My blog is a bit late this week…uploading from a cruise ship just doesn’t seem to work. Hopefully later today I’ll be able to upload this from an Internet Café in San Juan.
John Grenham, a well known Irish genealogist and the author of Tracing your Irish Ancestors, developed the Irish Ancestors site which is hosted at the Irish Times. Like me, you may have found this site in the past and bypassed it because of its pay-per-view status. I’m not a big fan of pay-per-view, although I use them when necessary. A few years ago I had the opportunty to lecture at the Back To Our Past Conference in Dublin and attended a presentation John made on this website. I was facinated by the wealth of information on the site and have spent some time since working through the features. There are multiple points at which you will be required to pay to see information, but there is quite a bit that is available for free, including an expert system, in the form of a Wizard.
When you click on the Wizard, you are walked through a series of questions on what you know about your ancestor: their name, approximate year of birth, names of parents and siblings, locality, religion. You fill in what you know and the wizard creates a narrative about your ancestor.
This website DOES NOT provide specific records about your ancestor, but rather directs you to the types of records that might have information about your ancestor. If, for example, your ancestor was born after 1864, it will suggest you check civil registration and you can click for more information about that source. One of the most interesting parts of the report is the first paragraph which gives alternate names and spellings for your surname. In the case of Daly, for example, it tells me that there are 19 variant spellings and lists them.
If you have a specific locality, you can view a list of potential local records. In the report on local records it tells me that for Michael Daly in Kilvine, Mayo there are 15 census returns and substitutes…I don't get any additional information unless I purchase the report for €12.50 ($16.30). I can, however, go to John's book, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, 4th Ed. and read about Census returns and substitutes for County Mayo (or any other county).
This is only one part of the website and in future blogs, I'll look at other parts.