Friday, January 21, 2011




The book will be launched by



Spanish Parade, Galway


AT 6PM FOR 6.30 PM.

RSVP: (tel. 01 2806231 or

Flyleaf Press

A comprehensive guide to tracing families in the City and County of Galway. Galway county is home to a widely diverse population of peoples whose culture and history has been shaped by the barren landscapes of its Western seaboard, or the rich farmlands at its Eastern end. In the centre is the historic city of Galway, an ancient trading port and home to the 14 ‘Tribes’ whose story is central to that of the county. Many of its people have emigrated, particularly in the aftermath of the Great Famine. Its population dwindled from 441,810 in 1841 to 214,712 in 1891. Genealogical records are also diverse, varying from sparse in the Western areas to extensive for some of the inhabitants of Galway city. This book sets out the records available to the family history researcher, where they can be obtained and how to use each to best effect.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations NEWS ALERT – 1926 Census of Ireland

Steven C Smyrl, Executive Liaison Officer of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations

From the Irish Times, 8 January 2011

'The potential for roots tourism locked away in the 1926 census is incalculable.' Above, Minister for Culture Mary Hanafin marking the free online availability of the 1901 census.Photograph: Alan Betson

GIVEN the astounding success of the National Archives’ free online database to the 1901 and 1911 census returns, the potential for roots tourism currently locked away in the 1926 census is incalculable.

When it comes to preservation of the written record, Ireland’s reputation is poor. For a literary nation priding itself on such manuscript gems as the Book of Kells and the Annals of the Four Masters , we should be appalled that our reputation internationally is one of a nation without records. It is difficult to argue against such a view when over the centuries through ignorance and carelessness we have destroyed and discarded the sources for the history of this island. Until the Victorians sensibly provided Ireland with a Public Record Office in Dublin’s Four Courts complex in 1867 the records of parliament, government and courts were constantly in a state of flux, being brought from one temporary location to another. In this new repository records dating back as far as the 12th century were conserved and catalogued. Its holdings included parish registers, wills, census records, court files, and a whole array of records, minutes and files of government administration.
Imagine then the horror when in 1922, in an orgy of destructive violence, the combatants in the civil war brought about the virtual annihilation of the largest body of material on the history of this island ever gathered together. At this stage it hardly matters whose fault it was: the fact that it occurred at all is shame enough. In one catastrophic act of stupidity the people of Ireland were forever robbed of almost all of their national memory.

In the decades since 1922 Irish academics and genealogists have become adept at squeezing every last bit of information from the surviving records. We have learnt to recognise the value of secondary sources, of transcripts and abstracts and even surviving indexes to otherwise destroyed records. However, nothing has had a more immediate impact upon the value of Irish records than the new technologies which have been rolled out over the past decade. Sources of information once impenetrable are now easily and readily accessible. The most pertinent example of this is the online 1901 and 1911 census database created by the National Archives (the successor body to the Public Record Office of Ireland). Until these two sets of census records (which are complete, island-wide) were digitised and indexed, access was limited to knowing approximately where a family resided. Now, at the press of a button, one can establish how many butchers lived in Athlone in 1911 (18), the number of Jewish people residing in Cork city in 1901 (401) or even if anyone recorded in the 1901 census was born in Serbia (one).

It should come as no surprise to the reader to discover that the history of Irish census records is also a sad tale of incompetence. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, it was Ireland which first compiled census returns naming individuals. This was in 1821, 20 years before England Wales and Scotland did likewise. The original census returns for 1821 to 1851 were eventually transferred to the Public Record Office where they were regularly consulted by academics and genealogists. Later, after the passing of the Old Age Pension Act in 1908, they were used to establish age for pension applicants, until their destruction in 1922. But what of the census returns compiled in 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891? In the 1880s Irish civil servants began to implement a policy of routinely destroying census records, based upon advice from the census authorities in London. After transcribing English, Welsh and Scottish data into census enumerator’s books for future preservation, the original household returns for those countries were destroyed. Unfortunately, no such policy had been followed in Ireland and the mandarins in Whitehall did not appear to know this. The fire in 1922 and this bureaucratic bungle has left Ireland with virtually no pre-1901 census records.

The 1901 and 1911 census returns were compiled under Westminster statute and no particular promise was given at the time about everlasting privacy. In the 1940s the returns were transferred to the Public Record Office as the Statistics Department had nowhere to house them. In 1961 Charles Haughey TD, parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Justice, was persuaded to sign a warrant to open the records to public scrutiny. Interestingly, this was only 50 years after the taking of the 1911 census, but there was no public outcry and the sky didn’t come crashing down!

