The 5th Annual CIGO Award for Excellence in Genealogy was presented by Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht to John Green, chairman ofGlasnevin Trust, in the Ascot Suite, Alexander Hotel, Fenian Street, Dublin 2 at 6.00pm on Wednesday, 30th November 2011. The presentation was followed by the CIGO AGM and a lecture entitled “Glasnevin Trust – Preserving the past for future generations” by Mervyn Colville.
Click here for photographs of the presentation (opens in new window).
At the AGM, outgoing chairman Paddy Waldron delivered the chairman’s annual report which highlighted CIGO’s campaigns and successes during the past year. Paddy was re-elected chairman for the coming year.
This week, the Irish government announced a public service reform programme which aims to rationalise 48 State agencies or quangos by the end of 2012. The list of State agencies being rationalised includes “National Archives and the Irish Manuscripts Commission to be merged into the National Library while retaining separate identities”. Writing in today’s Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole doesn’t seem to believe that this proposed merger is about providing a single new state-of-the-art building where genealogists and other researchers will find all the records that they need to consult in one place and where there will be enough storage space for both the National Archives and National Library, whose current premises are both now bursting at the seams.
Dinny McGinley TD, Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, launched this new Irish-language biographies Web site at the National Library on Kildare Street, Dublin, earlier this month. Each of the featured 1,693 lives has made a unique contribution to the Irish language over the last five centuries. The project has been developed by Fiontar at Dublin City Univeristy, in collaboration with Cló Iar-Chonnacht, and Diarmuid Breathnach and Máire Ní Mhurchú, authors of Beathaisnéis, the nine-volume series of biographies published by An Clóchomhar (1986-2007). This work is a valuable research tool comprising almost 1,700 biographies from 1560 to the present day, many containing detailed genealogical information on their subjects. New biographies will be added to the Web site as these become available and existing biographies will be updated as new research and fresh information emerges.
CIGO Chairman Paddy Waldron, who represents the Clare Roots Society, and Ruth Minogue, chairperson of East Clare Heritage, were part of a 40-strong team from Clare, led by former rugby international and BBC TV rugby analyst Keith Wood, which travelled to London this week in an effort to harness the goodwill of Clare’s UK diaspora in promoting tourism. The London to Clare event at the Copthorne Tara Hotel highlighted the facilities available to tourists who travel to Clare, including those in search of their roots in the county. Visitors to the event were provided with information on organisations such as the Clare County Library and Clare Roots Society.
Dublin 1911, edited by Catriona Crowe of the National Archives of Ireland and published by the Royal Irish Academy, will be launched on Wednesday, 26th October 2011. It will give people a chance, through rich illustration, fold-out census reports and previously unpublished photographs to experience the Dublin of 1911.
Catriona Crowe, along with Paul Rouse, was also a major contributor to the ‘1911 Census’ episode of the History Show with Myles Dungan on RTÉ Radio 1, originally broadcast on Census Day, 10th April 2011, which won the gold award for a specialist speech programme at the 2011 PPI Radio Awards dinner (sponsored by Phonographic Performance Ireland) on 7th October last.
CIGO would like to express its sympathy to the Western Family History Association and to the Roddy family on the sudden death of the WFHA’s vice-chair and former chair Dr. Aodhagán Roddy, which took place last Friday.
CIGO had a stand at the successful Back To Our Past show which took place in the Industries Hall at the RDS in Dublin over the past weekend, as did four of its constituent organisations (APGI, IFHS, IGRS and NIFHS).
At the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin today, Leo Varadkar T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport announced ‘The Gathering’, which will be a year-long event in 2013 where people at home and abroad can play a part in the country’s recovery, potentially bringing 325,000 extra visitors and providing a major economic stimulus. It will showcase Irish arts, sports, food, learning, genealogy and family heritage, science and hospitality. For more information, click here.
The Cape Town Family History Society has published the September edition of its regular newsletter. You can access the PDF version of it here: CTFHS News September 2011
Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht yesterday launched further Roman Catholic records of Baptism, Marriage and Burial for County Cork and Dublin City. Speaking at the launch in the National Library of Ireland, the Minister acknowledged that there a few areas for which indexes to nineteenth century parish records are still not available online, either free or pay-per-view. In particular, he mentioned large parts of County Clare and of County Monaghan. Further records from County Monaghan (Diocese of Clogher) are due to be added to irishgenealogy.ie in the near future.
