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In Search of Ancestors: Irish Genealogy
by Bridget Haggerty

My parents are long dead. Buried with them are the memories of their childhood in Ireland and, until recently, the names of most of my O'Flaherty/Kenny ancestors. In anticipation of a trip to Ireland, I began a serious search for them. We are very fortunate in that my husband is a computer consultant who works out of our home. This means that I have ready access to computers and the Internet. That is where I began.
The web sites on Ireland are almost endless, but what really caught my attention was this one: Irish Family History Foundation.

What I learned was that because Ireland has been inundated with inquiries from people of Irish descent about their ancestors, the Irish Family History Foundation has coordinated a network of government-approved genealogical research centers in both the Republic of Ireland and the North of Ireland. These centers are in the process of computerizing tens of millions of records of different types.
The main source of records are:

•church records of baptisms
•marriages and burials (starting dates vary from parish to parish)
•civil records of births marriages and deaths
•major sources relating to property (tithe records from circa 1830, valuation records from circa 1850)
•census returns
NOTE: Many of the church records computerized at Irish Family History Foundation Centers are not available in public repositories or through other genealogical outlets.

Other sources have also been computerized including:
•gravestone inscriptions
•17th century property
•pre-1600 annals and government records
•locally held compiled censuses
•locally held rental books
•school registers
•trade directories
•voters' lists
•workhouse records
•repatriated information and newspaper abstracts.

The process of computerizing records was begun in 1990 and currently, 500 people are working on completing this incredibly ambitious project. Several centers are now able to offer a Full Service to inquirers. A Full Service means access to all pre-1900 church and civil records, major property sources, the 1901 census and a variety of other sources. When sufficient records are available, inquirers can commission a Family History Report which details all the available information on several generations. Family History Reports also contain socio-economic and local historical information as well as information on the origin and meaning of the inquirer's surname and maps of the area in which one's ancestor's lived.
A Partial Service is offered by centers that have not yet completed the computerization of all the available records but can offer a search of those records computerized to date, as well as other information and assistance.
All centers will eventually offer Full Service with all research work being carried out by fully- trained genealogists who have a thorough knowledge of their sources, local history and geography.
To cover the costs of a search, standard fees are charged by each center:
Fees: Initial Searches (assesses the volume of records available on a particular family). Standard fee is approx US$50, at most centers but some vary from this amount. You will find this information on the form to fill in for an initial search.
Comprehensive Family History Report (where sufficient records are available) from approx US$150.
Single record searches are also available from several centers.
To get started on my own search, I began with my Dad's family in Galway. I clicked on Galway in the list of counties on the Foundation's homepage. There are two genealogical centers in Galway - one for the east and one for the west. I knew my dad was born in the Claddagh, so I clicked on the center for the west. A form was supplied which you are asked to fill in and mail. I was able to give the following information: my father's name, his father's name, his mother's maiden name and his approximate year of birth. For what I paid, I received a wealth of information which included where the gravesites of my paternal grandparents are located and which we visited during our trip to Ireland. Sadly, I also learned about an uncle who passed away just two years before our vacation, but I didn't know of his existence. I also didn't know that my dad's grandfather and his father before him were sailmakers. Or that my great-grandmother was Scottish and a Protestant!
The surprises didn't end with my dad's family. On my mother's side I learned that her mother's maiden name was Anderson, which implies a strong Viking connection. I also didn't know that my grandfather and his siblings had been born in a pub! Eventually, I hope to piece together a complete family tree to pass on to our children - warts and all.
If you're interested in tracing your family's roots and you are in another country (say, the USA or Australia) you must first know which of your ancestors actually 'took the boat' (emigrated). Once you have his or her name, I strongly recommend that you begin with the Irish Family History Foundation.

If you do not know your first generation ancestor, you must work your way back. There are many geneology web sites on the internet but most focus almost completely on the United States. They can be useful to find your family history in the US but they are very limited beyond that.

It is helpful to uncover the specific origin of your first generation name. This allows more precise searches in Ireland. It may be a small country, but the sheer number of records can make this a time consuming task (let alone money consuming). One source to check is the Ellis Island Records. The goal is to find the individual and the actual location of their home village. Note: Don't pay much attention to the point of embarkation. Although this may help in locating records in Ireland, most of the emigrants travelled to one of the ports from their homes elsewhere.
Once your search has reached Ireland, the following web site may also be of help:
Mayo-Ireland Bulletin Boards
Even this site will connect you to the Irish Family History Foundation.

One other note; The Foundation provides the same services for Northern Ireland counties as well.

There are literally hundreds of other sites and you'll find many of them listed on Google. Just click here and key in the word Irish Genealogy: Google.
One other internet search site is DMOZ. This one is a little different; the entries are maintained manually. That's right, real human beings select and enter the best sites. Novel? Try them at DMOZ.
Good luck with your search!


Fri, Feb 2, 2018

Irish God and Goddess of love

Oengus is the Irish God of love, beauty and youth. According to the old folklore, his kisses became birds. It is also said that he dreamed of a beautiful maiden, named Caer, for whom he searched all over Ireland. Eventually, he found her chained to 150 other maidens, destined to become swans at the time of Samhain. Legend has it that Oengus transformed himself into a swan and was united with his love.
Aine of Knockaine is the Irish Goddess of love. She is also known as the Fairy Queen of Munster and as a goddess of fertility beause she has control and command over crops and animals, especially cattle. Another name by which she is known is Aillen. To learn more about Irish mythology, please click Irish Myths & Legends.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Click for More Culture Corner.

The Faerie Isles - Celtic Harp Music

We own several of Carole Thompson's CD's and never tire of listening to them. This collection is particularly beautiful, from the opening strains of Bonny Portmore to the last note of O'Carolan's Farewell.


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