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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 16, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

    Ancestry.com in Dublin

    John Grenham

    The news that Ancestry.com is to create a permanent HQ for its international business in Dublin with the creation of up to fifty jobs is obviously very welcome (my CV is very easy to track down, I should point out). But it is unlikely to make much difference to researchers whose focus is Irish records, at least in the short term. Any immediate effect will, I think, be indirect. The sheer clout and business credibility of a multinational family history corporation might just bump genealogy back onto the government agenda, whence it has recently seemed to disappear.

    In the medium term, though, the presence of a significant part of its operations in Ireland, supported by Enterprise Ireland, could open doors to digitisation projects that are currently completely unaffordable, indeed unthinkable, for the Irish state. The shopping list is mouth-watering: General Register Office, Registry of Deeds, Valuation Office, estate papers … Outside Ireland, Ancestry is well-practised in doing deals with state agencies for the digital rights to records. The real question is whether they’ll be bothered here.

    Let me explain. Any Irish records currently carried by the company appear as part of the “UK and Ireland collection” on ancestry.co.uk, the UK ancestry site. This is run by Ancestry.com Europe S.à rl, a limited company based in Luxembourg that also manages six other non-US Ancestry websites, for Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Australia and, strangely, Canada. These are the businesses that will now be supervised from Dublin. So Irish records are only a sub-division of a sub-section of the international wing of the business to be managed from here. In other words, a very small part of a very big operation.

    Of course, Irish records have a disproportionate value for US researchers, but the HQ of the US company remains Provo, Utah. We can only hope that joined-up thinking prevails over corporate demarcations.

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

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