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2008 News Archive

23rd June 2008
Republic’s 1926 Census Returns

CIGO has long called for the early release of the Republic’s 1926 census returns. These returns constitute the first snapshot of the Free State’s population only four years after the creation of the State. Eighty-two years have elapsed since the census was compiled and few people from that time are now still living. Also, the data that was recorded in 1926 cannot be deemed ‘sensitive’ in terms of the information recorded in contemporary census records. CIGO argues that as the 1926 census holds vital genealogical information for so very many people born in Ireland before the commencement of civil registration, then these records should now be made available to the public. There is certainly a precedent for this as the 1911 census (which covers all of the island of Ireland) was first made available at Dublin’s Public Record Office of Ireland (now the National Archives) in 1961 – only 50 years after it was compiled! Internationally, census returns in the USA are released after seventy-one years has elapsed since their compilation. You can read more about CIGO’s ‘1926 Census’ policy here.

The Genealogical Society of Ireland is also firmly behind the campaign to get the 1926 census returns released to the public and as such has announced that it is to propose the publication of a parliamentary Bill providing for such access. The Bill is likely to be initiated through the Seanad (Senate and the Upper Chamber) of the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Republic’s parliament). This move is very much in-line with CIGO’s own policy and – in addition to CIGO’s current negotiations with the Central Statistics Office (the body which controls access to all census records created since the foundation of the State) – we will be supporting GSI’s Bill. Obviously – with only a slim chance of success – the campaign needs all the support it can harness and CIGO implores all those with an interest in Irish genealogy to support both it and GSI in anyway they can. Everyone who is interested in this issue can help the success of the campaign by signing CIGO’s petition which is to be presented to Brian Cowen TD, the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] of Ireland.

29th May 2008
National Library has re-opened Roman Catholic parish registers for Cashel & Emly, Cloyne and Kerry.

After 16 years of no access, the National Library has finally re-opened public access to the parish registers of the ‘closed’ dioceses of Cloyne, Kerry & Cashel & Emly. The issue of access to the microfilms of the registers from these dioceses has been a hot issue for many years now and is one that CIGO has raised previously with the Library. However, much of the success in finally getting the films once again open to the public must be attributed to the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) and in particular its members Paul Gorry and Maire Mac Conghail and the influence they have both used in recent times. In doing so they highlighted the fact that as far back as 1994 the Library had received legal opinion that the Bishop of Cashel & Emly’s claim to own copyright of the registers (and thus the Library’s microfilm copies of them) was without legal foundation. An excellent press release about this story can be read on APGI’s website.

29th May 2008

Irish Roots magazine

The second edition of Irish Roots magazine to be published under the editorship of its new owners, Maureen and Julie Phibbs, has hit the shelves. Already one can see the changes they are making to the magazine’s image and layout. This month’s includes stories about customs & traditions; 2008 – the year of the potato; gleaning information from old photographs; a new instalment in Paul Gorry’s ‘beginners series’; and genealogy news from across Ireland and Australia. Its well worth subscribing to.

27th May 2008
CIGO welcomes the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa has recently joined CIGO.

19th April 2008
CIGO Welcomes Three New Overseas Members

Three organisations from overseas have recently joined CIGO. One is from Australia, the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies; and the remaining two are from the USA: the British Isles Family History Society – USA and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. CIGO is also delighted to announce that – in reciprocal fashion – it has joined the Federal Genealogical Society.

16th April 2008
National Library of Ireland Launches its ‘Strategic Plan’

Dublin’s National Library has launched its Strategic Plan for the period 2008 to 2010. The document reveals how the Library hopes to improve existing services and service delivery during the three years in question. When the Library held a consultation period in the summer of 2006 about the Strategic Plan CIGO made a submission which can be read here. In his introduction to the Strategic Plan, Gerry Dahaher, Chairman of the Library’s Board, draws particular attention to the need to complete the reconstruction work at the Library’s Kildare Street premises as a matter of urgency. Mr. Danaher says: “…unless the construction of the facility proceeds as a matter of urgency, the Board’s ability to discharge its core functions of safeguarding, preserving and maintaining the library’s collection and making it available to the public will be in grave doubt.” The Strategic Plan can be read on-line here.
2nd April 2008
Clare Roots Society receives grant from Heritage Council

