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Researching in Dublin

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   Last week I sent out press releases and flyers on the October Research Trip to Dublin and I’ve received a number of inquiries.  Some people have asked if it’s worth the trip since “all of the records burned in the fire.”  The reality is that the fire at the Public Records Office (PRO) in 1922 was devastating however, not everything burned.  Civil Registration was not at the PRO, nor were the original books from Griffith’s Valuation.  In addition, since the fire, efforts have been made in the Irish genealogical community to collect records that might help substitute for the lost records.   Another comment was “everything is now online.”   Wouldn’t that be nice, but I don’t expect that to happen in my lifetime!  So what do we do in Ireland?  

   If you’re joining the research trip, most people begin in Dublin using the research facilities of the major repositories.  After the week, they travel to the area where their ancestors lived.  There’s nothing better that walking the land where you ancestors lived, or visiting with cousins that perhaps, you didn’t know you had!  The information below will be helpful to you even if you’re traveling on your own.

   The National Library of IrelandNational Library Reading Room is worth a trip even if you don't plan to research.  Located on Kildare Street, just a few blocks from Trinity College and Grafton Street, the Library opened in 1890.  It was built in the classical style and designed by an architect from Cork, Thomas Deane.  It is also just across the courtyard from The National Museum.  Unlike many libraries you might be used to working in, this is a closed stack library.  First of all, you will need a reader’s ticket to obtain material.  Then, using the catalog, you complete a request form indicating your reader’s number and desk number and the material will be brought to your desk.  There is a Genealogy Advisory Service to help you get started on the mezzanine level, which is also where the microfilm reading room is located.  

   One place to understand some of the records available in Ireland is by using the “Sources Database” on the home page of the National Library.   Richard Hayes, who was the Director of the Library in 1941, began a cataloging project that lasted for 30 years.  This was published as Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and contained over 17,000 pages of records.  Unless your ancestors were well off, you’re not likely to find their names listed, however what you can do is search for the locality where you ancestors lived to find out what records are available and where they are located.  Not everything in the catalog is at the National Library.  You’ll find references to material at the National Archives, the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, and other repositories.  Another way to use Sources is to search for the name of the landlord (from Griffith’s Valuation) to determine if there are any estate records, and where they might be located.  You can request original manuscript material which will be sent to the Manuscript Reading Room (about a half block down from the main Library).  

National Archives

   The National Archives of Ireland is about a 15 minute walk from the Library in a modern office style building at the end of Bishop Street.  A reader's ticket is also required here.  The Archives (also with a Genealogy Advisory Service) contains a large microfilm collection which includes Griffith’s Valuation, the Tithe Applotments, 1901 and 1911 census records and Will Calendars (now online) as well as some of the surviving Church of Ireland records.  You will also find microfilm copies of the original surviving manuscript books used during the creation of Griffith’s Valuation. The Archives houses some estate papers, state documents, including the Rebellion Papers in manuscript form, which again, will have to be requested, and then brought to your desk.  You can also request copies of Wills probated after about 1900 which will be ordered from Four Courts.  These take a day to be brought over, so plan accordingly.

   The Valuation Office is one of my favorite places.  Located in the Irish Life Centre on Lower Abbey Street across the Liffey, it houses the Revision or Cancelled Books from Griffith's Valuation.  Remember, Griffith's was a tax list and therefore had to be kept up to date so there was a record of the correct person to pay the taxes.  As changes occurred, names were crossed off and the new information written in (each year in a different color ink).  After a number of years, the most recent information was transcribed into a new book and the old book was "cancelled."  Although some of these books have been microfilmed and are available at the LDS, working with the originals allows you to see the colors making it much easier to follow.  

GRO Reading Room Dublin

   The General Register Office is located on Werburgh Street.  This is where you can obtain copies of birth, death and marriage certificates from 1864 (1845 for Protestant marriages).  You should do all of your index searches on FamilySearch prior to arriving as they charge to use the index books onsite (€2 for a specific search covering up to 5 years or €20 for all day).  With the specific information (type of record, name, registration district, year and quarter, volume and page) you can request a photocopy of the record for €4.  Here's the catch…you can only request eight per day.  Frequently you will have multiple candidates for a particular search and you won't know if you have the correct certificate until you receive it.  If it's wrong, you then request the next one.  If you're traveling with friends take them with you, so each of you can get eight certificates.  If not, plan to visit the GRO each day.  

   If you had ancestors who were Protestant and fairly well off, or if you had family that were merchants, The Registry of Deeds can be a great place to research.  Here’s a link to a guest blog by Polly Kimmitt who attended the research trip in 2014 about her experience.

  If you're in Dublin for research, don't forget to take some time off.   One of my favorite tours is an Historical Walking Tour of Dublin.  There's also Trinity College and the Book of Kells.  Walking down the Liffy across from the Custom House you'll find the Famine Memorial and the Tall Ship Dublin Famine Museum on the Jenny Johnston.

   Here is a link to another guest blog by John Seymour who attended the Dublin trip in 2013.


 Happy Hunting!

Walking Tour

Historical Walking Tour of Dublin

Famine Memorial

The Famine Memorial

Jeanie Johnston

The Tall Ship Famine Museum on the Jenny Johnston

Anyone who signs up for the Ireland Research Trip in March will receive a $100 discount

© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2018