Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ancestor Network Participating in FREE Genealogy Services at Carton House in Maynooth!

The Genealogy Roadshow is coming to Kildare. It’s a day-long Genealogy event, filmed for RTE television, which can help you trace your family’s roots for free. The roadshow will be hosted by RTE’s Derek Mooney as we try to help ordinary people find extraordinary stories from their family history.

Do you think you’re related to someone famous? Is there a family connection to some politician, entertainer, sports personality or explorer? If so, we want to meet you!
If there’s a mystery hanging from your family tree we can help you solve it.
Was one of your relations involved in a dramatic part of local or national history? We want to find out all the details.

Our team of genealogy experts and historians, which includes professionals from Ancestor Network, John Hamrock and Aiden Feerick, are coming to Kildare and will be giving free advice and help - but time and access to the experts is limited, so come early. If you don’t want a face-to-face meeting, you’ll still be able to watch the experts and hear the advice they give to each person they speak to and hear all the tips they give out.

We’re looking for people with connections to well known figures of the past, people with a family mystery to solve or people with family connections to historical events. You tell us the story and we’ll search for the evidence.

Maybe you believe there’s a connection to one of Kildare’s famous sons like Arthur Guinness or Ernest Shackleton? Maybe you’re the great, great, grand nephew of Wolfe Tone? Are you a relative to the first man ever to hoist the new Sam Maguire Cup in 1928, Bill Gannon? We want to hear all about it!

So if you have letters, photographs, birth certificates, heirlooms or any other piece of information that might help, then bring them along to Carton House on ‘Sunday January 16th’ for a fun, free day out and let us help you get on the right track.

Carton House
Co. Kildare

Time: 11:00am – 5.00pm (Sunday January 16th 2011)

The programme is being produced by Big Mountain Productions. Please contact us if you have any queries –

Monday, December 20, 2010

Start Your Family Tree Week
26 December – 1 January

• Ireland’s first ‘Start Your Family Tree Week’ launches
• ‘Start Your Family Tree Week’ runs from 26th December – 1st January
• 69% don’t know the names of all their great-grandparents
• 94% would like to find out more about their family history
• Michael Collins, Oscar Wilde and Grace O’Malley are the people that we’d most like to discover we’re related to

Christmas is traditionally the time when families gather together to celebrate – in fact research reveals that 96% of Irish people plan to meet up with family this Christmas*.

But how much do we really know about our families?

In a recent poll, Eneclann, Ireland’s leading Irish historical researcher and publisher, revealed that while 89% of Irish people are able to name all of their first cousins and grandparents, only 31% are able to name all of their great-grandparents*.

This Stephen’s Day sees the launch of Ireland’s first ‘Start your Family Tree Week’, an opportunity to find out more about your Irish family history. The initiative, which is supported by Eneclann, the Genealogical Society of Ireland and the Irish Family History Society, aims to encourage people to find out more about their family history, and to hand down the stories and memories to the next generation.

‘Start Your Family Tree Week’ aims to encourage people to find out more about their families in a fun and interactive way. People can sign up for a series of seven daily emails from 26th December – 1st January. Each email is designed to help you develop your family tree further and includes advice and features from experts, links to useful websites and competitions (see below for details of prizes). People can participate by visiting and signing up for the newsletter.

Research reveals that the top ten famous Irish individuals that people would like to discover they are related to are:

1. Michael Collins
2. Oscar Wilde
3. Grace O'Malley
4. Brian Boru
5. Daniel O'Connell
6. Mary Robinson
7. Arthur Guinness
8. James Joyce
9. William Butler Yeats
10. Charles Stewart Parnell**

Rachel Murphy of Eneclann said ‘Christmas is the perfect time to start exploring your family history; with many of your relatives all gathered together in the same place, it’s a perfect opportunity to share family stories, and ask questions about what life was like in the past. As a people with a strong oral tradition, you’d expect we would still be passing the stories down the generations but our survey shows that an overwhelming 92% of people regret not having asked relatives more about their lives*.’

John Grenham, one of Ireland’s leading genealogists and the author of Tracing your Irish Ancestors, said:
‘For whatever reason, the week after Christmas always sees a big surge of interest in family history. ‘Start Your Family Tree Week’ is a great way of giving people the tools to turn that interest into real research, and produce their very own Who Do You Think You Are? It deserves every success.’

Steven Smyrl, a professional genealogist and chairman of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) said:
‘We used to think it was only the Americans who were interested in genealogy and their family’s past, but in the past decade the Irish have become just as interested, if not more so. The proliferation of online sources for Irish genealogy now means that research has never been easier. Certainly, for the IGRS the internet is providing us with new opportunities to encourage genealogical research. Events such as ‘Start Your Family Tree Week’ can only boost this interest further.’

John Heueston, of the Irish Family History Society said:
‘The Irish Family History Society commend the initiative of Eneclann in launching ‘Start your Family Tree Week’ which is a great idea in getting people started on researching their ancestors. We wish them every success with this project.’

Michael Merrigan, General Secretary of the Genealogical Society of Ireland said:
‘An awareness, appreciation and knowledge of our genealogical heritage opens up a world of exciting possibilities, not least, discovering who our ancestors were and learning about their lives and times, but also introducing ourselves to the localities in which our ancestors lived and raised their families.

John Hamrock at Ancestor Network said:
'As Christmas time brings families together, it is the ideal time to speak to older family members and begin recording your family history if you have not already done so already. We offer a genealogy course starting in January 2011 which is ideal for those family members looking to undertake the research and who want to find out the best ways of conducting that research and recording the history for posterity.'

Family history is essentially about connectivity - both with the past and, what is wonderfully exciting, also with newly discovered relatives throughout the world. To say that family history is a voyage of discovery is very true, but it is also an extremely enjoyable educational leisure pursuit that is available to all irrespective of prior learning, age or socio-economic circumstances. It's your journey - it's up to you to take the first step.’

Note to editors
*Research conducted by Eneclann in December 2010 via an online survey of 129 Irish people
**Research conducted by Eneclann in December 2010 via an online survey of 167 Irish people

Featured Experts:
• Fiona Fitzsimons, Eneclann
• John Grenham M.A., M.A.P.G.I., F.I.G.R.S.
• Eileen O'Duill, CG, M.A.P.G.I.
• Gerry Kennedy M.A., M.A.P.G.I
• Rachel Murphy M.A.
(more information at:

Competition Prizes include:

• A two night stay for two people sharing in their choice of Blue Book country house or historic hotel
• 5 hours’ Irish family history research by Irish genealogy experts, Eneclann
• 4 subscriptions to Irish Roots, the Irish genealogy magazine
• 5 subscriptions to Ireland of the Welcomes, the Irish magazine
• 5 reproduction historical maps of the Irish county of your choice from
• 5 prizes of a printed and bound hardback book of your family history research from
• 7 subscriptions to the Irish Ancestors website
• 7 memberships of the Irish Family History Society
• 7 memberships of the Genealogical Society of Ireland
• 7 memberships of the Irish Genealogical Research Society
• 7 one-day subscriptions to the Irish Times Online Newspaper Archive

Anyone with British roots might be interested in the British Start Your Family Tree week, organised by For more information, go to

For further information, please contact:
Rachel Murphy
086 826 5004

About Eneclann
Eneclann is an award-wining Trinity College Campus Company based in Dublin and founded in 1998. It operates in 3 key areas: genealogical & historical research, archives & records management and digitisation & publications.
Eneclann's genealogy team have researched over 10,000 family histories for clients and have worked on Who Do You Think You Are? (Ireland, UK, Canada & Australian series), Ancestors During the Famine (RTÉ), and NBC's Faces of America. They also traced President Barack Obama's family tree back to the late 1600s in Ireland. They have worked for over 10,000 research clients.
About the Genealogical Society of Ireland
Founded in 1990, the Genealogical Society of Ireland (GSI) and its archive - An Daonchartlann - are located at the Carlisle Pier, Dún Laoghaire, Ireland. It is the only such facility in the Republic.

