. Many of these enthusiasts will be speaking at the conference on their own particular projects and how it has informed not only their own family tree research but how it sheds new light on a variety of Clan histories, Irish surnames, and their origins and evolution.
The international panel of speakers will discuss topics which include a basic introduction to DNA testing, early and later migrations into Ireland (Gael, Norman, Viking, Scotch, English), connecting with the Irish in America, and individual Clan and surname projects with names that cover the entire island. As well as talks on the Tribes of Galway, and the Munster Irish, Prof Dan Bradley will discuss his unit's work relating to the genetic signature of people in northwest Ireland and the correlation with Niall of the Nine Hostages. Details are available on the dedicated website - Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 at <ggi2013.blogspot.ie>. 
These DNA lectures will complement the programme of traditional genealogical presentations organised by APGI and sponsored by Rootsireland.ie (the Irish Family History Foundation).
DNA testing at BTOP
This is the fourth year of the Back to Our Past exhibition which last year attracted 20,000 visitors and over 250 exhibitors. This year FamilyTreeDNA have a stand at the exhibition and will be offering DNA testing at discounted prices. This is the first time that DNA testing will be offered directly to the Irish public at the exhibition. There will also be some limited Free DNA tests available and further information can be found here <www.ggi2013.blogspot.ie/p/sponsored-dna-tests.html>
So if you happen to find yourself in Dublin in October, come along and have a DNA test - it may connect you with long lost cousins you never knew you had. Entrance to the entire exhibition and conference only costs 5 euro if booked in advance online via the BTOP website at <www.backtoourpast.com/mysitecaddy/site3>.

10 September 2013


     The buzz all week in the Irish genealogy world is the Irish Genealogical Research Society's Marriages Index, which has hit the mark of over 25,000 records. This database, created by Rosalind McCutcheon, is unique in that it contains marriage records culled from other than the usual church and civil records.  Sources include family Bibles, Chancery records, military records, and newspapers, among many other sources, some very obscure. Contributions of marriage records are welcome.
     One complaint I hear from my audiences is that Irish marriage records are impossible to find. I myself have had a very difficult time finding marriage records in Ireland for my ancestors. This database is a welcome addition to our genealogical arsenal!
     Read about the database and search it at the Irish Genealogical Research Society's web site:

02 September 2013


     Keep current with the new additions to the FREE DATABASES of the Ireland genealogy projects:

KERRY Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Tralee Parish Register (from Memorials of the Dead in Ireland)

KILKENNY Genealogy Archives
Donaghmore Churchyard Memorials - PURCELL

LONGFORD Genealogy Archives
St. Columbcille RC Church, Aughnacliffe, Parts 1-3

ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Land
Cloontmullan Canceled Books - 1920's

TYRONE Genealogy Archives
Donaghmore Memorial

WICKLOW Headstone Index
Curtlestown; St. Patricks Church Cemetery, Parts 1 & 2
WESTMEATH Genealogy Archives 
Kilcolumb Graveyard, Raharney, Westmeath

09 August 2013


Ireland Genealogy Projects updates:

GENERAL IRELAND Genealogy Archives - Emigration
"American" 9 Apr 1803 - to New York    
"Mohawk" 23 Apr 1803 - Going to Philadelphia    
"Ardent" 23 Apr 1803
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Memorial Cards
Kelly & Kennedy
DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
Christ Church Memorials V. VII, pg 298-310 

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Tempo Church of Ireland Cemetery (Armstrong, Forde, McCollum) 
Rossory Parish Church Cemetery (Armstrong et al)
GALWAY Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Tuam, St Mary's (CoI) Cathedral - 2 (Baron Oranmore & Browne)

MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Navan; Ardmulchan Church Cemetery

ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Land
Canceled Books, Kilteevan E.D. ca. 1911-1920's
(Cloonlarge, Cloonmore & Cloonmurly townlands)

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Clonmel; St. Patrick's Cemetery - (DROHAN)
WICKLOW Headstone Index
Blessington; St. Mary's, Part 2
Curtlestown; St. Patricks Church Cemetery (more to come)

