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Subject: [Irish in Chicago] Irish Records - Important
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 15:21:34 -0600


Over the weekend, I attended GenTech, a national (US) genealogy conference for
professional and amatuer genealogists. One session I attended was about Irish
research, titled " Digitisation of Irish Records: The Current State of Play."
The speaker was Brian Donovan of Eneclann, Ltd.

I thought I would post about the lecture, as many people should find it helpful
and interesting. I will post from my notes. I had to write fast and I did have
some difficulty in understanding Brian with his Irish accent. I certainly could
have made mistakes. However, you can order a tape of his lecture from Repeat
Performance, www.audiotapes.com. Please don't email me to ask questions. I
probably can't answer them. For more information, do a search or go to the
eneclann.ie website. I do not have any connection with any of these websites,
businesses or entities. I guess you could call this my "giving back." I have
been very lucky in my Irish research.

Brian first gave us some background information on genealogy research in
Ireland, particular to digitisation. First of all, it's a slow process. This is
because not many people in Ireland are involved with genealogy. Second, there
is a lack of interest due to the Irish being more concerned with house and
property research as opposed to genealogical research. The third is,
"inadequate state funding." In the 1980s and 1990s, the Irish government
provided monies to train people in computer skills. The money wasn't really for
genealogy, which is a business. It was for computer training. In Ireland, they
don't know how to turn genealogy into a business. But Brian knows! LOL. At the
time of this funding and training, people needed jobs. Today, Ireland has a low
unemployment rate. The original goal, was to make 26 million records available.
Only 17 million records were available by 2003. The fourth reason, is the
destruction of records and we all know about that!

Brian then told us about the digitazation projects that have been completed or
are ongoing. He provided us with a list of websites as he explained.

Irish Genealogical Project
www.irishgenealogy.ie
These are the Heritage Centers. They have parish registers, civil records,
Griffiths, Tithes and census record databases.

General Register Office
www.goireland.ie
The GRO has the civil registers. The GRO relocated to County Roscommon to
provide full time jobs. They started to work on the printed indexes, then
stopped the project in 2001. I think there were some problems but I did not
catch the whole story. I think they are now trying to work on a web based pay
per view, with 2005 as their target date. However, I would not hold my breath
on that.

National Archives
www.nationalarchives.ie
Together, the NA of Ireland and PRONI (Northern Ireland) are working on a
digitization program of the 1901 and 1911 censuses. There is no time frame for
this right now, so don't hold your breath on this one either.

Late last year, the National Archives and Eneclann put out a new CD-Rom, called
"Counties in Time." It gives a history of the counties and samples of documents
that are available for research. If you go to the Eneclann website, you will
find more information.

National Library
www.irishorigins.com
Yes I know this is not the website for the National Library of Ireland, but
they are working with Irish Origins on the definitive verision of Griffiths
Valuation.

Valuation Office Records
www.valoff.ie
A new project by the Valuation Office and Eneclann will digitize the Cancelled
Volumes from 1850 to 1920 and the Griffiths Maps, both the 6 inch and the town
plans. This will take years and is a very expensive project.

You can also check out PRONI and the Wills Project, www.proni.gov.uk;

the Irish Wills Project, www.eneclann.ie/publications-3.asp;

and the Memorial Inscriptions Project, www.eneclann.ie/publications-6.asp

Brian also gave us a list of future digitization plans:

Irish Ancestor Journal
British Immigration Records 1858-1870
Memorials of the Dead - Wexford and Wicklow
Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1858-1922
Catholic Qualification Rolls 1775-1801
Loyalist Petition 1848
Petition for Repeal of Union 1848
Freeholders and Voters Lists 1727-1832
Militia and Yeomanny Records 1750-1850
Irish Jewish Records 1820-1960

Brian went on to say that there are lots of Irish records but there are very
few indexes. He said that what is being digitized has already been published or
indexed. He said we should utilize the Registry of Deeds, www.landregistry.ie.
He also said the National Archives has lots of information but with out indexes
or finding aids, there are many records that go ignored by genealogists.

He provided a list of records that are not researched much.

Valuation Office Field and Home Books 1838
Outrage Reports 1835-1852 - letters written to Dublin Castle. These are
organized by county.
Relief Commission Papers 1845-1847 -- these are about the famine
Convict Reference Files - 1836-1922
Petty Sessions -- This is the lowest level of the courts in Ireland.
Chancery Bills
Fenian Files and Photographs 1862-1870

The session lasted an hour with a short period of time for questions. I was
able to ask one. I mentioned that I had been reading about some of the heritage
centers closing and asked if this had something to do with the government
funding. The answer is yes. Brian said that the Irish government provided 25
million for computer training. The money was not spent on genealogy. But the
government thought they would make money on genealogy. (The heritage centers
were started by volunteers. I do not know who runs them now.) The government
has given up funding the heritage centers. So, some are closing.

Brian suggested people write to the Irish government and tell them we have
money to spend on genealogy and that we want records to be made available. He
said to contact the Irish Prime Minister and he gave his name and address! I
did not get it all down, but if you do a search, I'm sure you will find it. He
also suggested we write our own political representatives.

In a nutshell, genealogy is a business. Some have figured that out, some
haven't. There are those who still think that genealogy is free, but when you
consider the time spent on research, the photocopies, the transcribing, the
indexing, etc., you can surely see that there is alot involved. If we want
something, we are going to have to work/pay for it. Irish records are no
exception. This doesn't mean you shouldn't volunteer for anything, in fact,
Brian commented that we genealogists can help. I think it's great that there
are products to buy. Obviously, Brian is making a living. He has a genealogy
business. Many of the speakers at the conference make a living out of
genealogy, through writing books, public speaking, teaching classes and
digitizing records. Obviously, genealogy has come a long way. Digitization is
the big thing now, but look at what we have available to us today.

You have my permission to forward my post to other Irish email lists. I
subscribe to quite a few and will send out my post to them today.

Again, I ask you to please not email me with questions. Go to the Eneclann
site, do a search or visit the other URLs I gave you. I'm sure I have missed
some information. Go seek and you shall find more.

One more thing, I asked Brian, while I was browsing at his vendor table, how to
find the papers for the Earl of Bessborough. He was a land owner in County
Carlow. Brian said that most estate papers are in England, so if you are
looking for information on an English land owner, check the National Archives
of England and the Historical Manuscripts Commission site or perhaps the
private papers of the National Library in Ireland. www.nationalarchives.gov.
uk/

Debbie



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