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Irish Roman Catholic Parish Registers online July 8th

   On April 29th, the National Library of Ireland announced that the digitized Roman Catholic Parish registers will go online on July 8th.  Mark your calendars and let’s hope we don’t crash the site that day!

   What does that mean to those of us researching our Irish ancestors?  First, read the Press Release here.  Especially read paragraph eight.  

“The images will be in black and white, and will be of the microfilms of the original registers,” explained Ms. Kerrigan. “There will not be transcripts or indexes for the images. However, the nationwide network of local family history centres holds indexes and transcripts of parish registers for their local areas. So those who access our new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with the relevant local family history centre.”

There are a couple of phrases here that are important to set your expectations.  The images “will be of the microfilms of the original registers.”  These are not digitized images of the originals, but of the microfilms.  I’ve written in the past about using the microfilms at the National Library.  It will be interesting to see whether they’ve been able to clean up the images in the digitization process.  The microfilming in many cases was not good;  bleed through from the backs of pages;  pages with black blobs in the corners (I’m sure that’s where my ancestors are hiding); and others that are torn.  Here’s a photograph of a really good record from the Parish of Shrule in County Longford taken last summer.

Here’s one that’s not so great!

   The next point made, “There will not be transcripts or indexes for the images.”  They will be like the FamilySearch images that you “browse.”  The recommendation is that you use the family history centers.  This is great for the Irish economy, but may not be so great for your wallet.  If you’re lucky enough to have ancestors in one of the localities indexed by (Kerry, western Cork, Dublin City) you’ll have free access to the indexes.  The rest of the county, however, is handled by the Irish Family History Foundation, which last September limited access to their site, removed Pay-Per-View and now requires a subscription of $28 a month.  Unless you know the exact parish and date of an event, I strongly recommend that you bite the bullet and sign up for a month and access as much as you can before you attempt to go through the microfilms.  Hopefully it will pinpoint where to go to look for the information.  

   I don’t want to sound completely negative…this announcement is great for Irish researchers.  I just want to make sure that your expectations don’t exceed the deliverables.  

   Happy Hunting!

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© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2018