A long, long time ago, I worked on a project that shall remain nameless, save to say that it was Irish and genealogical. A senior person involved in running it once opined to me that there were two ways of going about things, one Protestant, the other Catholic. The Protestant method was carefully to define a goal, then identify and quantify the means needed to reach that goal, then weigh the costs against the likely benefits and then – only if the cost/benefit balance was positive – carefully plan each step in the journey to the goal. The Catholic method, of course, was just to (feckin) fling yourself at it and see what happened. This particular project was more Catholic than the Pope.
The reason for remembering the comment is some recent encounters with rootsireland.ie. A fortnight ago, the latest in a series of cryptic emails proudly informed me that the Roscommon centre had added 17,000 birth and death records. Hurray. But for where in Roscommon? It didn’t say, and as far as I can see, the list of places covered (at roscommon.rootsireland.ie) hasn’t changed. Does this mean that previously I was paying to search records that actually weren’t there? In a word, yes. Suddenly, there are loads more Grenhams in the records of St. Peter’s Athlone than there used to be.
And the payment system seems to be developing into something from Alice in Wonderland. A sample explanation, verbatim: “For a limited time, when you purchase credits, you can view search results for FREE equal to the value of the number of credits that you have purchased.” What?
There are at least two meta-currencies in operation, record-view credits and index-search credits. Somehow, I have 124 of one and 9 of the other, but they’re not convertible.
The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith can only look on in envy.
['Irish Roots archive from 2009 at www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/magazine/column]