17 July 2013

BREAKING NEWS: General Register Office’s Dublin Research Room to Move

The following is a press release received from Steven Smyrl, the current president of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland and an executive officer of the Council for Irish Genealogical Organisations (see information regarding Mr. Smyrl and the organizations below the press release):
General Register Office’s Dublin Research Room to Move
The General Register Office’s Research Facility is set to move from its convenient and well-appointed premises at the Irish Life Centre, Talbot Street, to a dilapidated former Dole Office on Werburgh Street.
The lease on the GRO’s current facility - where the public can trace their ancestors through access to birth, death and marriage records - will expire at the end of August. Located on Talbot Street, the current facility is close to Connolly Station, LUAS, DART and many bus stops. For genealogists, it’s also next to the Valuation Office, where information about ancestors’ land holdings can be traced back to the 1850s.
By comparison, the proposed new home for the facility is on a side street in a run down and dilapidated former dole office, protected by high security fencing topped with barbed wire. Given that this is the year of The Gathering, it’s about as unwelcoming as it could possibly be. All the outward signs suggest an area riddled by crime and antisocial behaviour.
When asked about the move Steven Smyrl, President of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) and executive liaison officer for the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) said that “it is an appalling proposal, one which cannot have been given any real consideration otherwise it would never have got this far.
“If the government wants to demonstrate its belief that genealogy has a role to play in our economic recovery and if new premises must be found soon, then the underused Dublin Tourism Centre in St Andrew’s Street would be one ideal location. The city is full of unused office space without the need to dump Ireland’s ‘Mecca’ for roots tourism in an unsavoury side street.
“I call on Joan Burton, the Minister for Social Protection and who has responsibility for the GRO, to immediately step in and provide family historians, from both home and abroad, with a new facility equal to if not better than the current one at the Irish Life Centre.”
Thousands visit the facility each year and generally find the location of the current premises far better than their previous one in Joyce House, Lombard Street East. However, rather than having to fight for the facility to stay at its current location, family historians would like to hear that the GRO is listening to their needs and will finally allow public access its computerised database of birth, death and marriage records dating back to 1845. Currently, researchers must wade through individual annual hardcopy indexes and searches over many years can be very time consuming.
By contrast, the GRO in Belfast has full public access to its computerised records with enhanced index data and by the end of year will also allow access to historical records through the Internet. Its research room is based in a well-appointed facility in the centre of Belfast.
Information on Mr. Smyrl and the organizations:
The General Register Office registers all births, deaths, marriage and civil partnerships. Its records date back to 1845. The Head Office is in Roscommon town, but the Research Facility has always been based in Dublin. www.groireland.ie
The Council for Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) is a lobby group representing the genealogical community within Ireland and worldwide. It was established in 1992. It represents almost all of Ireland’s societies and organisations involved in genealogical research as well as a number of others based in the English-speaking world. www.cigo.ie
The Association of Professional Genealogist’s in Ireland (APGI) was founded in 1986. It acts as a regulating body to maintain high standards amongst its members and to protect the interests of clients. Its members are drawn from every part of Ireland and represent a wide variety of interests and expertise. The ongoing involvement of individual members in lecturing and publishing maintains its position at the forefront of genealogical developments in Ireland. www.apgi.ie
Steven Smyrl is the current President of APGI. He is one of the two brother team whose work was depicted in 2012 in the IFTA nominated RTE TV show Dead Money. www.masseyandking.com