The Society is a registered charity and is incorporated. It is a nominating body for Seanad Éireann and has a Grant of Arms from the Chief Herald of Ireland. The Society campaigns for the legislative protection of our genealogical heritage resources Ireland and has acted as advisor on a number of pieces of key legislation such as the Genealogy & Heraldry Bill, 2006, the National Cultural Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2008 and the Statistics (Heritage Amendment) Bill, 2010.

The Society publishes an Annual Journal, monthly newsletter and occasional volumes of memorial inscriptions. It has its own Archive & Research Centre and organises group projects. The Society holds two Open Meetings each month - lectures and discussion groups.

About the Irish Family History Society
The Irish Family History Society is an Irish based Society founded here some 26 years ago. It is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers.
It has a worldwide membership; holds lectures in Dublin; issues newsletters and an annual Journal; offers assistance through advice and information to members researching their family history.
About the Irish Genealogical Research Society
The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) was established in 1936 to encourage and promote the study of Irish genealogy throughout Ireland and Britain and to build up a library of books and manuscripts of genealogical value to compensate for the destruction of the Irish public records in 1922. Worldwide, this library is the largest and most important collection of Irish genealogical material held in private hands. Since 1937 we have published an annual journal, The Irish Genealogist, and twice yearly we circulate our newsletter. The IGRS is widely recognised for making a unique scholarly contribution to the field of Irish genealogical studies over the past 75 years. It is a constituent member of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) to which almost all organisations involved in Irish genealogy belong.

The ‘Ireland Branch’ of the Society holds a number of events each year. Its Spring Lecture is held on an evening each March in the National Library of Ireland, centrally located in Dublin’s Kildare Street; the April and May lectures take place at the Gilbert Library, on Pearse Street. In April is the Annual General Meeting and lecture, in May is a full day of lectures and seminars and each June the Society invites the Irish Family History Society (IFHS) to join with it for the annual Summer Outing (a full day’s coach trip outside of Dublin). In turn, in August/September the invitation is returned when the IFHS invites the IGRS to join it for its Autumn Outing in the greater Dublin area. Finally, the IGRS annual (evening) Autumn Lecture takes place each October also at the National Library.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Irish Genealogy Course Launch in January 2011 - Register Today!

Irish Genealogy Course Launch in January 2011
Register Today!

Would you like to start the New Year by engaging in a practical course on how to trace your Irish ancestors? A weekend course in genealogy will be offered at the Genealogical Society of Ireland’s Library and Archive, ‘An Doanchartlann’, Carlisle Pier, Dún Laoghaire, starting from Saturday, 22 January 2011. Class duration is 2.5 hours and each programme will run for eight weeks.

The aim of the course is to provide an introduction to the theory and practice of genealogy and family history research. Genealogy and family history research can be done as a one off project or as a lifetime hobby.

Topics to be covered include principles of genealogy, internet research, and how to draw up a family tree. Key records such as church parish records, civil registrations (births, marriages, and deaths), census returns, and land records will be explored in detail. Other sources discussed will include grave records and inscriptions, newspapers, wills, trade directories, and new developments in DNA testing.

Class size will be restricted to six students which will allow for individualised training and guidance on how to conduct and write your own family history. Students are encouraged to bring their own laptop. The GSI Library and Archive facility provides broadband internet access allowing students to conduct family history research online as part of the training programme.

Course cost: €300 which includes one year’s free student membership of the Genealogical Society of Ireland

The course will be taught by John Hamrock of Ancestor Network Limited. John is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He holds a Certificate and a Diploma in Genealogy from UCD (first class honours) and is the author of Tracing Your Roscommon Ancestors.

For more information or to obtain an enrolment form, please contact John Hamrock at 087 0505296 or at Also, find out more at

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vikings brought Amerindian to Iceland 1,000 years ago: study


Sunday, 21 November 2010


The first Native American to arrive in Europe may have been a woman brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, a study by Spanish and Icelandic researchers suggests.

The findings boost widely-accepted theories, based on Icelandic medieval texts and a reputed Viking settlement in Newfoundland in Canada, that the Vikings reached the American continent several centuries before Christopher Columbus travelled to the "New World."

Spain's CSIC scientific research institute said genetic analysis of around 80 people from a total of four families in Iceland showed they possess a type of DNA normally only found in Native Americans or East Asians.

"It was thought at first that (the DNA) came from recently established Asian families in Iceland," CSIC researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox was quoted as saying in a statement by the institute.

"But when family genealogy was studied, it was discovered that the four families were descended from ancestors who lived between 1710 and 1740 from the same region of southern Iceland."

The lineage found, named C1e, is also mitochondrial, which means that the genes were introduced into Iceland by a woman.

"As the island was virtually isolated from the 10th century, the most likely hypothesis is that these genes corresponded to an Amerindian woman who was brought from America by the Vikings around the year 1000," said Lalueza-Fox.

The researchers used data from the Rejkjavik-based genomics company deCODE Genetics.
He said the research team hopes to find more instances of the same Native American DNA in Iceland's population, starting in the same region in the south of the country near the massive Vatnajokull glacier.

The report, by scientists from the CSIC and the University of Iceland, was also published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
The journal said 75 to 80 percent of contemporary Icelanders can trace their lineage to Scandinavia and the rest to Scotland and Ireland.

But the C1e lineage is "one of a handful that was involved in the settlement of the Americas around 14,000 years ago.

"Contrary to an initial assumption that this lineage was a recent arrival (in Iceland), preliminary genealogical analyses revealed that the C1 lineage was present in the Icelandic mitochondrial DNA pool at least 300 years ago.

"This raised the intriguing possibility that the Icelandic C1 lineage could be traced to Viking voyages to the Americas that commenced in the 10th century," said the journal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Green Shoots / Irish Roots; Eneclann's Digitisation Business Expansion Plans

Eneclann, a leading provider of online genealogical data, will be raising funds from a Business Expansion Scheme {"BES") which focuses on a key component of Ireland's future economic recovery, HERITAGE. This Heritage is shared by the Irish Diaspora of 90 million people who claim Irish descent and represents a proven global economic success story. Eneclann will use the funds attracted through the BES to increase the pace of digitisation of Irish records, thereby increasing the digital assets of the company. They also plan to introduce a course on digitisation, drawing on their expertise to help other organisations in Ireland.

Eneclann believes that a well placed investment in the creation of digital assets, with a non-depreciable value and capability of generating continuous cash flow, would leave the company in a very strong position as the market continues to develop over the coming years.

Eneclann has 12 years of successful trading activity and an annual turnover of over euro 1 million + over the past six years. It is an accredited Trinity College Dublin campus company and has established partnerships with the National Archives of Ireland, National Archives UK (Kew), and Enterprise Ireland.

