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Irish Roots

1996 Number

I

Tne Furune or

GeUEALOGY in lTlhe amateur familv hrstory enthusiasr liiing in II lreland: he/she shorrl,-l be the major, if not the exclusive, focus of the genealogical

establishment in this countrr. My ideal for genealogf in Ireland, therefore, is the availability of facilities that r\-ould benefit such people. These would include: a national network of local family history societies; a federatibn of such societies promoting geneal-

ogy ab.t national ler.el, a specialisL library, and regular, high quality publications on genealogy. To what e\tent does the Dresent genealogical establi;h ment in keland approximate to this ideal? I wrll do a ouick revier,r of the main elemdnts

lneuND

This is the lirst article in an open-ended series on the luture of genealogy in lreland. The other major contributors for this year are Dr Patricia Donlon, Director of the National Library and Chief Herald of lreland; Paul Gony, protessional genealogist and Organiser of the Third lrish Genealogical Congress; and Sean Murphy, professional genealogist and lecturer in genealogy at University College Dublin. An effort will be made to facilitate anyone with views to express on the subject. The Letters Page is available and more space will be provided for longer contributions. lt is hoped that a consensus will emerge f rom the diflerent points of view expressed and a plan developed for the future of genealogy in lreland.

of that establishment which are as follows: the Idsh

IGRS

public genealogically relevant

mateia

l.

estimation, not well at ali. The only thing it has done consistentlv over the vears of its existenci is to produce the It islt Gmtnlogist. People who are familiar with this publica-

iion would agree with two it. Fiist of all,

things about

it

names as if it were some kind of academic qualification. What has that to do with pop-

ularising genealogy? It seems designed to turn the society into a clique.

the ACM was over.

With regard to its objective of collecting books and manuscripts, it has achieved little in sixty 1,eare. Its library is situated in London and is open on Saturday afternoons from 2.00-6.00 only.

CoAr oF

ARN4s oF THE GENEALoctcAL OFFtcE, DuBLtN

is very well produced. The quality of scholarship evident in the articles is.onsiqtentlv high. Secondly, few if any'of

Fr Clare was referring to the Registry of Deeds: 'Not only do the deeds supply informa-

tion relating to the wealthy

the articles are of anv valrre

To what extent has it succeeded in its aims? In mv

10 states

that 'Members shall be elected to Fellowship in recognition of their Genealogical attainments and work on behalf of the Society.' Such members may then place the letters FIGRS after their

until a couple of weeks after

society. It would be a fair summing up to say that the

the members and the wider

'right people'. Rule

practicality. Theirnewsletter, dated March 1995, in which the AGM on the 6 Mav is mentioned as a forthc6ming event, did not reach members

The IGRS was formed in September 193b. Th-is year, it wul De srxty years otd. ihe obiects of the society were and still are (a) to promote and encourage the study of Irish genealogy; (b) to c;llect manuscripts and books of genealogical value; (c) to card index the contents of all manuscripts and copies of manuscripbs acquired by the objectives of the society are to

people have roots unworthy

of studv. Two olher Factors give the flavour of the IGRS. Rule 6 states: 'Members under the age of 21, and all Law and Medical Students ...shall be admitted without entrance fee...' the society was intent on attracting the

For all its airs, the IGRS seems to fall down in the area of

Cenealogical Research Society (ICRS), the Irish Familv History Society, the local iocieties, and the Council of lrish Genealogical Organisations.

popularise genealogy ind to collect and make available to

clearly the majodty of Idsh

landlords. bu r.rlso concerning those in humble circum-

whatsoever to the arierage family history researcher.

stances, such as the

descendants oI Irish gentry who either took to trade or farming after the Battle of the Boyne by reason of the forfeitures and penal laws. Now, if such people are regarded as humble and barely register as being of genealogical interest,

Why is this the case? Because the society has not changed

with the times. Fr Wallate Clare n'as one of the founders. The following is a quotation from his book, A Sittrple Guide to lrish Genealogy,

27

The Bdtish equivalent, the Society of Genealogists, has 13,000 members, a specialist book shop, the biggest genealogy library in the British Isles, with relerences to over 500 million ancestors and is open frve days a week

from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm or Iater. It also has an enviable collection of material relevant to Idsh researchers.

If we look at membership over a ten year period, it is clear that the IGRS is a stag-

nantorganisation. Member ship figures are stuck between 680 and 750. What is more interesting is to look at


Irish Roots

1996 Numher

the number of lrish residents who are members compared

voting by proxy is permissible, such a move could be

to the total membership.

accomplished.

About three quarters of members are spread throughout the world, only about 25 per cent are resident in lreland. One wonders if the IGRS is a society in any real sense. The only contact with the membershlp is the I sh Genealogist and an occasional newsletier.

It is likely that many members pay the subscription simply to get the publications, and the sum total of their activities for the society is the signing of a cheque every year.

I

Toral IGRS Mena:nsxln lcnev) lRrsH BESTDENTS (wxrr: lro 961 l

srrrurrox^L llErEEBsHtp r.or trcl-uDEol

IFHS The Irish Family History Society is of more recent origin. It was founded in September 1984 and adopted a number of objectives at its first AGM in November 1985. The two objectives which it set itself are almost identical to those of the IGRS. ',(a) Ta Promote and encourage the public study of Irish family history, genealogy, heraldry and local

history with particular refer

Ireland. (b) To promote the preservation, security and accessibility of ence to

An Ireland branch of the IGRS was set up in May 1986

and it appeared at first as if the society would take upon itself the task of combating the widespread ignorance of genealogy in this country, or at least produce some material useful to researchers. Individual members of the Ireland branch did some 6ig-

nificant work. However, the branch has done little during the entire period of its existence that would be of general use to lrish amateur family history enthusiasts. Apart from anything else, the biggest delect the IGRS suffers ftom is the fact that it is

headquartered inLondon. Because it has been there for

ar.hival material'. IFHS seems to have been side-tracked. It began to concentrate all of its efforts on

job-creation and tourism-oriented tasks. We are told in its 1989 iournal that: 'Over the past five years meetings were heid every three months, the main business being the organisation of family history research groups in each county, with an interchange of ideas on the work required on the indexation of parish registers, the introduction of computers, and a host of

other things relative to genealogy'.

At the 1988 AGM it was pro-

alise the Scottish G'enealogical Research Society being he;dquartered in Dublin. The idea is absurd. The headquaders of the IGRS should

formed. The following year

Dublin.

Since

1

other sources - and eventujobs in ally create permanent self-sustaining genealogy centres. This plan is known as the Irish Genealogical Project (IGP). Nobody who has looked into the situation believes that this small country can support 35 genealogy centfes; one ot two per county, each employing at least two full-time workers.

As far as family history researchers are concerned, this makes the database next to useless. The amateur genealogists wants to make his own discoveries. Even from the point of view of marketing abroad, forbidden

from outside Ireland, busiwill never be that good. Already, we have two professional associations, the Association of Professional Genealogists in lreland, having a membership of about

the co-operative was formed with twenty-f our members. Essentially, the association split into two parts. One part was to be purely commercial.

sixteen f ull-time genealogists, and the Association of Ulster Genealogists and Record Agents having four or five. According to a recent article in the London Tines there are

9a4-92

20 full-time professional

genealogists in Britain. The Association of Genealogists and Record Agents the

British organisation for professional and semi-professional genealogists

has a

- 100. membership of about Britain with its relatively

If

huge population and a very healthy interest in genealogy cannot support more than that number of professionals, how can we expect to? The mode of operation of IGP centres is another problem. The way the centres are operating runs counter to the IFHS aim of promoting the

1984 r985 1986 1987 t988 t989 t990 t99t t992 28

1993

accessibility of archival material, since the IGP allows no direct access to their records.

ness

posed that a co-operative of all indexing groups be

1989

It was to develop a database considerable financial -aidwith from the state and from

Even with an increase in research commissions coming

lRlsH GENEALocToAL BESEARGH SoctETy MEMaERSHTP

ls86

t9'7',7

From the very beginninB, the

sixty years, we grow up with the idea and never think about it. Could anvone visu-

be moved to

100

access

will prove disastrous.

If we draw

a

parallel between

genealogy and fishing, the

problem will seem clear. A tourist aomes to Treland on a fishing holiday, so $'hat does the tourist authority do to encourage him? They provide him with everything he needs to get on with his hobby: information about where to go, accommodation, well-stocked lakes, boats, etc. They most certainly do not meet him on his arrival with a bag of dead fish. But that is what the IGP intends to do in genealogical terms. Instead of providing fishing tackle shops they are providing fishmonger shops. Since the split in the IFHS, the non-commercial side has had

time to work on some of its oblectives and not to be exclusively caught up in extraneous matters of tourism and iob creation. However, apart from producing its Ioumal and one or two other publications, it has not been too active.

An examination of IFHS membership is quite instructive. From its encouragin8 beginnings in 1985 of 334 members, to an impressive


Irish Roots

1996 Numher

793 members for 1994-95, the IFHS equalled the membership of the IGRS in ten years. However, a closer look at the Iigures, gives a different perspective. The number of Irish members has always been

lFrsH FAMTLY Hts?oRy Socterv MEMBERSHtp I 985.93 ToTAL: cREy BABS; IRrsH REsrDElTs: wHtTE BARS 800

roo

small, considerably less than 200. Consequently, there is a Iarge foreign membership. This may give the impression that that the organisation is known all over the world and is therefore of importance; and that membership of the organisation is so worthn'hile that people from all corners of the world wish to join.

t+sl

390 4l'7 (58) (94)

343

510 549 531 652 624

(98)

(138)

Ireland.

100

l98s

1986

1987

1988 r989 1990

membership figures and mask the real situation, namely that both organisations are really very small and inactive.

roots. On balance, such members are a liability to an organisation like the IFHS. Thev are very difficult to satisfy'and they take up too much of the society's resources. The soci ety is distracted from its real work: educating the people at home and improving the research facilities for family history enthusiasts resident in

l99t r992

think genealogy is for export. the situation in Ireland like is in the rest of the world.

We have the beginnings of a network of local societies which may spread out to cover all the cities and main towns in the country. People will be drawn into these societies and genealogy will become a force in Ireland. That should lead on to the

strengthening of a central organisation, one of the chief

organised and is certainly years ahead of the Republic. A network of eight branches is in operation, each of which has a monthly meeting. The annual programme of meetings and lectures for each

there are six such societies in the Republic and eight in Northern Ireland. The G eneal o g i c nl Re s e a r ch D ir ecl ory Iists over 100 such societies in Britain and 230 in the USA.

branch, together with other information about the society, is on the internet. The NIFHS has also acquired new premises recently.

At the Family History Fair in

Societies have been started up

in Ballinteer, Wicklow and Cork in the last few years. All seem to be going well. Cork now has a membership of 74, forty of whom are locals who regularly attend meetings. Similar societies

London last May, there were over 80 stalls, more than half were being run by local fam-

ily history societies, some with membership of 3,000, 4,000 and even 10,000. Most

of the throngs of people attending the Fatu were British. The Second Irish Cenealogical Congress held in Dublin in 1994 made an

have been functioning in Raheny, Dun Laoghaire and

Wexford for many more years. They are the hope for the future of Irish genealogy.

interesting contrast. Almost all of the stalls were commercial and most of the people in attendance were resident outsied of Ireland. People still

CIGO An organisation called the Council of Irish Genealogical

functions of which will be to push for better research facilities and the inclusion of family history studies in primary, secondary and third level curricula. Whether this central organisation will be CIGO or a repatriated ICRS or a revitalised IFHS, or an amalgamation of all three remains to be seen

We have two publications IRrsH FaMrLy HtsroFy SoctETy MEMaEBSHtp BY CoUNTRY oF NESIDE cE

1994-95

considering the strength and importance of the IFHS, the foreign members should not be counted. Only Irish Residents can do anything to develop genealogy here.

the IFHS are similar. The foreign membels help to boost

it

Northern Ireland is very well

Local Societies

Ireland. I would say that in

In respect of its large foreign membership, the IGRS and

1993

The job to be done is to make

societies. At the moment

national associations. They join up in the hope of Betting immediate and cheap assis tance in tracing their own

genealogical societies, including the local societies, were

Gonclusron

some local family history

Genealogical Society

(142) (8r)

invited to join.

The only thing of value happening in genealogy at the moment is the setting up of

Logo of Din Laoghaire

(rr2)

(122)

Organisations (CIGO) was founded recently. The Council aims to promote the interests of genealogy in Ireland at a national level. All existing

To sum up the foregoing, I would say that we have all the elements of an excellent genealogical establishment in

Both impressions are erroneous. In most cases, the peo-

ple resident outside Ireland who join the IFHS are members of genealogical associations in their own countries. They have found out about the IFHS, not through publicity carrjed out by the society but through their own

334

I

I

Irisfu Roots as the

popular, regular and newsy magazine and the ltisll Cenenlogist lot the publication of longer, more scholarly works, but with the bias firmly changed towards useful genealogy articles. We need the

will

to put those

jigsaw pieces together.

