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.

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