To find out more, please visit or email

Northerm Ireland Wills Online

November 30, 2010

Northern Ireland Wills Online

From Dick Eastman's

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has indexed and digitized early wills from the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry between the years 1858 and 1900.

Speaking on 30 November 2010 about the Wills application, Culture Minister Nelson McCausland said: “One of PRONI’s key goals is to digitise key cultural resources and make them easily available to a worldwide audience. This free of charge application will therefore be of enormous assistance to anyone trying to trace their genealogical roots and will be of particular help to those wanting to begin their research from the comfort of their own home.

“In recent years there has been a huge increase in people researching their family history and trends have shown that a large number of these people are from outside the UK. I am sure this new application will be of particular interest to this international audience.”

Wills are one of the most used archival sources by both family historians and solicitors. The images have been linked to an existing searchable index which allows researchers to view details such as name, dates and the abstracts taken from the original entries.

Future digitisation plans include the addition of further pre-1858 will indexes to the PRONI Name Search facility. These indexes from Northern Ireland dioceses, will list the names of people who had wills probated as early as the seventeenth century – pushing the possibility of family and local history research further back in time.

Looking ahead to next year’s opening of the new PRONI headquarters, the Minister added: “I recently had the privilege to visit the stunning new PRONI headquarters at Titanic Quarter. This much needed £30million investment in our cultural infrastructure was provided by the Northern Ireland Executive. The new state-of-the-art facility will open to the public early next year and will protect Northern Ireland’s irreplaceable archives in a safe and secure environment.”

The wills are online at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

David McWilliams: Harnessing diaspora will help us rebuild economy

By David McWilliams, Irish Independent
Wednesday October 27 2010

A couple of days after the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh last year, I received a call from Galway-based technology entrepreneur Mike Feerick. This man had an extraordinary idea. Instead of waiting, he said, for Irish Americans and the like to come back to Ireland to trace their roots, how about we go the other way?

How about we organise and enable, using the latest online communications and database tools and resources, local Irish communities at a townland, village and parish level to find out who was born in their area, where they went, and trace them and their descendants worldwide?

That way, he suggested, we could systematically reunify our entire diaspora, creating "virtual communities", expanding each local parish beyond its own physical boundaries and allowing them reach out across the world?

As soon as I heard and understood this idea, it wasn't hard to see the common sense and power of deploying local, rather than national, resources to galvanise the global Irish tribe.

So began the development of a simple idea -- something we could call 'micro-diaspora'. The idea we had was rather than build a top-down structure with experts, we should provide the platform for ordinary people to do it for themselves.
In a sense we are inverting the pyramid. Rather than working from the apex, for example networking the top 500 important Irish Americans, we are doing the opposite -- operating around the base of the diaspora pyramid.

When you think about it, the Irish diaspora may be 60 to 70 million worldwide but it can be broken down to perhaps no more than 3,000 Irish parishes north and south.
What if each village in Ireland could harness the economic power of its diaspora? What if, as a nation, we mobilised each parish in Ireland to actively research its genealogical past and identify those people who are of its own flesh and blood and reach out and engage their interest? This local-based approach is what, in another context, made the GAA one of the strongest organisations in the country. It is local pride that motivates people to get together to work in national competitions like the Tidy Towns.

After Farmleigh, the penny dropped for me. This is where the real strength lies in Ireland. Why not use this energy and local enthusiasm to build a vast network of local communities reaching out to their diaspora, to their ancestors' kin?
Together with Mike Feerick and his international advisory board, we have worked on developing this concept over the past year.

Our efforts thus far culminate in the launch of the 'Ireland Reaching Out' South-East Galway Diaspora Pilot Project tomorrow night in Loughrea, Co Galway. What started as a few phone calls and a notion over a pint is now sponsored and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Heritage Council and Galway County Council, the GAA and a number of Irish-American funders.

More than 30 parishes, including the towns of Loughrea, Gort and Portumna and all neighbouring parishes, are being targeted for the launch, although the project will start only in those parishes that make clear they wish to be part of this initiative.
We have developed the technology to enable every parish in Ireland to participate in this initiative and over the next nine months we are going to fine-tune it, to see where we can improve it and what the pitfalls are by using the east Galway district as our pilot project. Once the glitches and problems are ironed out, it will be available to everyone. The company is set up as a charity, so that we can all benefit equally.

Over the next nine months, the project has three main aims. First, to identify and engage 44,000 people outside the country who have direct links with the parishes in the Loughrea electoral area. We will do this using oral records, online genealogy and the latest technology to assemble all these data. The figure of 44,000 is the same number of people who live in the area today. So we want to trace one member of the Tribe for every one of us living in the area.

Second, the pilot project will attempt to attract 25 or 30 of these people home to their parish or townland of origin in June next year. The proposed 'Week of Welcomes' is similar to Israeli programmes that invite young Americans of Jewish heritage to come to Israel to learn more about who they are and how the state of Israel can be part of their lives.

Many years ago, I lived in Israel for a short while and was always amazed at how the Israelis used their Jewish diaspora. They seemed to have a forensic knowledge of who was who and where everyone was. They told me that these records were assembled by people like retired teachers, policemen and local enthusiasts. Ireland has the same resource here in every village and town just waiting to be tapped.

For the Week of Welcomes, these returning members of the local diaspora, many newly identified, will attend several days of lectures in the local school on Irish history, literature and so on, visit a local GAA match and attend a local Comhaltas session. Obviously, each parish will have its own particular programme.

The third goal is to identify, among the 44,000, approximately 500 enterprising members of the Tribe who can be buyers, advisers, investors and influencers for the benefit of not just the locality but the Irish nation as a whole.

The project's real power is the sheer practicality and scalability of it all. Through the Ireland Reaching Out pilot project funding and the guidance of the promoters, parishes across Ireland will have the online tools to create their own databases of contacts and organise the international 'Reach Out'.

It will then be down to local voluntary effort for each to make the best of the opportunity given. More than any element of the project, the secret to success will be how the local parishes respond and engage not just in the research of historical records, but in how the programme is carried on through the Week of Welcomes and beyond.

The 'meet and greet' element of welcoming the Irish diaspora has been a key missing ingredient in making sure people of Irish heritage return. Now this element can be introduced in a most profound way, opening up an Irish phenomenon that could perhaps even change Ireland as we know it.

In the past we didn't have the technology to do this; now we have.

Last week on the train coming back from Galway, looking out at the fields and rivers, I thought about how many stories each of these fields hides when we consider that five million people born in this country emigrated -- and most were born in smallholdings in these exact fields.

Now we can trace these people to precisely the fields they left. We can do this now. Can you imagine an Irish American getting an invitation to come back and see, not just Ireland, not just the county her great grandfather left, but the very fields that her ancestors farmed?

Today we have the means to do it. Micro-diaspora is the opportunity. So let's go to work.

For more info email The launch of the 'Ireland Reaching Out' South-East Galway Diaspora Pilot Project, Loughrea Hotel & Spa, October 28 at 7.30pm.

- David McWilliams
Irish Independent

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

John Grenham awarded Fellowship from the Genealogical Society of Ireland

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Irish Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Genealogical society fellowship for author

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, last night.

WRITER, GENEALOGIST and teacher John Grenham was last night honoured with a Fellowship of the Genealogical Society of Ireland.

