With the launch of its brand new website, IrishAncestors.ie, the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) has significantly widened access to parts of its outstanding library collection, long acknowledged as the most important collection of Irish genealogical material in private hands.
In the public area of the website there’s a ‘fragment’ of the 1871 census for the parish of Drumcondra, Co Meath. Presented to the IGRS by Celsius English, it includes the complete returns for the parish; they survive only because a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary turned a blind eye to allow the local parish priest to copy census data before it was submitted to the census authorities. There are also details of original sources, listing names, for the Irish in seventeenth and eighteenth century Spain, compiled by IGRS member and expert on Iberian peninsula Irish, Samuel Fannin. In addition, we have a unique database, already amounting to 42,000 names, of early Irish marriages. This is the result of extensive work by longstanding IGRS member, Roz McCutcheon. As it continues to grow it will become an important source for genealogists. As a source of guidance, IrishAncestors has a public section to help beginners (Start Your Research) and, in the members-only area, a wiki (Expert Tips) for the more seasoned family historian. There will also be a names index and complete list of all the articles which have appeared in our annual journal, The Irish Genealogist, published since 1937.
Speaking at the launch of the website, just in time for St Patrick’s Day, IGRS chairman Steven Smyrl said: “With the launch of IrishAncestors.ie, access to many of the IGRS's indexes and finding aids will be just a click of a mouse away. We've got a fabulously exciting collection at our disposal, much of which was copied down before the great fire of 1922.
“We've got information from church records, marriage licences, conformity rolls; deeds, mortgages and leases; wills, administrations; chancery and exchequer court bills, pleas, answers and decrees; newspaper birth, death & marriage notices; 17th century herald's visitation's pedigrees and extensive family histories. We've notes on policeman, customs & excise officers, migrants, clergymen, religious converts, military men, merchants, shopkeepers, farmers, Ulster families, and the Irish in Canada, the West Indies, Spain, South America. And much, much more...”
The IGRS – the "Great Granddaddy of all Irish family history societies" – has been continuously building up these archives since it was founded in 1936. The collection runs to many thousand items, tens of thousands of manuscript pages, and several hundred thousand names.
“Over the coming months, visitors to IrishAncestors.ie will see information appear about literally hundreds of thousands of our Irish ancestors,” says Steven Smyrl. “Some of this information will be publicly available. Much more will be for members only, so there really has never been a better time to join the Irish Genealogical Research Society!”