Irish Roots

July 4th, 2011

John Grenham


Jimmy Deenihan, The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, was recently asked a Parliamentary Question by Tom Fleming TD about the provision of a "central genealogy service to capitalise on the recent visit by President Obama". His response was remarkably clear and sensible, stating that his preferred approach was to assist the National Archives and the National Library "to make available to the public the records of genealogical interest in their collections, online and free of charge, to gain the highest usage domestically and around the world."

The answer also provided some interesting figures about the main websites supported by his department. Since its inception (and remember the full 1901 and 1911 data sets have only been online for just over a year) the census site, census.nationalarchives.ie, has had no fewer than 11.6 million unique visitors, with a total of 557 million individual hits. Over the past 18 months, irishgenealogy.ie, the church records site, has recorded 239,068 unique visitors and 34.7 million hits. The figures show up a significant difference in the way the records are used. Each user of the parish register site clocks up over 30 times more hits than each user of the census site. Of their nature, the church registers are both more useful and more complex than the censuses. It can take some time to wring out every last drop of information.

For the future, the Minister's reply was even more encouraging.: a million more records on irishgenealogy.ie before the end of the summer, digital imaging of the National Library's microfilms, the 1926 census on the horizon, a Tourism Ireland genealogy portal .One US blogger wrote approvingly "I cannot think of another country in the world in which the subject of genealogy would be a topic for discussion on the floor of the houses of government". Long may it continue..

The full text of the question and response are at http://tinyurl.ie/77k.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


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