Sunday 20 February 2011

Rootstech - good news from Ireland

There are so many sessions to choose from at a big conference like Rootstech that it's hard to know which of them to choose. But I am always keen to find out what is going on the world of Irish research, so I made sure that I went to hear Brian Donovan give us the latest on the digitisation of Irish records.

It was nice to have some good news to report for a change. There are lots of exciting developments in the offing, from Brian's own company Eneclann and elsewhere. Starting with the Civil Registration indexes, many of these have been re-keyed by the Irish GRO, but there is no sign of them going online anytime soon. It is worth remembering, though, that many of the indexes are on FamilySearch, (Ireland Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958) as are a selection of the actual registers, included in the Ireland Births and Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths and Burials indexes.

One of the problems with Irish genealogy in the past has been that relatively few people in Ireland were interested in their family history. But things are beginning to change, and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport is committed to putting records online, free of charge. You can search church records for Dublin, Cork & Ross, Kerry and Carlow on Irish Genealogy

The National Archives of Ireland, in conjunction with FamilySearch, are imaging and indexing the Tithe Applotments 1826-1837. No launch date has been announced, but this is one to look out for. Another important source is the Landed Estates Court Records, which should be online by mid-2011. These records contain the names of approximately 600,000 tenants.

Another major series in the offing is a colossal collection of prison records from the 26 counties, containing up to 6 million names of Irish prisoners, their families and their victims. This collection spans more than a century, from the 1790s to the 1920s. The records of 15 million cases in Irish Petty Sessions, from 1821 to 1910, featuring 40 million people will also be released from mid-2011 onwards.

To keep up with these and other developments, be sure to sign for the Eneclann newsletter, and wait for news of a brand new website with some of these digitised records, to be launched on St Patrick's Day. The site also includes a comprehensive article about the digitisation of Irish records, which is not news (it was originally published in The Septs,Volume 29 Number 2, April 2008) but provides an excellent overview of the records and the challenges involved in these projects.

The above was based on notes I made during Brian's presentation at Rootstech, so any inaccuracies are entirely my own. There are many other Irish records which, it is hoped, will make their way online, though not in the near future. There are exciting times to come for Irish research at last. Bring it on!


1 comment:

  1. I once filmed part of a documentary on Ellis Island, and inside there is (or was at least!) a large interactive map which showed number of people per state who perceived themselves to belong to an ethnic grouping (hyphenated Americans). 2 million claimed to be Scots, 5 million claimed to be English, 2 million Ulster Scots (Scotch-Irish) and 38 million Catholic Irish. That's a potential market of 40 million Irish folk looking for their roots. Never understood why the Irish, north and south, have taken so long to cotton onto this as a market for genealogy - but so glad it is happening at last.

    I think the reason why people haven't asked too many questions about their Irish ancestry in the past is because sometimes they've been afraid of what the answers might be - or the two states have been afraid to facilitate the journey. Thankfully it's all a bit more confident now, and considering the state the economy is in now, there's no better time to plunder the archives.

    Personally speaking, I can't wait for the court records - I suspect that they will be the most democratic source there, I'm sure we'll all have someone in the bag! On the indexing of BMDs - I believe the GRO in Ireland visited ScotlandsPeople 4 years ago for advice, but on reading that Enecann link earlier today from 2008, I hadn't realised the whole programme was started in 1995. The sooiner it is finsihed the better. last time I visited the GRO search room in Dublin, I flew over for the day from Glasgow - I could access the indexes, but could not get photocopied slips from the registers as "the photocopying guy was doing a course". I looked up four index entries then had to leave, as I could go no further back. I eded up spending the erst of the day loking up census entries on microfilm at the NLI/NAI (forget which!). Thankfully things seem to have progressed a bit since then!

    Thanks Audrey,