Planning a Genealogy Research Trip to Ireland – Dublin Repositories – Part 1

When I was in Dublin visiting family in October 2015 there was of course time set aside for research. There were six repositories I wanted to visit in Dublin but I wasn’t sure I would get to them all. You can read more about my plan here.

My first day in Dublin wasn’t at a repository it was the Back to Our Past show at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS). I am very familiar with the RDS as I spent many happy times there at the various shows that are held in the spring and August. They would involve equestrian activities as well as antiques, and the RDS Crafts Awards.  When my Grandfather passed away there was a prize given in his name for one of the winners. The RDS Crafts Awards supports Irish crafts, artisans and design.

It was a long trek in from Dundrum where I was staying. It included a Luas ride, a walk from Stephen’s Green to Merrion Square and then a bus to the RDS. The Luas and bus were full so it was standing room only. I was standing next to a very nice lady on the bus and she had a two for one free entry ticket and offered me one so I got in for free. This show is put on in conjunction with the Over 50s show. It was in a separate section off on the side.

I was just in time to hear Maurice Gleason’s talk on DNA. I had met Maurice at the OGS Conference in Barrie and so we had a quick chat before his lecture. It was so nice to see such a full lecture hall for the event. There was an issue with extraneous noise from the other lecture and the exhibit hall in general. They had to move it to a smaller area on short notice so that could be the reason. There were not that many people in what we would call the marketplace. I had a chance to talk to several societies of which I am a member. One question I had for them was why they don’t start putting their meeting lectures online, either live or on video. This is something they are doing on this side of the Atlantic and I think it would help bolster the membership in the Irish societies. In my newsletters and journals I hear about these great lectures that my societies are presenting but I only usually get a few paragraphs of a synopsis which isn’t quite the same. A video could be put in the members only section on the society website and this would allow distance members a chance to see the presentation. Another lecture I attended was a panel discussion with Nicola Morris and John Grenham. It was very interesting.

John Grenham and Nicola Morris at Back to Our Past in Dublin Ireland

John Grenham and Nicola Morris at Back to Our Past in Dublin Ireland

 

There was one book I was looking for from the North of Ireland Family History Society and I did get that. It was “Researching Your Ancestors in the North of Ireland – County Tyrone.” I didn’t find the one on the Irish ANZACS that I wanted.

The Back to Our Past show is a three day event but I only made it on the first day because of family commitments. Still I was glad I got to see part of it.

 

National Library of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

The first repository I visited in Dublin was the National Library of Ireland. Newspaper research was my plan for the National Library. In particular I wanted to learn more about my Grandfather’s Liffey Swim win in 1928. I had to go through the Irish Newspaper Archives online and then I could go to the microfilmed newspapers to print a copy or download it from the website. I found the information about the Liffey Swim and some obituaries that I wanted but when it came to finding them in the newspapers it was nearly impossible. It was a very frustrating process for me that day. I have usually had such good luck researching in the National Library but it was not to be this time. I went to the Genealogical Office but they were so busy no one could help me. So I decided to try the Dublin City Library & Archives and see if they could provide me with the copies I needed. This proved a much more positive process and the librarian was extremely helpful.

 

Dublin City Library and Archives - Ireland

Dublin City Library & Archives – Ireland

Then there were a few more family events and the next stop was the National Archives of Ireland. Unfortunately they do not have an online catalogue to search and find out what may be helpful in my research. I was very spoiled by PRONI’s online catalogue. At the National Archives I was looking for modern wills and probate records, found several, had to order some and then come back to view them because they were held off site.

 

National Archives of Ireland

National Archives of Ireland

When I was at the Back to Our Past show I met Nicola Morris. We started talking and I mentioned some research on my Toppin family in Tipperary. Almost at the same time we said the word ‘murder.’ A member of my Toppin family was murdered in Buffanagh Tipperary. She had heard about it and knew that the Chief Secretary’s Office Papers had some more information on it. She sent me an email with the reference information and I ordered this when I was at the National Archives. This was a wealth of information. They even had a map of the crime scene. It will be a blog post later this year.

© 2016 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

 

Planning a Genealogy Research Trip to Ireland – Belfast

Flying into Dublin

Flying into Dublin

In October 2015 I had the opportunity to go back to Ireland for a couple of weeks and visit family. Of course you can guess that family history research was also scheduled into this trip. We flew into Dublin and then went straight to Belfast for a few days. We left Toronto at 6pm and arrived in Belfast at 9 am Toronto time the next day. No sleep. After settling things in the hotel I went to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to start my research. I had a full research plan and only a couple of days to complete it. You can read more about how I organized my research plan here.

That first day I got the readers ticket and started my research. Since I had little to no sleep the night before my reader’s ticket picture looks a little blurry eyed. I was quite surprised how much I was able to get done in the few hours I had at PRONI on that first day. My plan made the process fairly easy. I was only allowed to order five documents at a time. The catalogue entries that were flagged for my research meant that the documents had to be read to make sure they were connected to my family. Once that was done they were handed back with the form for copies. The first day ended when I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland - PRONI

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland – PRONI

The next day was a little later start because we had to go and book our train tickets for the trip to Dublin the next day. Then it was off to PRONI while my mother went to visit the Titanic Exhibit. I had three hours at PRONI and was very pleased that I completed my research plan.  It turns out one of the documents I ordered had been microfilmed so the copy had to be done from the microfilm. The microfilms that were on my plan were self serve so that eliminated a lot of wait time. When I left PRONI I had a plastic bag filled with copies and a memory stick with some digital images of pages that were so large they didn’t really allow for copying.

 

My documents from PRONI

My documents from PRONI

 

This visit to PRONI allowed me to go back another generation on my Moon family in Dungannon County Tyrone and gather some more information on my Bourne family from Dublin. When you do research in Ireland you need to visit repositories in Dublin, Belfast and London.

One document I got for my Bourne family must have measured 4 feet by 4 feet. It was written with calligraphy and illuminated letters.

When you arrive at PRONI you have to apply for your reader’s ticket. You will fill in the form, then they take your picture and print off the card. You wear it around your neck while you are in the building. You need it to order documents and enter any of the rooms upstairs. There are security people in each area. The people are so nice and friendly and were extremely helpful. They made the day more enjoyable.

You can’t take much upstairs with you and are handed a clear plastic bag to take what items you can take. You must put everything into a locker that you lock with the key. The slug to get the key out is in a holder on the inside of the locker door. The plastic bag came in very handy when I was taking all my copies home.

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I hadn’t been in Belfast since the 1970s and it has changed a lot. The waterfront is beautiful and on a warm day a nice place to sit and watch the world go by. There are cafes around so you can enjoy a drink and a light meal.

We took a taxi to and from PRONI and the service was great. They were well dressed and had the gift of the gab which leaned towards the history of the city so you learned something during your taxi ride. My Mum was saying that the last time she had been in Belfast was when the newly crowned Queen had come for a visit in 1953. She was attending ceremonies at Belfast City Hall. Mum and her Mum had gone to Belfast to stay with a friend and see the spectacle. She remembers going into a red brick building that had windows where you could sit on the window sills and look right over the City Hall. We were in a taxi on our way to Marks and Spencer and when we stopped it was a red brick building with windows sills that overlooked City Hall. The driver said it was the only one in the area. It brought back lovely memories to her. She told me that my Dad had been a cadet at this event so they were in the same place at the same time four years before they met. I hadn’t heard that story before and it was a great family history moment.

 

© 2016 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved