Irish Roots

September 13th, 2010

John Grenham

A surprisingly common question from people interested in family history is how they can go about making a living from it. After describing at great length just how poor they will be, and pointing out what any 1st-year Arts student can tell you, that being compelled to do things you love seriously damages your enjoyment of them, I have to confess to the questioner that there is no accepted career path. Everyone in Ireland involved in genealogy professionally has come to it through a series of (more or less) happy accidents.

This much said, there are quite a few courses where you can get the kind of broad overview of records and techniques needed to go professional. The longest-established is the “Certificate in Genealogy/Family History”, a modular series of courses leading to a level 7 diploma, directed by the redoubtable Seán Murphy through the UCD Adult Education Centre (tinyurl.ie/15h). The University of Limerick runs a very interesting MA in the History of the Family, combining genealogy with the academic sub-discipline of the history of the family (tinyurl.ie/15i). Another relevant course is the part-time degree in Local Studies offered by NUI Maynooth (tinyurl.ie/15n).

There are also shorter evening courses that can be good jumping-off points. In Cork, Tony McCarthy, the founder of the magazine Irish Roots, gives a ten-week course on “How to Trace your Family Tree” at the Centre for Adult Continuing Education, UCC (tinyurl.ie/15g). In Dublin, a 12-week course is run by Independent Colleges and an 8-week course, in which I am involved myself, by Irish Times Training (tinyurl.ie/15m).

It is, of course, one thing to know how to do research and an entirely different thing to get clients to pay you. The website of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland, www.apgi.ie, will give you some idea of who manages to do that.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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