The fellowship, described as a special award to mark the 20th anniversary of the society, was presented to Grenham by Minister for Tourism Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin at a ceremony in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Grenham is widely known for his journalism, teaching and consultancy but also for his books, particularly Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, which has become the indispensable reference for those researching their family history.

Grenham also contributes the “Irish Roots” column to this newspaper and the Irish Ancestors page at Irish Ancestors aims to be the first online stopping-off point for those interested in researching their Irish ancestors. Michael Merrigan general secretary of the Genealogical Society of Ireland paid tribute to Grenham saying he had done much to popularise genealogy. He said the society had been set up to make records available and to demystify the research process so that everyone could use facilities such as the National Archive and the National Library, regardless of the level of their formal eduction or personal resources.

He said Grenham had done much to help achieve those goals. “His books include ‘how-to-do’ sections, details on where the resources are, reference numbers and text references. I would say his work is essential for anyone starting to search their family history,” he said.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Irish Minister of Culture to Prioritise Archives

Source: The Irish Times - Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Minister to prioritise archives


MINISTER FOR Culture Mary Hanafin has acknowledged criticism of the lack of
foresight of successive governments in providing proper accommodation for
the National Archives.

She said she would prioritise spending in this area in the coming years. “I
accept that there is a major responsibility on Government to preserve all of
those documents and to do it properly.

“I can assure you that I will put it as one of my top priorities . . . that
we not only improve the current conditions but try to move to a situation
where we can have much more accessible accommodation and also much more
top-quality accommodation.”

She was speaking at the launch last night of a special volume of the Irish
Archives journal, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Irish Society for

A journal article, by former Dublin diocesan archivist David Sheehy,
criticises the Government’s prevarication for nearly two decades in
providing adequate accommodation for the archives.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The great Irish painting that turned up on eBay

The Irish Times - Saturday, October 2, 2010

The great Irish painting that turned up on eBay


Niamh O’Sullivan is professor of visual culture at the National College of Art Design

Lost for almost a century, John Mulvany’s ‘ The Battle of Aughrim ’ re-emerged on the online auction site, put up for sale by a dealer who believed it to be an American battle scene. For NIAMH O’SULLIVAN , who had spent years searching for the painting, it was a heart-stopping moment

IN IT WAS A 21ST-CENTURY moment when a once-celebrated painting that had been missing for almost 100 years turned up – and not in an attic, under generations of dust, but on eBay.

The Battle of Aughrim was last seen in Denver, in the US, in 1914. In 2003 I travelled there, to try to track it down, but to no avail. Earlier this year I saw the painting on eBay, for sale as an American military painting. I knew immediately what it was. Seeing something flash before you that you have been searching for over seven years is a heart-stopping moment.

Many years ago, in a dark recess of the Battle of Aughrim Interpretative Centre, in Co Galway, I had come across a black-and-white photogravure entitled The Cavalry Fight at Urachree, 12 July 1691. When I saw the painting on eBay I knew immediately that it was the original and that I had struck gold.

I contacted Anne Weber, the great-grandniece of the artist, with whom I had been working on the Mulvany project for some time. She jumped on a plane to the dealer in San Francisco. When she saw the painting she was quite overcome: here was the painting that was closest to her great-granduncle’s heart, and it was spectacular.
One hundred and thirty five years later the painting was on its return journey, this time from California to the Gorry Gallery, on Molesworth Street, around the corner from where it was first exhibited in Dublin, on Grafton Street, in 1885.

That year, when the Fenian and Irish National Land League founder Michael Davitt saw the barely-dry Battle of Aughrim he declared: “If I were a wealthy man it should never leave Ireland.” But the painting was promised, and its artist, John Mulvany (c1839-1906), took it to the US, where it was last recorded in 1914. The rediscovery of the painting marks an exciting moment in Irish art history.

There is a common assumption that Irish artists of the late 19th century transcended the harsh realities of political and economic life either by emigrating and assimilating or by staying put but avoiding subjects that might mirror or create discontent. Mulvany’s The Battle of Aughrim , however, places visual art at the centre of an emergent nationalism traditionally perceived as the preserve of poets and playwrights, journalists and politicians.

Mulvany chose a propitious moment for the action of the painting, the momentary victory by Jacobite forces over the Williamite army at Urraghry on July 12th, 1691, before their subsequent calamitous defeat on the Hill of Aughrim, in Co Galway. By showing the weakest link in the Jacobite position Mulvany illustrates the bravery of the Irish as they took on the superior forces of William. But when the Jacobite commander Lieut Gen St Ruth was decapitated by a cannonball, near victory became a rout. In a striking prefiguration, the painting depicts a Williamite soldier, in the centre of the picture, staggering backwards as his head is severed from his neck.
The myth of Aughrim is largely built on the randomness of the defeat – the decapitation of St Ruth – as one stray cannonball consigns Ireland to another 200 years of subjugation. As if to emphasise this, the decapitation of the British soldier in the painting signals, in its one-on-one combat, the valour of the Irish by comparison with the contingency of the British victory. From near triumph to resounding defeat, the story of Aughrim was subsequently reclaimed in Irish cultural memory as an enduring symbol of entitlement, a site for future resurgence.

According to the Gaelic American of March 6th, 1909, Mulvany was “of an imaginative and inquiring mind, his teacher’s favourite . . . They both loved Ireland and hated the Sassenach.” As a Famine child Mulvany emigrated from Moynalty, in Co Meath, to the US, where, according to the Nation of January 15th, 1887, “he became an infant phenomenon as a colourist . . . and was soon earning thousands of dollars a month”. Notwithstanding the hyperbole of late-19th-century art criticism, the reviews of his work bordered on the ecstatic.

When the Irish-American Club in Chicago wanted Irish pictures, it consulted Mulvany. He explained that the wealthy Irish had little time for national art, that nationalists could not afford to buy art and that painters could not live by ideals alone. Following the remarkable success of his epochal Custer’s Last Rally (1881) – the first major painting of another celebrated defeat – Mulvany was at the peak of his artistic powers, and pledged himself to the cause of his homeland.
But why did he select Aughrim as his plumb line to the past? In the late 19th century radical nationalism was focused not only on peasant proprietorship but also on political independence. Such boldness required representation on a large scale: galvanising, iconic images that had the power to incite action. Mulvany began Aughrim only 15 years after the 1867 insurrection and six years after the formation of the Irish National Land League, and the bicentenary of the battle was less than 10 years away.

This was no incidental exercise in nostalgia, then, but a purposeful, positioning image, designed to press powerful memories into a contemporary political use. If out of violence and trauma comes renewed resolve, The Battle of Aughrim may be seen as an exemplification of Ireland’s glorious past and a call to arms in the present. And by creating Aughrim for the diaspora, Mulvany was able to reach international audiences.
Aughrim was one of the bloodiest battles fought in Ireland, with 7,000 slain out of the 40,000 engaged in the confrontation. Following the defeat, Galway and Limerick fell fast. For these reasons Aughrim rather than the Boyne can be considered the decisive battle of the Williamite wars in Ireland.

In its subsequent mythic versions the battle functioned much as the loss of Meagher’s Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg, or Pickett’s men charging to their deaths at Gettysburg, celebrated defeats resounding to the credit to the losers. Indeed, the characterisation of Aughrim as the Gettysburg of Ireland would have not displeased the Irish-American Mulvany, himself a Civil War artist and an ardent Irish nationalist. Inevitably, it was also likened to Ireland’s Little Big Horn.

