Irish Roots

May 3rd, 2010

John Grenham

I've written before about the importance of dedicated, not to say stubborn, individuals to Irish genealogy. These are generally people who start off modestly enough with an interest in their own family and eventually run into "the wall", as American researchers call it, the point at which the records run out and it becomes impossible to uncover any more. Many people just refuse to give up. What they do next varies: some begin to expand sideways as it were, documenting local history or oral history, becoming world experts on a particular parish or era. But quite a few begin to collect and transcribe records, initially in the hope that something connected to their own family will turn up, but in the end just because the records are there.

Perhaps because "the wall" is so uncomfortably close to us in Ireland, there are more of these individuals connected to research here than anywhere else. In the pre-Internet age, Dr. Albert Casey's 16-volume 3-million-surname colossus O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher and the Upper Blackwater in Ireland remains the most astonishing achievement. (You can view a full contents list at http://tiny.cc/0tvbm ).

However, Dr. Casey came up against the physical limits of the book, eventually having to reduce the size of his typescript pages photographically to make four of them fit on one printed page. For the Internet there are no physical constraints. The online successor to Dr. Casey is undoubtedly John Hayes, based in Connecticut, whose site www.failteromhat.com, began life as a record of his research into his own West Cork and Kerry ancestors, but has expanded to include, amongst other records, an index to Griffith’s Valuation, the complete 1824 Pigot's Provincial Directory of Ireland (1824), Taylor and Skinner’s Road Maps of Ireland (1778), the complete Spinning-Wheel subsidy list of 1796, and much more. John's work will never be done. We should be grateful.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


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