35 Years Researching Family History
Like most genealogists, my journey in family history began with an interest in my own family’s story. Even as a child of 6 or 7, I loved listening to my mother’s stories of her childhood, her parents and grandparents, and even her great grandparents……I was fascinated that she was able to tell me their names, so even before we started our research proper, we could name 5 generations of our family, including my own generation.
The real research started in 1981 however, when we applied for a birth certificate for an elderly relative, only to discover that his father’s name was not what what he thought it was. I’ve long since come to understand that this is a very common experience for anybody researching their family’s history – be prepared for surprises, because every family has them !
Soon I was helping friends uncover their family stories, and I secured my first paid commission to research living relatives of a deceased emigrant to the United States in 1983.
Since then, I’ve worked on scores of research projects, both paid and unpaid, and my research has taken me to all the main repositories of primary source material in Ireland, including the General Register Office, The National Library of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, the RCB Library, the Registry of Deeds in Dublin, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast’s Central Library, and The General Register Office of Northern Ireland, not to mention dozens of local repositories including the Dublin City Archive, and many county archives.
Research outside of Ireland has included frequent visits to the UK National Archives, as well as the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and both Civil and Religious record repositories in Germany.
Much research these days can be done online; some of it is free of charge but most of it is provided by commercial websites who charge a subscription. None of the available online resources are complete, and it can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive to learn which resources can help fill in the gaps where online records are not complete.
Ultimately, of course, there’s no substitute for Primary Source Material.
The well known Irish Genealogist John Grenham once said “there are no genealogical records online; there are only transcripts”. That’s no longer strictly true, but the message is still valid – every transcription or digitisation process introduces a new layer of error, inaccuracy or idiosyncratic search functionality, with the result that you cannot rely exclusively on online resources. Fortunately for me, I live in Dublin close to most of the major record repositories.
If you’d like help researching your family history in Ireland, please contact me for a free review of your case – if I don’t think I can help with your particular quest, I may be able to put you in contact with someone who can.
- National Tour Guide (Irish Tourist Board accredited)
- Born and living in Dublin, Ireland
- Married with 3 grown-up children
- Languages : English, Irish, French
- Also basic written Swedish, Spanish, Italian
- Education : B. Comm. Degree (UCD)
Dip in Family History (Grenham)
- Over 35 Years Experience of Genealogy Research
- Irish Genealogical Research Society
- Genealogical Society of Ireland
- ISOGG (Genetic Genealogists)
- Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland
- Numerous Local History Societies