Since the foundation of the state, all census campaigns have been conducted under the Statistics Act 1926, later replaced by the Statistics Act 1993. The earlier Act failed to make any provision for future public access to historic census data. At the time of the passing of the 1993 Act an amendment reduced the proposed embargo from 100 years to only 70, but this was later reversed.

Currently, the 1926 census is not due to be opened to public scrutiny until January 2027. But there are many, the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) among them, who feel that while a 100-year embargo for modern census data is warranted, it is excessive in the context of the meagre data recorded in the 1926 census. In 1926 the following information was noted for each person: name, age, sex, religion, ability to read and write, occupation, marital status, place of birth, relationship to head of household and infirmities. Also, statistics were noted about duration of marriage and children born.

The census returns of 1911 and 1926 could be described as family snapshots, capturing a picture of the Irish people before and after recent dramatic events: the first World War, the 1916 Rising, partition, and the Civil War. These were exciting times in the history of this island and the data locked away in the 1926 census would help answer the many questions that still remain.

The 1926 census could easily be opened within the next year or two, and with virtually no cost to the State given that genealogy companies such as Eneclann and would be queuing up to invest in such an opportunity. The Central Statistics Office is convinced that the Irish public cannot easily differentiate between a 100 year closure and a similar policy that closes data until 100 years after an individual’s birth. The obvious compromise is to redact! Recently, Fianna Fáil Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú published a Bill which aims to open the 1926 census returns to full public scrutiny. The Bill argues that there is a special case to be made for opening this census early and CIGO agrees. The strongest argument is that the 1926 census is brimming over with people born before civil registration commenced in 1864. Clearly, if the 1926 census were to be released in 2012 the authorities could disclose data for all people born before 1912. With such an amendment Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú’s Bill might have a good chance of succeeding.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Wall Street Journal Reports Ireland to Fund Cultural Programs in U.S.

January 6, 2011

NEW YORK—The government of Ireland is set to fund a $5.3 million initiative to support a vast array of arts programming in the U.S. during 2011, the country's minister of culture is set to announce Friday in New York.

Encompassing 400 events in 40 states, the project, "Imagine Ireland," will finance programming related to the country at major New York cultural institutions such as the New York Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as support U.S. tours by at least three of Ireland's historic theaters: the Abbey, Gate and Druid.

At the New York Public Library, for example, the project will help fund "Ireland America: The Ties That Bind," an exhibition that examines 19th- and 20th-century Irish-American performance history. Institutions including the Public Theater, P.S. 122, St. Ann's Warehouse and La MaMa, an experimental theater venue, will also present "Imagine Ireland"-backed programming.

Ireland's minister for culture, Mary Hanafin, and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will disclose additional details of the yearlong project at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where they will be joined by actor Gabriel Byrne, cultural ambassador for Ireland.

Additional programming is planned for Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other U.S. locations.

Irish Independent Reports Worldwide spike in demand for Irish citizenship

To learn how Ancestor Network can help you in obtaining an Irish passport, if you qualift, please click on link immediately below.

Press Association

Thursday January 06 2011

More than 11,500 people proud of their heritage claimed Irish citizenship under the so-called Granny Rule last year.

Preliminary figures show thousands turned up at embassies worldwide seeking the right to call themselves Irish because of the birthplace of their grandmother or grandfather.

The rule became famous during the Jack Charlton years when he used it to secure top players for the Republic of Irelandsoccer team.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said the figures underlined the strong demand from the 70 million-strong global Irish family to maintain their links with their homeland.

"Demand for citizenship through an Irish grandparent has spiked over the past two years with 11,500 people putting in their claim during 2010," he said.

"There has been an increased awareness of the rule since the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh with more of our citizens coming forward to claim the entitlement to call themselves Irish and to have the right to a passport.

"I am keenly aware of the demands from people with an Irish background worldwide who want to forge stronger links with the land of their grandparents, great-grandparents and even further back.

"For those not entitled to citizenship we are now finalising the details of the certificate of Irish heritage."

Mr Martin said details on the certificate will be formally announced in the near future.

He said it was clear people worldwide are proud to call themselves Irish.
"They want their links with our country recognised and I am delighted that we are in a position to do that," he continued.

