Showing posts with label internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label internet. Show all posts

01 May 2012


     I simply could not wait until I could get my hands on a copy of the new 4th edition of John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, so I ordered a copy from Amazon UK. And, yes, this tome (579 pages) is still THE authoritative handbook on Irish genealogy. I was not disappointed!
     In the chapter "The Internet," Grenham states on page 68: "The rule is simple: if you don't know what you've searched, you don't know what you've found."
     My response: AMEN!
     I think this one sentence sums up why this book belongs on the bookshelf of every Irish family historian.
     I wish I could afford to send copies to the creators of every "cut and paste" family tree posted on Just this past week, I found four such trees that have included my ancestor in families that are not his and in locations in which he never resided.  (I wonder--do some of these "family historians" ever go back to Ireland or other countries and visit "relatives," found via this hasty and faulty research, who are not in fact their relatives?). The "owners" of many of these trees have no idea of what they are searching or who they are finding. With a guide such as Tracing Your Irish Ancestors available, there is no excuse for shoddy research. For more experienced researchers, the book contains valuable finding aids for locating records and repositories.
    I have a few comments on my initial examination of the book:
1)  This guide "works" precisely because Grenham explains the records--what the records are, where they are located, and what those records mean to your research. His explanations are as valuable as are his lists and bibliographies.
2) Grenham writes in an intelligent manner, but takes the time to explain the basics. Don't be daunted by the size of the guide. Read it in small chunks, if needed.
3) I especially like the bibliography of books and publications he includes at the end of chapters and county sections. Bibliographies in his earlier editions have proven very valuable to my research. His bibliographies have led me to quite a few local histories that have helped me to further my research and understand the lives of my ancestors.
4) Which brings me to a related topic item: eBook research. Books are being digitized at an amazing rate, a boon to those of us who can travel to Ireland only occasionally. Finding local histories and genealogies online can be as tricky as finding records, and I would have been interested in Grenham's advice regarding searching for and evaluating the information in eBooks. ( See my recent post on eBooks: and see the site Free Irish Genealogy EBooks: ).
5) Grenham has updated the Internet portion of his book. However, tackling Internet research and sites in a physical book is like catching a greased pig (to use a rather visual rural American term!). Internet sites and databases change too rapidly to capture in a snapshot in a print book. But, that is the nature of the Internet, and not a criticism of the book. What I think is valuable is Grenham's discussion of Internet research--that advice will stand the test of time.
6) I liked that Grenham tackled the topic of estate records, and points the reader to many estate collections, but I wish a more comprehensive guide to estate records were available. The huge Wandesforde estate collection (at the National Library of Ireland) is not mentioned. This collection has been my most valuable resource in tracking my County Kilkenny ancestors. Estate records can be a treasure trove for family historians, but are not easy to locate, so I assume the task was beyond the reach of this edition. But if Mr. Grenham ever decides to publish a comprehensive guide to estate records--I will be first in line to buy the first copy off the presses!

19 February 2010


There are quite a few websites that began as limited family homepages, but over the years have morphed into databases useful to a broad range of  Irish researchers. From time to time, I plan to feature some of these sites in this blog. This week, I am highlighting one that has helped many researchers in quite a few counties: ConnorsGenealogy (link below).
Pat Connors began ConnorsGenealogy in 2001, when she was fairly new to genealogy. Her first site was on the old Family Tree Maker website, but that site did not give Pat the freedom to expand, so she obtained her domain name and set up an independent site.
"I wanted to showcase my roots with my website," said Pat. But her site soon grew from being a personal showcase to a valuable resource for other researchers. The site expanded as Pat began to add sections for mailing lists she administered, then as she added counties to own family research.  Rather than discard records that did not deal directly with her family, Pat began to post them for the use of other researchers.
So, do not be misled by the title "ConnorsGenealogy," because we non-Connors can find valuable resources on her site. Researchers for the following counties should take a look:
Leix (Laois)
Researchers for Irish in New York State will also find information and records, as will those from Canada (Welland Co./Ontario). Interested in the English and Welsh locations of Cornwall, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Swansea? Worth a look, too.
Pat has an excellent search engine for researchers who want to narrow their search instead of browsing through the website.
Be sure to check out the Surname Registries. Pat said, "I try to update them every other month so they are current. The job takes me almost a full week, however, I consider it one of the best services I am offering on the site."
By the way, Pat administers the site completely by herself. Volunteers do help by transcribing various records to include on the site, and she is always looking for help.
Pat offers all this information for free--she does not charge for the data, even though the costs of maintaining the site have risen in terms of time and money. In an effort to defray costs, she does present a number of advertisers on her site, but the site itself remains non-commercial.
Pat made a point which I consider to be the Golden Rule of Genealogy:
"I warn people not to use the info they find on my website as source documents for their family research. Mistakes can easily be made when doing transcribing. So, one should go back to the source document (always given) and check for themselves as to the accuracy of the data."
I want to thank Pat for taking the time to "walk through" her website with me, and for all the work she does for the genealogical community. Find her website at