2008 News Archive
April 18, 2008
2010 CIGO Award for Excellence in Genealogy
March 22, 2010
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2009 News Archive

30th December 2009
1911 census now searchable on all fields

The National Archives site has now been re-developed to include full transcription of all of the data on the household forms for 1911, including religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information. See the new search form. It will tell you, for example, that there were 1,908 Clare-born people living in county Dublin in 1911.

23rd December 2009
Property Registration Authority criticised by CIGO chairman

Steven Smyrl, chairman of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations, has sharply criticised the Property Registration Authority’s move to destroy about three quarters of a million land certificates dating back to 1892. The full story is in The Irish Times.

1st December 2009
CIGO chairman’s work on Dublin’s Protestant Dissenters published

Steven Smyrl, chairman of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations, has had his work on the history and records of Dublin’s Protestant dissenters published. His book Dictionary of Dublin Dissent – Dublin’s Protestant Dissenting Meeting Houses, 1660-1920 was launched this evening in Dublin’s Unitarian Church. You can read more here.

28th August 2009
1911 census for all counties of Ireland now online

The National Archives of Ireland today released the 1911 census returns for the remaining counties on the census website.
15th July 2009
Who Do You Think You Are back again

BBC’s popular TV programme Who Do You Think You Are? returns for another series starting Wednesday 15 July. The second episode, to be shown Wednesday 22 July, features Chris Moyles the well known BBC Radio 1 DJ, who traces his Irish Roots back to Dublin and Ballina, Co. Mayo. The show is at 9o’c on BBC1 and repeated on BBC2 (Northern Ireland, Scotland and England only) on Tuesdays at 7o’c. For up-to-date information, consult the BBC website.

11th July 2009
Irish Family History Society launches new Web Site

This year the IFHS is celebrating its 25th anniversary, having been established in 1984. The first celebration of the society’s 25 years is the emergence of the new website www.ifhs.ie

All the content from the old website has been transferred to the new site.

In addition to the PayPal facility which enables members pay their annual membership online, there is now an Online Bookstore selling the annual Irish Family History journal, and other publications.

A Members’ Area has also been added. Access is by password only, which will be available to all paid up members and will be changed annually.

24th April 2009
Clare Roots Society transcribes another cemetery

Volunteers from the Clare Roots Society have now donated transcriptions and photographs from three local cemeteries to the Clare County Library. The cemeteries involved are Drumcliff Old Graveyard, Clare Abbey Graveyard and Killone Abbey Graveyard. The material can be viewed on the Library website.

29th March 2009
Release of Finance & Personnel Scrutiny Committee’s Report

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Finance & Personnel Scrunity Committee (FPSC) has now completed the third stage of the Civil Registration Bill 2007 and released its Report. It supports CIGO’s proposal that all future death registrations in Northern Ireland should record parents’ names. In the Report’s opening remarks, under the heading ‘Key Conclusions and Recommendations’, it says “The Committee welcomes the Department’s commitment to give further consideration, when drafting the new regulations, to the proposal to extend the data recorded in death registrations to include the names of the parents of the deceased. The Committee recognises that this measure would benefit genealogical research and would bring Northern Ireland into line with RoI and Scotland in this regard. As such, the Committee looks forward to considering the new regulations in due course.” Further, in sections 13 to 15 of the Report the committee says:

“13. Whilst no concerns were raised during the Committee Stage deliberations regarding the specific provisions in clause 8, in the evidence from CIGO and APGI, it was argued that it would be an advantage from a genealogical perspective to have parents’ details in all death registrations. In support of this argument, it was pointed out that in Republic of Ireland (RoI), since 2006, parents names are recorded in all death records. The experience of Scotland was also highlighted, where the fuller information has been recorded since 1855, and it is contended that this has had benefits in terms of deterring fraud by enabling birth and death records to be linked through the information on parents.

“14. For its part, DFP explained that this issue is not a point in the Bill itself and that its proposal is to collect the additional information in respect of deceased children under the age of 16, mainly for epidemiological purposes (analysis of deaths by social class) because children under 16 do not have a social class. However, the Department has made a commitment to give the CIGO/APGI proposal further consideration when drafting the new regulations, subject to any disproportionate burden that might be placed on persons registering deaths.

“15. The Committee welcomes the Department’s commitment to give further consideration, when drafting the new regulations, to the proposal to extend the data recorded in death registrations to include the names of the parents of the deceased. The Committee recognises that this measure would benefit genealogical research and would bring Northern Ireland into line with RoI and Scotland in this regard. As such, the Committee looks forward to considering the new regulations in due course.”

GRONI has given an undertaking to CIGO that after the Civil Registration Bill has completed its Assembly stages it will return to speak to both CIGO and APGI again about the revision of the original 1973 regulations (under which birth & death registration data is currently collected). GRONI appears to be looking at the system currently in place in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland which – while requesting details about parents’ names from those registering deaths – does not make giving those details compulsory if the informant does not know them. Here in the Republic, registrars have not reported any particular difficulty in obtaining parents’ names when registering deaths and contact by CIGO with a small number of registrars in Northern Ireland has established that none believed that obtaining parents’ names would prove to be either a difficuilty for registration staff or a burden on the public.