Tony McGarthy

r00 50

AusrRALn CAxaDA

NZ

REP oF IFL

29

USA

VaRDUs


Irish Roots THE FuruHE oF

1996 Number 2

GE EALocy tr{

An oprn

LETTER To rHE

which

Eotron oF ,BrsH Boots

partake in genealogical

T IS A MATTER of regret

not to

that 1ris, Roors should have chosen to launch its series on 'The Future of Genealogy in Ireland' with an attack

matters within the shores of Ireland. I am pleased to say that I have the

on the Irish Genealogical

record straight.

Research Society, an organisation is

manifestly outside lreland.

TheIGRS isnot, andneverhasbeen.

'in heland', and no amount of rhetodc calling for'repatriation' can alterthe histodcal fact that it was founded in London bypeople deeply

concerned

at the loss of Irish

genealogical records in Dublin during the Civil War. Apafi from the waryears, when its valuable library

was evacuated to the country for safekeeping, it has remained there. The governing Council ofthe Society thusdoes notbelieve it right that a British-based ffor historical reasons) organisation should partake i n

the internal politics of the pan Ire land genealogical scene- The foundation and management of various enterprises like the Irish Genealogical Project and the Council of Irish

Genealogical Organisations are properly the concern of genealo gists within the island of Ireland, and we would not presume to offer opinions unless invited. I do not see it as my role to defend our Society. It stands by its record as a registered charity over sixty years, with a membership covering the globe. But I feel bounden to correctcertain factual errors in your article.

You state that 'it would be a fair summing up to say that the objectives of the Society are to popu

larise genealogy and Io collect ...relevantmaterial.' It is not a fair summingup. The objectives ofrhe Society have never included 'pop ularising genealogy' (howeveryou! a non-member, may seek to interpret ourrules), and we cannot there fore be legitimately crilicised for failing to do so. There is a world of difference between promoting the serious study of lrish genealogy and popularising it. As to our title, it should be appreciated that it is the Genealogical Research that is lrish, not the Soci ety. Since, however, some 25 per cent ofour membership live in lreland (as might be expected) there is an Ireland Branch 10 ?romote cooperation between them and to relieve some of the administrative burden on Londo11. Wemaintain the most cordial rglations with our friends and collâ‚Źagues in Ireland. who are repfesented on our goveming Council, and we fully intend that this happy situation continues. Oircolleagues in the Ireland Branch have total freedom to partake or

-

and

of Irish genealogical material outside Ireland. but also a body ofexpertise where advice and guidance is freely given. The romantic image of the Irish emjgrantmakinghis way to the far cor ners of the eafih may sometimes

Your attempt to 'give the flavour' of Ihe ICRS by quoting from the Rules ofthe Society is unfair. The

cloud the fact that the ports ofEngland and Scotland were formany not a stepping stone to the Americas or to Australasia. but their final resting place, as it was for my patemal grandfather, who left the green

current Rule 6 bea$ no relation to your extract, and has not done for many years. Rule 10, which governs the granti ng of fellowships 'for genealogical attainments or work on

behalf of the Society' is entirely unexceptional, and a universally accepted way in which thanks and gratitude can be expressed to indi-

fields of his native County Tyrone to die unloading coal boats in the Glasgow docks.

Which brings me to the statement

viduals in the absence of monetary award.

in yourarticle thatour Society was, and by inference still is, keen on attracting the '.ight people'. On my maternal side there are Duffys,

Toimply that members sohonoured place the letters FIGRS after their names as (to quote you) 'if it were

O'Gradys, McSherrys, McMene

of academic qualifica

mys, O'Garas,

tion' is a nonsense. A cursory glance at our membership list will show quite a number with postnominal initials, academic or otherwise. ls a Knight of Malta to be castigated name? says much for our Fel lows that never in the history ofthe Society has thehonourbeen utilised

be considered the 'right people'? Thetruth is,of course, thatourSoci ety welcomes every class. every nationalily, every creed, and the only criteria is a passion for Irish

it

personal aggrandisement,

despite your implication. You referdisparagingly to 'an occasional newsletter'. The newsletter is bi-annual, as can happen when a society depends entirely on

coming AGM was not delivered until afterthe date of the meeting is mischievous. Official notice ofthe AGM is published somesix months in adv ance in The I r i s h G ene alo I ist, oLrr annual journal which goes to

the ldsh antecedents of those con-

cerned. Such important work

is

every member.

unpaid and unpublicised.

Your comparison of our Society

You make great play with ourmembership figures, devoting l2 single-

tory society, of which there

of space to two graphs. You imply the figures are column inches

static. I would say they were steady. However strange it may be to you, this Society does nof gauge its suc cess on mere numbers. Unlike a journal such as /risfr Raots, which relies on circulation. we are not in the numbe$ game.

are

eleven in London alone.

We receive many hundreds of leF Iers evety year from around the world. and actasan unofficial clear

We do, in fact, discourage prospec-

tive members who believe Ihat we

ing house, di recting enq ui rers to the proper sources and autho ties. All these ate answered by our volunteers, in their own time, and very

will provide a family tree goinS back an Boru forthecost ofayear's subscription. We welcome people whose desire to join a râ‚Źgistered

toB

oflen at their own expense. Our Society gains absolutely nothing from these endeavours except the

cha ty isprompted by what they can contribute ratherthan what they can get out of it.

salisfaction that we arc adhering to

our founding principle of promoting Irish genealogy.

Your reluctant recagnition of the qLrality of scholarshipevidentin our

l7

on research at the Public Record Office in Kew, London), and the MusIer Roll ofthe lOth New York

Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865,

which included many I shmenand the sons of hishmen in rts ranks. No value? The joumal anicles refl ect the membershipandaims ofthe IGRS, which are non-secta an and cross-border. and mirror Ihe Irish diaspora throughout the world. They do not

reflect the myopic view of Irish genealogy which your afiicle appears to espouse.

Again, you claim that the lreland Branch has done little that would be of use

to 'lrish amateur family

history enthusiasts' (your description). Why do you insist on attributing to us functions which form no part of our raison d'etre? On the other hand, you conveniently omit tomention the very largepartplayed by membe$ of our lreland Branch in the organising ofthe Secondlrish Cenealogical Congress in Dublin two years agoSociety is a democratic organisation, working strictly to the guide-

agency, we are attempting to unravel

with the Society ofCenealogists is invalid. We are not the 'equiva lent'ofthe SoG, which is an organisation with a coilrhercial wing and paid staff serving its host country. Neither is our Society a family his-

Idsh Constabulary emigmnts (based

The Irish Genealogical Research

Queries'. And there is anotherside toourwork: as aresultof approaches to our Society by two adopted individuals one in Canada. one in - and by a child adoption London

a

newsletler giving details ofa forth-

baptismal, marriage and burial records from Finglas, Counfy Dublin, 1658-1684, some Royal

Our workin collecting materials for new acquisitions being listed in the last Newsletter, along with 17 birthbriefs and four lengthy 'Member's

the free Iime of its volunteers sometimes it is published laterthan

history

researcher.' If this mythical creature actually exists, I would direct him to the current issue where he will find, for example, afiicles on

genealogical research.

our Library is on-going, with 4l

and

scheduled. Your remark that

Mccaffertys.

Among the latterwas a lady, unable to read or write, who ran two publichouses (bars) inthe Scottish steel and coal town ofCoatbridge. I wonder ifshe and herdescendants could

for putting KM after his Indeed,

visito$ fi ndnotonlythebiggest

collection

Committee in this effort to put the

some kind

to the average family

In our Library in London, members

full backing of the Ireland Branch

for

lonrna\, The I"i.sh Genealogist, rs followedby the suggestion that 'few ifany ofthe articles are ofany value

IFELAND

lines laid down by the Charity Commissioners

of

England and

Wales. It is responsibleto its members, who have the power to initiaIe any changes they consider desirable.

The Society will continue to play

its role in the world-wide lrish

genealogical scene, a role determined by its founding principles, its rules and its members. It is not determined by outside influences with unknown molives. Having said that. we welcome constructive cric icism from any source even lris& Roors. And we look forward positively to the continuing debate on

-

'The Future of Genealogy in lreland'.

I think it is fitting that I conclude with a quotation from the inaugural speech ofPresidenl Mary Robin-

son to the First Irish Genealogical Congress: 'lt is good to be reminded thatthe Irish experience andthe cul-

tural expression of what it means to be lrish are not lhings which are confined to this island'. Yours sincerely,

Robin McNee Findlay, Chairman of the Council. 82 Eaton Square, London.


Irish Roots 1996 Number 2

Tne Furune or

GelrEAlocy in lneuND ast year's qovernment decision to c"ombine the

l-rposts

of Director of the

National Libraryof Ireland and Chief Herald wls a .o"t.ou"._ sial but, in the present wdter,s opinion, absolutely necessarv reforrn. The standirds of eoui_ table public service which eiisr in the National Libratvalenow in the process of beine aoolied

in the Genealosicai tr'fn."

Rather than coitinuing to oppose necessary change, and

mdeed attempting to under_ mrne the authoritv of the new

Chief Herald, it

behoves

genealogists to put folward

lN PART 2 of this series, Senr Munpuv MA. oro_ Iessronat genealogist and part{ime adult ed jca_ tion.lecturer in geheatogy' in UniversiU CJLoI uuo n, comments on the main archives, the lri6h Genealogical project and the Associarion ol pi-o_ tessional Genealogists in lreland. Keuy describes how genealogy fares in Scotland and compares it to th; f risn eiferience. CHnRres.

R.oBtN McNEE Ftruornv, Chairman of the Council of the.lrish Genealogical Research Society,

itors from abroad. The follow_ rng are some of the present writer's ideas for improve_

ments-

The reformed Genealosical

OJfice should become the"core ot a new dedicated reference

and information facilitv. Dro_

viding free and adequat'Jb'asic

orientin g ad vice f or iallers, vis_ rtots lrom abroad inDarticula r

and with access to ihe widesr possible range of printed and mlcrolotm sources and research aids, aswell as atleast

I I

some self-service copvine f acil_ ities. Thewriter isn6ianlxo"rr in heraidry, but has been ion_

siderin g recentl y tha t the whole

question of appropriate struc-

tures lorheraldry in a republic needs to be er,amined. Tlie real

mprovements in the National

Lrbrary services ovet the oasf

iew years are obvjous to'lhe jair-minded,

acknowledge the great rmprovement in facilities in the fine new reading room in Bishop Street, evei jf in.r"r"_

ing numbers of users are

already causing some strains.

Notwithstanding the perermial problems of shortag-e of staff and resources, the National Archives urgentiy needs to lmprove jts cataloguing and update lts reports, as well as publishing griides to irs holdings. Microfiim copies of sur-

removal of the organisition

viving Church oflreland parish registers for the whole 6f fre_ land should be made available, ano lt rs suggested that the Archives should also assume the task of securing microfilm copres ol surviving Dissenter

church registers, ieavine the

National Library to conceitrate on the Catholic-registers.

and more can be we support man_

if agement and staff in their etlorts to secure additional achieved

oglsts continues to be d:eterio_ ration ofthe microfilm stock of Catholic parish registets, and a worrying trend on the part of church authorities not iust to inhibit, but to forbid unv'u"""". to some registers. It sh'ould be

that

would greatly enhance and

if online

records access.

research facili_ ties were provided around the country, the locationof theree_

istration headquarters wouid be irrelevant. Did the cam_ paigners take the opportunity ro orscusssuchmatters with the Departmentof Health, and Der_

haps also suggest thatpresiure should be takin off thie inade_

quate Lombard Street East lacility, by makinq available microfiche copies ot existinr indeyesin the National Librari

and countv

librarie.,?

'

rede_

The Editor of this publication has made some

valid ctiticisms

of eristing amateur qenealoei_ cal societies,

towhiclithe wriier would only add the observation that the term ,amateur' need not connote lower stan_ dards. As for members of the

of

professional and other working genealogists, perhaps we all might consider ways in which we could better merit the term,professional,. Many if not mosi of the Droblems_ affl ictir g Irish g"r,"ilogy

Association

Genealogists

in Ireland

result from lack of adeouati education and traininq siruc_

tures, and the writer i;at Dre_ sent working with the tiCD

Adult EducJtion Office

and others to upgrade his eyisting courses m genealogv. Itisquite extraordinary hoi murru ir".r_

ple undervilue the 16l; of

perhaps the larlestsinile user_

group of librarv and archive facilities, the needs of others must be served also, and we might take the opportunitv to acldress the problim ofourieo_ Lrtation

Catholic

parish registers ale private,not

for being difficuit,

ctemanding ard somewhatself_

pubLc records, and lobbvino

obsessed.

of the hierarchy must prole.S

Sean Murphy MA

on the basis of periuasion ra

trve nature of the campaisn agahst the change. Ifprciperiy e\ecuted, computerisa tion of

redundant rather than

ployed.

scholarship in geneaiogy, and rather than merely pill#ine or belittling Macl-ysi gh t,,iorE of us need tobuild on and develoD his work. Finally, let us not foiget that while genealosists are

lesources from government. rne mam problem for qeneal_

remembered

Office

research facility from Dublin to Roscommon, ihe writerwon_ dered at the purely conserva_

the national vital

naps encouraqed to review

theirclosed acciss policies. The writerhasmadehimself greatlv

trom i ts inappropriate location in the Genealogiial Office, it is regretted ifany staff weremade

While sharing concern about the possible removal of rhe

General Register

centres

unpopular by his touitr but

rn an open letter to the Editor ol trish Boots,,Lpil"slo criticism of the Society in part 1 of the series.

