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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 7, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

    New Twist for Old Plots

    John Grenham

    As regularly as clockwork, someone in Ireland wakes up with a giant light-bulb over their head and the words “Genealogy! Irish-America! Mega-bucks!” ringing in their ears. So veterans of family history in Ireland tend to view new ideas about research and the records with wary scepticism. At times, though, this can blind us to real advances.

    A new website with the slightly cheesy name discovereverafter.com appears to be just another gravestone transcription site, albeit more comprehensive than most, covering graveyards in the Magherafelt area. Looked at more closely, however, the site is something genuinely new. It is a commercial operation, but the target customer is not the hapless, ever-skint genealogist, but all bodies responsible for maintaining the graveyard. It offers a complete graveyard management system to local authorities and parishes, providing a full survey and map, with photographs of each headstone, radar detection of unmarked burials, design of any remaining free plots and the amalgamation of church burial records with headstone transcripts.

    The end result is a complete online set of interlinked transcripts, maps and photographs that can be added to as new burials take place. For a researcher, it is every bit as good as visiting the cemetery in person; for the parish or local authority, all those pesky genealogists are taken care of and a simple process allows easy management of future burials.

    Naturally it concentrates on Northern Ireland to start with. The home county of the developers, Derry, has a large majority of the 73 graveyards covered so far. Optimistically, perhaps, the site has space reserved for graveyards from all of Ireland. They have a decent chance of success in the North, I hope. In the South, any local authority that still has two halfpennies left to rub together is trying to hide them from Phil Hogan.

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

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