It was announced yesterday that the following collections of Irish records have been made available to subscribers to the ancestry.com and ancestry.co.uk websites:
The Irish Times reported today that the National Library of Ireland is investigating whether this release of transcriptions of 433,560 historical Irish Catholic parish records, dating from between 1742 and 1884, which were part of a collection assembled by a private company on behalf of the National Library of Ireland, infringes on its legal rights to the microfilms behind the records.
Many of the other Irish records now released by Ancestry are already freely available at familysearch.org. Ancestry has answered the much-repeated prayers of familysearch.org users by allowing searches for all those listed on a particular page in the marriage register. For example, this allows researchers who have found a married couple in a census return a good chance of identifying the wife’s maiden name.
CIGO’s 2011 Chairman Paddy Waldron was among 37 invited speakers scheduled to speak on behalf of 31 groups involved in genealogy at a Meeting on Genealogy Records held in the National Library of Ireland on 7th September 2011. The Meeting was arranged by Mr. Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and convened by the Arts & Cultural Institutions Unit of his Department. The meeting, which ran from 10am until after 5pm, was chaired by retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon and the Minister was in attendance for the whole day. Some groups divided their allotted ten minutes between two speakers, so that well over 40 people had opportunities to address the gathering.
The speakers included CIGO’s patron John Grenham and council members Gerry P. Cahill (representing the Irish Family History Society) and Rosaleen Underwood (representing AEL Data). Other CIGO constituent organisations represented were the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (Paul Gorry and Helen Kelly), Clare Roots Society (Paddy Waldron) and the Irish Genealogical Research Society (Máire MacConghail, who also spoke on behalf of the Irish Manuscripts Commission).
Including observers, the total attendance at the meeting was close to 100 people. Observers present at the meeting ranged from Des Clarke, CIGO’s PRO and former chairman and secretary, to representatives of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The Minister’s invitation to the various groups to make presentations on their role and policy approach to genealogical records provided the opportunity for an open, frank and often robust exchange of views. Many speakers expressed the hope that this unique and unprecedented meeting would be the first step to the resolution of various differences that have impeded progress towards a common objective in the world of Irish genealogy over the years. John Grenham set the tone by admitting that he knows where a lot of the bodies were buried during genealogical debates and disputes over the years, but promising not to dig them up in public. Recurring themes included the difficulty in measuring the impact on tourist numbers visiting Ireland of the provision of genealogical records online; whether records should be placed online free or on a pay-per-view basis; the inadequacies of the genealogical services provided by the General Register Office; the high charges levied by the Irish Family History Foundation for transcripts of entries from parish registers and other records; and the relative importance of church records and census records. Many people spoke passionately on all sides of these arguments.
Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland invited those interested in participating in the Tourism Ireland stand at the next Who Do You Think You Are exhibition in London to make contact with him. Fintan Mullen of the Ulster Historical Foundation (a member of the Irish Family History Foundation) announced the availability of records at a discounted price of 85 pence for bulk purchasers and that profits from sales are being reinvested in digitising parish records up to 1930. Stephen Curran of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland demonstrated the online historic map archive, which is now available free. Various companies discussed the latest standards for protection, conservation, scanning and digitisation of historical records. Another speaker, who will remain nameless, generated looks of horror by producing an example of an original 19th century parish register from a backpack and waving it in front of the audience! The Leitrim County Librarian Seán Ó Súilleabháin revealed that printed indexes to Co. Leitrim parish registers were once freely available on the open shelves in Leitrim County Library, but were withdrawn in order to reduce the drain on staff resources caused by the number of genealogical queries being directed to library staff.
After the lunch break, Maeve McKeever of Fáilte Ireland estimated that genealogy brought approximately 88,000 visitors to Ireland in 2010. Stephen Scarth of PRONI put genealogy’s position as the poor relation in context by comparing the cost of PRONI’s recently-opened state of the art facility in Belfast (GBP 30 million) with that of the nearby Titanic Signature Building (GBP 97 million). Antoinette O’Bryen of the Clare Heritage Centre quoted a satisfied member of the diaspora who told her after she arranged for him to rent the old cottage on the Atlantic coast that his ancestor emigrated from in the 1860s that “genealogy is all about looking out the same half-door at the same sunset that the ancestors looked at 150 years ago.” Joe Whelan got one of his first opportunities to promote the irishgathering.ie website, an example of a concept mentioned by Paddy Waldron in his earlier presentation. Kieran Feely announced that the GRO is currently working on preparations to get its mothballed digitisation project restarted, but could not say how long it would take to complete. Michael Byrne of the Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society speculated on how much might have been raised by charging one euro for access to a 1901 or 1911 census return, but not on how much might have been raised by charging one euro rather than five euro to look at a transcript of a parish register entry. All speakers avoided the technical economic terms like “price elasticity” and “externality” for the difficult problems being discussed.