In the case of the National Archives, we should also

the better tesearch

should be supported and per_

metited criticisms of the:Clans of Ireland', and followire the

constructive proposals to

rmprove serrricesforall, be thev professionals, amateurs or viJ_

The lrish Genealogical proiect, established without sufficient planning and excluding many qualified and experiencid pei_ sonnet, appears to be undergorng a process of re_evaluation at present, at the end of which

ther than demanr]

15


Irish Roots

1996 Number 3

Tne Furunn or

GnrEAtoGy in lneunND Names. Euery nrt is inscribed with them. Euerv life depends on them. I was to find. out, as I seorched for information ibout he'r, just how wounding theif absence can be. objecL Lessons, Eavai tsoland, 1 996

hat qu,otation from Eavan Boland's prose memoir should hang from the walls of eve,ry institution dn this island, large and " small, that has as its business geneal cnuntless Irish people or descendants of Irish people who sei out on the ancestor trail in lreland or wherever it is that l?ish people seek their roots today. Those of us whose business it is to curate, conserve and organise holdings of genealogical records are sometimes guilty of c.uing more about the documeni than the end user, the ghtful heir to those documents. With the millennium fast upon us, it is time to look to the future of genealogical research on this island, and time for the various agencies, organisations and co-opera

tive ventures aheadv under way to refocus and io look to greater cohesion and convergence than ever before in the

history of the State. Central to that convergence is the rmpact ot ever sophisticated technology in linking centres,

I

in accessing records and eventually in the full-text

storage of documents on-line or on CD-ROM.

Dn Pnr Doruloru Director of the National Library and Chief Herald ot lreland

writes about her hopes and plans for the future of genealogy in lreland

cally re{erred to as the 'bae of deai fish . Nor do thev wlnr to pay for much of thisl They will pay reasonable fees for ' specific services

print outs,

photographs, specialist

lections to micro- access films of parish records, of newspapers, maps, any and all publications ot inteiest, monitored access to its

manuscript holdings all free of charge. Where-the fork divides into a second prong is the provision of value-added services, where information, advice, consulta-

pathfinders. TheNational Library aims to provide this two-pronged service by the continued provision of such sources as are within its col-

TWO TIERED STBUCTUNE

My vision is of

a

two-tiered

structure for all those on the ancestral trail (i) free and open access to-records held in national and public institutions, paraileied by the provision of (ii) value-added' services where appropriate and where available on payment of modest fees. Idonot nor have I ever believed that genealogy in Ireland is the goose that laid a golden egg. Many, many people are -infected bv the excitemenf of the search, the sense of being a detective in their own life stories. These people do not wanL what Tony Mccarthv so aptly if somewhat unpoeti-

tions are provided on a sliding scale of fees but all within the scope of the average researcher. NEW DEVELOPiIENTS

At present steps are under way at the Genealogical Office and the National

Library to smarten the service offered to date and to inject additional resources, financial, capital and technological into the long-established institution. Briefly the plans encompass long-term a dedi cated, open-access Genealogical Reference Centre to be housed in the refurbished extension to the National Library into the former National College of Art and Design premises. This space will be so laid out that small

family groups can work together around a table without irritation or inconvenience to other librarv users. This additional accorirmodation will also enable the Library to provide its collections of microfilms, parish regigters and newspapers on open access in a greatly enlarged space. Central to this plan is the provision of a dedicated reference and query desk for all genealogists sited in a new reception

area. Additional facilities not e\clusive to genealogy but welcome to all footsore and weary researchers are the provision of a caf6 (with, whispel it, a wine licence) and shop selling publications of relevance to the Library's collections. The plans are alreadv well advanced and work is to begin on site in Iune 7997, with a completion date some two vears hincp

Also due to be handed over to the Library in May of 1997 is another refurbished building, the old racquet court at the rear of 2/3 Kildare Street.

Herald of lreland and her Duputy Mr Fergus Gillespie, srgnrng a patent of arms at the

Genealogical Office.

15

This building will provide space and facilities to the Library to carry out an aggressive programme of

preservation mictofilmine of all Irish newspapers wheiher


1996 Number 3

Irish Roots held by the Library or in other repositories. This programme of microfilming Irish newspapers should be complete within a five year period, by which time it is envisaged that the facility would then engage in

repeated for their benefit. High praise indeed! Several new multi-media

guides are being acquired to aid the researcher in this

work

-

the International

new custom-built National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar's Meeting House Square, work is under way to digitise and index the collection making browsing and a

searching inf initely easier

Finance, the Department of Enterprise and Employment, the Depaltment of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Education, the Department of

Foreign Affairs, the Department of Health query the -lackandoI Ia national policy! At national level a great number of

a needs basis, a whole microfilming, on

I

series of records and

documents on an island-wide basis.

institutions carry material necessary to the researcher - the National Archives, the National Library and its Genealogical Office, the Royal Irish Academy, the General Register Office, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the Ulster American Folk Park and many, many more.

CURREl{T IMPROVEIIENTS But, all of this is longterm. What about now, I hear you ask? Well, even as I write the Genealogical Office is undergoing an internal review process which is

looking critically at all its operations. One of the flag-ship ventures of the late eighties was the establishment of a Consultancy Service based in the Genealogi-

The Heritage Council has

firmly claimed

genealogical records as

under review and shortly a revamped service will be available. This is based on comments and observations received over the years on the service and will consist of the provision of group introductory sessions on 'tracing your roots', a basic initial assessment, and a modified version of the original individual customised service. All of these will be provided on a fee basis, but with the fees so pitched that it is hoped no one will be excluded because of lack of resources.The service is being streamlined in such a way that it is intended to provide all comers with suff icient key inf ormation that we will no longer witness long queues of frustrated clients and harassed staff at the National Library's issue desk. Meanwhile all the front line seNice staff of the Library and Genealogical OfIice have undertaken a series of specific in-house training courses provided by such expelts in the field as Sean Murphy and the training sub-committee of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland. So suciessful and popular were these courses that staff not included in the first programme have requested that they be

Genealogical lndex is now available in CD-ROM and has amongst its several hundred million names, one million Irish records.

than ever before. One collection in line for treatment is

John Grenl-ram has not been idle either, and has produced an interesting research toal in Grcnham's lrlsh Recordfinder, a

computer-based composite listing of major record sources, street guides, cen-

from Waterford. Many of these have never seen the light of day since leavirg Poole's studio and many are portraits all dated and - All identified. of these portraits are somebody's ances-

Limited is in the process of liberation from its limbo through the appointment of

genealogical researchers.

WHO'S IN CHARGE And on a national level if one were to ask the question whose baby is genealogy? The answer must surely be everybody's and nobody's... To date there is no cogent national policy on genealo8y and genealogical records. The stakeholders are many at both macro and micro levels.

PHOTOGRAPHS as yet under-utilised element Ior those seeking Iamily roots is the National

Another

a

nent issues. The much maligned Irish Genealogy

tors and it will be fun to see

directodes and many, many other sources. Both of these valuable tools will be acquired this year and should greatly enhance research in the field. The Genealogical Office is looking to its own files and records oI research going back to Maclysaght's day and is currently investigating the possibility of scanning and indexing its typescdpt family research files either as an internal research tool or for wider distribution via CD-ROM.

Library's quarter of

the 5,000 glass plate negatives from the Poole Collection

how many of them will eventually find their way'home'. This cache of images togethel with the better known Lawrence, Valentine and Eason collections of locations all over Ireland, we hope may provide tangible records for rnany of the Library's

suses, graveyards, trade

At Government level there has and continues to be interest and involvement from a great range of tovernment

million

photographs dating from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the present day. To coincide with the imminent transfer of this archive to

departments - the Departthe ment of the Taoiseach, Department of Tourism and Trade, the Department of 16

part of its remit

and has established a SubCommittee to explore perti-

a

Chief Executive, the election of a Chairperson and the putting in place of an Executive structure for its Board of Directors together with a film programme of work and reassessment for the next two yeals.

Operating at local level are local history societies, the centres operated by the Irish

Family History Foundation, local libraries, some regional archives, specialist sdcieties and above all the enthusiastic group of individuals pursuing their passion for the subject. It certainly is what Tony McCarthy so aptly called 'jigsaw pieces'- or perhaps what I would prefer to view as a

patchwork quilt. At

present the pattern resembles a crazy patchwork and not the planned co-ordinated design so pleasing to the eye. Fach of these bodies. each of these institutions, each individual has a role to play in

overall provision of research facilities. It is vital that collectively we collaborate and co-operate to provide the best research facilities this countrv


Irish Roots

1996 Number 3

can supply, which do justice to the proud history of our people. lt is as much a case of national pride and national

importance as the overwhelming a(knowledgement of achievement by our Olympic Team witnessed on our shores these heady days. There is a place for all in this scheme oI things, for we are not competitors but collaborators. I look to the day when we will have a peaceable kingdom where the genealoqical larnb will lie down with the genealogical lion, both working together for the common good. We have needs: we need a rationally co-ordinated audit of records. We need closer networking with organisations abroad. We need an openness to

constructive cliticism so that we can respond positively to such criticism without diving into the nearest bunker. Thomy patches continue to thdve in this family flowerbed, such as the still unresolved issue of access to certain Catholic parish records, a central location for dccess to the CRO files, the long awaited central indev from the ICL proiect... br-lt this is after alld 'familv affair'and solutions will best be reactied through discussion, argument, debate love, pain and the whole damn *ring.-

Il{ coNcLUstoN What bettel place to air these serious issues than through the pages of lr"is, Roofs.

I starLed this drticle wjth a quotation from Eavar Boland and would like to end by quoting in its entirety that delightful poem by my colleigue from the National Librarv Dr Filis Ni

Dhuibhne,

One son a hand in a mill The other a collier And one daughter (aged 10)

A scholar.

Roots.

The census of '81 Recotds the famiLl in Wigan: The head of the household blind The mother a fishmonger, One son a hand in a mill, The other a collier The daughter a frame tenter And a grandson (aged 10) A scholar:

from M. O'Brien Atriaed in my letter tra!. 'Can you lrace my rools? he a<ks. Today a note

'What will I haae to paV? 'My forefnther is Brian Boru, I want you lo link him lo me On a tree of yellow calJskin. I'u prepated to parl a fee.'

The

I toant to reply to his lettet: Keep your cash: Clont arf har dly matter s To one whose genes suroiaed The pits and mill6 of Wigan, Whose mother's days loete wooen In the powerful looms ol Bolton, Whose childhood hours atcrc anPnt With the ursold herrings' stehch.

The census of '51 Records the famih1 itr Chorht: Thc head of lh? household a weo,tet, The mother a mother, One son a hand in a miII And the other (aget 10) A drawer of coal,

But instead I send an iwoice For ten pounds

a

power-loom weaz)er

fifty

pence

And enclose a coat of arms To adorn his bedside shelf @ Eilis Ni Dhuibhne 1984

The census of'61 Records the familv in Bolton:

father

father of Mister O'Brien

Descend.ant of Btian Boru.

In his letter he encloses Data on his eld.erc and betterc: His fathet and mother, Their fathers and mothers And a couple of dozen sisters and brothers.

The

.

,

Dr Pat Donlon, Aususr t996

The mother a mother,

National Archives Plan nJune of Lhis year, the National A rchi\ es Advisory Council presented a document entitled ,4 luture fot our Past: Stftttegit Plan for the National Archioes 1996-2001'to

Michael D. Higgins, the Govemment Minister with responsibility for thdt aspect of

lrjsh heritdge. The Council is composed lwelve people, mostly academiis and

oF

archivists, and its function is to advise the

Minister

in relation to

national and local.

archives both

The plan draws attention to two fundamental deficiencies: a serious shortage of suitable storage space ard er.tremellilow staffing levels. Both the amount of space available and the storagecond itionsatthe premises at Bishop

Street require immediate improvement. Much of the Bishop Street complex, particularly a large wirehouse to tfie rear, is still used by the Covernment Supplies Agency, despite an undertaking to vdcate the bu ilding by loe3. Space is sdrestricLed thal the annual transfer of departmental dnd courtpaperswillharetoceasein 1997.