MULVANY WENT OVER the battleground meticulously. He went to London to research the uniforms and arms but had difficulty gaining access to the Tower of London, as his republican views and associates were known. The early 1880s in London were characterised by violence, instigated by the dynamiting campaign funded by Clan na Gael in the US. That January there was an explosion at London Bridge. Mulvany, a member of Clan na Gael, fled to Paris with the painting; he believed that, if he had not, he would have spent the rest of his life in an English prison. In Paris the famous Goupil engraved it, and Mulvany then took the painting back to Ireland.
In Dublin the Freeman’s Journal of July 11th, 1885, announced that “no one but an artist of genius could possibly have produced such a masterly and realistic picture . . . The work may be said to be of the school of De Neuville – the manipulation is broad, rapid, and consequently singularly effective, the drawing is perfect, and the colour masterly.” Contemporary reviewers also compared Mulvany to Landseer and Vernet. Stylistically, the composition of Aughrim is circular, cyclonic and sweeping: full of verve, dynamism and energy.

But Mulvany’s associations with Clan na Gael began to catch up with him. Chicago was a major centre of the organisation. Alexander Sullivan, its leading light, had forged connections between Irish nationalism and the shady side of machine politics, turning on ward “healers”, thugs and liquor dealers. In 1885 there was a move to curb Sullivan. Dr Patrick Henry Cronin, a prominent member of Clan na Gael, initially friends with Sullivan, became his enemy when Cronin accused Sullivan of embezzlement. Anticipating his assassination, Cronin entrusted Thomas Tuite, a friend of Mulvany, with his “evidence” to implicate Sullivan. And, sure enough, in 1889 Cronin’s death followed suit.

Although The Battle of Aughrim had been rapturously received, there was a sudden froideur. As a supporter of Cronin, Mulvany was to be taught a lesson, and the sale of the painting fell through. And the postscript is indeed macabre. The trials that followed Cronin’s murder were inconclusive.

Everyone knew who committed the murder, but convictions proved impossible. Around 1901 Mulvany began work on The Anarchists, a painting that showed a group of men cutting a pack of cards to see who would commit murder. As if life imitated art, Mulvany was soon found dead, face down in the Hudson River, his own death as enigmatic as the fate of his painting.
Missing for a century

It’s a mystery how a painting that measures 198cm by 89cm could vanish for so long, but The Battle of Aughrim had been missing since 1914. Then, earlier this year, a San Francisco dealer put it up on eBay.

Although its painter, John Mulvany, is relatively well known, the painting’s subject had been mistaken as an American military scene. Put up for sale twice, with the price varying between $50,000 and $100,000, it was stumbled upon by Prof Niamh O’Sullivan.

James Gorry of Dublin’s Gorry Gallery, which specialises in repatriating Irish art from abroad, stepped in, and the painting was bought in a private sale. It arrived back in Ireland a week ago and is in very good condition, although its original frame has been replaced. Once it has been reframed it will go on view at the Gorry Gallery, on Molesworth Street, Dublin 2, from December 1st to 15th.
The battle and the war: the background

In the conflict between the Protestant William of Orange and the Catholic James II the crown of England, Scotland and Ireland was at stake, as part of the wider European wars of the 17th century. James was supported by Catholic Jacobites in Ireland and France; William was supported by English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish, French Huguenots and Ulster Protestants; the Dutch Republic was at war with France; and the Stuarts were allies of the Catholic Louis XIV.

When James’s wife gave birth to a son in 1688 the prospect of an enduring Catholic Stuart dynasty impelled parliament to issue an invitation to William of Orange to take the throne with his wife, Mary, daughter of James. The Catholics of Ireland were prepared to fight for James in the hope of regaining political and religious lands and freedoms. Although there was no love between them, James looked to Ireland to regain his kingdoms. He landed in Kinsale in 1689. Louis XIV sent Lieut Gen St Ruth to Ireland with officers, troops and supplies. William needed to quell the Jacobite opposition in Ireland to secure British dominance and the Protestant Settlement, whose power was based on land ownership.

Following a series of defeats, notably at the Boyne, St Ruth managed to regroup 20,000 men on the Hill of Aughrim. On July 12th, 1691, when the Dutch commander Baron de Ginkel came through the pass at Urraghry, the Jacobites put up a valiant fight, and briefly it looked as if they might win. This moment was short-lived, but it is perpetuated for future generations in Mulvany’s The Battle of Aughrim . Like the battle, the painting itself was lost, but, true to its subject matter, has come back to enjoy an unexpected afterlife in the new century.

Sunday, September 26, 2010 Inc. to Acquire iArchives Inc. to Acquire iArchives

8:00 AM ET 9/23/10 | GlobeNewswire Inc. (Nasdaq:ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site,, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of stock, cash and assumption of liabilities. This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.

iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other U.S. historical events to subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.

" is highly complementary to's online family history offering," said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of "By promoting Footnote to our Ancestry audience, we hope to expand its reach among researchers who care about early American records. iArchives also brings outstanding image-viewing technology and content digitization capabilities that will improve our leadership position in bringing valuable historical records to the market. We welcome the iArchives team to the family."

Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of As part of the transaction, currently expects to issue approximately 1.0 million shares of common stock. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010. also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program of up to approximately $25 million of its common stock. Under the authorization, share repurchases may be made by the Company from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions depending on market conditions, share price and other factors and may include accelerated or forward or similar stock repurchases and/or Rule 10b5-1 plans. Part of the rationale for the repurchase is to offset dilution of equity resulting from the iArchives acquisition. No time limit was set for the completion of this program. The share repurchase program may be modified or discontinued at any time by the Board of Directors.

About Inc. (Nasdaq:ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with approximately 1.3 million paying subscribers. More than 5 billion records have been added to the site in the past 13 years. Ancestry users have created more than 19 million family trees containing over 1.9 billion profiles. has local Web sites directed at nine countries, including its flagship Web site at

About iArchives

iArchives is a leading digitization service provider that also operates, a subscription Web site that features searchable original documents, providing over 35,000 paying subscribers with a view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At, all are invited to come share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues. For more information, visit

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Irish person's genetic code sequenced for the first time

Source: The Irish Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2010


SCIENTISTS HAVE sequenced the complete genetic code of an Irish person for the first time. The 3.1 billion sub-units of DNA that comprise the human genome were mapped by a team from the Conway Institute at University College Dublin, using advanced sequencing technology.

The landmark study, due to be published in the online journal Genome Biology, provides the first complete genetic picture of the Irish branch of the European ancestral tree.

Scientists are reading the genomes of many species to understand how life forms differ from each other, and why they become diseased. Unravelling the differences between the Irish genome and other population groups may yield vital clues as to why Irish people are more susceptible to certain diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.
The UCD team, led by professor of comparative genomics Brendan Loftus, used DNA from an anonymous Irish male with a confirmed Irish ancestry of three generations.
Prof Loftus said the choice of individual to sequence was also made on the basis of prior genetic work with this individual that “showed variation typical of the island”.

“We have a better chance of understanding disease biology and susceptibility if we can stratify different populations on the basis of their genes,” he said.

The study uncovered some three million genetic variants in the Irish genome compared to a reference genome. Though most of the variation has been seen in other population groups, some 13 per cent, corresponding to about 300,000 variations in genome steps, had not been recorded before.

The big question is how much of this variation is specific to the individual and how much is representative of an “Irish genetic signature”, said Prof Loftus.

