Trust none of them, use them all

I was irritatingly curious as a child, not to say obnoxiously nosy. Even the experience of sticking my five-year-old fingers into a live electricity socket didn’t cure me. So when RootsIreland, the Irish Family History Foundation website, put up transcripts of Catholic registers from west Cork and Kerry, I immediately wondered where they came from. All the other parts of RI are anchored firmly to a local centre, but the Kerry records are just sort of … hanging there. And Mallow, the East Cork centre, is closer to Limerick than to some of the parishes in deepest West Cork now in its catchment area. No IFHF indexing centre exists for the area the records come from.

Everyday life in Drumcondra
Checking out Rootsireland’s sources

They’re certainly not transcribed from the National Library of Ireland microfilm site – the end dates go well past the 1880 cut-off used by NLI.

So did they come from  The start and finish years do match remarkably well, and that Catherine Mruphy daughter of Denis Nmruphy is there in both transcripts of Allihies. But there are peculiarities. In a simple copy-and-paste job, there shouldn’t be any differences, but there are:  In Kenmare, IG has Ellen Mc [sic] on 25 May 1812, while RI has her as Ellen McSweeney.

So they don’t seem to be copied. The one clear thing about all the records is that they’re from the Catholic diocese of Kerry. There was an IFHF transcription centre run by that diocese in Killarney back in the 1990s. When it split from the IFHF, it gave its records to the Dept of Arts, which used them as the basis of … IrishGenealogy.

So is it possible that some early version of the transcripts was still in the possession of the IFHF? That might explain why not all of the IG transcripts are there. The Diocese of Kerry certainly seems unaware of any change.

Teasing aside, a few weeks after the Cork and Kerry transcripts Rootsireland put up a wonderful fresh batch of Church of Ireland and Presbyterian transcripts for Armagh, all apparently based on the PRONI microfilms. Hurray.

And keep in mind: the RI surname variants are different to the IG variants, both infinitely superior to the and variants and all of them have transcription errors and none of them have the same ones. The more transcripts there are to play with the better. Trust none of them completely but use them all.


23 thoughts on “Trust none of them, use them all”

  1. John
    I totally agree with your comments in this blog regarding trusting none of the various websute transcriptions but as you say use them all. And above all, always check the original source record in the parish registers online. Also I have come across cases where many transcriptions are missing from Roots Ireland but can be found on one of the other subscription sites.

  2. As usual, another wonderful commentary on parish records from Cork and Kerry … especially your closing line! Love it too!!!! Many thanks!

  3. Thank you for your ongoing (never ending!) research on behalf of us who cannot be there, but can use your results. I appreciate your efforts!

  4. Hello John…I was worried about you and yours during this CHINA VIRUS PANDEMIC. We are here in the USA following the guidelines and so far, thank God, we’re still functioning. But alas I ramble on as is my want according to my wife. Anyhow, thanks for more good information. This whole global virus has killed near 100,000 Americans so far and more to come, sad but true. I had planned on being in Ireland the end of September to celebrate my 80th birthday but that won’t happen thanks to the Chinese.

    1. I find it very hard not to write a reactionary reply to that message. In genealogy, we’re all in this together.

    2. This site is about genealogy, not your racist comments. I’m sure you can find like-minded people on social media. Keep your hateful comments to yourself.

    3. I’m sorry you’re going to miss your trip to Ireland. That must be a real disappointment. This global pandemic has scuppered so many of our plans, in so many different ways.

      In the mid-to-late 1840s, Canadian officials referred to typhus as “the Irish malady,” and as “the disease of the Irish emigrants.” Which didn’t exactly endear 1840s Irish emigrants to the rest of Canadian society, as you might imagine.

      Please think of your Irish emigrant ancestors; and then rethink your use of racist and inflammatory language with respect to a disease that knows no boundaries, nor nationalities. “The Irish” were once “the Chinese,” after all…

  5. Thanks John. It would be great if RI had a feedback facility for corrections to transcription and other errors in the same manner as IG. It would considerably enhance the accuracy of the records. Sending emails to local centres in each case is not feasible.

    1. You are able to email the Roots Ireland website directly with corrections – I have done so – enquiries

  6. Hi I am stuck on a brick wall my 3rd great grandfather was born Aug 11 1815 ish somewhere in northern Ireland i am trying to find his baptism records so I can find 100 percent proof that his father was Josiah mcmillen whom was born around 1780 northern Ireland they both died in Ontario,Canada

    1. Hi
      Just an idea for you based on a knucklehead error I made, for years, searching around for holes in my NPE line back around 1800 in Ulster. I discounted records that seemed to pop on searches in one family that chose forenames that didn’t sound very “Irish”. I figured that was because they were COI, with English roots. Abigail, Joshua, Etc. They were Quakers. I “discovered” this YESTERDAY !! Boy, did I feel stupid. It explained why I was stuck. And lead to scads of possible discovery.

      I saw your post with the name “Josiah” and thought, hells bells, this is a very “Quaker” name as well. Check to see if you haven’t already. Btw, find my past and RI have extensive Quaker minutes, all imaged. Good luck.

  7. Somewhere (but can’t find it now), I saw that the West Cork and Diocese of Kerry records came from the Skibbereen Heritage Centre.

  8. Limerick genealogy are ex cellent at amending Limerick records. I used to email Roots Irl through website but they can be slow to respond

    1. Very interesting! I have followed Zoe Reid for a while on Twitter and her work is fascinating. I don’t have the impression that there are parcels of census records with light damage waiting to be made public but hopefully some of this work will be of some genealogical use as well as of historical value.

  9. Very interesting! I have followed Zoe Reid for a while on Twitter and her work is fascinating. I don’t have the impression that there are parcels of census records with light damage waiting to be made public but hopefully some of this work will be of some genealogical use as well as of historical value.

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