Irish Roots

Novermber 9th, 2009

John Grenham


What will Irish genealogy be like in 10 years time? Any attempt at prediction tends to assume that the future will be similar to the present, just more so. I’m not so sure.

Undoubtedly the movement of records onto the internet will continue. It is unthinkable that 10 years from now the four major sources – census returns, state birth, marriage and death records, church records and the 19th century property surveys – will all not be searchable on-line in some form. Unlike Scotland, where everything of interest is at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk , these Irish records will certainly not be on a single website. It’s much more likely in fact that they will be broken up over five or six separate sites. Some will probably still be paying, but the majority will not. The reason is increased state involvement, in the shape of such bodies as The National Archives, The National Library and The Library Council. Everyone in Irish record-keeping who deals with researchers has now come to the realization that genealogy can best benefit Ireland indirectly, by attracting visitors from overseas to visit the places their ancestors came from, which are often in areas that still really need the economic stimulus. It is self-evident that the best way to do this is to make the records accessible, easily searchable, and preferably free. The process is already underway, in the National Archives census website and the Library Council Griffith’s Valuation website.

So what about those of us who (try to) make a living from research? Things will probably get more interesting, but not in the Chinese sense. With the repetitive drudgery of searching the four main sources out of the way, I can see some weird and wonderful records becoming much more important. Dog licences anyone?


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


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