Lost Irish Records to be recreated

Four Courts Fire From Wikimedia Commons

 

As anyone that has done some Irish family history research knows, there is a terrible problem caused by the destruction of many of the records that were formally held at the Four Courts building in Dublin in 1922 by fire.

This week the welcome news from Ireland is that they think that they will be able to recreate a huge number of them!

Any one who knows their history is aware that the fire happened during the Civil War when the west wing of the building that once held the four courts caught on fire. This had been where the Public Records Office (PRO) had been for Ireland and it had been the home of many genealogical treasures including the Irish census returns, originals of Irish wills dating to the 16th century, as well as in excess of 1,000 Church of Ireland parish registers containing baptism, marriage and burial records and many, but not all, were lost.

The destruction happened on 30 June 1922 when, after a two-day bombardment, an explosion and then a huge fire ravaged the building. For the benefit of those that aren’t aware, the Irish Civil War was the conflict that followed on from the Irish War of Independence and occurred as a reaction to the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United Kingdom but within the British Empire. It was fought between the pro-treaty Provisional Government and the anti-treaty IRA over the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

 

Now, the new project, ‘Beyond 2022, Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury’ has been launched. It is a collaborative project led by Trinity College Dublin in partnership with the National Archives of Ireland, The National Archives of the UK, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and the Irish Manuscripts Commission. It aims to re-imagine and re-create, through virtual reality, the archival collections that were lost.

To find out more have a look at this website: https://beyond2022.ie/

There are many reports in the media that give you more information on this exciting project such as this one by RTE, the Irish Broadcaster, that was the first one I saw, but not the last as many others have run the story:

https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2019/1205/1097086-beyond-2022-public-records/

 

Or you can have a look at this YouTube Video:

https://youtu.be/CXuExly6dl4

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Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.*

 

 

Book Review:

Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians – Second Edition.

Pen and Sword have recently published Chris Paton’s updated second edition of his very useful book on Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet.

Many of us, more use to researching in other parts of these islands, approach Irish research with some trepidation because of the loss of so many of the records that could have helped find ancestors. Anyone in this position will be aided tremendously by reading this book as the author shows us that actually there are a vast number of records that we can turn to and access online from wherever we are in the world.

We discover that websites from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, subscription websites such as FindmyPast Ireland, Ancestry.co.uk and RootsIreland plus some of the volunteer family history community all provide us with ways to find our elusive Irish ancestors along with many others that without this book we may never find. 

I recommend reading this book to get an overview of the major archives, libraries, societies and commercial subscription websites. This volume will tell you where to look for Irish Births Marriages and Deaths, wills, newspapers, census, census substitutes. Discover more about land records and directories, occupations and in this second edition the author has added a new chapter on The Decade of Centenaries commemorating  the events that took place in the period from 1912 – 1923.

Chris Paton has filled the pages of this volume with a great deal of information that is truly valuable for the researcher – it is not just a list of websites, but is a valuable guide to carrying out your research on the island of Ireland.

By Chris Paton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526757814
Published: 5th August 2019
Last Released: 23rd October 2019

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Irish-Family-History-on-the-Internet-Paperback/p/16483?aid=1101

 

*Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links. This does not mean that you pay more just that I make a percentage on the sales from my links. The payments help me pay for the cost of running the site. You may like to read this explanation here:

http://paidforadvertising.co.uk

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Researching Scottish and Irish Ancestors

 

I’ve notice in my post bag a few of my correspondents asking for help with Scottish and Irish Ancestor research. For some it would seem that all the advice is very English centric and so today I thought I’d write a short piece for those beginning to look in Scotland and Ireland.

Scotland, in comparison to England, can be a simpler place to look for vital records because of the long established Scotlandspeople website that allows us to browse for records for free and then download the image on a pay as you go basis. You can, therefore, get access to not only the Scottish census records, but also Scottish wills, birth certificates and death certificates.

The Statutory Index, on this site, has entries from the indexes to the civil registers of births, deaths and marriages for all of Scotland, as far back as 1855 up until 2009.

The Old Parish Register Index, on the other hand, contains the entries of births & baptisms, banns & marriages and deaths/burials from the church  registers of some 900 parishes of the Church of Scotland from between 1553  and up to 1854.