Staffing level is extremely low - it still stands at_ 35 while PRONI, for example, has a staff of94. In 1976, when the staffing

level was slightly higher, there were 4,184 visits by members of the public to the reading room. Last year there were iust under 20,000 visits. Between lq88 dnd l9q5 the amount of matedal held at the National Archives more tha n doubled; it is expected to double again in the next ten !ears. The plan suggests that the numbbr of staff should be doubled in a n effort to cope with the huge backlog of worl to be do;e.

The plan makes many other worthwhile

recommendations, some of which, if adopted, would be useful to genealogists. Tt

suSgests, for example, thaf the Depart-

ment of Education should establisli the extent of National School records, clarify their legal status arld secure their deposit either with local archives services br, if these are not available, with the National

Archives.

Vfhat are the chances of these suggestions being acted on I The sa me poin hs were made in lhe Thircl Repott ol lhe National Archiues Adaisory Countil publjshed in 19q3 and no improvements welemadeinthe nine areas thal were singled out as being important, such as the fact that the Nationa I A rchives

doesnotmeetminimumintemationalstandards of temperature and humidity in storage areas

will probably be shelved since there is nostrong lobby group to pressurise

The report

politicians into implementing it. Lamentably, the last d ramatic inLen",ention made by our politicians in the area of archives was in I422 when theybombed Lhe Four Courts. Tony McCarthy


Irish Roots

1996 Number 4

Tne Furune or

GeUEALOGY in uy I rTv dream for Irish l\ /l Lenealoeu in t-.r'rt.' I Y lVears tiri! is for firit class res6arch facilities in our

national record repositodes and good practical advice services lor do-it-yourself overseas visitors; a network of co-operative local societies tfuoughout the country doing valuable and voluntary research and conservation work; and a body of expert professionals genealogists, record agents and index holders providing competent and competitive services.

My nightmare is of third world research facilities in the national repositodes and chaos for DIY visitors; a lot of societies at cross-purposes, all polluting the world with parish newsletter-type journals full of fragmentary gravestone inscriptions and half-baked advice; and a gov-

ernment-backed caltel presiding over an impersonal, incompetent pre-packaged research service.

Plul

lnernno

Gonnv

Being given carte blanche by a magazine editor to put Jorward your views on a subject close to your heart is a wonderful thing. But deciding how to use it is difficult. When I think of the future of lrish genealogy, I think of how easily it could be put on a proper footing, but also of how it is likely to develop in the opposite direction. Genealogy has its diff iculties with bureaucracy in every country and, naturally, people overseas aren't interested in a long gripe about conditions within Ireland. So, I hope to communicate some optimism while also facing up to the stark reality. lt would serve no purpose to avoid reference to certain areas for fear of offending the people involved; not that most of my colleagues believe me capable oI such sensitivity. Equally, it would be dishonest to write a Bord Failte type article about all the nice things, while ignoring the underlying problems. lrish genealogy is a mess and there is no likelihood of the story changing until the problems are addressed. As I see it, there are three major obstacles to a happy ending: lack of policy, lack of funding and lack of co-operation.

In between these two extremes is the status quo: second rate research facilities in the national reDositories and limited adviie for DIY visitors; several societies hoping to co-operate and aspiring to get their individual voluntary projects off the ground

while furiously producing parish newsletters; and tlie whole spectrum of research services flom the consummate plofessional to the inept conman.

LACK OF POLICY I say there are three major problems to be overcome. ln her contuibution to the debate

in the last issue, Pat Donlon highlighted the first of these.

va ous government departments and record repositories whose activities touch on genealogy. But, while they're all onboard, there is no one steering the boat. That did not matter terribly until the end of the 1970s. Since then family hisShe listed the

tory has become a significant contributor to tourism in lreland and millions of pounds have been invested in parish

land. However, it was administered by the Irish govemment and the Northeln Ileland authodties. With the exception of a number of projects run by county libraries, most of that money went to pdvate sector indexing centres. The majodty of these voluntadly belong to the umbrella group called the Irish Family History Foundation. One notable exception is the Tipperary Heritage Unit.

register indexing schemes throughout the countly. This does not cut across my 'lack of funding' argument, which will be explained later. The money invested in indexing projects came mainly from the European Union and the

Intemational Fund fol Ire-

13

This is controlled by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel, who has closed all other outlets of information from parish registers ir-t the diocese of Cashel & Emly.

No government official nolth or south of the border has control of the centres which obtained these funds. No one is accountable and no one is in charge. The whole development of the indexing centres has been, dare I say it, misguided. Iam not questioning their place in the scheme of things and I hope my colleagues in the centres will not take my comments amiss. My criticism is of the framework under

which they are attempting to operate. It seems that most people agree with the prediction that few cenhes would be viable without continued investment, but no one wants to face up to reality. Unless the centtes can, as some have

done, develop other sources of income, the only way they can continue to operate without heavy subsidies is to amalgamate into regional centres. The other thing they will have to address is what the customer wants, rather than what they are prepared to offer. No one who makes the effort to travel from Nevada, New Bnrnswick or New Zealand to trace their ancestors wants someone to do it for them. I have been a professional genealogist for nearly two decades and I have never been engaged by someone to do research while ftey saw the sights. They will commission a search before or after their visit, but

while they are in Ireland they want to use the sources themselves. Visiting family histodans (I'm not talking here about the tour bus brigade but the people who know what they're about) will have to be allowed facilities to do their own index searches. They have been crying out for it for years.


1996 Number 4

Irish Roots Successive Irish govemments

have done nothing for genealogy beyond dishhg out money to indexint centres. The records in the national repositories could have rotted

away for all they knew or cared. They recogrfsed that genealogy played an important role in toudsm, but they never gave any thought to developing it in a structured

way. They

seem to have assumed that setting up indexing centres in business was by itself going to satisfy the tourists. All the talk about computerised indexes sounded so twentv-firSt century that they omitted to analvse the actual nature of lncestral research. It is not about getting the most information in the least time. Genealogy is supposed to be fun. The people who pushed

what is now Irish Genealogy Ltd and the civil servants and tourist executives who bought it had no understanding of what it's all about.

If we talk in purely corirmercial terms, Ireland's biggest

selling point in relation to genealogy is that the majority of records are centrallv available in Dublin and Beifast repositories. There is no need to tell farnily historians what a bonus that is, yet Bord F6i1te (the Irish Toudst Board) played it do*n and hyped the indexing centres, even before many of them were in a position to provide basic service and while none of them intended to allow research facilities to visa

itors. BordF6ilte's'bleed them' pdncipal dictated that tourists should affive via Sharuron Airport and be kept

out of Dublin till they had spent their money throughout the lour provinces. The perception was that ancestor hunting was an exercise in

serendipity and that pottering arolmd graveyards or bothering people with the same surname was what made genealogistshappy. Bord Fiilte was not interested in encouraging people to make the most of thei limited time by starting research in Dublin and then going to their ancestral area. The government were so ignorant of the.situation that in 1992 they agreed to move the General Register Office to Roscommon, away from the other national record repositories. All of

this proves Dr Donlon's Point: there is a need for a government policy on genealogy; no one is in charge. The latest controversy could have brought this to a head The publication by the Minister f;r Arts. Culture & the Gaettacht of his National Cr.rl-

tural lnstitutions Bill in late September caused dismay. as Seition 13 was headed 'Dissolution of Genealogical Office and transfer of its functions to Board of Libtary'. Following exoressions of concem from ge'nealogists in Iretand and overseas, and much criticism within the Senate, the Minister was in a position less than a month later to publicly state that 'there never was a Prooosal...to abolish the ilenealogical Office'. The Minisfer now intends that the GO be reduced to the status of a branch of the National

Library, which amounts to the same thing. An OPPosition amendment to Section 13, which proposed that the GO be confirr-ned.as an institution of state in its own dght, failed to win the suPport of independent senators. Sooner or later, as genealogists become more vocal, the Government will have to develop a policy on the subiect. In my mind, the solution would be to place the Chief Herald and the Genealogical Office in charge of the situation and give them powers

AND funding to control and develop the field. As the GO controversy illustrates, politicians still have no real glasP of the situation.

LACK OF FUNDING The second obstacle I mention above is lack of funding, and this is partly a by-product of the lack of policy. However, it is more directly a result of the govemment embargo on iobtin the public sector. This embargo has resulted in ali the Republic's record rePositories long operating below capacity because of being

under-staffed, as well as enduring cfu onic under-fu nding. The National Archives Advisory Council's Strategic Plan, which was presented to the Minister for Arts. Culture & the Gaeltacht in June, reflects the situation in all the institutions. It shows that the National Arahives now has roughly the same level of staff

Public Record Office and the State Paper Office (its predecessors) had twenty years ago, but almost five iimes the number of people using it. In addition, the Arcliives has still to use unsuitable of f-site storage facilities six years after the move to the new BishoP Street site because a large Part of its premises continues to be occupied by the Govelnment Supplies Agency. as the

The research facilities in most

of Dublin's record reposito-

ries are second rate. This maY sound harsh, but it is true. I am in no way blaming the staff. Neither am I exactly criticising the administration, but rathei the obstacles thev face in trying to get sufficieirt funds from the Government. The need for off-site storage in both the National Archives and National Library means that a lot of valuable material is inaccessible, in some cases on an on-going basis. The lack of on-the-spot photocopying services in both institutions is a national embarassment. The

Archives reading room and the General Register Office are regularly bulging at the seams. The Library's micro-

can buy.

My fantasy plan is

as

follows.

The Government would invest enough money in the Archives. Librarv and GRO to allow them to open throughout the working day and in the evenin8s, and to Providethe basic sewices expected ot such national institutions.

The Genealogical Off ice would be restored to the status of a national institution as well as being sufficientlY staffed and funded to be able to liaise with the other institutions and monitor facilities. They would be able to widely pubiicise the centralised iecords and expand the advisory service currently oPelated with the Association of Prof essional Genealogists in Ireland. They would be in a position to house the long

oromised central index flom irish Familv Historv Foundation centrei. Indeed, it would make more sense for a governnent oflice to suPervise and assist indexing centres than for the monolithic Irish Genealogy Ltd to continue to to add layers -Alas,ofbureaucracY it is just a fanthem. tasy.

LACK OFCOOPEIRATION

are in a state of disrePair beyond alarm. Even more asfounding is the fact that the ooenins hours oI both the t.ihra rriand *re GRO are shortei now than theY were

The third obstacle. is something the authorities cannot be blaned for. The fault is with Irish genealogists ourselves. It must be said that we have come a long waY in the Dast few vears, but there

ten years ago.

ore

All of this

developments. However, the collective response to the announcement of the Proposed move of the GRO to Roscommon in 1992 was something of which we can be proud. It was the first time genealogists came together fbr the common good and it resulted in the Government

films and the GRO's indexes

is because succes-

sive governments held a tight rein on civil service spending At the same time they were only too pleased to throw European Union money t about like confetti and con' gratulate themselves that theY were doing wonders for tourism - and local politics. StaNing the institutions theY themselves were responsible for maintaining was, and is, a shortsighted strategy. The GRO, Archives and LibrarY are the first places many

tourists see when they alrive in Ireland, despite Bord Friilte's best efforts. Investing money in them would sulelY pay dividends in years to come. Encouraging visiting familv historians to research systeiratically and get results would do more Ior the countrv's reDutation than all the cJmpuiers the EU's money

l4

itill oettr/divisions which

prevent;uiuatly beneficial

agreeing to leave research

and certification {acilities in Dublin, Of course, not everyone subscdbed to the GRO Users'Croup, but most did. Resultins from that consensus the C"ouncil of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) developed and it is about to hold its second annual general meetinS. CIGO was instrumental in having genealogy mentioned in last vear's Heritage Act. Lt is currentty devetoping Plans for ioint proiects which,


Irish Roots

1996 Number 4

hopefully, will give individr.ral genealogistia sense of cornmunity arrd result in use_ tul research aids. Mv

longterm aspiration ior CIGO rs for a genealogists, libratv. along the lines 6f the Socie:rv of Genealogists in London. ' This is not io sugeest simnlv

to being a traditionalist. I have both sentimental and practical attachments to our oldest institutions, the Genealogical Office and the Irish Genealogical Research

uplica tin g wha"t"we alreid'v have il oth=er repositories, b'ut rather supplementjnq their d

holdings, especjally ;ith overseas material not alreadv available in lreland. Such a ' library would be ooen at

weekends and in the evenings, when the othel repositodes ate closed. It would be owned and controlled by genealogists, free of the layers of burea"ucracv orrr national institutions harie to contend with. It would also be a base for meetings and lectures. This is not;ll Die in the sky. Itwould not bi feas;ble for any one society, but it would be possible under an

umbrella group like CIGO.

