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!