The Heritage Council has approved an application from the Clare Roots Society (CRS) for a grant for the Drumcliffe Old Graveyard Transcription Project. The cemetery, which has been in use for at least two hundred years, is just outside of Ennis town. The grant will enable CRS to commission a professional survey of the graveyard which will provide them with a detailed map with every grave marked and individually numbered. In turn, this should help to make the project more manageable. The work will also reveal graves which have apparently ‘disappeared’ in recent years, but most likely have become grown-over with grass. The resulting data will then be collated and the inscriptions from each grave linked to a digital photograph of the headstone and its position on the overall map noted.

CRS is aiming to submit an interim report to the Heritage Council in July and run a public event during Heritage Week in August. If the project goes to plan it will have been completed by the beginning of November. The Society hopes that the database compiled from the information collected will be made available on the Co. Clare Library website, which already hosts many other genealogical sources for the county.

20th March 2008
Irish Minister For Arts to Provide National Archives with an ‘Iconic’ New Home

The Republic’s Minister for Arts, Sports & Tourism, Séamus Brennan TD, intimated during a recent parliamentary debate that he is considering the construction of an ‘iconic’ building to house the National Archives. During the debate he said that “like our [national] museum or our [national] library, they need the same kind of national status”. The Minister stated that there was about €20 million in the national development plan for the archives and further stated that while it “does not specifically lay down that it is for a building…I have come to the conclusion that the archives are unsung heroes that need to be brought centre stage.” The need for a purpose built home to house the National Archives’ collections, whether in an iconic building or not, has been overdue for many years now.

The lack of storage at the National Archives has meant that much of it collections are not available for public consultation. They are either in shrink-wrap storage (to the rear of the current premises in Dublin’s Bishop Street) or, worse, they are held in the basement of the old Public Record Office which is in the Four Courts complex and which was built in the mid-19th century. Given this most unsatisfactory state of affairs, it is to be hoped that Mr. Brennan will now act where his predecessors have failed and provide the National Archives with a new building.

The National Archives moved into its current premises in Bishop Street in 1992 and although at the time it was an improvement on the former premises in the Four Courts they were only ever meant as an interim measure. The ideal would be to re-build on the current site. What the National Archives really requires is a modern, state-of-the-art building on that part of the current site which faces Peter Street. The other part of the site, which faces Bishop Street, should be sold off to pay for the new building. The solution couldn’t be more straightforward. The newly revitalized area around Peter Street would be ideal for this much needed ‘iconic’ building. You can read more about this story in The Irish Times, on the Houses of the Oireachtas website and in Ireland’s Genealogical Gazette (formerly the Genie Gazette).

14th March 2008
Irish Family History Foundation Launches new ‘On-Line’ Service

Over the past few months the Irish Family History Foundation has been incrementally adding counties to its searchable on-line database of records, some of which date back to the 1600s. Generally speaking, apart from a few exceptions, the records are those compiled from the registers of the various main Irish Churches: Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian & Methodist. Wednesday the 12th March saw the formal launch of this new service aboard the replica famine ship, the Jeannie Johnston, moored at Dublin. Although the on-line service is a new departure for the IFHF, it is not the first time that such a project has been attempted. One of the key objectives of the Irish Government sponsored ‘Irish Genealogy Ltd.’ (IGL), formerly known as the ‘Irish Genealogical Project’ (IGP), was to have been the creation of a Central Referral Index (CRI). From the early days of the IGP, which was begun approximately 20 years ago, there has been continued reports of bad feeling and friction amongst the members of the board. This generally manifested itself in an unwillingness by the IFHF to allow the IGP (and later IGL) any significant say in the planning of the project in return for the large sums of public money which have been invested in the project over the years through IGP and later IGL. Within the last couple of years the IFHF withdrew from IGL. However, before this IGL was successful in part in launching the CRI, which is available on-line here. Although it is of limited use – it includes only eleven of Ireland’s 32 counties: Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Limerick, Derry/Londonderry, Mayo, Sligo, Tyrone, & Wexford – it is, however, free to access.

