I’ve just started a new service here on the site, interactive surname maps of all Irish Catholic baptisms. They’re nice to look at and certainly confirm just how localised (some) Irish surnames are. But how useful are they?
Like everything to do with Irish genealogy, the answer is that it depends. In cases where you need a quick grasp of how common or concentrated baptismal records for a particular family might be, the map is your only man. Once again, a decent picture is worth a thousand words.
I also like having click-through lists of variant spellings and totals, making it clear where the pitfalls are and how big they are. The variants also show just how localised some spelling variations can be, a valuable potential clue to a place of origin.
And of course being able to click straight through to the FindMyPast transcripts and the National Library microfilm images is the ultimate lazy shortcut, always welcome.
Flaws? I know where most of the bodies are buried, and I’m not telling.
Suffice to say that the transcriptions on which the maps are based can only be as good as the microfilms they’re based on. Which can be dreadful. And the variants are mine, not FindMyPast’s.
My heartfelt thanks to FindMyPast for sharing the data with me so generously. Unlike other large genealogy companies, they make a particular point of being collaborative, and this is spectacular collaboration. And particular thanks to Brian Donovan and Fiona Fitzsimons, the principals of Eneclann and the Irish faces of FindMyPast. Eneclann is now in its 20th year, a record for any commercial Irish genealogy company. It’s not an accident that they’ve lasted so long. Their commitment to high standards and sheer dogged hard work has earned them everything they have.