Thursday, February 9, 2017

National Archives of Ireland Family History Workbook

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow--what was their address before 1606?
     The NAI has created an interesting new site with information concerning online resources and featuring a free Irish genealogy workbook at:  Even though I've been doing Irish genealogy for a number of years, I found a few things I was unaware of here, for instance-- County Wicklow didn't even exist as such until 1606 and the idea that perhaps most Catholic parishes kept no burial records  because it was the state church that owned the graveyards in the early 19th century.

     After arriving at the site, click the green button labeled  "Let's get started", and up comes a page with a few hints about Irish genealogy along with seven short videos describing each "module" covered in the course.  Quite short actually, only about a minute each but worth viewing.  These are narrated by the engaging, respected genealogist John Grenham and a joy to listen to.  Well, to be fair, I find anyone with even the slightest Irish accent a joy to listen to, but Mr. Grenham has the added bonus of being a very learned man. 

     The workbook containing the modules themselves can be downloaded in PDF format.  At the bottom of the video page a green bar across the bottom will prompt you to download the course, which doesn't take long at all.  Reading it doesn't take long either, each module is only a couple of pages.  I particularly enjoyed the online searching tips and the modules concerning surnames and placenames.

     As I mentioned, the videos are well done, the course is easy to get through in one sitting and you may learn a thing or two.  One thing I don't think gets the attention it should, and doesn't in the course either, is the fact that the censuses of 1901 and 1911 contain detailed descriptions of our ancestor's living conditions.  That really doesn't happen in US censuses.  Several additional forms exist in the Irish censuses, one with information about the house itself and who the landholder is, and one for outbuildings.  In 1901 my 3rd great-grandmother Margaret Gun (mis-transcribed Geen) can be found living in urban Listowel on land owned by the Earl of Listowel, with her grandson, her widowed daughter Johanna Connor and Johanna's three grown children.  They lived in just two rooms...the six of them!  The form for outbuildings noted a "piggery" on the property, but failed to mention if it was inhabited by a hog at the time.  These bits of knowledge about their lives are very important to me and I would bet to many family historians.

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