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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 4, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    What’s wrong with Cork?

    John Grenham

    For people who don’t do a lot of research it can be hard to understand just how important a complete set of records is. The reason is simple. Murphy’s Law of Irish genealogy states unequivocally that all ancestors shall inhabit the one page that hasn’t been transcribed. Researchers think of it this way: it doesn’t matter if your bucket is 99% intact. That 1% hole lets out 100% of the water.

    Which brings up the Catholic records of Cork city. 99% of the pre-1880 records of the diocese of Cork and Ross (covering west Cork and Cork city) are wonderfully transcribed with accompanying images atirishgenealogy.ie. Hurray. But one of the criteria for choosing which records to transcribe was that there should be no duplication of earlier efforts.  And Trojan work had already been done on the records of Cork city by the Cork Ancestral Project. A complete database transcript was made of the records of the single biggest city parish, St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s (North Parish), dating from 1748. However, the only public evidence of the work is a single hard copy, available in the County Library.

    The original plan was that the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, commendably thorough in their approach to the other parishes, would add these records .  But a year after making the 99% available, silence reigns. Except for the ancestors you can hear draining away through that small North Parish hole. The situation is especially peculiar because Cork city is usually a leader in supporting community projects with a wider social benefit, as befits the real capital. But Cork is now the only large population centre on the island without a complete set of online historic registers.

    More on the background is at Margaret Jordan’s blog, mjordan.wordpress.com, complete with original reports on the city transcriptions from De Paper. On reflection, the present column may have appeared in De Wrong Paper.

    ['Irish Roots archive from 2009 at www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/magazine/column]

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