Both CIGO and APGI extend their thanks and appreciation to the members of the FPSC for allowing their representatives to appear before them to submit evidence in relation to the Bill and to the forthcoming new registration regulations. Winning their support for our campaign to include parents’ names in death registrations will hopefully have made all the difference.

14th February 2009
Northern Irish Death Registrations to Include Parents’ names?

On the 14th January Steven Smyrl, CIGO Executive Liaison Officer, gave oral evidence before the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Finance & Personnel Scrunity Committee in relation to the Civil Registration Bill 2007. Steven was joined in giving evidence by Robert Davison, former Hon. Secretary of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI). The Bill will amend the Births and Deaths Registration (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 and thereby allow the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) to modernise the delivery of this vital service. Clauses 13 & 22 of the Bill will allow the creation of an Internet-based access service to scanned images of the original register entries, which date back to 1845. Scanned images will be available on-line of all birth records compiled over 100 years ago; marriages over 75 years ago and deaths over 50 years ago. It is hoped that this service will begin within the next two years.

In briefing notes released to CIGO before the evidence session reference was made by GRONI to the future improvement in data recorded in death registrations. In future, parents’ names and their occupations are to be recorded for children who die aged 16 years or under. Both CIGO and APGI made the point that within the UK the recording of parents’ names in death records has taken place in Scotland since 1855 and in fact in the Republic of Ireland it has also been the case since 2006. Both organisations also indicated that contrary to an earlier suggestion by GRONI, the future recording of parents’ names in death registrations of under-16s was not being done to facilitate genealogists but was actually being done to assist the gathering of statistics in Northern Ireland. Both bodies went on to highlight the importance of this issue and pressed that it had been raised many times in the past with GRONI. MLAs from all parties appeared to be interested in the subject.

A week later, on the 21st January, the Registrar General, Norman Caven, and his Deputy, Annette Gilkeson, appeared before the committee to respond to the evidence presented by CIGO & APGI on the 14th inst. Over a decade’s lobbying was rewarded when Mr. Caven stated that:

“The representatives from the genealogical organisations were concerned that the General Register Office for Northern Ireland was not collecting information about the names of the parents of the deceased person at the time of death, and wished that to be included. During the consultation, the Department proposed that we collect information, in that respect, for deceased children under the age of 16, mainly for epidemiological purposes – analysis of death by social class, because children under 16 do not have a social class. We will look favourably on the proposal and give it further consideration before the regulations come into effect, subject to any disproportionate burden that might be placed on respondents.

“The system seems to have been working well – in Scotland since 1855 and in the Republic of Ireland since 2006. Subject to the above caveat, we will be prepared to move forward on this matter. In Scotland, particularly when an elderly person dies and the information is not readily available, it is not strictly necessary to include information about the names of the deceased’s parents.

Further, he confirmed that:

“In Scotland, individuals registering a death are instructed, where possible, to submit a copy of the birth certificate and the marriage certificate. We will consider following that model. However, it is not a compulsory part of the registration process, which is made plain at the time. We will look more closely at that, and at how the system operates in the Republic of Ireland, so that we will know how to phrase the provision, but the aim is to ensure that there is no disproportionate burden.”

The Deputy Registrar General, Annette Gilkeson, indicated that GRONI was aware that:

“The majority of deaths in Scotland are registered with that information [parents’ names]included. The Scottish authorities already have the additional benefit of having records in digitised form. That means that the registrar has the option of checking records on screen while the informant is present.”

This system of being able to quickly check a scanned image of the deceased’s birth record will of course very soon be available to GRONI too when they complete the digitisation of their records back to 1845. The reference to a “disproportionate burden” being placed upon people registering deaths by having to provide the names of deceased people’s parents should hopefully not disuade the authorities from agreeing to record parents’ names in all future death registrations in Northern Ireland. More particularly, as the information now required when registering a birth already places a quite significant burden on informants. Beyond the usual details the informant is asked to state the child’s parents’ dates and places of birth; the date & place of their marriage; the number of previous live births; and whether the mother was previously married. Admittedly, this ‘extra’ detail does not appear on the birth certificate as issued, but it is very clear that asking an informant in a death regisatration to provide the deceased’s parents’ names is far less intrusive – and much less of a ‘burden’ – than these ‘extra’ questions in birth registrations. (Information about GRONI’s request for these extra details in birth registrations can be seen here).

CIGO very much welcomes the indications given by Mr. Caven that GRONI will look favourably at our request that in future all death registrations in Northern Ireland will allow for the recording of deceased people’s parents’ names and not just in the cases where the deceased was aged 16 years or under. Not only is it a very welcome move but one in-line too with the United Nations’ Model Civil Registration Law, a ‘law’ which the Republic has already paid heed to when it passed the Civil Registration Act 2004. And it was CIGO which first drew attention to the ‘Model Law’ earlier in 2004.

30th January 2009
Irish Family History Society

The annual Journal of the Irish Family History Society was posted to all its members in early January 2009. Copies of the Journal, Vol.24 (2008) along with available earlier journals can be purchased from the Society. For details see IFHS website

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