Irish Roots

March 1st, 2010

John Grenham

Irritation with the persistence of the crock-of-gold view of Irish genealogy may have coloured my recent accounts of the size of the potential market and the limiting nature of the research itself. In fact the market is significant enough, though not gigantic, and it is possible for individuals to make a living. My real point is that the value of genealogy to Ireland as a whole is much greater, but more indirect.

Imagine you’re sitting in front of your computer in Kansas, thinking about a vacation. You know one set of your great-great-grandparents came from Ireland in the 1850s, but, like the majority of the sane, you have no particular desire to commit yourself to genealogy as a long-term hobby. But wait. Here’s a free website where you can just enter your great-great-grandparents’ names and find out that they were married in Castlerea in 1850, and here are their property tax records, and their records of the marriages of their siblings, and maps showing the exact location of their holding … Castlerea, here you come! Alas, only a dream.

All of this information exists, but some is pay-per-view, some is digitised but not available to the public, some is searchable in highly restricted ways, and all of it is scattered across different sites. And every group that has control of any part of this information holds on to it for dear life.

Most of the areas that saw the highest emigration are now in dire need of economic stimulus. Making it as easy as possible for the Kansans to find their way back to these areas is not rocket science and needn’t cost a fortune. All that we need is a little common sense and the political strength to face down a few dogs in the manger.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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