His team has already made one important discovery, identifying a variation in the sequence that disrupts a gene associated with inflammatory bowel disease, which affects about 15,000 people in Ireland.

The first full sequence of human DNA was
published in the US in 2003, after some 13 years of research, costing $2.7 billion. The six-man UCD team took little over a year to sequence the first complete Irish human genome, at a cost of €30,000.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A book review of 'Tracing your Mayo Ancestors'

Brian Smith, Tracing Your Mayo Ancestors, 2nd edition, 160 pages, Flyleaf Press, Dublin 2010, ISBN 978-0-9563624-3-8, retail price €13

A book review by John Hamrock, Ancestor Network Limited, 4 September 2010

As an avid family historian whose paternal grandfather hailed from County Mayo, and as a professional genealogist helping clients trace their Mayo roots, I highly recommend Brian Smith’s Tracing Your Mayo Ancestors. This compact and well organised guide serves as an indispensible tool for both new and experienced Mayo family history researchers.

The cover illustration appropriately depicts the poignant scene of an emigrant ship leaving the shores of Mayo for North America or Australia watched by silent onlookers. Mayo was a Connacht county badly impacted by the Great Famine of 1845-1847, its population devastated by starvation, disease and emigration. A new table introduced in this second edition shows the population decline of each barony by decade from 1841 through to 1891. In 1841 the total population of County Mayo stood at 388,887. By 1891 the population had fallen to 219,034.

Each chapter is dedicated to a particular area of research such as civil registrations, church records, census returns, wills and administrations, and land records. The introduction provides a concise, but excellent history of the county describing that Mayo families were a mixture of native peoples who arrived in the Neolithic period, Gaelic families, Cambro-Norman, English, and Scottish settlers. There is also a chapter devoted to the 1798 Rebellion in County Mayo.

The chapter on church records shows that in the 1861 Census of Ireland, 96.8% of the Mayo population was reported to be Roman Catholic and 2.6% belonging to the Church of Ireland. It provides detailed information on each parish’s extant baptism, marriage and burial records. There is also a chapter devoted to Mayo surnames, family names and histories. One useful map shows by barony the 20 most numerous surnames which occur in the Primary Valuation of Ireland, also known as Griffith’s Valuation (1855/1857).

Of particular help to less experienced researchers, this book contains numerous extracted reproductions from works such as Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, the ‘Ordnance Survey Field Name books’, the 1851 ‘Townland Index of Ireland’, maps showing the individual Baronies and Civil Parishes, birth and marriage registers, extracts from estate tenant rental ledgers, an extract from the Tithe Applotment Composition Book, evicted tenants notices, census returns, and other historical documents.

The author also provides detailed information about the available primary and secondary source material and where these source documents are located, whether online or in archives or libraries. The font size and line spacing layout makes it easy on the eyes and like the original edition, it contains a comprehensive index.

I highly recommend Tracing Your Mayo Ancestors for both amateur and professional genealogists. It is a meticulously researched and attractively presented book. The extracted document and manuscript illustrations presented throughout the book help the reader to envisage what they can expect to find through their own research. It is a reliable companion whether one is researching from home via the internet or in a library or archive. It is a must have for serious genealogists on the quest for Mayo ancestors.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Celebrity chef with a recipe for the Famine

The Irish Times - Saturday, August 28, 2010

Controversial: Alexislin kitchen, which had a gala opening in 1847, served a soup whose nutritional value was criticised. Illustration courtesy of the National Library of Ireland


A French cook who catered for high society in 19th-century London came to Ireland with a scheme to help feed the starving population. Britons regarded him as a saviour. But his vats of soup went down less well here, despite his efforts to put his scientific methods to good use

WHETHER IT is as a boon to our diets or just as an outlet for a bombastic personality, we think of the celebrity chef as a modern phenomenon. But the breed is not new. During the Famine a star performer set out to revolutionise catering for the destitute. A French genius named Alexis Soyer, culinary darling of London, came to Dublin in April 1847 to set up a huge soup kitchen.

Born in 1809 in Meaux-en-Brie – home of the cheese – the cook who came to Ireland’s aid had a frugal boyhood. His grocer parents thought he was best suited for the church, but at the age of 11 he left school to try his skill in the kitchens of Paris, where he moved steadily up the ranks.

When he was 21 Soyer arrived in England, where he landed a job with the Duke of Cambridge. In 1837 he became the founding chef de cuisine of the Reform Club, an elite London meeting ground for Whigs and radicals. After their long days campaigning, these male ideologues dined lavishly on Soyer’s breaded lamb cutlets and fish en papillotte .

Soyer was a walking contradiction. He straddled two worlds, one of reformist concern for the poor, the other of serving the appetites of the rich. Married to Emma Jones, an artist, widowed early and then linked romantically with a ballerina, he was a popular and charismatic dandy. He dressed flamboyantly, with crimson velvet waistcoats, diamonds, a hunter’s hat, a neckerchief and a gilt cane. A contemporary described his “voluminous lapels”, glossy boots and “gloves the colour of beurre frais ”.

He was the quintessential celebrity chef and the toast of London society. He catered for 2,000 at Queen Victoria’s coronation breakfast and made decadent suppers and 30-course banquets for dignitaries and royalty, including King Albert and the Turkish pasha.

Soyer’s shrewd self-publicity, vanity and wealth were matched by immense communitarian efforts. A chef who kept a spotless public profile – things have changed since – Soyer began in January 1837 to write letters to the influential Times newspaper.

He was concerned about Ireland’s “dreadful calamity of starvation”. It was the second failure of the potato crop, and disease – typhus, yellow fever, tuberculosis, scurvy – was spreading. After a particularly bleak winter labourers were either dying or rioting while Lord Russell’s government fruitlessly pondered what to do.

The Soup Kitchen Act of 1847 called for food to be distributed under Sir Robert Peel’s Relief Commission. But with British taxpayers unwilling to pay for Irish needs, the government was overly dependent on private benevolence. Quaker soup kitchens were rarely productive or efficient enough. But Soyer believed he had devised a palatable soup that was easy to prepare, “of trifling expense” and, if properly administered, capable of helping to arrest the crisis.

The key word was “palatable” – the poor were believed to have simpler alimentary needs than the rich – so the soup required only a leg of meat, dripping, flour, root vegetables, pearl barley and fresh herbs to revitalise. Soyer published his “receipts”, meticulously calculating the price of each ingredient and the measurement needed to minimise waste: 100 tons, he promised with bravura, could be made for just £1.

More than willing to shift responsibility elsewhere, the government sponsored Soyer to set up a soup kitchen in Dublin. In keeping with the philanthropic fashion of the time, so well parodied in Dickens’s novels, Soyer offered an advance of £30 from his own pocket. Donations then flowed from the public.

On April 5th, 1847, the gala launch took place on the esplanade of the Royal Barracks (now the National Museum at Collins Barracks) in Dublin. The soup kitchen was a temporary hall of wooden boards, its centrepiece a towering 1,100-litre steam cauldron and glaze pan fitted with wheels, surrounded by bains-marie, a monumental bread oven and coal fires, chopping tables, tubs on wheels, meat blocks, water basins and tables with spoons chained on, plus a pantry for bread and biscuits that each abject soul would get on leaving.

The press reported “a large and brilliant assemblage” invited to approve the soup and explore the kitchen. These gentry, unaffected by blights or food shortages, could marvel abstractly at the ingenuity, command and flair of Soyer, who held forth magisterially.