Fíona Tipple of the Genealogical Society of Ireland summed up the debate nicely by asking the audience to consider whether genealogical records should be considered a national resource to be viewed in context, benefitting the many; or as a product to be viewed on a pay-per-view basis, benefitting the few. John Grenham put a strong case for moral generosity and our moral duty to reconnect with the diaspora. He encouraged the institutions intent on charging for access to records to focus on the needs of the researcher, not on the needs of the institution. He urged that the IFHF database of entries transcribed from parish registers be retrofitted to the proposed digital images of the NLI parish register microfilms; several IFHF representatives had earlier pleaded that plans to put the NLI microfilms online be scrapped. The proceedings ended with a passionate address by Catriona Crowe of the National Archives, who pleaded guilty, unapologetically, to being one of the ideologically driven people who believes that our genealogical records are part of our national cultural patrimony and should be freely available to all researchers, both genealogists and those involved in all other forms of scholarship from history to anthropology.
Alberta Family Histories Society recently became an associate member of CIGO. Also recognising the important work CIGO undertakes in the world of Irish genealogy, the UK’sFederation of Family History Societies has also joined as an associate member. The support of both organisations for CIGO’s work is much appreciated. There are now thirteen full constituent members of CIGO and twenty overseas associate members.
In a letter to The Irish Times, Paul Gorry, immediate past-President of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland, recently praised CIGO’s work in obtaining a commitment from the new Heritage Minister, Jimmy Deenihan TD, to release redacted data from the 1926 census of Ireland. You can read Paul’s comments here.
The 2011 Census of Population of Ireland is due to take place next Sunday night, April 10, 2011.
The following useful advice is being circulated by the Clare Roots Society, one of CIGO’s constituent organisations:
Don’t forget that the information which you record on this year’s Census form will not be released to genealogical researchers for 100 years – i.e. until the year 2111. Your future descendants may be as impatient then as today’s researchers are impatient now to see the returns of the 1921 census (which never took place due to the War of Independence) or those of the 1926 census (which the new Irish government has promised to release during its term of office).
We strongly advise you all to keep a photocopy of your own 2011 Census form for family archival purposes.
This may be a suitable place to remind anyone with relatives in Scotland that the 1911 Census of Scotland is due to be released tomorrow, Tuesday, April 5, 2011. SeeScotland’s People website.
Congratulations to the Irish Genealogical Research Society which held a reception to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Society in the National Library of Ireland today. The event was hosted by the President of the IGRS, Fergus Gillespie, a former Chief Herald of Ireland. The guest of honour was the President of Ireland, Mrs Mary McAleese. During the reception President McAleese was presented with an illuminated certificate to record her election as a Fellow from the IGRS. The Fellowship was awarded in recognition of her contribution to Irish genealogy at home and abroad. The full text of the President’s speech can be read here.
…and new Heritage Minister confirms desire to give access to Irish 1926 Census
Earlier in the day the Chairman of the IGRS, Steven Smyrl, had met with Jimmy Deenihan TD, the new Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, to present him with a portfolio of documents relating to his genealogy. The Irish Times newspaper was invited to a closed photo session with the Minister who afterwards held an exclusive interview with Irish Times journalist Ronan McGreevy. The Minister confirmed his intention to release the 1926 census, in redacted form, possibly as early as later this year and spoke about how useful it will be to genealogists and in boosting the economy through roots tourism.
The Irish Archives Resource is new website which will, for the first time in Ireland, enable catalogues of Ireland’s archival collections to be searched online. The website includes records of current and defunct government and local government agencies, individuals, landed estates, clubs, societies, trade unions, religious organisations, cultural and political organisations etc.
Speaking about the website, Brian McGee, archivist at the Cork City and County Archives said, “This website is an important step in making Ireland’s unique records more widely available in Ireland and internationally. The success of the site depends on its use by archivists and other contributors. We would like to see as many people using the site as possible and hope to have collections from up to 30 repositories featured on the site by the close of 2011”.
The website was funded by the Heritage Council. Speaking about the project, Heritage Council Chief Executive Michael Starrett said, “the IAR website marks a major step forward in making our archival legacy both more visible and accessible. The Heritage Council is delighted to have partnered with the ARA Ireland, the representative body for professional Archivists, in achieving this long held goal.”
The collections now available online consist of both original and unique records and documents in a variety of forms including textual, visual, cartographic, aural, and electronic. The collections include records of Cork City and County Archives , Donegal County Archives , Fingal County Archives , Galway County Council Archives , Guinness Archives ,Irish Film Archive , Louth County Archives Service , NUI Galway John Hardiman Library Archives , Public Record Office of Northern Ireland , Royal College of Physicians of Ireland , University College Cork Boole Library Archives , and Waterford County Archives Service .
