Irish Roots


July 30th 2012

The Genealogist's Internet

John Grenham

I was first bowled over by Peter Christian's The Genealogist's Internet eight years ago, when the second edition came out. At the time, genealogy was sprouting websites like a thousand-headed hydra, provoking the strong temptation to just give up, lie down and weep. But Peter girded his loins and set about creating deeply rational categories and subcategories in which every single site could make sense. And then he listed them all. The book brought light where there was darkness.

The only pity was that its focus was so strongly on England, Scotland and Wales, with anything relating to Ireland a bit of an afterthought. But at that point there was so little of Irish interest online that such brevity was natural. The fifth edition of the book came out in May this year and the treatment of Ireland is vastly expanded, although (thank God) still not perfect: it misses the FamilySearch transcripts of Irish civil birth records to 1881, and the National Archives advanced census search and online will calendars, among others.

But every time I open it, I still find something I should have known but didn't: the number of local electoral records in the National Library, the Irish county maps on londonancestor.com, the version of the 1851 Townlands Index at irish-place-names.com ... The list grows every day. An added pleasure is the quality of the observations on the various sites and topics. The tone ranges from crisp to trenchant. It can safely be said that suffering fools gladly does not figure among Peter's pastimes.

Especially in the light of our growing understanding of the overlap between Irish and British records, the book is absolutely essential for anyone interested in genealogy or local history in Ireland. Full publication and purchasing details are at spub.co.uk, where there is also a selection of links to most of the resources covered.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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