After a group breakfast and short presentation on the material at the National Archives, our group split up today…half headed for the Archives, the other half back to the Library to continue their research.
The Archives holds papers of government departments primarily for the period after 1922. (Remember that the fire at Four Courts in 1922 destroyed many of the holdings of the Public Records Office, the predecessor to the National Archives). The Archives also holds many documents from the 18th and 19th centuries including probate and court records, some of the surviving Church of Ireland parish registers, the archives of the Chief Secretary's Office, and transcripts, calendars and indexes of material destroyed in the fire. In addition, the surviving field books from the various Valuations leading up to Griffith's in the mid-1800s can be viewed on microfilm. The surviving Tithe Applotment books are also on microfilm. As an example, I have never been able to find my Mackey ancestor in the Tithe Applotment database, nor is the name listed in the Householder Index as at the time of the Tithe. I always assumed that this Mackey had moved into from some other parish. I decided to look at the original Tithe on microfilm to see what families were in the townland, only to discover that the townland is not part of the record. It would appear that the issue is not that my ancestor wasn't there, but rather that the record no longer exists.
Many of the records I used when I first visited the Archives in the 1990s are now online, such as the 1901 and 1911 censuses and Griffith's Valuation (on multiple websites). One of the newer online resources is the Chief Secretary's Office papers. One of our researchers found a reference to an ancestor from Tipperary who had been threatened during the Tithe Wars. The threat letter had been forwarded to the Chief Secretary by the local MP requesting additional funds to improve law and order in the area. The original letter was in the file…what a unique find!
The material at the National Archives requires some additional time and patience, but can be rewarding when something special is found.