Then the paupers were brought in. First they lined up outside the tent in a zigzag passage designed to prevent contamination. In a dehumanising conveyor-belt system, the bell was rung and 100 paupers at a time entered, said grace, ate, cleaned their bowls and left with a biscuit. They were allowed six minutes to eat.
One spectator, Sir John Burgoyne, likened this method of eating to watching chained animals. But the experiment was declared a success. The aim was to have 1,000 diners
per hour and 5,000 per day, but soon the kitchen was serving 8,750 meals per day. A further 3,000 portions were delivered by donkey carts to remoter parish cottages. The Relief Commissioners retained use of the kitchen until harvest time, when distribution stopped.

Although the British press presented Soyer as a messianic saviour, Irish journalists reviled him. The Freeman’s Journal mentioned his “wealthy and inappropriate air of celebration” among “a public parade of wretchedness”. The angry consensus was that the British had sent, in Soyer, a propaganda emissary with the blinding razzmatazz of an entrepreneur to detract from the real crisis of impoverishment.

Furthermore, the soup wasn’t good enough. The minuscule amount of meat it contained would barely keep the starving labourer alive, while the liquid base was for many unpalatable. The archbishop of Tuam referred to it as a “worthless mass of roots and warm water” while Punch lampooned it as “economical grog” made by “a broth of a boy”.
Soyer defended his creation, saying that “the poor do not want fattening – they want feeding”. This was Soyer’s dictum: that people can nourish themselves decently and cheaply. Coinciding with the opening of his kitchen, he published The Poorman’s Regenerator , a cookery pamphlet. The other day I found a copy, a yellowed tome the size of my hand. Although sentences such as “the mendicant eats with the greatest pleasure a piece of brown bread or a potato” make it unclear who it was written for, it shows a remarkably modern, ecological slant on how to reduce food miles and eat from local sources.

In his pamphlet Soyer urges people to “use and not abuse nature’s productions” – a fastidious critic even in dire circumstances, he describes other Irish soups as burnt, tasteless and unevenly cooked – and lists the wealth of ingredients available in Ireland, including buckwheat, oats, peas, lentils, yams, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, celery, kelp, Irish moss, dillisk, spinach and sorrel.

Soyer didn’t linger. After a magnificent farewell party on April 10th at Freemasons’ Hall on College Green, he disappeared from Ireland and travelled to the Crimean War to tackle the unsanitary conditions of hospital kitchens and malnourishment in the military. While he was there he collaborated with Florence Nightingale and wrote another cookbook.

When he returned from the war he died of apoplexy, in August 1858, aged 48, having worked himself to the end.

Soyer may have been a problematic figure when he came to Ireland in 1847. His genius lay in his economy, his resourcefulness and the productivity he achieved through scientific adaptation. Without modern marketing he couldn’t, in the style of a Jamie Oliver, teach people how to grow food or to cook. Still, he was a prodigious inventor, designing kitchens suited to everyone from soldier to gastronome, plus a “magic stove” and gadgets whose models remain, with his cookbooks, the relics of his public works – as well as patented bottled sauces that, in the spirit of a modern billionaire chef, bore his winking image on the label.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Henry's historic cottages 'gifted' to village


By Colin Gleeson and Elaine Keogh, Irish Independent
Tuesday August 24 2010

ARISTOCRAT Lord Henry Mountcharles has donated four 18th-Century cottages that formerly housed workers of the Slane Castle estate to boost tourism in Slane village.
The single-storey stone artisan buildings, located on Chapel Street in Slane, Co Meath, were built in 1701 by the Conyngham family, who have owned the Slane estate since that time.

Lord Henry, the current head of the family, yesterday "gifted" the cottages to the local authority.

The buildings have been vacant for many years and will require refurbishment by the council, which plans to use them as a tourism and heritage centre.

Lord Henry said he wanted to see the cottages become "a heartbeat" for tourism in the area.

"Slane has such a vibrant and rich heritage going back to St Patrick," he said. "It is one of the most significant 18th-century villages in the country, and it needed a boost in terms of getting a heartbeat in the centre.

"I decided these buildings were absolutely ideal. They are in a central location and are at the starting point of the Slane heritage trail.

"I also made a commitment that we as a family will kickstart the project, in terms of what is going to happen inside the building, with a gift or a grant to the Slane Historical Society, to assist with things like audiovisual displays.

"It is really important there be community development if we're going to get ourselves out of the hole we're in.

"Tourism is one of the most important things.

"The local hotel here has closed down, and other businesses in the area have also closed down. Hopefully, the more visitors we can attract, it will work as part of a revitalisation.

"I love this area and that is why I'm doing this. I grew up here and this is where my heart lies. I have grandchildren living in the village," he added.

A spokesperson for Meath county manager Tom Dowling said he was delighted with the gift, and plans to restore the cottages are in place.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New evidence suggests 57 Irish railroad workers were murdered

Historians from Immaculata University comb through the evidence at the site of an overgrown memorial to the rail workers in Malvern, Philadelphia. Picture: AP


by Breda Heffernan
Irish Independent

Tuesday August 17 2010

US historians trying to uncover a mystery surrounding the mass death of 57 Irish immigrants nearly 180 years ago, have found evidence they may have been murdered.
Previously it had been thought the group -- they died within weeks of starting gruelling work on the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad in 1832 -- were cholera victims.

However, four skulls unearthed from the mass grave suggest the men suffered blows to the head and at least one may have been shot in an outpouring of anti-Irish violence.
Dr William Watson, chairman of the history department at Immaculata University and his twin brother, Frank, have spent the past eight years trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the deaths of the Irish workers at Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Dr Watson said the revelation that at least four of the men had died violent deaths proved "this was much more than a cholera epidemic".

Anti-Irish feelings ran high in 19th Century America and the men lived in a shanty near the railway tracks where they worked.

It is now believed that while many died of cholera, some were killed by vigilantes because of prejudice, tension between affluent residents and these poor transient workers, or because of a fear that the cholera would spread.

"I don't think we need to be so hesitant in coming to the conclusion now that violence was the cause of death and not cholera, although these men might have had cholera," anthropologist Janet Monge, also working on the project, said.

Examinations reveal a number of clues about the men's lifestyle.
Their bones indicate that while they had poor diets, the labourers were still muscular.

Coffin nails were also recovered from the site indicating some were given a formal burial.

However, it is understood the families in Ireland were never told what happened to their loved ones.

Using passenger records, the Watsons believe some of the group had sailed from Ireland to Philadelphia four months before their deaths and were originally from counties Donegal, Derry and Tyrone. The brothers hope to eventually recover all the remains, identify the men and bury them properly, either in the US or in Ireland.

"We see this more as a recovery mission -- get them out of this ignominious burial place," said Dr Watson.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

David Wolper, producer of 'Roots' and 'The Thorn Birds,' dies at 82

Aug 11 2010 06:36 PM ET

David Wolper, producer of 'Roots' and 'The Thorn Birds,' dies at 82

by Benjamin Svetkey

Categories: In Memoriam, News

David Wolper, the legendary Hollywood producer who brought Roots and The Thorn Birds to the small screen, has died at 82 of congestive heart failure and complications from Parkinson’s Disease, according to the AP. Roots was watched by 130 million people back in 1977, roughly half the population of the country at the time. Wolper also produced for the big screen, including 1971′s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and, years later, 1992′s Oscar-winning police drama LA Confidential.


