'Irish Roots' archive



Irish Roots


January 4 2016

Free-range, grass-fed Irish genealogy

Tourism authorities have long hoped to use genealogy as an incentive to attract more visitors to Ireland and have long complained of the fragmentation of online Irish records. "If only they were all on a single easy website - every Irish-American in Kansas would find their ancestors and come over to visit them."

No, sorry, wait. That was me, not just tourism bosses. One of the many bees in my bonnet used to be the plethora of Irish record sites, all with different search interfaces, many of them covering the same records: The General Register Office indexes on FindMyPast, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, IrishGenealogy; Griffith's on Askaboutireland, FindMyPast, Rootsireland; Gravestones on interment.net, FindMyPast, historicgraves.com, irishgraveyards.ie, discovereverafter.com; secular burial records on databases.dublincity.ie, kerrylaburials, glasnevintrust.ie, corkarchives.ie ...

I could go on.

Some put the surname search box first, others the forename box. Some use surname and forename variants, some have surname variants only, others have no variants at all. There are free ones, subscription-only ones, some pay-per-view, some mixing all three.

No wonder the poor Kansans are confused. Just bring everything inside a single site, under a single organisation, make it all searchable by a five-year-old and bingo, tourism nirvana.

But the revolution in Irish online research that has happened in the last five or six years just wouldn't have worked under a single organisation. The Irish National Genealogical Management Enterprise - "INAGME"? I don't think so. Ireland is just not a one-ring-to-rule-them-all kind of place. The revolution happened because particular organisations and individuals flung themselves at it, without any overall plan or risk/benefit decisions, with plenty of bitter rows and committee wars. It happened the Irish way, in other words.

As for Joe Kowalski-Magrath in Kansas; well, the internet is falling over with guides to Irish research, because Irish research is now almost laughably simple. It's called research because it involves some searching, Joe.

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