The same cannot be said for the new IFHF service, which can be found on-line here. This pay-per-view service is normally €10 per record viewed, although IFHF announced that during March ‘to celebrate St Patrick’s Day’ the cost will only be €5. Those in the know might suggest that the 50% reduction is actually a reaction to the vocal public criticism already made on the subject by private individuals, representative groups and public representatives. With his permission, here is comment one member of the public recently e-mailed to CIGO:

“I think I speak for a great majority of the Irish Genealogical community when I say that, although we very much appreciate the effort that went into the creation of the online records, the cost per record is totally outrageous! I think that [the IFHF’s] great effort has been completely wasted in that the level of information available from the Search process is insufficient to precisely identify an individual of interest….and no one is going to spend €10 (euros) each [per record] to sort through the myriad of possibilities presented. Perhaps [the IFHF] should have a closer look at sites like Scotland’s People which provide a much more realistic approach to supporting Genealogical Research. I suggest that [the IFHF] obtain the services and advice of someone from the business community to assist with restructuring [their] service to provide reasonable value to the community while generating sufficient funds to sustain operations. It really is a shame to see such a great resource so poorly managed.”

In The Irish Times (13th March) even though the IFHF’s launch of the service had taken place only the day before, what was reported was public criticism of the service and the cost of it. Olivia Mitchell, the Fine Gael spokeswoman for Arts, Sport & Tourism, was quoted as saying: “It was regrettable that the new genealogy service was designed to be a commercial one with people being charged €10 for every single item of information. The gathering and digitalisation of the parish records was done at public expense and it was always envisaged that this kind of public information should be made freely available to the public. It is a complete break with tradition and practise that an important aspect of our national archives should be subject to a charge.” The full story can be read here. It is of course worth pointing out that the project to index the records of Dublin’s parish and church records is being undertaken by Dublin City Public Libraries & Archive and the results willeventually to be made available on-line and free of charge.

CIGO would prefer to see the management of the IFHF’s database funded by government and thus made available free of charge. But, at the very least, if there has to be a charge it should be minimal – which in itself would quite obviously promote use of the database and thus generate funds to maintain it as a non-profit service.

27th February 2008
Good News on GRO’s ‘Five Photocopy’ Rule

Frustrations are now running at an all time high about the daily limit of only five photocopies of entries from the registers per person at the General Register Office’s Dublin-based Public Search Room (PSR). Having paid a €20 fee to allow a full day’s searching in the Indexes, the imposition of a limit on the number of photocopies is being seen as a severe limitation on ‘value for money’. Researchers are constantly juggling their photocopy requests, not wanting to waste one of their valuable five daily ‘chances’ to hit on the correct record. Generally, once these five ‘chances’ have been used-up researchers are leaving the PSR as there is little point in staying. It can take several days of attending the PSR and playing ‘genealogical poker’ until one eventually hits the correct record and then return to searching the indexes again. Obviously, for those visiting Ireland to undertake research this is a particularly frustrating situation as they only have very limited time available. Being informed that extra photocopies can be posted out to them at their home address is, to say the least, not very helpful. What one disgruntled researcher had to say about the GRO in 1999 can be seen here.

There seems to be no convincing the GRO management in Roscommon town that a new access structure is urgently required to their records. Until only a few years ago there was no limit on photocopies at all and when a limit was first imposed it was set at eight, but then without warning reduced to five. Up to only five or so years ago there was a PSR staff of only two who very obligingly implemented a ‘no limitation’ service on photocopy production. The staff now number at least eight and while they provide a much more efficient service than ever before, they are severely hampered through having to implement the restrictive five photocopies ‘rule’.

In order to the clarify the position about obtaining certificates [now known as certified copies] and photocopies [now known as uncertified copies], CIGO recently approached Brian Hayes T.D. [Fine Gael] and asked him to request information from Martin Cullen T.D.[Fianna Fail], Minister for Social & Family Affairs, through the asking of a Parliamentary Question (PQ).