The Census Indexes are name indexes to the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901and 1911 censuses for all of Scotland. You will be able to find that each index entry will list the surname, forename, sex, age, registration district and county of the people of this part of the U.K. while the 1881 census index entries additionally contain the address.

The wills and testaments index, that can also be accessed here, contain over 611,000 index entries to Scottish wills and testaments dating from 1513 to 1901. Each index entry lists the surname, forename, title, occupation and place of residence (at least where they have been given) of the deceased person, with the additional information of the court in which the testament was recorded, along with the date.

The Coats of Arms Index, is another database on the Scotlandspeople website and this contains entries from the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland from 1672 to 1907. Each index entry lists the full name, date on which the arms were granted, and the volume and page number in the register.

A point to remember, when researching in Scottish old parish records, is that the Established Church north of the border is the Church of Scotland. As a Presbyterian denomination they do not have Bishops and hence, unlike in England, there are no Bishop’s transcripts to act as a back up should you not find the record you are looking for in the parish register.

Kirk Session Records are the equilavent of the Parish Vestry records south of the border and these are all digitised and made available in Scotland at county record offices with the plan to have them online in the future at Scotlandspeople.

Scottish marriages can be of interest to English families whose ancestors ran away to partake in an irregular border marriage when Lord Hardwicks Marriage Act of 1753 compelled English marriages to be in Church of England churches unless it was a Quaker or Jewish marriage. In Scotland a couple could declare themselves to be married and to find a pdf on the extent of irregular marriages and where the current location of the records are, visit www.gro-scotland.gov.uk.

 

For Irish ancestors www.rootsireland.ie is a good place to start your research, while www.irishgenealogy.ie has coverage of other counties.

It is often said that Irish Family Tree research is very difficult and time-consuming and one of the main reasons is that there are a lack of records. One major missing plank is the lack of any complete Census records before 1901.

For this reason any records that have data within them which had been taken from the Irish Census are obviously of vital importance in Irish ancestral research.  One such source of this data is the Old Age Pension Claim Forms held in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (P.R.O.N.I). These give researchers absolutely essential information from the 1841 & 1851 censuses for Northern Ireland & Co. Donegal. Similar records are held by the National Archives in Dublin. These here are referred to as Census Search Forms and they contain the same essential information as the Northern Irish ones but cover the whole of Ireland, including some additional records for Northern Ireland

Researchers from www.ireland-genealogy.com have spent two decades transcribing these hand-written pension claim/census search forms. In some cases they are difficult to read and are in no particular order while the records held by P.R.O.N.I. are not indexed.

Their database allows a researcher online to search these records easily and so will save you both time and money. All you need to do is enter the surname you are researching and from the list provided decide which records you think relate to your family and then just click the order button.

As they point out on their site, these  records were hand written, and so in many cases the handwriting is very difficult to decipher; this coupled with the fact that much if it was written in pencil resulting in some words or letters having faded before the transfer to microfilm, has made the job of transcribing particularly difficult. Ireland-Genealogy.com  have not corrected spelling mistakes nor have their transcribers tried to amend anything that may not make sense. They have simply transcribed all of the information contained on each form. When they were in any doubt about whether or not they were reading a particularly untidy or faded record correctly they have put a question mark. A question mark has also been used when it was impossible to read.

Findmypast.ie

Recently we have had the very welcome addition of Findmypast.ie to the family history fold. This site collects together birth, marriage and death records and so features details of over 400,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials from Ireland covering the whole island of Ireland and include over 150,000 newspaper obituaries and four indexes to wills, dating back as far as the 13th century. Many of these records are particularly interesting as they include more than just names, they also feature addresses and occupations. Vital records often make the best starting point for researching your Irish family history.

At findmypast.ie they have almost 150,000 names in census substitutes to help you fill in those missing gaps from the destruction of the census. You’ll find fragments dating from 1749 to 1901, as well as 19th century electoral registers. Anyone researching their 19th century Dublin ancestors will find a wealth of information in the 1851 Dublin City Census, which includes names and address of approximately 59,000 heads of households. We can also access the 1749 Census of Elphin, which lists all households, names of household heads, their addresses, occupations, numbers of children, adults and servants, by age and religious denomination – a remarkable document for such an early date. The Dublin City Census 1901: Rotunda Ward details 13,556 people residing in 1,334 properties across a 67-street space of the Rotunda Ward area of the city.

