An Early Christmas Gift for Irish Genealogists | The Armchair Genealogist
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An Early Christmas Gift for Irish Genealogists

I received an early Christmas present this year when I learned that the National Library of Ireland in Dublin is going digital with its collection of church records. The Library is currently looking for a company to digitize its Roman Catholic parish records. This is particularly exciting for several reasons. Currently these records can only be obtained by going to the National Library in Dublin or ordering them through the Church of Latter Day Saints.
For many armchair genealogists, Irish research is frustrating because many of these records are buried behind subscription-based websites, and are transcripts only. The National Library will be offering the real deal, the images themselves. If you’re looking for records pre 1864, then church records play an important role in light of the lack of census records that exist. This is a big event for those researching their Irish ancestries and who find online records very scarce.

Once these records become available, it will open the floodgates to making these records free all over the internet. I’m anticipating this will have a huge impact on Irish history research, particularly online research and particularly my own research.

PRONI, The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, also has some exciting news as well. In the spring of 2011, their new state the art facility will open to the public. They have also announced that available online now, is a searchable index to the will calendar entries for the District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast, and Londonderry. The database covers the period 1858-1919 and 1922-1943. Indexes for 1921-22 will follow soon. Researchers can now view the full contents of those wills online. The collection contains 93,388 will images.

Further, PRONI has enlisted the online imaging site Flicker, and has made available a collection of over fifty years of wedding and family portraits, taken between 1900 and 1952 by the Allison Photographic Studios in Armagh. These photos have been restored and made available online here, using the photo-sharing website. Once completed in the coming weeks, there will be over 1500 images posted on the site. Many are available to view now and researchers will be able to browse through the images alphabetically by family surname.

The photos are being transferred from fragile glass plate negatives, that were commonly used by photographers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and prior to the advent of photographic film. I have to say after viewing these photographs the quality is quite impressive.

In light of all this great news, it seems things are looking up for family historians researching their Irish ancestors, and 2011 may just be the year I break through that brick wall.

More on Irish Genealogy
 Finding Your Irish Ancestor, the Poor Tenant Farmer
Irish Census Records, What Exists and Where to Find Them
Irish Genealogy - Step One