For those using the PSR the reply to the PQ (which came out on the 12th February) was very helpful in that the Minister clearly stated that both certified and uncertified copies may be obtained from any of the State’s 32 local Superintendent Registration Offices (SRO). In practical terms, for those using the GRO’s Dublin-based PSR it now means that additional uncertified copies [photocopies] at the usual price of €4 can also be obtained from the SRO on the ground floor of Joyce House, Lombard Street East, Dublin 2.

CIGO has prepared a copy of the PQ, which those attending at the Lombard Street SRO should print-out and take with them when next they visit there, which can be seen http://www.cigo.ie/answer-to-a-parliamentary-question/” target=”_blank”>here.

15th February 2008
Birth Registration Ruling

New legislation might have to be implemented on foot of a ruling by the Irish High Court which found that parts of the Civil Registration Act 2004 are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Court found that the State does not provide ‘meaningful recognition’ for people who have undergone gender realignment surgery and in particular that the Act did allow for the amendment or re-registration of the birth of Dr. Lydia Foy, the complainant, who underwent such corrective surgery in the mid-1990s. The full story was carried in the Irish Independent.

5th February 2008
Dublin Diocesan Archives (RC)

Noelle Dowling, Archivist at the RC Dublin Diocesan Archives, has announced that she has recently accessioned the parish registers of three Dublin city parishes:

St. Catherine’s, Meath Street: Baptism: 1740-1898; Marriages: 1740-1892;
SS Michael’s & John’s: Baptisms: 1768-1899; Marriages: 1790-1879; Banns to 1902;
St. Audeon’s: Baptisms: 1778-1901; Marriages: 1746-1901.
2nd February 2008
Excellence in Genealogy Award

Last year the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) inaugurated an annual ‘Award’ to recognise achievements in, and relating to, Irish genealogy. The Council has decided that the annual recipient should have excelled in at least two of the following categories:

i) encouragement of the study of genealogy;
ii) preservation of archives;
iii) provision of physical facilities;
iv) innovation in access to genealogical records and data.

At its last meeting the recipient for the 2007 ‘Award’ was decided upon and during the coming week an annoucement will be made.

16th January 2008
Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan, founder of the Ballinteer Family History Society, died on the 14th inst. He had been unwell for a couple of years, but the news of his death was nonetheless a surprise. Chris & his wife Lily, having lived at Ballinteer, Dundrum, Dublin, for many years, had in more recent times moved to live near one of their sons in Co. Westmeath. Committed to promoting the study of Irish genealogy, Chris had been very active in the committee which oversaw the running of the four Irish Genealogical Congresses and was the editor of the IGC’s third volume of proceedings, published in 1999. He will be missed by all his friends who knew him through genealogy.

10th January 2008
Irish Family History Society

The annual Journal of the Irish Family History Society was posted to all its members in early January 2008. Copies of the Journal, Vol.23 (2007) along with earlier journals (Vols. 6-22) can be purchased from the Society. For details see IFHS Website.
6th January 2008
Raheny Heritage Society

Commeration ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Dr. Marie Elizabeth Hayes were held on Sunday, 6th January 2008. The evening began at 7pm at the Hayes Memorial Cross in Raheny village. Despite the rain, a large crowd gathered to hear Rev. Jim Carroll lead the prayers and a young member of All Saints parish laid a wreath. Fr. Jerry Moore, CC Raheny, also attended and Dublin City Council provided floodlighting. At 7.30pm all attended a Choral Evensong in All Saints Church.

Carol Conway, Vestry Secretary, gave a brief history of the life of Marie Hayes (1874 – 1908) and read extracts from her letters which Raheny Heritage Society had transcribed from the book ‘At Work’, edited by her mother, Annabella Hayes, who was the founder of the Mothers’ Union in Ireland. Sylvia Ayling, Mothers’ Union, read a poem written by a colleague of Marie Hayes in India shortly after her death. After the service, refreshments were served in All Saints’ Hall where our society had mounted an exhibition on Marie’s life. This attracted vey favourable comment and the exhibition then went on display in Raheny library for the month of January. Thanks to all our members and all others who assisted with this wothwhile project.

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