Two of the most influential organisations are not teDre_ sented on CIGO. the Triih Genealogical Research Society and the Irish Familv His_ tory Sociery. The ICRdis eligible onlv for associate

membership because it is not based in Ireland. However. its Ireland Branch could bp a

full member. Both the IGRS

Ireland Branch and the IFHS

were tepresented in the GRO

Users'Group but their com_ mittees refu;ed to ioin CIGO. Their absense could be seen as a reflection on CIGO. On the contrary, I would sugeest that the committees a.e 6it of touch with their own mem_ bership. Certainly there are many IGRS mem6ers, includ_ hg me, who can see no good reason for the heland Bianch committee's attitude. As the IGRS Council appears to rely on the branch committee fo;

tuidance on 'intemal, mat_ ters, it seems likely that the

oldest Irish geneaiogical soci_ ety will remain outside this growing co-operative. I am not promotine CIGO simDlv because I am involved init.' T am involved in it because I see the co-operation of mem_ bership organisations as important to our future.

IGRS In the first article in this series, Tony McCafihy was very critical of both rlie IGRS

arld the IFHS. I have to admit

suggested that the IGRS was ideally placed to develop a worldwide federation foir Irish interest groups which would give overseas IGRS

Society. Some of Tony's criticisms of the IGRS weie. therefore, hard to take. However,I was absolutelv incensed bv the response liy Robin Finilay, Chairman of the IGRS Council (1996 No.2). Tony was of the opinion that an 'Irish' society should be based in Ireland. Robin contended that it was the 'Genealosical Research' that was Irish-and that the society belonged to London. This was news to me after seventeen vears of membership. In mrl opinion the IGRS

isin inteinahonat

organisation and could be based with equal legitimacv in Rome, Geneva or-- likethe Irish Genealogical Society paul, Min_ lntemational - Stthat its headnesota. The fact quarters is in London is because it was founded there and most of the people who run it live in that area. This makes it no less an Irish society. As a quarter of its members are resident within Ireland, the IGRS Council should stop waiting to be invited to offer oDinions on what Robin calls"the intemal politics of the pan-Ireland genealogical scene'. Has the IGRS Council no opinion on the future of the Ginealosical Office? Politeness must h"ave been the reason for their conspicuous silence in recent weeks.

In March 1992I wrote an article in Farzily Tree on the IGRS, and pointed out that a number of overseas genealogists (by no means unscholarly) would not join because iI wo" based in London. I said that some members felt the societu was elitist and the journal did not cater for the common man, while others worried that the societv wouid become 'popuiar, in the worst sense if the membershiD increased too suddenly'. I suggested that there was a need to adapt to changinq times, to increase the ireir-

bership in order to develop

the librarv and sustain fhJ society s scholarlv work. Later ihat vear th'e D,,.' Laoghaire'Genealogical Society proposed a Jederation of

Idsh societies. In October 1992

in the same magazine,I 15

members an active role. We now have the beginnings of

that federation in CIGdand the IGRS is not even reore-

sented in it-

When Wallace Clare founded the IGRS in 1936. genealogy was not a popular pursuitl' Lrcumstances have chansed but the IGRS has not. Rob"in Findlay says any compatison with the Society of Geiealo_ gists is invalid. If this is true it is only because the IGRS buried its talents lons aso while the SoG develo"oeE

with

the times. The ttnS library is open only on Satur-

dav afternoons. This is beiause it is rul bv a small group of volunteeis, but that small group will not be replenished unless the societv becomes more active and recruits mole volunteels. Tt would possibly make more sense if its headquarters were within lreland, but the members in London equate head-

quarters with librarv. There is no logical reason ior removing the library from London. It gives pebple in that area access to material not freely available elsewhere in England, while most of it is easy to get in Dublin reposito_ ries. The idea of a eene'alo-

gists'library in Irefind would

in no way endanger the IGRS library and I would be the first person to jump to its

Tony McCarthy's dismissal of *re Irish Genea[ogist, the ]GRS tournal as containins little of value to the average"familv historian is unfair. A lone afticle on a particular fam"ilv may seem a waste of space,' but ovet sixty years such arti_ cles grow into a rich body of invaluable scholarlv matlriai There was no otheioutlet for such work for most of its histoty. The ltish Genealogist has also published manv rFcords which previously were available only in manuscript form. The numerous contridutions by Mary Clark and Ravmond Refausse over the last hecade sprint to mind and it is marvellous to have such rnaterial on your bookshelf. However. I do see that individual issues of the joumal fall short for most people. It could do with

an injection of

reality. Itisall

very fine for the societv to think of itself as schola'rlv anrt not 'popular' in the wors't sense, but we all have to start somewhere and many IGRS members are raw beginnets who need guidance. That is the meaning of the IGRS objective of promoting and encouraging the study of Irish genealogy.

I may not sound like much of a traditionalist, pokine the aged IGRS in this disrEspect-

fui fashion. Actually,I

a'm

very conservative and I don,t want the societv's character to change. But I don't want it to

die, either. The IGRS was the only society around twenty years ago. lt provided a

structure for Irish geneajogy long before the boom. Itis now one of several societies. Instead of being hidden in the crowd, it should be settins standards for the others tJ aspire to. To do this, it needs to wise up to present dav demands. Robin savs th; society is democrati'c. It most definitely is not, and the first thing it needs to do.is mod-

ernise the election process lor the council. Members take no interest in the running of an organisation if it is done for them by a mysterious clique. Members should be encoiraged by the very fabric of a society to involve themselves

in every way. With

a

little

adaption toihanging conditions the IGRS could regain lts prestige and have a verv

bright future.

THE FUTUBE The concluding sentence of the last of mv iloots of Irish

Genealogy' irticles (1996 No.1) was as follows: ,If Irish

genealogy is to

trow in a

more structured wav in the future than it has in'the Dast two decades, it will hav6 to be remembered that it is not a boomtown, but a verv old

community with old institu-

tions and

;

historv to be

upheld'. CircumJtances mav

have rnarginalised the Genealogical Office and the IGRS in recent years, so people new to the field are not to blame for failing to appreciate

tlrelr tmportance in the devel_ opment of what we now have. However, we are not all new to the field. Any iuture growth should have a clear view of our genealogical nentage.


Irish Roots

fl

1996 Number 4

ustainabilitv and

Dr*m"*rm*

in tourism. As both toirrist boards see family history and clan reunions as a means to draw increasing numbers of overseas visitors to these shores it means that the recent innovative developments in genealogy in Ireland will be increasingly measured against the yardstick of sustainability. Hopefully, the narrow vision of an accountant's view of sustainability will not hinder the long term development of genealogy. Development of IGP In the first instance it was

a

selies of padnerships that got the Irish Genealogical Project (IGP) off the ground. The first and most enduring partnership commenced in the 1980s when the Train-

ing agencies (The Training and Employment Agency's (TEA) Action for Community Employment (ACE) programme in the North and Foras Aiseanna Saothair (FAS) in the South) funded local community groups to index records of value to fam-

ily historians in their local atea. These

initial efforts at

indexing recotds wete largely uncoordinated, and as a consequence there were no stan-

dards in methodology. In the late 1980s the Irish Family History Foundation was formed to cootdinate the work of local groups who were already indexing genealogical sources. In 1990 the third piece in the jigsaw was put in place when the International Fund for Ireland (lFI) agreed to set aside a sum of f1.5 million for the development of an all-Ireland'family roots' database. The Irish Genealogical Project (IGP) now became a reality, and, in doing so, provided a

unique opportunity for both cross-border and hterdenominational co-operation. It was agreed that the six

principal genealogical sources in Ireland should be computerised: 1 . Civil records oI birtfu, marriages and deatts, 2. Church records ofbaptisms, marriages and burials;

IGP centres alongside existing or new hedtage attractions

with crowd-pulling capacity.

GrnEArocY is it su$ainable? 3. Mid-nineteenth century

The population of lreland, nolth and south, stands at

Gtitfith's Valuation)

just live million. Of course the danger inherent in these enticing statistics is the pitfall of assuming everyone with ethnic Irish origins must be interested in tracing theil roots. It is very easy to become transfixed by

4. Early-nineteenth centwy

tithe applotment books; 5. 1901 Census; 6. Gravestone

inscriptions.

It was also decided that each area, usually a county (part of a county in the case

of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Mayo and Tipperary), would

the sheer size of the Irish

have a designated IGP centre, in which all the relevant civil and church records for that

Diaspora. The Clans of Ireland report 'Developing our Genealogical Heritage' estimated that

area would be computedsed. These local centres would

genealogy was the primary motive for 58,000 (i.e. three percent) of the 1.76 million holiday visitors to Ireland in 1992. These visitors with an

then service any family history queries which fell within their catchment aleas.

From a toudsm point of view the 'piece de resistance' was the ultimate establish-

interest in tracing their roots spent an estimated â&#x201A;Ź20 million. Furthermore these

ment of a sign posting or central referral index, whose purpose would be to direct visitors to the appropdate local area. Not only would

genealogy-motivated visitors only accounted for 12 per cent of visitors with Irish ancestry (472,000) so there is

the local economy benefit but the toudst boards would have a significant marketing tool (i.e. the sign posting index) to deploy in their bid

a

substantial untapped mar-

ket for genealogy services even among existing visitors.

Marketing Strategies If the success of IGP centres is simply to be ]udged by the number of visitors they get

to attract more ethnic Irish to Ireland.

Potential

then genealogy needs to 'widen' its appeal. Most IGP

The potential is tremendous. According to the 1980 census,

centres at present cater vely much for the specialist, i.e. the dedicated family histo-

43 million Americans,

approximately twenty percent of her population, are of Irish descent. Five million Australians, or thirty percent of her population, can claim Irish ancestry. At a conservative estimate there are ovel

rian. Asself-contained genealogical research centres with a nauow, specialised base, local IGP centres are unlikely to achieve realistic visitor {igures. One solution might be to establish the

seven million people with Irish origins in Great Britain.

'front office' operations of

Bv

Bnrlr Mlrcxeu Go.onorxaron oF TltE llxen Glw TRUsrts Gerellocv Gexrne rrr DERRy

27

The problem with this scenado, however, is the increasing unease about the viability of heritage attractions, and owing to EC structural funding there has been a dramatic growth recently in heritage and cultural developments. A study by Tourism Development International, and published in an article entitled 'The Heritage Industry: Money from our ancestors' in Business and Finnnce (13

August 1992) demonstrated that the Irish population is too small to sustain the current number of fee-paying

attractions. The difficulty for Ireland is that there ale relatively few quality he tage attractions, and only 14 reported more than 100,000 visitors in 1991. Furthermore the tourist season is sholt

with seventy percent of all customer visits occurring between June and September. A Bord Failte survey car-

ried out in 1990, furthermore, showed that in visitors' minds Ireland's scenery and. people lived up to their expectations but an understanding of her heritage/culture did not. There is, therefore, a poor awareness of what Ireland has to offer in the field of heritage attractions. According to the latest survey canied oulby Caterer ond Hotelkeeper , the leading magazine for the hospitality industry, peace would make 24 per cent of Bdtons more likely to visit Northern Ireland.

Although seventy percent of these said the scenery and countryside would attlact them to Northern lreland, less than five percent said they would be attracted by its histodc sites. The proposal published by Heritage Island 0uly 1992) to market heritage attractions throughout Ireland to international tour operators contains some very interesting statistics. In the Republic of Ireland overseas visitors to heritage attractions accounted for 62 percent of admissions whereas in Northern Ireland they only accounted for 17

percent.

Grant Aid Essential Quite simply, in Northern Ireland at present there is neither the local population nor


Irish Roots

1996 Numher 3

holiday visitors to sustain hedtage centres. Such pro-

employment programmes.

jects are non-conunercial and

annual report of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum demonstrates that fol the year ending 31 March 1993 it generated a gross income of

play an important role in the tourism infomation network in terms of directing visitors to the homelands of their ancestors. In is quite ftequently the ddving force among many family histodans to identify the areas their ancestors lived in, and to find

â&#x201A;Ź2.689 million, of which 82.44 million carne from Depart-

out something about the history of the area and its peo-

ment of Education grants. In other words this well-

ple. Even the straightforward

need the participation of pubIic bodies and grant assistance. For example, the

respected and popular museum only generated some 9 per cent of its own revenue

Major Contributions of IGP In sholt if

a

balance sheet

analysis of hedtage attractions, and this includes IGP centres, is seen as the only valid means of assessing a project's value then we might as well stop what we are

doing! A commercial appraisal of IGP centres, however, overlooks a number of major contuibutions in the fields of training, research, education and tourism - which areto sufficient in themselves iustify all the work that is going o;. In the field of training it is now accepted that academic qualifications should not be the sole measure of excel-

lence. Vocational training in the work situation is a valid alternative. Partnerships between the training agencies and local commulities offer great scope for meeting the challenges of the modem

world. Indeed many ameni-

ties/services, and this includes all IGP centres, have already arisen as a result of co-opelation between the training agencies and local

communities. As tourism plays a maior role today in the creation and maintenance of loca1 employment, it makes sense for the toudst boards and training agencies to be co-operating in the setting up of community employment and tourist venfures. In the context of IGP centres, providing a toudsm service function such as training, data inputting, validation, and even client reports are 'back office' operations that can go on anywhere independentlv of visitors- Tt is pssendal td the ultimate succeds of the IGP that the training agencies see'value' in contin-

uing to fund local centres through their training and

to assist you trace your roots. Your family history can be researched and prepared for you in advance of your arrival in Derry.' One great

IGP centres, furthelmore,

advantage of compiling such reports in advance of a trip to Ireland is that they will be compiled in the off-season

period. There is great scope for the IGP to link up with tour operators throughout USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain to offer 'valueadded' holidays. The aim of such a link up should be to provide the prospective holiday maker with a relevant

identification of an ancestor's place of residence on a map can make a visitor's holiday an unforgettable experience. Many centres have also established themselves, based on their rich local heritage, as major reseaich institutions. In addition to undertaking major indexation proiects for the major religious denominations and for the Registrar General, many centres have gained well-eamed reputations for the quality of their publications. For example Derry's Genealogy Centre has

information/research package on their particular family history before they board the plane to Ireland. Thus a

client walking into a travel agent to book a holiday to Ireland should be given the option to commission resealch into thetu family his-

tory. Not Yet Marketable

produced 15 publications to date, seven of which were published in the US. Publications produced by IGP centres can be found in many reference libraries across America and Australia. The contdbution of local

Before genealogy centres can deliver packages that will entice tour operators to take them seriously, they will need to be able to delivel an all-Ireland genealogy product and, most importantly, have one point of contact. This 'sign posting' centre will not only negotiate on behalf of local centres but also act, and be marketed as such, as the point of contact for individuals with an interest in family history. This centre will be able to offer assessments (for a fee), redirect queries to the relevant local centre, and act as negotiator and promoter of IGP services. Owing to its slowness in

centres in the field of child and adult education should

not be underestimated. Staff

ftom centres have assisted

with school project work, held workshops on tracing family history, given talks to family history groups both within and outside Ireland, and provided lecture input to

university courses. I do feel tiere is a danger of

throwing out the baby with

the bath water, of being forced down the. route of oved commercialisation at the expense of a quality service which benefits both the local community and tourism

provision. Attracting Visitors From a tourism point of view I increasingly see the role of genealogy as the means to tianslate an interest in Ireland into a desire to travel here. For example, in its presentation literature to 'Cruise Lon-

inputting hand-written records, it is hard to imagine the complexity in creating an all-Ireland genealogical database.

Until

these issues are tack-

led and the public can be promised an all-Ireland genealogy product there is little point in launching, on a large scale, any solt of coordinated marketing campaign which would be necessary to generate new business. Owing to the si8nificant role played by genealogy in

attracting overseas visitors to Ireland, and owing to the comrnercial failure of heritage attractions to generate realistic revenues I would see the ideal location for the 'service functions' of IGP centres as being within the network of tourist information centres. Once the local databases are completed it will be relatively inexpensive to service the database in terms of manpower and equipment. This does not mean that IGP centres should not charge

genealogy has had difficulties in establishing itself as a qual-

The Future

ity service. The genealogy

Within the next 3-5 years

product is not yet 'branded' in the eyes of the public. This must be put in place befoie any comprehensive marketing campaign is considered. Furthermore, owing to free access to many Irish

there will be established an all-Ireland genealogical product which will be unrivalled anywhere in the world. And of even greater significance, once established, the IGP database and network of experienced genealogists will help futule generations trace their ancestry, and draw more and more loots visitors to lreland. In community

service.

In additiory owing to the scale of the task it has set

28

registers), and the degree of care that is required in

setting standard pricing and selvice structures, Irish

ing a good 'value for money'

system has been established

permissions to computedse sources (especially church

realistic fees for commissioned research or develop a range oI ancillary products such as sumame scrolls, heraldic shields etc. Indeed they should charge for their services, and any money generated should be ploughed back into the tourist information network.

genealogical sources in libraries overseas, and to the natural desile of people to trace their own family history, 'branding' becomes allimportant in any attempts to position IGP centres as offer-

dondery Polt', Derry City Council and Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners included genealogy as part of its package, simply stating:'A computedsed

itself it will be another three years at least before local centres will have completed their local databases. Unless you see at first hand the scale of inlormation to be inputted, the time spent just in seeking

development, education and research, if not to the balance sheet, the network of genealogy centres throughout Ireland are very sustainable.


1997 Nutnber 1

Irish Roots

Tne Furune or

GenEALoGY in by

felt like DorothY in the Wizard of Oz when the editor of lrish Roots called and asked me to write an article from the American perspective about the future of Irish genealogy. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could click the heels of her ruby red shoes (or in my case serviceable navy blue loafers) together-and make of genealogy in Ireland a land of Oz.

Our series on the future of lrish Genealoov continues in 1997' This Year' o6irealoqists who reside outside lreland ire beinb given the opportunity to . exoress lh-eir views. The first article is written bv Judith Eccles Wight of the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah,'USA. She has personal experience of the lrish genealogical scdne' having visited lreland fourleen times' reDlaced witha more

difficult not

comes the hopes and dreams

o[

The nalional and local repositorjes that I have visited over ihe vears have come a long 'user -rti to*a.a being iiiJnJlv'. It is no"w possible for a researcher to personalJy

and several states within mv own countrv on research

to compare how thlngs are m Amedca and other countries with how things are in lreland. Added to that is mY work as a British Reference consultant in what is seen as the Mecca of genealogy, the Famity History LibrarY (hereafter ieferred io as FHL) in Satt Lake City. But since mY assignment is to exPress the hopes, even dreams, I have for genealogy in Ireland, it is impossible not to comPare. For out of the comparison

l am particula-rly impressed with-the pJofes-

modern iournals

won"i[i"-". ders,ihe National Archives no*'f'ru" i"ua"t-ptint"o Ubttl t"t"ut.h *h"r" on" "uomaterial on a and Drint out sing,ie machine. n"J*""aer

own Irish ancestiv and that of others. I have abb gone to England, Scotland, Canada is

INTER-LIBRARY LOANS

Juorn Eccus Wlcnr A.G.

Since the late 1960s I have been to lreland over a dozen times researching both mY

expeditionsl It

lneuno

sionalism ol c'lzt'y Koots lclanna nq Cailitthe)' the fournal of the Calway Family History society' thdt ls Pllbllsneq by the FAS I raining lto)ect and funded bY the local community and other organisa-

filmed churih records at PRONI. For one who is

I

harbour for tire future oI Irish genealogy.

Recent lmplovements Before I start with mY wish list, let me express the excitement I feel over the changes that have been made in Ireland since my earlier tdPS. First is the modernisation of the eouipment. The earlier antiqiaied fitm readers I used, if they were even working (and miny did not), at the Nitional Librarv have been

a

rePository

is oDen cannot be adjusted to me6t the needs of thi: Public, it would be nice if an interlibrarv loan service could be imole'mented and extended to corintries outside of Ireland Some vears ago the university librarrl l use i"n Utah was able to boiow filmed church records for New Brunswick from a Canadian rePository throush the inter-library loan systeri. I have also been able to access lilmed newsPaPer

collections, coPies of articles from periodicals, and even books from other record repositories via inter-librarY Ioin. What a helP this is to me in mv research NoL only am I abl6 to access lecolds at a reasonable cost (Postage

and/or photocoPY

exPense),

but I am able to do the research at a rePository close to my home and at a time convenient to me.

tions- Notonly are FAS

access

trainees used to Produce indexe for the Galway Family History Society west Heritage Centre, but thgy are also involved in the Productlon ol the ioumal'

used to the open sheu Policy Wish List .ir".t Jrn! eul und to queue, that's a time saving Yes, a number of significant imJrovement. PRONIalso chanqes have taken place in recentlv developed a fun and the wbrld of genealogy in lreinstruciive inteiactive com- land, but much more needs to Duter DroP.ramme Lhat intro- bedone Sonowtothewish list or hoPes I have for the buces'the"repository and its The publi(. Lothe future of genealogy in Irecollection oroeramme also outlines the Iand. Loais of PRONI (in the form oPf,\l\G HouRs 3f a mission statement) and If the various archives are ;ives instructions on how to sercommitted to being more if the irake a complaint vice is inaddouate. Thecom- 'user friend ly', T would like to see them e\lend the hours orrter aee has'also resulted in Loiia-i,la" u.."tt to informa- lhattheyareoPen The-

-

If the hours that

hut"r

tion from various lrish rePosi- National I ibrary has a ile\lLories includjns the heritage ble schedule which includes i"o".i"ttv exciLin"g is some evening hours as well

"r. """t a theabilitvLodod;earchof

as being oPen on Saturday buddata basdheld by the National mornings l realise thdt maKe mdy constralnts gel Internet. Archives via the l=oneer oPening hours imPossib[, bui a fleiible scheduleMore and more counties in lreland are starting up local does allow people more ready eenealoeical or hi;torical soci- access to the national and Eties anJ publfuhing annual local repositories.

10

PHOTO-COPYING ACCESS

And if the Irish rePositories

are committed to being more

'user ftiendlv', it would also

be nice if seli-service Photo-

duDlication machines were av;ilable. Some, but not all, of the repositories have such equipmdnt. I realise that these machines are expenslve, but it certainly is more cost effective tharrusing the lim-

ited staff of the rePositories to

provide that service Plus take iare of posting the Photocopied matedal

OPEN.SHELF ACCESS

I've learned ftom exPedence that about a third of mY research time in lrelanil (and the same can be said o{ other reDositories I've visited in the Br'itish Isles, Canada and America) is wasted because I have to wait for records to be retdeved and then brought to me. If record rePositoies had open shelving, or at least Parri:llv as is th; filmed church rec&d collection at PRONI, I would be able to better utilise my time. OPen shelving is not always Possible because


1997 Number 1

Irish Roots of the nature of the documents. However, if the records were preserved on microfilm or microfiche or made available in a computerised format such as the Pioneer lndexes to Australian vital records on CD-ROM, open shelving would be possible.

sure they read my letter as the reply I got back was the standard form to fill out and a list of the services they offered and the records that have been indexed. A short letter was included telling me that I would need to send €25

by the county heritage centres. Their records are not open to the public and, in some cases, church records that they have indexed are

not available for inspection at national repositories. The fee charged by many of the centres is often beyond the finan-

for a survey. A search would

Ilecord pleservation is a major concern that needs to be addressed immediately in Ireland as well as in other

countdes. The Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh and the district archives throughout that country are running out of room. If the records were filmed, fiched or computerised (scanners make this a relatively easy process), not only would the odginal documents be permanently preserved and demands on staff be reduced, but a great deal of room could be saved in stodng records that are used extensively by the public. A couple ofyears ago the civil registration records of the Cook Islands were

own areas. Who better to ask for a guided tour to a local

towniand or burial ground than people who live and work in that area? And by the very nature of thefu work,

the Genealogical Society of

Utah had previously microfilmed the original documents, the destroyed records

the employees at the centres ought to be able to give advice as to records to search

were replaced with a film copy. In 1922 an irreplaceable

that are unique to that area.

body of records was destroyed in Ireland. Could it not happen again, and what provisions are being taken to

GUIDES TO LOCAL REPOSITORIES

safeguard the records? need

The information from the

indexes is made available at a very reasonable fee. Volunteers could undoubtedly be

utilised.in similar ways at the various national and local Trish repositories and through their local historical or genealogical societies. IGP REFORM

Most of the indexing that is being done in Ireland is done

This would do more to promote tou sm among the thousands of people who are searching for their Idsh roots and thus b ng more visitors to Ireland.

It was suggested to me by a friend that the heritage centres could provide a unique consultation service for their

destroyed by arson. Because

in many areas. The family history centres (branches of the FHL) throughout the world could not provide the service that they do to the genealogical community were it not for the volunteers. Volunteers in the family history societies in England are actively engaged in indexing marriage recotds, monumental inscriptions, census returns and other records.

at no fee or a reasonable fee.

One only needs to look at the population served by the FHL to prove the point. Groups from all over the world come to Salt Lake City to use our facility. Family Tree, the most widely read genealogical periodical in England, sponsors almost annually a tdp to the FHL. Because it is easier for people in England to do English research at the FHL, rheie trips are generally well attended. Tourism is one of the main contributors to Utah's economy.