10 July 2013


     I am very excited to present an e-interview with Brian Mitchell! His books, articles, and services have helped countless numbers of family historians to negotiate the maze of Irish genealogical records. Brian Mitchell is a genealogist with the Derry City Council, and his well-known genealogy reference books include A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, A Guide to Irish Parish Registers, Irish Passenger Lists 1847-1871, and Genealogy at a Glance: Irish Genealogy Research. He has an MA with honours in Geography (University of Edinburgh), is a Fellow of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, and is a Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland. Brian has published close to 100 articles plus 28 books and genealogical guides.
Deborah: Please tell my readers a bit about yourself.
BRIAN MITCHELL:  I have been involved in local, family and emigration research in the wider Derry area since 1982. The database whose construction I supervised from 1982 to 2007, containing one million records (dating from 1642 to 1922) extracted from the major civil and church registers of County Derry, can now be accessed at www.derry.rootsireland.ie.
      I offer a free advice service to anyone tracing their roots in North West Ireland (i.e. Counties Derry, Donegal and Tyrone). Be it a query about place names, surname origins, sources to search or record offices to visit, visitors and locals alike are encouraged to forward their queries to me at genealogy@derrycity.gov.uk.
Deborah: What mistakes do family history researchers outside of Ireland commonly make? What basic information does a researcher need before commencing research in Ireland?
BRIAN MITCHELL: Making the jump across the Atlantic to trace Irish roots without completing research in the home country!       The first step in tracing your Irish roots is to gather as much information about your ancestors from research through sources in USA, Canada etc.:
 ·         Where he/she came from in Ireland; the county of origin, a townland or parish
 ·         What was his/her religion
 ·         What are his/her ‘vital statistics’, such as dates of birth, marriage and death
      Family memories and knowledge should not be underestimated. There are many instances where family folklore, passed down through the generations, extends beyond what is written in historical records or captured in databases.
      In addition to oral tradition, a search should be made through family papers to unearth old photographs, newspaper clippings with perhaps an obituary, letters, or even a family bible with its own family tree within.
      Armed with this information, family history researchers will be in a much better position to undertake online research of Irish databases and/or explore record holdings in local and national archives in Ireland.
Deborah: What is the key to unlocking family origins? You mentioned "the importance of place."
BRIAN MITCHELL: The key to unlocking Irish family history origins is the knowledge of place.  In tracing your roots in Ireland the most important piece of information, to be gleaned from either family folklore or record sources, is any information as to a place of origin of your ancestors. 
      The most effective way to view Ireland is as a country that is subdivided into 32 counties, which in turn are subdivided into parishes (2,428 civil parishes), and which in turn are subdivided into townlands (60,462).
      As many records of genealogical value were compiled on a parish basis it means that, in absence of indexes or databases, genealogical research generally requires knowledge of the county and parish in which your ancestor lived.  The “Placenames” search facility at www.irishtimes.com/ancestor allows researchers to search more than 65,000 Irish placenames to pinpoint their county and parish locations.
Deborah: How can researchers obtain such information?
BRIAN MITCHELL:   An excellent starting point for research of Irish surnames is the Irish Ancestors website at www.irishtimes.com/ancestor as their ‘Surname search’ option enables you to examine the location, frequency and history of Irish surnames.
      A good starting point for tracing your Irish family history is an examination of the indexes to 20 million birth, marriage and death records for Ireland at www.rootsireland.ie. This website is the largest online source of Irish church register transcripts. You can either search across all counties or search a particular county (for example, County Derry at www.derry.rootsireland.ie).   
      As the search facility on this website is very flexible it means that you should be able to determine if any entries of interest to your family history are held on this database. For example, if you are searching for the baptism/birth of a child you can narrow the search down by year, range of years, names of parents and by parish of baptism/district of birth. Marriage searches can be filtered by year, range of years, name of spouse, names of parents and parish/district of marriage.        
      It must be stated, however, that a failure to find any relevant birth/marriage entries in this database doesn't mean that the events you are looking for didn't happen in Ireland. It simply means that they are not recorded in the database; for example, they may be recorded in a record source which doesn't survive for the time period of interest or in a source that has not been computerized or, perhaps, in the database of another county. For example you can search, for free, the church registers for Dublin city, south Cork and Counties Carlow and Kerry at www.irishgenealogy.ie.
Deborah: Any other advice for researchers?
BRIAN MITCHELL:  Researchers of Irish record sources must realize there are many ways of spelling the same place names and surnames in Ireland!!
      Place names, originally in Gaelic, were Anglicized from the 17th century, by settlers with little knowledge of the Irish language. This resulted in a number of different spellings of the same place name. For example, in Clondermot Parish, County Derry, the townland which was standardized as Coolkeeagh in the Townland Index was recorded as Killkeeraugh in the 1831 census and as Culkeeragh in the Tithe Book of 1834.
      You will find that in the context of Irish historical records there are many spelling variations of the same surname. There is no doubt that the process of Anglicization has obscured the origins of many Irish surnames. From the 17th century Gaelic surnames of Irish and Scottish origin were translated, and in many cases mistranslated, into English; others were changed to similar-sounding English names. Family names of Gaelic origin were further disguised in the 18th century by discarding the prefix Mac, Mc and O.
      Thus, in conducting family history research you should be aware of the possibility of different spellings of the same surname. For example, Doherty can also be written, to name but a few, as Dogherty, Dougherty, Docherty, O Dochartaigh, O’Doagharty, O’Dogherty and O’Doherty in record sources
     Deborah: A huge THANK YOU, Brian Mitchell,  for sharing your expertise and advice with us!