There are many other data sets including Land and Estate, Court and Legal, Military and Rebellion, Travel and Migration along with Directories dating back to 1814.

Take a look at this great website now by clicking the image below. (This is a compensated affiliate link.)



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Irish Family History Forum Launcehd by findmypast.ie



Findmypast.ie has announced that they have launched one of the first online forums that is solely dedicated to those people researching their Irish family history. This new forum is an online community for all those Irish diaspora who are looking for a place to discuss everything from researching Irish family history and Irish geography, to success stories and what it means to be Irish and its free to all registered users.

This is the findmypast family of websites first foray into community based chat and it seems that they recognised the inherent difficulties involved in looking for Irish ancestors was one of the reasons for setting it up. The forum will enable amateur and professional family historians alike to ask their family history questions to like-minded researchers across the world. The hope is that it will enable members to benefit from the wealth of experience gained from those who have previously hit brick walls in their research and then overcome them.

Brian Donovan of findmypast Ireland and long-time member of the Irish genealogy community commented: “The findmypast.ie forum is another indication of findmypast’s dedication to providing the world’s best platform for researching your Irish family history. I wish there had been an option like this available to me when I first started in genealogy”

The forums are separated into half a dozen different message boards, and once you are a registered user you will be able to start a new discussion on any of the six boards. Users will be able to add responses to topics which have already been posted by others as is normal in a forum. The six message board topics are to include General Discussion, Using the Records, Tracing Specific Ancestors, Places and Geography in Ireland, Your Finds and Success Stories and What Does it Mean to be Irish?

Anything that helps people to break down brick walls, in Ireland, is to be welcomed.


Disclosure: Links in this post are Compensated Affiliate links to findmypast.ie

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Irish Family History Research Just Got Easier!

Ireland-Genealogy on the webIt’s a well known fact, in family tree research, that Irish family history is more difficult to do, than that of Ireland’s near neighbours, because of a lack of information and the deficiency of census records pre 1901. But this week I couldn’t help but notice several press releases about how three different websites were going to be able to ease that problem for family historians.

Back in March I spotted that Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) had, for St Patrick’s day, updated its Irish Collection. This Ancestry said at the time was “the definitive online collection of 19th century historical Irish records.” It would, they said, make it easier for the nearly one in five Brits of Irish descent to explore their heritage.

In total, there are now more than 35 million historical Irish records on Ancestry.co.uk, including two million comprehensive new and upgraded records from the critical periods prior to and following the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852), the single most significant event to drive 19th century global Irish Diaspora.

Next, I came across the news about a smaller enterprise called Ireland Genealogy (http://www.ireland-genealogy.com), this being a fascinating new web site for anyone doing Irish family tree investigation. It has its own database of Irish Pension Record applications, that enables you to lookup information extracted from the missing Irish Census and claims that this will help a researcher save both cash and time.

Their research workers have spent twenty years copying all these written pension applications (green coloured forms) and so giving us access to critical data from the 1841 and 1851 census records for all of Ireland. These pension public records are kept in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (in Belfast) and The National Archives, where they are available on microfilm, but this means that they could be quite tricky to understand as they are in no specific order. What is more, the records data held by P.R.O.N.I. are not indexed, adding to the difficulty of doing your research.

Ireland Genealogy claims that their database, of those pension applications, enables you to now look up this information with ease.

The third Press Release, that caught my eye, was from Brightsolid about the launch of their new website www.findmypast.ie on to the web. With online access, from the start, to over 4 million Irish records dating from 1400 to 1920s and the promise of over 50 million records to be available in the first year to eighteen months, this is a welcome addition to the findmypast family.

There are approximately 80 million people worldwide, who claim to have Irish ancestry, with just over half of this number (41 million) being Americans, the limited resources previously availble to them, to connect with their past, may at last be being redressed.

Findmypast.ie claims that they will carry “…the most comprehensive set of Irish records ever seen in one place, going back to 1400 right up until the 1920s, including the Landed Estates Court Records, the complete Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland and the Directories collection.” They will be offering high quality images of records on this site.

With the addition of these three resources, online, it would seem that Irish family research just got a bit easier.

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