Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Volunteer-led heritage centre needs help to help genies

Dunmanway Heritage Centre will be relocating this summer to bigger, brighter and better premises in the West Cork town's long-unused Methodist Church. The church is just along the High Street from the current centre, which is not part of the Irish Family History Foundation's network and was set up and is still run by unpaid volunteers from Dunmanway Historical Association.

Dunmanway Heritage Centre works with local schools
to stimulate interest in local history
I dropped by three years ago and was impressed by the dedication of the volunteers to engage local children and their families in the history of their home town, and their continuing efforts to amass an interesting collection of books and genealogy records. They also give a tremendous amount of time and knowledge to visiting family historians and have helped many find the exact spot of their ancestral home. I wrote a feature about the Centre for my website, Irish Genealogy Toolkit, which mentions that the long-term future of the Centre was in doubt as they couldn't stay where they were for too much longer.

They've clung on, and Good Fortune has stepped in to help them. A local couple, whose ancestors ran flour mills and shops in Dunmanway, wanted to leave something to the town in memory of their family. So they bought the redundant church and have paid for its restoration and refurbishment. It will become a community centre for the town. And the Dunmanway Heritage Centre has been given an annexe as a permanent home.

This annexe is three or four times larger than their current premises, which means the Centre can now display more of its collection and bring its extensive library of books and other publication out of storage.

As you can imagine, all the members and volunteers of Dunmanway Historical Association are delighted with this turn of events, but there is one wee problem: the Centre needs to furnish the town's new Heritage Centre with bookshelves, display cabinets, research spaces, computers and so on. It's digging deep into its own reserves, but there's going to be a shortfall.

Can you help? Are you one of the many who've been helped by the Centre in the past who could dig into your pockets? Do you have connections to Dunmanway and want to support this worthwhile local endeavour to prosper? Or could you simply spare a few bob to help these volunteers get the new Centre ship-shape and ready to help other genealogists in time for the big move in June?

If you can, please make a donation via the Dunmanway Historical Association's website (bottom right of landing page). You can do this via credit/debit card and Paypal. Every little helps and will be spent wisely to assist both local people and wandering family historians who want to know more about their heritage.

Early closing at National Archives of Ireland: 28 April

For researchers who might have been planning a long day at Bishop Street next Monday, 28 April, please note that the Reading Room at the National Archives of Ireland will close early.

Rather than the usual 5pm, the Reading Room will be closing at 4:30pm.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Irish ancestors who fought in the US Civil War?
As part of its newly launched 100 in 100 project (see blogpost), which aims to release one hundred record sets in one hundred days, FindMypast has released a bundle of collections focussing on the US Civil War.

You can be sure there are plenty of Irish men and women, on both sides of the conflict, recorded in these sets. Damian Shiels, author of the acclaimed The Irish in the American Civil War*, estimates there were at least 150,000 Irish-born fighting for the Union (anti-slavery), 20,000 for the Confederacy. They even formed their own specific Irish regiments, among them the 69th New York State Volunteers and the Charleston Irish Volunteers:

The four record sets released today are:
  • American Civil War Soldiers 1861–1865
  • Civil War prisoners 1861–1865
  • Civil War sailors 1861–1865
  • Civil War Medal of Honour 1861–1865
You can find more details of these record sets by clicking the 100 in 100 logo above.

* The book, published in 2013, will be available in the US from 1 May. You might also like to explore Damian's excellent blog,

John Grenham updates Irish Ancestors listing

John Grenham, the well-known genealogist and author, mentioned in his Irish Roots newspaper column yesterday that he'd updated a section of the Irish Times/Irish Ancestors website with a listing of sources.

And what a comprehensive listing it is, too. Go take a look here.

You can also search by county for additional or specific records.

This is a terrific resource. Be sure to bookmark it!

All about Irish workhouses – weekend conference, May

A two-day conference – The Irish Workhouse – Past & Present – will take place on the weekend of 17 and18 May in Portumna, Co. Galway.

Keynote speaker is Peter Higginbotham, whose depth of knowledge about workhouses in both the UK and Ireland can be seen on his incredibly detailed website: He will be delivering two lectures, the first on workhouses in Ireland, the second on poorhouses in Scotland.

Both days of the conference close with a guided tour of the Irish Workhouse Centre (IWC), the former Portumna Workhouse, where the event is being held. The IWC has organised the event in partnership wtih the Heritage Office of Galway County Council.

Attendance fees, which include lunch and refreshments, are €60 for the two days, or €35 for one day (space permitting).

