One of Irish genealogy’s dirty little secrets is that it’s all very simple. We do like to dress up in fancy complications – a valuator’s codebook here, a tithe defaulter there. And if we’re genetic genealogists we really really love our tight-fitting hermetic acronyms and our spangly centi-morgans.
Really, though, the logic behind research is as elementary as an infant’s building blocks. Pile one record on top of another until you can’t go any further. And that’s it. Yes, there are little bits of lateral thinking that can sometimes get around an obstacle. But it’s not brain surgery. It’s not even rocket science.
Another little secret is the fact that many of the processes we use are deeply repetitive and, frankly, stupid. Identify a townland. Find the civil parish. Match the Catholic parish. Do it again. Do it again.
The impulse to automate this stuff before going mad with boredom is the main motivator behind the programming I do. It’s the motivation behind the latest addition to this site, an attempt to map the numbers of householders in the civil parishes of Griffith’s Valuation onto the matching Catholic parishes. Here’s Gilshennan, for example.
The aim was to provide quick-and-dirty access to information on the Catholic records covering areas where particular families were living around the 1850s. Quick maybe, dirty certainly. Catholic and civil parishes don’t correspond precisely, which has thrown up lots of oddities. For instance, if there were seven Grenham households recorded by Griffith in the civil parish of Kilmore, and the civil parish of Kilmore is divided between the Catholic parishes of Castlemore and Kilbeg, then the map displays seven Grenham households in each parish, seven in Castlemore and seven in Kilbeg. Talk about Reproductive.
I’ve plastered the thing in disclaimers, but I have doubts about its usefulness. At the very least it shows that even if Irish genealogy isn’t that complicated it can still get pretty weird.