Today is THE BIG DAY for Irish researchers as we’re all hoping our brick walls will tumble.
The calendar has turned to 8 July Down Under but it seems we’re going to be waiting until 9 July at midnight for the Big Event. What Big Event? The release of the National Library of Ireland’s digitised images of all the Catholic parish registers they hold!
The NLI has indicated that it is closed until 3:30pm Irish time, so I guess that’s when the site goes live. Which means that here in the Top End I’ll have to burn the midnight oil or wait until the morning. Tick, tock, tick, tock.
The really important thing to realise is the registers won’t be indexed (unless others decide to do it), and you won’t be able to just search for a name. Knowing the approximate location of your ancestors will be critical, and preferably the townland and/or parish.
If you’re an Aussie with Irish ancestors, have you looked at the name distributions via Griffith’s Valuations? Or do you have the details from the Australian Board Immigration Lists, parish registers, certificates or gravestones? I’m constantly amazed by how people have seeming brick walls when purchasing a certificate, or following up the event in the Australian parish, would answer the question.
Thanks to the microfilms from Family Search and LDS, I’ve already researched my O’Briens from Broadford and some of the Tullamore records for Sherry and Furlong. Both microfilms are pretty shocking I have to say….looked like they’ve been stored in a leaky barn with the chooks. Decades ago during a visit to Ireland, the priest let me work my way through the Gorey Wexford parish registers looking for my grandfather’s baptism and other Sherry family events.
So what are my priorities going to be with this new release?
- Parishes around Courtown, Wexford (especially Riverchapel) to look for Callaghan family events. After all I also have a good DNA match from adjoining parishes.
- Arklow, Wicklow for details of the baptisms of Sherry children as their father worked down the Dublin to Wexford railway line.
- Dunlavin Parish, for Murphy and possibly Gavin.
- Ballymore Eustace, Kildare for Gavins – when I visited the parish I had no joy getting answers.
- St Nicholas of Myra, Dublin for Gavin (even though I have some from the Irish Genealogy website).
- St Catherine’s Parish, Dublin for Gavin (ditto above)
- Ferbane, Offaly in the hunt for the Furlong family prior to turning up in Tullamore
- Another look at the Tullamore, Offaly
Having completed all these (which will only take about five minutes…not!), I’ll have to start looking through the parishes where the Griffith’s Valuations show dense populations of Sherry families. After all, they are really my biggest brick wall, since James Sherry unobligingly disappeared after arrival in Australia. My bet is that his father’s name was Peter or Patrick since the sons’ names seem to follow traditional naming patterns.
So what is your priority list going to be?
If you find you’re having difficulties reading the registers you might want to read this post by Irisheyes Jennifer and this background information. Also don’t just look for specific births or marriages (there will be few instances of burials), make sure you have a look at the wider context of the parish. Not only will you get a better feel for how the priest recorded events, and come to understand his writing, you may also find your family as witnesses to other events, possibly indicating kin connections.
If your families were Church of Ireland, you might find this other site relevant.
Above all, let’s have fun with this fantastic release!