08 July 2013


     I often check for genealogy sources and publications from the United Kingdom. A common mistake made by Irish family history researchers is the failure to consult and research British resources and publications. Don't forget that British and Irish history are intertwined, and that many Irish records were kept by the British, and many British records contain information on Irish persons.
     So, I was excited when I was alerted to a digital and print UK genealogy publication called DISCOVER YOUR ANCESTORS. I found that this publication is not just another genealogy magazine rehashing the same old subjects (though it does also cover topics for newbies). Just reading through the topics covered in recent issues gave me quite a few new research ideas. For example, the July issue features an article on smallpox and vaccination records--a whole new avenue of research for me to undertake, even in the USA!
     The publisher, Mark Galbraith, promises that each issue will cover a topic of interest to Irish researchers. According to Galbraith, the focus of the publication will be on "how our ancestors lived their lives." DISCOVER YOUR ANCESTORS will be available monthly online (for 1 pound a month) and will also have an annual print edition (thick with articles not contained in the e-zine).
     Check out the publication site: http://www.discoveryourancestors.co.uk/

02 July 2013


     The tireless volunteers at the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP) continue to add to the FREE database. June additions feature some ship lists and cemetery inscriptions.
GENERAL IRELAND Genealogy Archives - Emigration
"Baltimore" 30 Apr 1803
"Ship Jefferson" 28 April 1803 (from Sligo)   
"Strafford" 14 May 1803

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mullaghdun (CoI) Parish Church Cemetery

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives
Annaduff, St Mary's RC Church Cemetery
Manorhamilton (Church of Ireland)
Lurganboy (CoI) Cemetery near Manorhamilton

MEATH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Rathmolyon; St. Michael and All Angels (CoI) Cemetery

MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Clones Church Cemetery (partial)

ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Kilronan Church of Ireland Cemetery - (partial)

SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Geevagh Cemetery (in a field) (Possibly Foyoges)

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Ballymackey Church of Ireland Cemetery
Dromineer Church Cemetery
Grawn R.C. Church Cemetery
Modreeny Church Cemetery

TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Headstones.
Caledon; St. John's Church of Ireland Cemetery

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Blessington; St. Marys
Hollywood St.Kevins R.C.

27 June 2013


     I have long been fascinated by the Nativist riots that exploded against the Irish immigrants in Philadelphia in 1844. Many of my Irish ancestors lived in the area affected by the riots and attended the churches that were attacked and burned. So, when I heard that Philadelphia local historian and genealogist Kenneth W. Milano recently published The Philadelphia Nativist Riots: Irish Kensington Erupts (Charleston: The History Press), I contacted him immediately (well, right after purchasing the book!).

