New free Irish genealogy education site

Some things got left behind in the great wave of 1916 centenary events and publications, and one of them was a project I was involved in.

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2016 Family History is a new, free Irish genealogy education website, produced as a collaboration between the National Archives, the Department of Education and The initial aim was to create something that could be used in the classroom as part of the history curriculum, and the Learning Resources section (brainchild of the redoubtable Mary Ó Dubhain) is designed to provide teachers with ready-made tasks and lessons, all usable online or downloadable as a single pdf workbook.

However, it became clear very early that there was no reason to define the target audience so narrowly. Why not structure it so that anyone could work their way through at their own pace and get a good grounding in the basics of Irish research? So that’s what we did.

There are eight modules, focused on the bread-and-butter of Irish genealogy, civil, church, property and census records. The format is the same in each case: a short introductory video, a description of the source and a series of practice exercises (answers provided).

These exercises are connected to the two case studies on the site, one going through Seán Lemass’s family history (there had to be a 1916 connection), the other taking an ordinary working-class family, that of John Purcell, born in Dublin in 1902, with roots in Kerry. Users can work their way through these family histories in a single go, or build up to them using the module exercises.

Shh. This is the launch.

It was fun to do, though we missed so many deadlines that there was no official launch. So this is the launch, the softest one ever. Sshhh.


13 thoughts on “New free Irish genealogy education site”

  1. What a gift I got today: another welcome message from John Grenham, and with it, a video in which the remarkable Catriona Crowe explains things; John, with his witty pen, Catriona with her mellifluous voice, and both full of information and support. Thank you, and when I’ve finished, I shall immediately share the link with children, grandchildren and friends who will find it enormously helpful, I’m sure.

  2. As the project manager for this resource, I hope everyone enjoys and benefits from it. We did have troubles getting it finished, partly because I was retiring from the National Archives, but it will have a proper launch in January 2017. In the meantime, you can explore the excellent work done by John, Maire O’Dubhain and the rest of the team. And have fun completing the tasks!

  3. Wonderful! I’ve barely just begun the journey through the study but it’s already proved to be so informative. That you!

  4. Dear Catriona,
    As you sail of into the sunset of your well earned retirement, we will always remember you a one of the first trail blazers, that set the standerds in getting on line the 1900 Irish census.
    We hope that your replacement will do the same for the 1926 Census. The first post census of an free Ireland, that has soo much information to offer, that I would like to see, before I go on the last roundup.
    My warmest regards to you and the rest of that team.
    Pat Kelly

  5. Since I’m just beginning to put a toe in the waters of Irish genealogy, I’m sure this resource will be a keystone for my learning. Thanks to all of you who put this together, from all of the Gormans, Mulligans, Gilmores, McNallys and more in my US lineage!
    Audrey Gorman, Naperville, IL, USA

  6. Just been going through the modules – which I am really am enjoying finding out more details and information and following the links. Thank you for putting this information together – much appreciated. I noticed in the Church Records module in trying to access the Church of Ireland registers site:, I get the message, “Page not found”. Not sure, if you are aware, might want to review/update this link.

  7. John,

    It may have been the softest launch ever …. but it is a great one! Am starting on it today! Thanks for all your hard work!

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