Irish roots: genealogy for the people, by the people

Volunteers are taking up the challenge of maintaining county records


Genealogists have long memories, it’s almost the job definition. So many Irish researchers of a certain age, myself included, will feel a frisson of horror at the acronym IGP.

For them, it brings back the “Irish Genealogical Project” – an attempt under the Haughey regime to shoehorn everyone involved in genealogy into a single rickety organisation by flinging cute-hoor money at them. Money from the IDA, the Soldiers and Sailors Fund, Fás, the Ireland fund, Bórd Fáilte . . . all with different (and competing) strings attached.

It is no more, thanks be, though it has a kind of afterlife in But the acronym IGP had already existed, and continues to exist as something more benign entirely.

“Ireland Genealogy Projects” ( is the umbrella name for a series of Irish-American volunteer transcription sites, some dating from the 1990s, dedicated to providing gateways to genealogical information about each Irish county. The idea is that an individual takes responsibility for a county and then curates the county webpages, providing a home for volunteer-transcribed records. And the range of these records is huge, including such things as gravestone transcripts, local RIC enlistments, mass cards, directories, school registers and church records.

Like all volunteer sites, (indeed like most worthwhile things in any walk of life) the usefulness of the information depends on the individuals in charge. But for some counties – Cork, Longford and Fermanagh, for example – the material included is superb.

Where it is less than superb, the main flaws are a narrowness of focus that results in sets of records that cover just one family in a parish or 10 per cent of a graveyard, as well as a confusing overlap with a separate but similar group, IrelandGenWeb.

But let us not be Cavan men saying of their dinner “I suppose it’s good. What there is of it.” Let us be Roscommon men, and say “What there is of it is very good indeed!”