    Even if your immigrant ancestors did not live in Philadelphia, Kenneth's book sheds light on the hardships and discrimination that Irish immigrants often faced after arriving in the United States.
DEBORAH: Why should a family historian research the local history of their ancestral places?
KENNETH: "Local history allows us to put meat on the bones of our family trees...it fills in the picture of what life must have been like to live, work and worship during various time periods, even if our family was not famous or even mentioned. If researching your family history, it would be wise to seek out the local historian from the area (every area seems to have at least one), as they may be able to reveal information about your family, tell of little used sources, etc..."
DEBORAH: When and how did you become interested in the riots of 1844?
KENNETH: "My interest in the history of Kensington and Fishtown [Philadelphia neighborhoods where the rioting occurred] naturally led me to the Riots of 1844. As a practicing Catholic, this also intrigued my interest. I had written about the riots when I had my weekly history column in the Fishtown Star (2007-2011). After the column ended, I went back and picked out the material I wrote up on the riots. At the same time, a friend asked me to research the history of St. Michael's, in particular, to write biographies of the founders of the church, which wound up being many of the men who had properties damaged during the riots."
DEBORAH: Did any aspect of the riots or of Irish Philadelphia history surprise you?
KENNETH: "It was rather amazing that about half of the rioters were teenagers (on both sides), and that twelve year old Robert McQuillan (whose descendants I met) was given one year in prison for throwing rocks during the riots. It was also amazing that the Nativist Party had a theological arm, 100 ministers from various denominations in Philadelphia, particularly Presbyterian, who signed a constitution to form the American Protestant Association, which was basically an anti-Catholic society. These were men of the cloth? Why should we be surprised that the men in the streets were rioting if their preachers were egging them on?"
DEBORAH: Where did you find sources for your book?
KENNETH:  "The Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia City Archives, both have several court registers which were helpful in figuring out who was arrested and tried for the riots. Old newspapers available from genealogybank.com were also very helpful in reading through the court testimony of the articles to be able to give a "blow by blow" account. Biographies were compiled for the leaders of the riots (on both sides) by using the normal methods of old newspapers, vital records, church records, census and city directories. Histories of the event, histories of the churches involved, participants' memoirs, and contemporary diaries/letters were also very helpful."
DEBORAH: As a genealogist, do you have any advice for family history researchers?
KENNETH: "I never found a reason to hire a genealogist who is not based in the city where you need research done. I always hire folks who live in the city where I need research conducted. For example, why hire someone in Utah, if you need research done on a family who lived in Philadelphia? I would also use local experts, and if they are not helpful, then move out from there..."
     Kenneth W. Milano, who graduated cum laude in American History from Temple University in 1995,  has been doing genealogical and historical research for over twenty years. He has been taking clients since 2004. Kenneth also catalogues historical manuscripts for the book selling firm of Michael Brown Rare Americana LLC in Philadelphia. His website is www.kennethwmilano.com , where information on his genealogical and historical research services and publications can be found.
     Besides writing a column "The Rest is History" for the Fishtown Star between 2007-2011 (284 articles!) Kenneth has authored six books with History Press of Charleston, S.C.:
Remembering Kensington and Fishtown
History of Penn Treaty Park
History of the Kensington Soup Society
Hidden History of Kensington and Fishtown
Palmer Cemetery and the Historical Burial Grounds of Kensington and Fishtown
The Philadelphia Nativist Riots: Irish Kensington Erupts


24 June 2013


     The Irish Times reports that the European Union might restrict public access to records, effectively closing significant sources of genealogical research in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe:

21 June 2013


     I am re-posting (below) a short post from my blog about family stories, Spilling the Family Beans, because it raises important questions that family historians and genealogists often fail to consider as we plough our way through family records and stories and secrets.
     When asked whether family history information and records should be placed in the public domain and be easily accessible, many researchers answer ""yes" reflexively. But there are layers upon layers of questions to consider, many of them raised by the recently documentary Stories We Tell. I certainly do not have all the answers, and neither does this movie, but the questions are important and should be pondered by all family history researchers.
     My post reprinted as follows:
     When I was a young assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, I was intrigued by and amazed at the different stories told by eyewitnesses to the same crime. Each person who witnessed a crime saw the event from a different angle and perspective. The eyewitnesses' own backgrounds and emotions and prejudices colored their perceptions, and especially, their recollections. Where did the truth reside?
    These questions and more are addressed in director Sarah Polley's exquisite documentary Stories We Tell. What are our family stories? How are family secrets kept secret? Where is the truth in our stories? Whose version is the true version? Is there a true version? Who "owns" the story? Who "owns" the right to tell the story or to keep it hidden?
     I want to write pages and pages about the questions raised by Stories We Tell. But this movie is so full of surprises that I would certainly trip up and include a spoiler or two. So, watch the trailer:
    If the movie is not playing in a theatre near you, consider buying or renting the DVD version, scheduled to be released in September.

15 June 2013


    The Public Record Office in Northern Ireland (PRONI) has announced that they have found no trace of the 1926 census for Northern Ireland. This census was the first undertaken after the partition of Ireland.
     Read the full BBC report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-22848416

