Irish Roots

January 16th 2012

John Grenham


A column a few weeks back dealing with commercial directories had (at least) one major omission. As is too often the case where urban matters are concerned, Limerick city was ignored: the City Library has a unique online database of records taken from city trade directories between 1769 and 1925 (at tinyurl.ie/5ow), comprising more than 60,000 transcribed entries from 14 separate directories, searchable and browsable in a variety of ways: by street address, by surname, by trade, and by directory, providing raw material for the history of individual streets, or businesses, or families. It is an essential resource for anyone with Limerick city connections.

One reason for that omission is, of course, the well-known flaw in the space-time continuum that makes Limerick invisible to the rest of Ireland. Another reason is the large bushel under which Limerick City Council hides the light of its local studies department. Going from the home-page, limerickcity.ie, to the City Library gives a bare list of unsorted links covering such delights as the opening hours of Cahirdavin library and the latest school library van photos. Barely visible among them sits a single link to "Local Studies". But clicking on it reveals an extraordinary cornucopia of records (tinyurl.ie/5p5). As well as the trade directories database, there are electoral lists from 1923 to 1950, a complete transcript of all obituaries and death notices from the Limerick Chronicle 1850-1903, the Limerick Diocese wills index from 1615 to 1800, a roll of members of trade guilds in 1840, detailed family histories for more than 60 prominent Limerick families, and even complete lists of the owners of Limerick-registered motor vehicles between 1912 and 1914.

It's hard enough trying to keep up with all the research material coming online without people hiding it.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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