Irish Roots

Flyleaf Press and their tiny little sources


Flyleaf Press ( is the only publishing house in Ireland that concentrates exclusively on genealogical material. They specialise in high-quality county-by-county guides to sources, and have so far covered 11 counties, with some of the volumes now in their second or third revisions.

In addition they also publish works giving a broader overviews – the best-known example is Irish Church Records (2nd ed., 2001), containing chapters by specialists on each of the eight major Irish churches.

The driving force behind the Press, who has kept it going since 1987 is Dr Jim Ryan, who edits and co-writes many of Flyleaf’s productions. He is the author of the seminal Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History (Ancestry, 2nd ed., 1999). He is also one of the few of us to have a day job, being a distinguished biotechnologist and former director of BioResearch Ireland.

Last August, as part of the research for a forthcoming volume on Wexford, Jim was going through National Library manuscripts and came across a short account book giving details of payments for work on the Symes family estate at Wingfield near Gorey.

It dated from 1856, contained only 21 names and was therefore too small to be referenced individually in the Wexford book. What to do? Jim sidestepped the problem. He copied the list – only 21 names, after all – and added it to his blog. If anyone is interested in workers on the Symes estate, Google’s busy little robots will take them to the list.

That seems to have been a Eureka moment. Since then his collection of “Small Sources” has grown to nine, ranging from 29 schoolchildren in Tarbert in 1809 to the latest, a list of 21 Carlow tenants of the Knight of Kerry in 1856.

The lessons are simple: there is always more to be found out, and the tenacity and generosity of genealogists is never-ending.