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Day 13 - National Archives of Ireland

National Archives of Ireland

   Wow, I’ve been here almost two weeks already.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  Today the group spent the day at the National Archives.  We arrived at the Archives at 9:30 and were greeted by Louise Kennedy.  After storing our bags and coats in lockers, we were taken to the conference room for an orientation.  Louise explained the structure of the organization and covered a bit of the history, including the tragic fire in 1922 which causes us so much grief today.  She reviewed the process for ordering material and the rules for using the Archives.  It was then off for a tour, and for the group to obtain their Reader’s Tickets.  With Reader’s Tickets in hand…let the fun begin.

   The Archives have been closed for the past six weeks for renovations, and only re-opened last week.  I was at a bit of a loss as many of the finding aids and other materials have been moved.   The Archives has also added a number of new resources to their growing digital collection which can be accessed from their website.   

   The types of records accessed today included the Townland Valuations (part of the new online collection), claims from the 1798 Rebellion, estate records, and probate documents.  Working in an Archive full of original documents can be overwhelming for new researchers.  One researcher looking for an estate rent roll from the 1840s ended up with a box of documents dating back to the early 1700s.  It’s like being a kid on Christmas morning!    The box contained original leases, wills, rent books, correspondence, most of which were written on sheets of vellum that were about 24” wide by 18” high.  Each needed to be carefully unfolded in order to be read.   Some of the other material was contained in large (heavy) ledgers.  So many records…so little time.

   Just before the end of the day I checked the card file for Testamentary records.  I had been asked to find a will dating to 1801 for a family in Wicklow.  If you’ve worked with  Irish records for a while, you know that the wills were housed in the Public Records Office and were lost in the 1922 fire.   I had advised this person that I doubted there would be any will, but there might be an abstract as a number of genealogists had created these prior to 1922.  I was surprised to discover that records dating back into the early 1700s were catalogued for this family.  I found the reference to the wills in two sets of privately accessioned records from solicitors in Dublin and London.  It was too late to order the material, but I’ll head back to the Archives later in the week to view these.  

© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2018