Irish Roots

April 11th, 2011

John Grenham


When genealogy infects you, it can be impossible to cure. Take Stuart Rosenblatt, a Dublin businessman and prominent member of the Irish Jewish community. Sixteen years ago, he became curious about the origins of his mother's family, the Jacksons. When he discovered that they had come from the village of Akmene in north-western Lithuania, he also found out that this was the single most common place of origin for all Irish Jews. Contrary to myth, it also turned out that migration from Akemene to Ireland continued over decades rather being than the single pogrom-fuelled expulsion of popular imagination. So, precisely like any Irish-American in Springfield, Mass. discovering the long chain migration of all his forebears from the Blasket Islands, Stuart kept pulling on the thread, and started to assemble information about other Irish Jewish families.

He began with the records of the Jewish cemetery closest to him, in Dolphin's Barn. After transcribing and publishing these, a natural extension was to cover the older cemetery in Fairview. And then, of course, the records of the Irish Jewish Museum had to be put into print. And then within a few years he found himself detailing the histories of the Jewish communities of Cork, Limerick and Belfast, transcribing the records of the only Jewish midwife in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century, publishing Dublin Castle's Alien Registrations records, and more. He has published 16 volumes, listing more than 44,000 people. So far.

Irish genealogy depends disproportionately on individuals like Stuart who become possessed by the need to retrieve the past, and just will not let go. He has recently converted his 16 volumes into a database, searchable at www.irishjewishroots.com. It really is the only place you need to go if you have Jewish ancestors who lived in Ireland.


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