09 June 2013


Oscar Cat joins me in an
     Most of us have had an ARRRGGGHHHH moment during our family research. You, know, those moments that make you 1) at best, wonder what goes on in the minds of family members, or 2) at worst, make you want to turn to violence (in between are a whole range of emotions from bewilderment to hurt to anger).
     I've heard tales of ARRRGGGHHHH moments from fellow researchers--most having to do with relatives who hid family history information, records, or photos from the rest of the family.
     Thou shalt not covet, I know, but I sure do covet certain relatives' closets, in which, I imagine, lurks every birth record I have hunted for thirty years! Once, I finally obtained a baptismal certificate for which I had spent years hunting. I announced the great news to an aunt, who said, "Oh, I have that baptismal certificate, and I think it says something entirely different."
     What do these moments tell us as researchers? We have to be pests. Family history insects. We have to pester and pester and bug our family members until we are quite sure we cannot wring any more information out of them. Then we have to try anew with greater effort to find out more.
     Usually, after such an ARRRGGGHHHH moment, when I ask a relative why he or she did not inform me of the key information previously, the equally bewildered relative answers, "You never asked." Sometimes people truly forget a piece of family information, and do need to be asked very specifically about it. Other times, our relatives do not realize how much time and effort we family historians put into our work. They have no idea how important a record or fact may be to us. They may even assume that we know what they know!
     I recently discovered the surname of my great grandmother's sister. I have been researching this particular family, on and off,  since I was eight years old. I hit a brick wall decades ago with that family line.
     When I called my mother to share the great news, she said, "I knew that name. I wrote to her when I was a young girl."
     Then the kicker:
     "You wrote to her daughter when you were a girl, too."
     I suddenly realized my mother was correct. I did write to that cousin when I was young. I had forgotten the name entirely. Worse yet, I had not saved any of the letters.
     So I looked into a mirror at myself and yelled

03 June 2013


More free online records from the volunteers at the Ireland Genealogy Projects:
DERRY/LONDONDERRY Genealogy Archives
Protestants in favour of Catholic Emancipation 1812 (Colerain)

DOWN Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Protestants in favor of Catholic Emancipation 1812 (Downpatrick)

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Cruagh Cemetery Pt. 2, Rockbrook, Co. Dublin

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church
Births, Marriages, Deaths recorded at Tempo (CoI)

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Donagh Old Cemetery
Maguiresbridge, Church of Ireland Cemetery

KILKENNY Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Callan Parish, Assorted Baptisms - 1843

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Killasnet Graveyard & 15th Century Church site

MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Protestants in favour of Catholic Emancipation 1812

ROSCOMMON Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary

SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

TIPPERARY Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary man

TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

WESTMEATH Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary Records
1857 Irish Constabulary men

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

WATERFORD Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Killoughter Cemetery
& Hollywood, St.Kevins Church of Ireland

WICKLOW Genealogy Archives - Military
1857 Irish Constabulary men

27 May 2013


     There has been quite a bit of buzz in the genealogy world recently about  new and planned online databases of Irish records. The Irish government is finally stepping up its schedule of digitizing records and placing them online for free access. The Archives has placed online the Calendar of Wills and Administrations 1858-1920, while the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht has announced plans to upload birth, marriage, and death records. Family historians should check these two government sites regularly for updates and news regarding future additions:
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht:
The Archive's  online Calendar of Wills and Administration: http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/search/cwa/home.jsp
For a overview of what Irish records are available, and where, the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht have a great online summary:

20 May 2013


     Confirmation lists, both Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland,  in Ireland are difficult to locate (as they can be in the USA and other countries, also). Many confirmation lists are kept at the diocesan, rather than the parish, level. I suspect the reason for this is because confirmation is a sacrament given by a bishop or his representative. Some local parishes or parochial schools have kept informal lists of confirmandi. I have only found a few myself while searching Irish church records, and even then, the lists were rather random and only for a few years.
     So, I was very excited to see that the volunteers at the Ireland Genealogy Projects have posted confirmation lists found in County Fermanagh. See the IGP updates below:
ANTRIM Genealogy Archives - Cemetery Records
Glenarm Churchyard Memorials - O'DONNELL

ARMAGH Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Protestants in favor of Catholic Emancipation (Signatures obtained in ARMAGH)
Protestants in favor of Catholic Emancipation (Signatures obtained in NEWRY)

CORK Genealogy Archives
Aglishdrinagh Churchyard Memorials
Monanimy Churchyard Memorials

DOWN Genealogy Archives - Miscellaneous
Protestants in favor of Catholic Emancipation - signed at Hillsborough    
Protestants in favor of Catholic Emancipation - signed at Newry

DOWN Genealogy Archives - Cemetery Records
Balligan Church, Parish of Inishargy Memorials

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mount Jerome Victorian Chapel Memorial Plaques

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
Drimnagh or the Bluebell Churchyard Memorials v. 7 pg 29-34