You can download the conference brochure (pdf) here for full details of the lectures, programme and booking information.

Irish genealogy/history lectures & events, 22–27 April

Tuesday 22 April: Commemorating Clontarf in 1914: The Clancy Chain and the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement, with Dr Nicola Gordon Bowe. Host: Dublin City Library & Archive. Venue: Council Chamber, Dublin City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin 2. 1:10pm to 1:50pm. Free. All welcome. No booking required.

Tuesday 22 April: Dual Lecture - Kerry Famine Girls, with Kay Caball, and Mapping the Great Famine in Kerry, with Michael Murphy. Host: Kerry Archaeological & Historical Society. Venue: Tralee Library. 7:30pm. All are welcome.

Wednesday 23 April: Radical Metropolis, Dublin Before the Revolution, with Roy Foster profiling the generation of 1890–1920. Little Museum of Dublin, St Stephen's Green, Dublin. Book €. 7pm

Wednesday 23 April: Good Friday 1014: researching the facts a millennium later, with Dr Darren McGettigan. Part of the Battle of Clontarf commemoration series of lectures hosted by Clontarf Historical Society and Raheny Family & Heritage Society. Venue: Clasac Theatre, Alfie Byrne Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3. 8:15pm. Members free, non-members €5. Tea and coffee after lecture. Details: Kay Lonergan, +353 1-8338711.

Wednesday 23 April: Experiences of the Poor and Excluded, with Glynn Kelso. Venue: PRONI, Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. Time: 1–2pm. Admission is free but booking is essential.

Thursday 24 April: Sir William Wilde, Dublin Surgeon and father of Oscar, with Dr Fergus O'Connor. First of a new season of Irish history talks at the IWHC. Venue: Irish World Heritage Centre, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, UK. 7:30pm–9pm. £5. Buy tickets.

Thursday 24 April: Emigration of Irish women and girls to Australia in the 1830s and 1840s, with Dr Liz Rushen and Dr Perry McIntyre. Host: Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History at UCD. Venue: Boston College Ireland, 42 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. 6pm. All welcome. No need to book. Free.

Thursday 24 April: Washington's Irish, a performance of music and stories of the Irish men and women who took part in America's Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Venue: Linen Hall Library, Belfast. 6pm. £8. Tickets.

Friday April 25: The Battle of Clontarf 1014, with Dr Darren McGettigan. Host: Military History Society of Ireland. Venue: Griffith College, South Circular Road, Dublin 8. Time: 8pm. Non-members very welcome.

Friday 25 to Sunday 27 April: Beyond the Grave, a three-day conference eploring the social and physical acts surrounding death and burials in both modern and ancient Ireland. A Limerick 2014 City of Culture event. Booking essential.

Saturday 26 April:To Crown a King, a Brian Boru Commemorative Event. Day of lectures, €25, optional dinner €30. Venue: Brú Ború Cultural Centre, Cashel. Lecture programme.

Saturday 26 April: The 100th anniversary of Cumann na mBan, with Dr Mary McAuliffe. Host: Stonybatter & Smithfield People's History Project. Venue: Cobblestone Pub, Smithfield, Dublin. 4:30pm. Free.

Saturday 26 April: Getting Started with Irish Genealogy Research, a workshop for beginners with Miles Davenport. Venue: McClelland Irish Library, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. 11am to 1pm. Costs $10 for members and $15 for the general public. To register, call 602-864-2351 or email for more information.

Saturday 26 April: Sources for Irish family history, with Jim Ryan of Flyleaf Press at 3:10pm. Conference (£32) and Family History Fair (£2) of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies. Venue: Carnegie Conference Centre, Dunfermline, Scotland. Flyleaf Press will also have a book-stall at the event. Conference programme.

A Terrible Beauty is available on the Player for 30 days

For those who didn't catch the broadcast of A Terrible Beauty last night on TG4, it is available on the TG4 Player (here) for 30 days. As far as I'm aware, this can be viewed around the world.

The documentary film tells the story of the men and women, both Irish and British, caught up in the Easter Rising of 1916. Using a mixture of archive footage, dramatic reconstructions and eyewitness accounts, it follows the encounter of opposing forces at the Mount Street canal bridge and the slaughter which followed.

The programme is mostly in Irish, with English subtitles.

A website – 1916film – accompanies the film and includes some short promotional videos which you may wish to view as tasters before settling down to the full film. The team behind the film will be regularly updating the site with additional material including explorations of some lesser-known stories of the Rising.