Irish Roots

John Grenham


March 23rd

We tend to look to national or international bodies for access to records, when as often as not, they can be found under our noses. The full range of resources made available by local libraries is not always as well known as it should be.

Most people are aware of some at least of the walk-in services local libraries provide: the internet access, the microfilm and microfiche, the newspapers. But how many know of the free access provided to Internet subscription services? The Irish Times digital archive, for example: pay-per-view for ordinary Internet users, free at any local library. Or the Ordnance Survey of Ireland site, www.irishhistoricmaps.ie, comprising the complete archive of OSI’s maps from 1837 to 1913. The minimum subscription is €12 for 3 days access, but unlimited access is completely free at any local library.

These are walk-in services, but the libraries are also providing online access to records. By far the most impressive is the Library Council of Ireland provision of a free online version of the main mid-nineteenth century census substitute, Griffith’s Valuation, at www.askaboutireland.ie. This is the fullest copy of the Valuation available anywhere, on- or off-line, and includes scans of the original pages as well as the related OS maps. Previously, it was only available as part of the Origins network subscription.

As well as such large country-wide collections, many local authority libraries are digitising records and making them searchable online. To take only the best: Clare County Library (www.clarelibrary.ie) has an extraordinary collection of census returns, property records, parish records, local histories and much more. Limerick City Library and Museum (via www.limerickcity.ie) have censuses, trade directories, local newspapers and more, all fully searchable. Dublin City Library and Archive (www.dublinheritage.ie) only provide samples to tempt users to visit the Reading Room in Pearse Street to use the full databases, but the samples are very useful in themselves: baptisms, marriages and burials from Dublin churches, electoral records, commemorative plaques, and more.

Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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