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Census
1766 Derryloran Parish Religious Census
1766 Devenish Parish Religious Census
*numerous others

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church
Colaghty: List of young persons confirmed by the Bishop of Kilmore on 16/6/1856
Tempo (CoI) Births, Marriages & Deaths

FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church
Colaghty: List of young persons confirmed by the Bishop of Kilmore on 16/6/1856
Tempo (CoI) Births, Marriages & Deaths

KERRY Genealogy Archives
Kilmurry Churchyard, Ballincuslane Parish Memorials

LAOIS Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary Enlistees

SLIGO Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
Aghanagh Churchyard Memorials

13 May 2013


     I am restraining myself from writing this entire post in red capital letters and exclamation points--that is how excited I am by this new and amazing resource!
     The first half of the 1600's was a tumultuous and violent time in Irish history. War and Oliver Cromwell's troops ravished the countryside. By 1650, Ireland was in ruins, with twenty percent of its population dead and its infrastructure demolished. When the fighting stopped, Cromwell began an immense feat of social engineering: taking land from Catholics, moving those families to the western regions of Connaught, and redistributing the lands to English Protestants.
     What did Cromwell need to accomplish this historic movement of people and transfer of lands? Maps--accurate and detailed maps of the whole of Ireland. So, his cartographers and surveyors completed what has come to be known as the Down Survey of Ireland 1656-58.
     Most of the maps survived, but in different institutions, and in paper form. An ambitious Trinity College Dublin project has brought together and digitized the maps and made them available, free, online. Not only are these maps available, but the project has combined the maps in a Geographic Information System (GIS) that brings together, in an interactive format, the maps plus contemporaneous historical sources (Books of Survey and Distribution, the 1641 Depositions, the 1659 census). But the project did not stop there--it  has GEOREFERENCED the Down Survey with the Ordnance Survey maps (mid 1800's), and with Google maps, and satellite imagery. PLUS, the website has historical time lines, summaries, and references. PLUS, the database is searchable by many methods, including names.
     This site is a genealogical gold mine for many family researchers who have hit a brick wall before the 1700's in their research. It is an important resource for descendants of families whose lands were confiscated by Cromwell's forces and whose ancestors were forcibly relocated to the western Irish regions. It is equally important to those researchers whose ancestors were transplanted to Ireland or given land during the 1600's.
     Besides being of genealogical value, the site is an amazing example of how modern technology can bring history alive in ways never before imagined. Even if you are not currently researching your ancestors in 1600's Ireland, please spend some time examining the site and its resources. You will be amazed by its interactive features, and you will learn about an important time in Ireland's--and your ancestors'--history.
THE DOWN SURVEY OF IRELAND (Trinity College Dublin):


I received the following press release from John Hamrock, of Ancestor Network, Ltd., concerning a series of classes on County Monaghan genealogy. These classes, organized as part of  The Gathering Ireland 2013, will be offered in October in North Monaghan and in Carrickmacross.
So, if you have County Monaghan ancestry, put off that trip to Ireland no longer, and take advantage of the special genealogy events this year!

Genealogy Course for Monaghan Diaspora visiting from abroad announced
Monaghan, Ireland, May 2013

A unique Monaghan-focused Family History initiative is being organised as part of The Gathering 2013. It will provide two 4-day training courses within the county for tourists tracing their Monaghan ancestors.

The project is entitled ‘County Monaghan Genealogy – home to the little hills’. It will give participants information on the genealogical sources available, the cultural history of County Monaghan and the diversity of origin of its people. The courses will take place in North Monaghan from Monday to Thursday, 14-17 October, and in Carrickmacross from Monday to Thursday, 21-24 October. The courses are designed for individuals and groups with Monaghan ancestry living overseas and members of Irish societies and social clubs abroad.

This project is organised by Clogher Historical Society/Cumann Seanchais Chlochair, Monaghan County Library and the County Monaghan Heritage Gathering Committee. We would like to acknowledge the support of Cavan-Monaghan LEADER which is funding the project. The project is also being supported by the County Monaghan Fund and Monaghan Genealogy. The project will be delivered by Ancestor Network Ltd, a professional genealogy company.

Substantial funding for the project has resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for overseas visitors to come to Monaghan to trace their roots, experience the warmth of a Monaghan welcome and explore its rich culture and history.