"Our communities play a huge part in bringing Irish sports, arts and culture to the world, they are also key in establishing business links in key world markets that will be central to our economic recovery."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ancestors shunned by Quakers for failing in business

From the Irish Independent By Eimear Ni Bhraonain
Wednesday January 05 2011

IVAN Yates discovered recently how two of his ancestors were disowned by the Quakers for becoming insolvent in business.

He uncovered this fact while he was researching his family tree for a television documentary.

Mr Yates traced his roots and discovered that his great-grandfather John Francis Yates was the first entrepreneur in his family.

John Francis imported goods along the Slaney river -- a business that thrived until Ivan's father's time. His grandfather, also called Ivan, inherited this family business.

On his mother's side, the Davis family ran a profitable flour-milling business in Enniscorthy for many years.

His great-grandparents were Francis Davis and Anna Davis -- first cousins who later married.

Their fathers, Samuel Davis and Abraham Grubb Davis were brothers who founded the milling company 'S & AG Davis'.

Samuel was a Quaker and married in the Quaker Meeting House but Abraham was married in the Church of Ireland. Abraham was subsequently "disowned" by the Quakers. Ivan Yates made these discoveries about his family tree as part of an RTE documentary for the 'Who Do You Think You Are?' series.

During his research for this programme, Ivan learned that his great-great grandfather Abraham was not "disowned" by the Quakers for marrying outside of the religion, but for becoming insolvent in business.

Coincidentally, Abraham's father, Francis had been disowned for the same reason.
The Church of Ireland woman Abraham married was Helen Jameson -- the daughter of a "gentleman" named Andrew Jameson.

Andrew was an Enniscorthy distiller whose business was threatened by the rise of a total abstinence society in the 1840s.

This Andrew Jameson was the son of a much more famous distiller -- John Jameson -- known globally today for Jameson whiskey.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

IGRS' Terrence Punch named as a Member of the Order of Canada in the 2011 New Year's honours list

Steven C. Smyrl, Chairman of the Ireland Branch of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, congratulated on behalf of friends and members of the Society, Terrence Punch, for having been named as a Member of the Order of Canada in the 2011 New Year's honours list oublished on behalf of HM The Queen by the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston. As many IGRS members will know, Terrence has been a member of the IGRS for very many years, and is a regular contributor of material both to our annual journal the Irish Genealogist and to the Society's bi-annual Newsletter. In recognition of Terrence's long contribution to genealogy he
was elected to the Fellowship of the IGRS in 2009.

The accompanying citation to his Order of Canada award notes that it has been made in recognition of "his contributions to the development and popularization of genealogy in the Atlantic provinces" of Canada. You can read more about this here

With all good wishes for 2011.

Fionnan Sheahan of the Irish Independent reports: If you're Irish, we'll give you the certificate to prove it

Irish Independent
By Fionnan Sheahan
Monday December 27 2010

FOR generations of Irish ex-pats, the song 'If You're Irish, Come Into The Parlour' promised a hearty "welcome on the mat".

Soon the diaspora will be able to apply for an official certificate to drop onto their doormat as well, recognising their Irishness.

The Government will launch a plan early next year to provide a 'Certificate of Irish Heritage' to the Irish across the world.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is currently finalising a contract with the Kerry-based financial services company, FeXco, to operate the scheme.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said the Government hoped to have the plan ready to roll in January.

"It will enable people who have a strong Irish connection to assert their Irishness and their heritage. For many people beyond the grandparents stage there is no manifestation of the fact they are Irish," he said.

Mr Martin said there would be no cost to the taxpayer from the initiative.

"It will be self-financing. There will be a charge for the certificate but it's not to make money. It's not a revenue generating mechanism at all."

The idea came from a review of relations between Ireland and the US, carried out by the Irish Ambassador to the US Michael Collins.

The minister said the certificate was targeted at the millions of people worldwide who were aware of their Irish ancestry and felt a strong affinity for Ireland.


But the vast majority are no longer eligible for Irish citizenship due to the passage of generations.

The certificate will have no legal standing, but still aims to recognise descendants of generations of Irish in an official way.

Up to 40 million US citizens describe themselves as Irish-American.

The scheme will target the Irish community in the US, Britain, Australia, and will be available worldwide.

The certificate concept came from a strong demand for such a scheme among members of the Irish diaspora.

When the proposal was included in the Strategic Review of Ireland-US relations, it was warmly received by the Irish-American community.

- Fionnan Sheahan