It has really only been in the last year of my genealogy research that I have come to understand how much Irish history there actually is in my family tree. My Great Grandmother Ellen Stapleton was Irish, we knew her to be American born and in fact her father was Canadian born but they were Irish. They lived all their lives within an Irish community.
However, when I began investigating Irish Genealogy I had no idea how difficult it would be. My Stapleton family line begins with James Stapleton and Ellen Phalen, who arrived in Canada around 1823. Accessing records in Ireland seemed almost impossible. I was told on more than one occasion that I would not find the Stapletons of Kilkenny, that records were destroyed. I definitely had a learning curve ahead of me. Therefore, over the last year I began educating myself on Irish genealogy.
What I have come to learn is that not all records were destroyed. I discovered a site called The Irish Family History Foundation. The Irish Family History Foundation is the co-ordinating body for a network of government approved genealogical centres who have created an online database. The Church leaders of the main denominations in Ireland have contributed the largest collection of Parish records for the island of Ireland that are searchable online. This database contains 40 million Irish records consisting of Church births, marriage and death records.
To enter the site you simply need to register. You can then access an index, inputting surnames, first names along with year and county. The index will pull up a list of records based on your search information. In order to view a detailed record you then need to purchase credits online, each record cost approximately 5.0 Euros. This works out to about $8.00 Canadian or $7.36 US.
Let me start by saying that this site has a vast collection of records. However, I cannot give it full marks based mainly on the method of payment strategy it has created. The problem is once you have assembled a list of possible matches, you could have numerous records to view. In theory, you need to start randomly paying for documents that once paid for may reveal not to be your ancestors. That can be hard on the budget.
I in fact came upon this site along time before I actually broke down and paid for a couple of documents. The method of payment, I believe is a deterrent to many. The first document I paid for, I chose well. I believe it shows the baptismal record of my GGG-Grandfather. However, when I paid for what I believe is the marriage document of his parents I got a whole lot of nothing. The document revealed no new information then what I could see before the purchase. I have a third document I wish to purchase but after searching, I have a list of 8 possible matches. Where do I start? I am a little hesitant at this point for fear I choose wrong or I open it to find that there are no details in this record.
Therefore, in theory if you don’t have a lot of preliminary information you may end up with a long list of possible matches. You could have a lot of preliminary info and still end up with a long list of possible matches. In which case, you may have to pay for many before finding the right one. If you narrow down the details, you may pay for nothing more, then what you can already see. I warn you to tread carefully.
I would much prefer to see The Irish History Foundation change to a membership style format that permits you to access to all documents for the price of a membership fee. Also, keep in mind you will not see the original document but a transcription.
I keep going back hoping the format will change, or trying to narrow down the possible matches. I certainly see the value in the documents, I just wish they could find a more reassuring method of selling these documents to the public.
Check it out, but with caution.