RECORD PRESERVATION

VOLUNTARY WORK Volunteers fill a critical

better served by making the records available to the public

cial means of the people they hope to serve. Too, the service provided is not always the best or the most timely. For example, I waited almost two years for information from one centre although the parish I requested be searched was one that had been indexed at the time I wrote. It wasn't until I complained and demanded a refund of my money that they promptly supplied me with the information.

be made of all indexed records (with the exception of the tombstone inscdptions, nothing else was needed since I had checked the pertinent sources at the FHL and knew that the church records were

More recently, I wrote to another county-based IGP centre and asked if they had

tions?

destroyed) for that fee. If they found anything pertaining to the surname in question, I would be informed and would then have to send €75 more for the details. Why would I want to spend €100 (or approximately US$170) for a list of tombstone inscrip-

gathered information from

I've heard similar complaints from other people who have

tombstone inscdptions. I wanted a search made of tombstone insc ptions of a specific Church of Ireland burial ground for a specific suname but no other research done. I m not even

used the services of the heritage centres. If one of the ideas behind the indexing of records is to boost the Idsh economy through toudsm, the heritage centres and the tourism hdustry would be

l1

Of those people searching for thei Irish roots, many want to do their own research. There are a number of books that provide detailed information about tracing Idsh families using various record sources, but not always do local repositories provide information dealing with their collections. PRONI has recently started publishing self helps. These mainly one page instructional aids detail

various holdings at that repository. I would like to see similar aids in other repositories in Ireland. CO-OPERATION

Finally, I would like to see cooperation between the genealogical communities

throughout the world. VolInteers from the local English, Welsh and Scottish family history societies and

ftom people associated with the Family History Library and its centres in the Bitish Isles developed a series of indexes for the 1881 census of those countdes. Canadian


Irish Roots Linda Meehan single handedly (at least as of this writing) is producing a county-by-county every name index to the 1901 census of

Ireland. Wouldn't it be wonderful if members of the local Irish societies or of the professional genealogical commu-

nity there were to volunteer their services. Through such co-operation everyone benefits.

1997 Nurnber 1 Dr Donlon's PIans

to do the same kind of research in Ireland with the ease that I have in America. Some of my dreams will remain dreams because of the

As I stated at the beginning of this article, I am very much excited by the changes that I have seen happen over the years in Irish genealogy. But there is room for improve-

economic situation. However, the far reaching plans Ior the National Library of

ment. I write this ftom the

Ireland detailed by Dr Patdcia Donlon in the previous issue of lrisft Roots (see 'The Future of Irish Genealogy')

perspective of a spoiled American who has ready access to so much information. I would like to be able

give me hope that things will continue to improve. Although Dr Donlon had to step down from her position as director of the National Library, I trust that the hopes and dreams she expressed for the future of Irish genealogy be implemented, for they are mine as well, for not only

will

that repository but others throughout Ireland.

Chairman of IGRS Responds fAM SURE that we could all argue til the cows come home aboul Ithe role of the lrish Genealogical Research Sociely both within and without the island of Ireland, and we could go on scoring points

NoRrH oF

off each other, but it would do precious little good to the interests of Irish Genealogy. Nonetheless, I am bounden to reply to some ofthe points made by Paul Gorry in the last issue of lrish Roots,

T'l

lneuro

FHS

eaders will olease note

I\thut uu.or.i"pond"r,"" should be addressed to: the Secretary, North of Ireland Family History Society, c,/o Queen's University School of

Fi$t, I welcome Paul's reasoned critique on the future of genealogy in Ireland, as indeed I have welcomed his many and varied contributions over the years, but if Paul is concemed that our Society is not as well run as he would like, then the remedy is in his own

Education, 69 University

hands.

Street, Belfast BTZ 1HL,

He is a member of the lreland Branch, fully entitled to attend meetings, propose motions, etc. If he is unhappy about some aspect of branch management, then his first course is to bring his concerns to the attention of the duly elected branch committee, and ifhe is stil1 not satisfied, to the Society's governing body, the Council.

not to Nodhern Ireland - home individuals at their address as inadvertently given in lrish Roofs No. 4, -t996.

'Our journal, Norlft Irisft Roots, V ol. 7, No. 2, 1996,

No society such as ours is so perfect that it cannot be improved, and we welcome suggestions to that end. But for Paul to state unequivocally that our society is 'most definitely' not democratic is a most serious allegation, implying at the very least dereliction of duty by

which was delayed, came frorn the printer on January

20 and copies were dispatched to all associate mem-

members of the goveming body, who are in law the trustees ofa registered charity, and who face considerable penalties if such derelic-

following day. The new Coleraine Branch meeting of 26 November was well attended with over 40

Paul also questions the 'conspicuous silence' of the IGRS Council (in London) on the subject of the future of the Genealogical Office (in Dublin), and blames such silence on our 'politeness'. Heisright, though I find it strange that such cdurtesy on our part should now be

members present to hear Mr Randal Gill speak on 'Tracing Family History'. December saw Christmas social evenings in the different branches. The Society's AGM is to be hosted by our Lisburn Branch on Saturday 24 May 1997, with coffee and registration at 10.30 am at the Lis-

regarded with ajaundiced eye.

Finally, Paul says that in my Open Letter to lrirl, Rooti (No. 2, 1996) I claimed that the IGRS 'belonged to London'. I did not, and it does not, any morc than I, who live and work in London, 'belong to London'.

I said that the Society was founded in London, which is an histo cal fact, however unpalatable to those who are mistakenly calling for its 'repatriation' to Ireland. I also made it very clear that the IGRS is intemational, a fact with which Paul, I am glad to say, agrees.

burn Linen Museum, followed by a conducted tour of the Museum and a visit to its Archives Library. Aftel lunch break, we will gather at 2.30 pm for the AGM proper in the Bridge Com-

Paul says that he was 'absolutely incensed' by my Open Letter. I am sorry that was his reaction, because my concem was notto fan flames, but to put the record straight following the fi$t article in the sedes

The Future of lrish Cenealogy. I

believe and hope that Irish genealogyhas, in fact,

a

great future before

it, both for fhe professionals, like Paul Gony, and also for the many thousands ofamateurs, who in the true sense ofthe oft-misused word, are involved for the love ofit. After all, without the interest engendered by amateun world-wide, there would be precious little work for the professionals. Let us work together for that futue.

munity Centre, Railway Street when addresses and

reports from all branches

will

be given. The Society's bookstall will be open for business

Youls sincerely, Robin McNee Findlay, Chairman of the Council Idsh Genealogical Research Society,

during the aftemoon tea interval. The Belfast Branch summer outing is planned for Saturday 21 June with a visit to the Moravian Settlement at

82 Eaton Square, London.

t2

't757.

RANDAL GILL BALLINTEER FHS the past year, a wide

/.\ver

\-,fprogramme of interesting lectures was delivered to a regular average attendance of about thirty per meeting. Included in the 1996 programme were lectufes preiented by Ms Eithne Mulhall, APGI, on the Mormon records; Professor David Doyle on Irish emigration to the USA; Mr Rob Goodbody on the records of the Quakers and their contdbution to

famine relief; Ms Liz Canoll on the Dublin Heritage

bers and societies the

tion is proven.

Gracehill near Ballymena, County Antrim, founded in

records; Mr Cormac Behan on the famine and the Freeman's lournaL latnes Scannell on an aspect of the Rathdown

Union. The 1997 prograrnme commenced with a workshop on Thursday 16 January for those who had no idea where or how to commence the research of the history of their family. This was conducted by Ms Muireann Murray-Lynch and Ms Elizabeth Ryan. For those beginners a stader pack is provided at a nominal cost and this provides them with pointerc/ideas as to how and where to commence with their research. The following lectures are The planned: 20 March Plantation of Ulster-by Enda have Lee; 17 April - They (the story Fooled you Again of Fr Ml O'Flanagan) by Dr Dennis Carroll; 15 May: The Irish Emigration to Canada

by Aidan O'Hara. The Society publishes a journal entitled GafeTaay to the


T 1997 Number 2

Irish Roots

Tne Furune or

Ger,lEALoGY in lneuaND by Pennv G. Mclurvne

Yn 1990 I made mv first I frustrating atterript to Iunderstand

ihe IGP and what it was trying to do. Despite knowing some of the principal players I was, and still am to some extent, treated like a leper seeking a secret cure. The malaise was that I understood genealogy in Australia and the needs of this group of researchers. I had worked as a professional genealogist, at that stage for over ten years, and wanted to tap into the Bord F6i1te 'tourist product' to give people

This series continues with an article on the Australian perspective on lrish genealogy. The author is a professional genealogist residing in Mosman, New South W-ales. She is on the Council of the Society of Australian Genealogists and has completed a master's thesis on pre-Famine immigration to Australia from lreland.

standardising procedures As far as progress regarding the establishment and marketing of an all-Ireland genealogical product is concerned nothing seems to have changed very much since the early years of the

'value added' holidays to Ireland. I was ignored because in relative numbers, Australians were few and they came to Ireland anyway to see the ' scenery and to stand on the spot of their ancestors. It did not matter to tourism if it was the wrong spot because Bord FAilte got their tourist anyway and therefore were happy.

proiect. Despite the massive amount of money going into ICP and the heritage Product, much of the material now readily available to genealogists interested in Trish records is from work done

bv dedicated individuals or sfia11er organisations. Initially Brian Cantwell, more recently the magnificent

work of UHF with the Ordnance Survey Memoirs and

This may seem a very cyni cal view of the tourismgenealogy combination but it is founded on some very strong evidence from genealogists here in Ausiralia- Since the earlv 1990s I have been acutely aware of

for many yeirs the work of Brian Mitchell in Derry. However, work is increasingly being undertaLen outside Ireland: Largy Books in Canada have done a magnificent job indexing the 1901 Ceirsus for Fermanagh, and are working on County Donegal; the Royal Irish Constabularv records and

growing dissatisfaction among the genealogical

movement in Australia with the 'antics of the Irish'.

the OLd Age'Pension Claim

Unfortunately genealogy in Ireland is increasing viewed as the ultimate Irish joke.

records have been irrdexed

in Australia; tl.re spinning wheel survey in America and the list continues to

Let me discuss some

erow. Il makes us wonder)

specifics. In 1993 and 1994,

through Descert, the journal of the Society of Australian Genealogists, I asked Australian researchers to write to me with their comments

and experiences with research from Ireland. I received many specific complaints, mainly about Heritage Centres. Many of the complaints were because the researchers did not understand the 'terms of reference' of the Centres in the first place and I think this is still the case. While at the local level there is much progress as centres are continuing to inPut civil and parish records, much more needs to be done in

Yvhat is going on in Iretandy'

Brian Mitchell, who has l

worked diligently on Pro-

jects and knows genealogY,


Irish Roots

education and tourism, continues his great work from Deny which he has done since before the Irish

Genealogical Project was even mooted. His expertise and dedication has produced an enormous amount of material and he alone has done more to promote genealogy in Ireland than any other individual. Yet, Bdan is not frightened to question the direction of genealogy in Ireland. See the article in Irlslz Roofs, 1996, Number 4.

To be fair, Australians ARE

often the malcontents of Irish genealogy because we are spoilt. Spoilt because of the availability of detailed records in Australia. Compared to the poor shipping records and civil registration records in American, Australians are unique among the Irish Diaspora because we frequently know the parish or townland of our ancestor. Forget for the sake of this argument that we still do not have a clue how lucky we are or what a townland is and what it means to know it!!

It is up to those involved in genealogy in Ireland and Australia to let people know what is or is not available beyond what they can do at home. More than basic genealogical expertise is needed if these people are to

1997 Number 2

visit Ireland and find some- New South Wales thing more there. Part of the tory of NSW State

[reposiGovernwhole problem is a lack of ment records and those of undersianding. I continu- the early colonyl. He was ally find that Australians diligentiy working away on assume that a Heritage Cen some original corresporitre is a place rather like a dence. Not unusual but, local studies library

(( ..

.

where

AUStfalians.

.

knowins the situation

.

Came tO

with

in lreland will kill the goose that laid the golden egg for that area of toudsm l4any . of you know that Dr Richard Reid, himself an lrishman with considerable experience in the histodcal and

fil?f$',.jlJ:i:Ti#tJ"o

Ifgland

!:*9il,.xrui$t' These are the educated and

to

:'#;:"I"JiiT5i,liJ"

anyway ro see the scenery- and

sympathetic people and sioned with Irish genealogy.

stand on the spot of their ancestors. ?ti#Tfil#,i:r:X'S,,"

It did not matter to tourism if it ))

was the wrong spot...

they will be allowed to go and conduct research for their family histories. After all they have paid a considerable amount of money to come to Ireland and cannot understand why the doors of places which hold clues to

copying in Ireland, I mentioned to him that for 40c a page he could have it copied on the spot. As I suspected, he was amazed to be able to have these original records copied. The system at the

National Archives and the National Library in Dublin is still very quaint and extremely frustrating but compared to when I first came to Ireland in the mid1980s it is a lot better.

their ancestors remain closed to them. They have

no understanding that they are meant to pay a fee, go home and perhaps be posted the results of some research.

