The Irish Ancestor was the name of a semi-annual printed journal that was published from 1969 to 1986. The aim of the journal, which was produced on a non-profit making basis, was the collection and publication of original source material and other items of interest concerning Irish genealogy, biography, and domestic history. The Irish Ancestor was edited by Rosemary ffolliott. (That is not a typo error: her name begins with a double-F and is normally written in lower case.)
In several of the earlier years, a supplemental edition was produced. For example, in 1969 a third volume entitled An Index to Raphoe Marriage Licence Bonds, 1710-1755 and 1817-1830 was published in addition to the usual two issues . Articles contributed to the main volumes varied from Christian Names in Ireland by Brian de Breffny (1969 Vol. I No. 1) to Some Irish Weddings in Nova Scotia 1834-1840 by Terrence M. Punch (1976 Vol. VIII No. 2) to Tombstones in Killbride Graveyard, Callan Parish, Co. Kilkenny, edited by Joseph Kennedy (1986 Vol. XVIII No. 1).
Over the 18 years of publication, a total of 33 issues and 4 supplements were published, totaling more than 2,500 pages of Irish genealogy data. Publication ceased in 1986.
The Irish Ancestor has long been a valuable resource for anyone researching ancestry in Ireland. However, the printed journals are difficult to locate, especially for anyone who does not live near a major genealogy library. They also can be tedious to use as there is no master index of all the volumes.
Eneclann in Dublin has now re-released The Irish Ancestor with one major difference: the new edition is on CD-ROM. Not only is it now readily available for a modest charge, it is also easy to store and much easier to use than the printed volumes.
I had a chance to use the new CD-ROM version of The Irish Ancestor this week. I went to install it and had a pleasant surprise: no installation is needed. In fact, the entire series of journals is included within one PDF file (Adobe Acrobat format). No files from this CD-ROM are installed on the computer. In order to use this product, you only need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you do not already have that, you can obtain it at no charge from Adobe's web site at http://www.adobe.com.
Use of the CD is simple. Double-click on the CD-ROM drive to see what is available on the disk. You will find that it has two files. One is a very brief README.TXT file with a bit of instruction. The other file is the PDF of all the editions of The Irish Ancestor. It is a 361-megabyte file.
Double-clicking on the PDF file soon displays the opening page. While it is possible to go through the 2,500 pages manually, most will either use the Table of Contents (bookmarks) or take advantage of the search capabilities built into the PDF file.
Using the search capability is also simple: either use the menus to select EDIT and then FIND, or else us the direct shortcut of pressing Control-F. Either method pops open a small window into which the user can enter a search term or series of words. The only capability is to search for an exact string of letters. There is no capability of Boolean searches, such as "all the occurrences of the word O'Malley within five words of the word Dublin." Even though the search is simplistic, it seems powerful enough for most purposes.
If you want to copy-and-paste a paragraph or two to the Windows Clipboard, you can click on the Acrobat Reader "Text Select" icon, which appears as a "T" in the Acrobat toolbar. Then highlight the desired text, choose Edit: Copy, display the receiving program, and paste the text. (Don't forget to cite your source!) I also printed a couple of pages from the CD, and they looked great.
The Irish Ancestor is an excellent example of today's state-of-the-art genealogy CD products. Each individual page was scanned and then indexed, using OCR (Optical Character Recognition). OCR is not a perfect process, so each page had to be validated manually, and then a final index was prepared. Each name and place name appears in the index in the same manner that it did in the original text. It is worth noting that this indexing process provides the search capability rather than a viewable text index at the end of the file. In addition, each name and place is only indexed for the first time it appears on a given page; so, you will want to make sure you scan the rest of the found page for any additional occurrences. Even so, the ability to search every volume of this great resource electronically in a single step is a huge time-saver.
I found The Irish Ancestor 1969-1986 to be easy to use and full of high-quality genealogy information. It is also affordable at €74.90 or US$79.95 (plus postage and packing). For more information about The Irish Ancestor 1969-1986 or to order it online via a safe and secure shopping cart system, go to http://www.eneclann.ie/publications-11.asp