Friday, August 6, 2010 to Acquire Professional Genealogy Firm ProGenealogists, Inc.

August 6, 2010

PROVO, Utah, Aug. 6, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Inc. (Nasdaq:ACOM) announced today that it has acquired leading professional genealogy research firm, ProGenealogists, Inc.

Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, ProGenealogists specializes in genealogical, forensic and family history research. During its 10-year history, the firm has become a trusted name in professional genealogy, finding great success with client research and expanding both its domestic and international capabilities. As a part of, ProGenealogists will continue to provide premier family history research to its existing clients while extending the reach across the genealogy value chain.

"We are delighted to welcome ProGenealogists into the network," said David Rinn, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development for "With this acquisition can better serve subscribers who are seeking dedicated, personal support in their family history research. As a natural service extension for, we expect the addition of ProGenealogists will also enhance and expand the professional research offerings currently available through Expert Connect."

" is definitely in a class by itself in the genealogy industry," said Natalie Cottrill, CEO of ProGenealogists, Inc. "We are excited to become part of the family and look forward to finding new ways to help more people interested in learning about their roots."

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. does not expect the acquisition to have a material impact on its financial guidance as issued in connection with its second quarter earnings release on July 29, 2010.

ProGenealogists and have worked together on several initiatives over the past few years including driving the research for the NBC television program, "Who Do You Think You Are?" which traced the family histories of celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Lisa Kudrow, Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, Matthew Broderick and Spike Lee. will continue leveraging the expertise at ProGenealogists for similar initiatives in the future.

About Inc. (Nasdaq:ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with more than one million paying subscribers. More than 5 billion records have been added to the site in the past 13 years. Ancestry users have created more than 18 million family trees containing over 1.8 billion profiles. has local Web sites directed at nine countries, including its flagship Web site at

About ProGenealogists, Inc.

ProGenealogists, Inc. is a consortium of professional genealogists who specialize in genealogical, forensic, and family history research. The firm services thousands of professional, government, media, and individual clients worldwide. In addition, the firm has published numerous articles and research tools on their award winning website,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Local man's Granddad may have saved Hitler's life


THE long-lost memoirs of a man who served in Roger Casement’s ‘Irish

Brigade’ in Germany during the First World War have been published –

over 40 years after the first draft of the book mysteriously went missing

from the author’s deathbed.

In 2005 Kevin Keogh (51), from Ard na Greine, first stumbled on the

manuscript for the book, which was written by his grandfather Michael


He had been carrying out some research into his family history when he

came across photos of his grandfather on the internet, and realised soon

afterwards that the raw material of Michael Keogh’s fascinating and

unfinished book lay undiscovered but intact in the UCD archives.

UCD released the book back to the Keogh family, who enlisted the help

of author and historian Brian Maye to cross-reference all the times, dates,

places and events described in the book.

Five years and much meticulous research later, ‘With Casement’s Irish

Brigade’ was published by Choice Publishing Ltd earlier this month, with

an introduction written by Brian Maye.

The book is a fascinating account of an Irishman who led an exciting,

adventurous and at times dangerous life. He boasted the unusual honour

of fighting and being decorated by both sides in World War I. Originally

a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Michael Keogh joined the

British Army in 1914, winning the George’s Cross for bravery for his role

in the very early stages of the Great War, where he fought in such famous

campaigns as the Battle of Mons.

As a prisoner of war, Keogh joined Roger Casement’s Irish Brigade and

subsequently joined the German Army, fighting on the Western Front and

later against the Munich Soviet in 1919.

He was decorated by the Germans with the Iron Cross for gallantry.

One fascinating episode described in the book is when Michael Keogh

rescued and probably saved the life of a young German soldier who was

being savagely attacked by a gang of his peers over his controversial views.

That man was Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler.

Kevin Keogh told Northside People: “My grandfather crossed paths with

Adolf Hitler on three occasions. “The first time my grandfather took any

notice of Lance Corporal Hitler was September 1918 near Ligny on the French

border. “Hitler was in the same Bavarian 16th Infantry Regiment as my

grandfather. Hitler was being carried on a stretcher outside a field-dressing


“The second time is of more historical interest. I quote my grandfather:
‘I was back in Munich in the late spring of 1919 when, after some days of

bitter fighting, the Frikorps & the regular army had overthrown the Reds.

‘I had fought my way into Munich as a captain in command of the

machine-gun company in the Frikorps Epp - led by General [later Field

Marshal] Epp.

‘A few weeks later I was the officer of the day in the Turken Strasse barracks

when I got an urgent call about eight o'clock in the evening.

‘A riot had broken out over two political agents in the gymnasium. These

"political officers" as they were called, were allowed to visit each barracks and

make speeches or approach the men for votes and support.

‘I ordered out a sergeant and six men and, with fixed bayonets, led them off on

the double.

‘There were about 200 men in the gymnasium, among them some tough

Tyrolean troops.

‘Two political agents, who had been lecturing from a table top, had been dragged

to the floor and were being beaten up. Some of the mob were trying to save them.

‘Bayonets were beginning to flash. The two on the floor were in danger of being

kicked to death.

‘I ordered the guard to fire one round over the heads of the rioters. It stopped the

commotion. We hauled out the two politicians. Both were cut, bleeding and in need

of a doctor. The crowd around muttered and growled, boiling for blood.

‘We carried them to the guardroom and called a doctor. While waiting for him I

questioned them.

‘The fellow with the moustache gave his name promptly: Adolf Hitler. It was the

Lance Corporal of Ligny. I would not have recognised him. He had been five months

in hospital, in Passewalk, Pomerania. He was thin and emaciated from his wounds.

‘Then he began to talk about his "new party". The other man with him was Zimmer.

They had come to the barracks as political agents for the new National Socialist

German Workers’ Party [NSDAP], which Hitler and six others had founded.

‘The next time I saw him, he was no longer in need of a guardroom for his safety. I

was standing on the fringe of a vast crowd. The place was Nuremberg and the year

was 1930. The month was August. Hitler was on a massive platform, furled in the

Swastika flags of his National Socialist German Workers’ Party, much better known

by its abbreviation, Nazi.

‘One month later, his party won 107 of the seats in the Reichstag. And the fate of

Germany lay in his hands.’” Upon his discharge from the German army in 1919,

Keogh came home and took part in the War of Independence, gunrunning for the IRA

from Germany.

Grandson Kevin said it was a thrilling moment for his family when they realised they

had rediscovered their grandfather’s legacy.

“We grew up hearing the stories about my grandfather, and especially about his book

which he spent 30 careful years re-drafting and editing – he never went anywhere

without it,” he stated.

Just before Michael Keogh died in 1964, his son Kevin (now aged 84 and living in Swords)

went to visit him at James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown. His father was

in a very distressed state, and claimed that a man dressed as a priest had taken his papers from

under his pillow. The war veteran died two days later, and it took 40 years for the papers

to resurface.

“The original documents were there, a lot of them in handwriting – although we had been

told the stories many times there were lots of details in the book that even my father had

never known about his father,” added Kevin Keogh.

This fascinating account of a larger-than-life Irishman is a must for anyone interested in

history, war or true-life adventure. Scriptwriters should form a queue.

l ‘With Casement’s Irish Brigade’ is available online from Choice Publishing Ltd. Drogheda,