If you are a native of Monaghan or know someone who might be interested, contact: John Hamrock, info@ancestor.ie, Tel: +353 87 0505296, Twitter: @ancestornetwork, www.facebook.com/MonaghanGenealogyTraining.

06 May 2013


     Thank you, Ed H., for emailing and asking for more information on obtaining death certificates via surrogate or probate court files. I will add a bit more information to my original post.
     It is difficult to speak generally about surrogate/probate clerks/courts because their rules and procedures (and fees!) vary according to location. There is no uniform way to approach the state vital statistics office or any county or local court, except for that one universal rule we family researchers must follow: be prepared! Check the web site of the agency or court. Call if no such site exists. Ascertain if there are procedures to follow or fees to pay to either view the documents in person or to order them delivered via mail.
     The requirements are different for getting a death certificate from the state and getting a probate file from a surrogate/probate court or clerk's office. That is because in one case you are dealing with a state agency and in the other, you are dealing with a local or county court.
     Not all states regard vital statistic records as public records. Many states are claiming state privacy concerns and laws as restrictions--hence, the relative ease of getting the probate file over getting a state certificate. The county courts and clerks are not subject to the same regulations that a state vital statistics office must follow.
     That said, some courts have their own hoops to jump through. Quite a few use high fees and long waiting times. I have heard of courts in NY charging $30 just to allow you to use the index to find your docket number and file. Don't forget, mostly law firms use this stuff, so the fees are just a cost of business for them.
     I always check out the court's website or call to see what their rules etc are before I go. As I stated, preparation is key!
     Many courts will copy the file and send via mail, for a fee, of course.
     But my main point is that alternative sources for death certificates do exist. It is important to find these alternate sources because states--and counties and countries--are making it harder and harder for family historians to obtain the records needed to establish their lineage.

05 May 2013


     I have had difficulty obtaining death certificates from a few U.S. states, in particular New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Many states ensnare researchers in a genealogical Cache22: you have to submit proof that you are related to the person whose death certificate you are seeking--which of course is why you want the record, so that so that you can verify that you are related to the deceased.
     New Jersey adds to this identification problem another twist: the state usually redacts the cause of death. Recently, the point of my research was to determine if certain diseases ran in a family. Even if I could submit the proper proof of descent (which I could not), I was told I could not see the cause of death.
     So, off I went to the surrogate's court in the county of the person's death. Viola! A non-redacted death certificate, plus full access to the entire probate file!

29 April 2013


    RECORDING ALERT! If you cannot watch the premiere of the new HBO comedy series FAMILY TREE on Sunday, May 12th (10:30 EDT), don't forget to set your recording device. This new series is tailor-made for family historians, especially those of us with a bit of Irish in our trees. It stars Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, who was a hit in the comedy Bridesmaids. O'Dowd plays down-on-his-luck Tom Chadwick, who inherits an odd box of family mementos. He then sets out to explore his odd and funny family connections and lineage.
  According to a press release, co-creator Jim Piddock explains, "We use the genealogy as an excuse to go into different worlds."
     Just watch the trailer--you will laugh!
HBO Family Tree web page:   http://www.hbo.com/family-tree
Family Tree will also be presented on BBC TWO: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/family-tree.html


28 April 2013


Recent updates from the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP):
Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Cruagh Cemetery, Rockbrook, Co. Dublin

Dublin Genealogy Archives - Deansgrange Cemetery
Deansgrange Cemetery, St. Itas Section, pt1 (additions)
Deansgrange Cemetery, St. Nessan's Part 7

Fermanagh Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Galloon, St Comgall (CoI) Headstones Pts 1 & 2
Sallaghy (CoI) Cemetery

Kerry Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary Records
1857 Irish Constabulary men

Kildare Genealogy Archives - Military
1857 Irish Constabulary men

Kilkenny Genealogy Archives - Military
1857 Irish Constabulary men

Leitrim Genealogy Archives
Fahy Cemetery (partial)

Offaly (Kings) Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

Leitrim Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

Limerick Genealogy Archives - Military & Constabulary
1857 Irish Constabulary men

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Cemetery
Fethard. Church of the Holy Trinity - Memorials

Tipperary Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Ballysheehan Medieval Church & Cemetery
Fethard, Holy Trinity Church & Cemetery

Wexford Genealogy Archives - Photos
Kiltennel Church, Gorey