Previous to the launch of this new website researchers whether professional academics, local historians or genealogists would have had to contact each repository separately to find out details of their archival holdings. Now using this website they can enter their search terms on the site and details of where relevant material is preserved will appear.
Following the recent Irish general election Fine Gael has become the largest party in the Dáil, and has agreed to form a coalition government with the Labour Party, which will take office on Wednesday 9 th March. CIGO is delighted to announce that the new ‘Programme for Government’ negotiated between the two parties includes a commitment to release the Irish 1926 census. Given the destruction of Ireland’s nineteenth century census returns in the conflagration which consumed Ireland’s Public Record Office in 1922, access to the 1926 census returns has been an objective long pursued by CIGO. Although lobbied by both CIGO and the Genealogical Society of Ireland, the outgoing Fianna Fáil-led government never really grasped the compelling arguments in favour of allowing access to these census records. By contrast CIGO found Fine Gael’s spokesman on Tourism, Culture and Sport, Jimmy Deenihan TD, very receptive to the arguments, which he explained reinforced the party’s own policy development in relation to the stimulation of roots tourism. And he went on to say that this fitted well with their plan to develop in Dublin “a national archives and genealogy quarter, providing easy access to archives and tapping into an area of cultural tourism which is of huge interest to the vast Irish Diaspora“.
Of course researchers shouldn’t hold their breath on this issue as it will take time to prepare the necessary legislation to amend the Statistics Act 1993 and, in line with Fine Gael policy, to formulate wording to allow for the redaction of so-called “sensitive” data. Co-operation will likely be the key to final success and CIGO’s supporters can be sure that we will continue to follow through on our effective lobbying by working with all other interested parties to ensure delivery of this important source for Irish genealogy.
CIGO’s long running campaign to gain access to the 1926 census of Ireland moved a step closer to a successful conclusion today. On issues of interest to genealogists, CIGO’s long held policy of engaging in meaningful dialogue with political parties and government departments, offices and agencies has once again proved its unquestionable worth.
At 11am today the Irish political party Fine Gael launched its General Election Manifesto in which it made reference to an early release of the 1926 census of Ireland and the potential it contains for roots tourism. The relevant section reads: “Genealogy Tourism: Fine Gael will examine the feasibility of releasing the 1926 census to stimulate genealogy tourism.” Following the recent extensive article about the issue penned by CIGO’s Steven Smyrl for The Irish Times CIGO was invited to indepth discussions with Jimmy Deenihan TD, Fine Gael’s spokesman on Tourism, Culture and Sport about the tourism potential locked away in the 1926 census. It transpired that the early release of these census returns was an issue already under consideration from within the Fine Gael party and the input of CIGO helped both parties to flesh out the idea and look at ways that might be used to bring the release about.
Unlike modern census records the data noted in 1926 was extremely brief. For each person the following information was noted: name, age, sex, religion, ability to read and write, occupation, marital status, place of birth, relationship to head of household and any infirmities. Also, where relevant, statistics were noted about duration of marriage and number of children born. The new technologies rolled out over the past decade now mean that with relative ease, and comparatively little cost, extensive records series can now be digitised and indexed and any sensitive data redacted. Allowing time for the processing of the data, in a redacted form the 1926 census could be released as early as 2012. Access to sensitive data and to data about people born less than 100 years ago will no doubt prove to be a sticking point with the Central Statistics Office but CIGO concurs with Fine Gael that redaction of such data will prove to be the answer.
Election polls consistently show that Fine Gael is likely to lead the incoming government and might even have enough seats to govern without recourse to a coalition. Read CIGO’s Briefing statement on the 1926 census of Ireland.
On Monday, 3rd January, the high profile ‘Irishman’s Diary’ column of The Irish Times carried an opinion piece by CIGO’s Steven Smyrl about the 1926 census. Steven put forward the view that there is huge tourism potential currently locked away in the 1926 census and that the data cannot be described as sensitive in the context of data captured in modern census records. He went on to suggest that if the political will exists the returns could be made available as soon as 2012. A compromise with the Central Statistics Office could, if need be, involve redaction of data relating to living people. Various members of the public have been in contact with CIGO on foot of the piece noting the accuracy and compelling nature of the case Steven has set out. Steven’s article represents a yet further advancement of CIGO’s long-running campaign to gain public access to the 1926 census records.
You can read the full Irishman’s Diary article here.