This is ridiculous. First, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht releases probably the most significant batch of Irish genealogical records ever seen online. Then, just a week later, the National Archives sees the Department’s bet and raises it by the entire pot. Six separate record collections, each of which alone would be a major gift to researchers have been published at once.
To go through them:
There are 536,413 individual records between 1860 and 1921 in the Crews and Shipping lists. They cover very port now in the Republic: a godsend for anyone with mariners in their tree.
- The Catholic Qualification & Convert Rolls comprise two similar but distinct sources. The Convert Rolls list 5,866 people who converted from Catholicism to the Church of Ireland between 1703 and 1838. The much larger Catholic Qualification Rolls record 45,722 individuals who remained Catholic but took an oath of allegiance to the Crown in order to avail of rights newly restored under late 18th-century Catholic Relief Acts. They date from 1788 to 1845. I suspect many of both groups had their fingers crossed behind their backs.
- Almost all of the old Public Record Office’s pre-1858 collection of official probate records was destroyed in 1922. All the bits and pieces that happened to be outside the Record
Treasury when it was pulverised are now on the site, covering 15,560 individuals. There are plenty of other, non-official, testamentary sources, but these are wonderful.
- The collection of marriage licences 1623-1866 records 217,850 individuals, almost all in marriages that were in destroyed Church of Ireland parish registers.
- After 1858, district probate offices made copies of all the wills they probated before sending the originals to the PRO. So, although the originals were destroyed, there are 179,048 copies, now fully imaged and searchable.
- And most significant of all are the 1,366,275 Valuation Office records. These are the notebooks used by the VO’s army of valuers and surveyors to create Griffith’s
Valuation. They predate Griffith by anything up to twenty years, at a period when the country was going through the massive upheaval of the Famine. In the hardest hit areas, they can reveal entire villages that had been wiped out by the time the full Valuation was published.
Marvellous. But there’s a bit of fatigue setting in. What’s next? The government handing everyone of Irish descent a personalised 10-generation parchment pedigree?