The Mormon FamilySearch is without doubt the most important family history site in the world. It can also be a royal pain. For years I’ve been going to its main record collections for Ireland, picking out the most important one ‘Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881’ and then tearing my hair out trying to figure out what exactly I’m searching. Argh. ‘Index to selected Ireland births and baptisms. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later’. Argh.
It turns out I was making a basic mistake. Don’t go in the front door. Go around the house and sneak in through the back door, the catalogue. Try this for an experiment. Go to https://familysearch.org/catalog/search and just enter Ireland in the Place box. No fewer than two hundred and fifty-one separate categories pop up.
You can explore at your leisure. For now, just add ‘Public Record Office’ into the ‘Author’ box. You’ll get 395 subsections for PRONI and forty-two for “Ireland: Public Record Office”. Go down to the “Ireland: Public Record Office” subsection ‘Testamentary documents in the Public Record Office, Dublin’ and click. You’ll see a list of 136 microfilms of which 69 have the wonderful little camera icon beside them, meaning they’ve been digitised. Click on one of those and you’re in Wonderland. More than half of the NAI ‘D’,’ T’ and ‘M’ manuscript series are there, freely viewable. If you come up with a reference to one of these (from NAI’s own card index, from the version on FindMyPast, from sources.nli.ie), you don’t have to schlep all the way to Bishop St., Dublin 8 (or your nearest LDS centre) to look at the full document. There it is, the 1866 will of John Gilmore.
And there’s more. The Betham notebook abstracting the family information from all Kildare diocesan wills up to 1828? No bother. Eustace Street Dublin Presbyterian Registers? Certainly, sir. Or what about the French Presentation NAI collection?
But of course my real reason for rummaging around like this is to find out exactly which Irish church records have been transcribed. Search on the church name and if a little microscope appears beside the film number, bingo, it’s been transcribed and you can go to the transcript by clicking on the microscope.
I’ve begun adding direct links to my own parish register listings – check out St. Peter’s, Athlone. Just click on the film number.