Only this week Irish - a well Week T ran into known Irish historian working in the Archives Office of

Brian Mitchell talks of the danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water- My great fear is that genealogy 23

over two and a half years ago is still waiting for a

reply. What I am trying to illustrate is that we all need to be educated about how the system works, both in lreland and Australia and that Ireland has done a particu-

larly poor job of letting the international genealogical public know the lay of the land. This point is brought out by Brian Mitchell's lris,rt Roofs article [1996, Number 3l where he says that a Bord F6ilte survey carried out in 1990 showed, 'that in visitors' minds Ireland's scenery and people lived up to their expectations but an understanding of her heritage,/culture did not'. I am not sure that 'Riverdance' will help dispel the myth!


1996 Number

Irish Roots Origins ofIFHS The IFHS was the first association Lo rcpresent indexing bodies collectively, but church register indexing was by 1984 already well under way in various parts of the country. The man now seen as the pioneer of this development was Ignatius

doubt that Irish genealogy has fflhere is nogreatly since the gentlemanly days oi I changed pnirii I ooyne Vigors and the Memorials Association, just over a century ago. But remarkably, the most dramatic changes came about in the last two decades. When I started work in the field seventben years ago I was aware of the Genealogical Office, the Ulster Historical Foundation and the Irish Genealogical Research Society, but there were no other institutions or organisations visible. Donal Begley's Handbook on lrish Genealogy was the only guidebook on sale in book shops. As a hobby, genealogy was decidedly a rare pursuit within Ireland and as a career it was an oddity. This was not an area that held any interest for the government. New Developments

like George Cunningham was

The rapid change began in the early 1980s and it was not brcught about by the people, professional or amateur, already working in genealogy, but by people new to the fleld. It was, perhaps, an accident of history that caused it. Following the Republic joining the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1973, funds

made known to groups in other parts of the country through the Federation of Local History Societies. Of locally held historical records. the most widesprcad and accessible were church registers. This is why indexing of registers swiftly developed in the early 1980s.

for short-term

came in contact with the idea of indexing through the Federation, and persuaded the society to sponsor such a project. In 1985 I spent six months working as supervisor of the index-

became available

youth employment/training schemes. In the late 1970s the high unemployment rate in the country encouraged the development of such schemes. They were to be run under the auspices of local committees with the work conducted by supervised trainees. As these schemes could be used forjust about any community develop-

ment work, local history societies began to see their potential as hedtage projects.

of the first and most successful uses of such schemes was in Roscrea, where George Cunningham spearheaded the .preservation of Damer House and the flowering of archaeoOne

logical and historical programmes. The work of people

'Naoise' Cleary of Corofin, County Clare. He was a school teacher who indexed Corofin Roman Catholic parish registerc in his sparc time. In 1976 the local development association was given the old Church of heland church by the Representative Church Body and, with Mr Cleary's encouragement, set up a museum and an indexing scheme. The Clare Heritage Centre is now twenty years old and has long been regarded as the flagship of indexing projects. By 1985 indexing was being carried out in Carlow,

Leitrim, Monaghan, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath as well as in Clare and Offaly, and some of the records were already being computerised.

Similar developments were beginning in Northern Ireland, with a youth employment scheme being used to index the padsh registers of Armagh Roman Catholic archdiocese.

Indexing Centres v Professional Genealogists Once work was completed on the registers, the indexes were retained by the heritage groups. They viewed them as a resource with which to generate income by providing a research service. They set about getting further

govenment funding for this purpose. Being locally based and spread throughout the country, they were well placed to

Being involved with the west Wicklow Historical Society, I

command political attention. Genealogy was now a subject of inferest to the government, mainly due to its link with com munity development and the prospect ofexploiting it as bait for tourists. The people behind the indexing projects did not, by and large, have any prior involvement in the area. Many of them were unawarc of the small but long established genealogical community, centred mainly on Dublin and Belfast, and saw genealogy as a new frontier. When it became apparent that the indexing centres were to develop a commercial research service, professional genealogists became concerned about their

ing scheme in Baltinglass, covering church records and gravestone inscriptions. At the beginning of that period I was put in touch with Michael

Byrne of the Offaly Historical Society who was Secretary of the newly formed Irish Family History Society. The IFHS had been founded in September 1984 by people representing the various bodies indexing church records and it was, in essence, an umbrella group for indexing centres, but it was also a membership organisation.

fufure.

20

I

A mutual disrust, fuelled by lack of contact, caused years of

thinly concealed antipathy between the two grcups which has only in recent times been dispelled. Ironically, the appearance on the scene of these new heritage centres was one of the reasons that professional genealogists finally came together as a body to form the Association of Professional Genealogists in lreland. APGI has been in operation since 1987 and has set standards to protect both its members and their clients. It is open to those engaged in professional research either in the Republic or in Northem lreland whose work is passed by a panel of independent assessors. Discussions between government officials and representatives of heritage centres and of professional genealogists as to how a comprehensive genealog ical service could be provided have been on-going for almost a decade. In the meantime. the concept of an all-embracing service has gone through various stages of metamorphosis and changes of name, giving the impression that Irish genealogy is crowded with organisations. In 1989 the IFHS shed its

responsibility as umbrella group for the centres and assumed its present role of membership society. In its place, the lrish Family History Co-operative became the representative body for the centres but it later changed its name to the IFH

Foundation. The lrish Genealogical Prcject (IGP) was the name given to the proposed all-embracing service and to

implâ&#x201A;Źment it the various interested parties, the Foundation, APGI and government officials from both the Republic and Northern lreland, we.e brought together as lrish Genealogy Ltd. (IGL). The future of IGL and of the IGP is at present uncer-

tain It is sfill

under discussion.

Facilities for Amateur Genealogists The changes in Irish genealogy over the last two decades are not all to do with the commercial side of the subject, but it is difficult to tell whether they are entirely unconnected. If you wanted to ioin a society in ] land up to the end of the 1970s, / your choice was limited to the Irish Genealogical Research Society. Though it was based in London, there were two meetings a year in Dublin.

lre


Irish Roots

1996 Number

The first regional membership organisation to appear was the

Introductk)n to lrish Research by Bill Davis.

North of Ireland Family History

The first magazine published in Ireland dealing with genealogy was Fomily Links Past and Preren / which Kathleen Neill began in Belfast in 1981. It continued as lrisi Family Links

Society. It was founded in 1979 and its quarterly joumal, Norrft 1/is, Root,r has been regularly produced since 1984. In the 1980s the IGRS Ireland Branch

began and, along with the IFHS, came the Raheny Heritage Society, the Wexford FHS and the Irish Section of the Huguenot Society. They were followed in

the 1990s by the Dun Laoghaire. Cork and Wicklow Genealogical Societies, the Ballinteer Branch of the IFHS and the Irish Palatine Association. One of the major problems for people beginning to research

their family history in Ireland was, until recently, the lack of guidance. This, of course, applied to those who wanted to pursue it as a hobby, but also to those who thought of making it their career unless they were Iucky enough, like me, to be taken on by the Genealogical Office beforc it discontinued its research panel. You could:join the IGRS and buy the l1ardboa,t but after that you werc on your own. The first night classes in genealogy were given by the then Chief Herald, Gerard Slevin, in Newpark Comprehensive School in Dublin as part of their adult education programme in the late 1970s. These were later given for a time by Thomas McNally, then by me, by Mr Slevin again and by Eilish Ellis. Various other schools began similar courses and a phenomenal number of beginners have been introduced to genealogy in this way. The most popular of these is now that taught by Sean Murphy at

University College Dublin. This course offem an extramural certificate.

and

finally

as

Conferences

While genealogical confercnces were faniiliar events in countries like the USA for many years, the first of any note held in lreland took place in 1985 in Waterford. Confluence'85, organised by a committee led by Kevin Whelan, brought delegates from Canada to discuss migration from the south-east to the Labrudor Coast. In 1987

Irish Heritage

Lirtr

up to the early 1990s. The first issue of /ris, Rools. edited by Tony Mccarthy and

and 1989 Patrick Nolan and Mary Flood ananged two Irish Origins conferences for Australian visitors. Then in September 1991 the First Irish Cenealogical Congress took place at Trinity College, Dublin, attracting 400 delegates

published in Cork, appeared in

March 1992 and it has become an important channel of communication for lrish genealogists world-wide.

It is, perhaps,

a

poor reflection

on Ireland that the most significant research aids published in the past fifteen years were produced overseas. All-Ireland Hetrtage's Alphabetical Intlex and Andrew J.

from all over the world. Planning for this event began in 1989 and the organising committee was druwn from the various strands within Idsh genealogy, professional and amateur, making it very much a comtnunity effort. The Second

Moris' Frll Gtiffith's

Name lndex. both to P

rimary Valuation, co\ eting

various counties, are a giant leap beyond the 'Index of Surnames', but they were both compiled in the USA. Linda K-

Congress was held in 1994, again at Trinity College, and the Third is planned for Maynooth

Mâ&#x201A;Źehan'S 1901 lrish Ce sus

hrdexfor County Fennanagh similarly an impressive and

tn 1s

invaluable tool and it comes from Canada. Of the material produced in Ireland, the most useful have possibly been the vadous indexes and lists published in the Irish Genealogist by the archivists Raymond Refauss6 and Mary Clark. These have made the collec-

Elusive Irish Ancestor conferences in 1991. These are on a smaller scale than the Congress but take place annually. The 1995 event was held in three centres, Belfast, Omagh and Derry. The IFHS's weekend seminar has become an annual fixture as well. It is aimed more at people resident in Ireland, though it also attracts overseas delegates.

tions held at the Representative Church Body Library and Dublin City Archives much more readily accessible fo all genealogists. Dr Refauss6 is also responsible for the RCB's publication in 1994 of the register of St Thomas' parish,

Dublin,

as the

first of

a

199'7 .

The Ulster Historical Foundation also held the first of its

The Future

It

appears that accidents

ofhis-

tory are destined to shape the development of Irish genealogy. In 1992, shortly beforc calling a

pro-

posed series.

Publications The publication of 1/is, Genealogy: A Record Finderby Heraldic Artists in l98l was a welcome step to making research more accessible to the growing number of enthusiasts both within Ireland and overseas. At least four other guidebooks were published between 1986 and 1989, most notably James Ryan's 1riJft Records.'

I

general election, Albert Reynolds announced lhat the Ceneral Register Office was to be relocated in his constituency, far away from the other record repositories. The now populous genealogical sector had the first opportunity to flex its muscle and the various organisations came together to form an ad hoc GRO Users' Group. It was successful in having the facilities retained in Dublin while the GRO itself will move ro Roscommon. Following on that, most of the voluntary organisations represented in the Users' Group decided to tbrm a permanent alliance and in 1994 the Council of Irish Genealogi-

cal Organisations (CIGO) was formed. Just as the IFH Foundation serves the indexing centres, CIGO is an umbrella group for membership organisations.

Now that the 'boomtown' quality of lrish genealogy in the 1980s has mellowed into a more mature and cohesive unit in the 1990s, the image of Ireland as overtly exploiting genealogy fbr commercial purposes will hopefully fade. Anthony Camp, Director of the Society of Genealogists in London, has long been critical of this aspect of Irish genealogy, and quite rightly so. His remarks merely reflect the views of people around the world who feel that Ireland is more interested in tourism than in genealogy. This series looked at the development of Irish genealogy, par-

ticularly over the past century. People like Philip Doyne Vigors, Tenison Groves, Gertrude Thrift, Philip Crossle, T U Sadleir, Wallace Clare, Beryl Phair. Ned Keane and Rose-

mary ffolliott laid the foundations of what we have today. They had a passion for the subject and they worked to develop it, rot simply so that Ireland could boost torlrism al the end of the twentieth century. If Irish genealogy is to grow in a more structured way in the future than it has in the past two

it will have to be remembered that it is not a decades.

boomtown, but a very old community with old institutions and a history to be upheld.

for Family & Local Hl,rtory. Between 1990 and 1992 a further five titles Sources

Corrâ&#x201A;Źction In Part IV ofthis series a gremlin assertedthat Eoin O'Maiony orce worked for the Genealogical Office. The word should,

appeared. These included 7ie Irish Roots Guide by Tony i|4ccatthy, Tracik+ Your Irish

ofcource. have been llerel.

Ancestors The Complete Gzide by John Grenham and All

-

2l

Profile for Genealogical Society of Ireland

"The Future of Irish Genealogy" (1996-1997)  

Articles on the future of Irish genealogy published by 'Irish Roots Magazine' in 1996 and 1997. As the Oireachtas Joint Committee considers...

"The Future of Irish Genealogy" (1996-1997)  

Articles on the future of Irish genealogy published by 'Irish Roots Magazine' in 1996 and 1997. As the Oireachtas Joint Committee considers...

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