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National Library of Ireland: Ancestor Chasing

National Library of Ireland: Ancestor Chasing

Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 06:22 AM
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National Library of Ireland: Ancestor Chasing

Has anyone any experience of using the church records in the National Library of Ireland? (NLI)

I'm trying to squeeze some research about earlier flanneruk generations into a business trip to Dublin. Two things worry me:

- is there a time or day when access to NLI microfilm readers is particularly difficult?
- do you have to order the microfilm from a central stack, and therefore need to budget time for someone else to find it?
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Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 07:46 AM
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I did call there briefly once, and they were very nice in telling me they didn't have what I was hoping to find, but for the rest I'd suggest askign this question on the Usenet newsgroup soc.genealogy.ireland (you can access through the Web at groups.google.com if you don't have a Usenet reader).
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Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 08:58 AM
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Patrick:

You know, I think that was precisely the answer I was hoping for. I was sure there were groups, but couldn't find them. So thanks.

But everyone else: Unlike Patrick, I know the records I'm looking for are at the NLI. So does anyone have experience of whether I can search for flanners long past AND make my 3pm meeting?
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Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 01:59 PM
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We just spent last Friday afternoon at the NLI researching my great grandfather John Kennedy. Because we did not have his parents names in Ireland we weren't able to do very much. Here's the drill: do not go between 11Am and 1PM as this is the lunch hour for the geneologists. Suggest you go early morning when the library opens (I believe the hours are: Tues-Sat 10AM-5PM, Closed on Mondays and Sun 2PM-5PM) The guard will park your belongings in a locker then venture up the stairs and to the right for the geneology room - sign in immediately. You will be called in order of your sign in and you will meet with a geneologist (free). These are the people you want to see first so get there early. Give them as much info as you possibly can but remember a few things. In the 1880's, parents named their children right away but did not record their birthdates accurately. My great grandfather's death cert. states he was born 3/1863; however the head librarian told us that because parents did not register birth dates, he may have been born plus or minus 10 years. This is where his parents names would have come in to accurately pinpoint which John Kennedy I was looking for. The geneologist will help you with parish records and suggest several microfilms to look at. The micro room is in the main library and you get plenty of time to search. These are baptismal records, handwritten by either the parish priest or the parish secretary. Some records were readable, others you couldn't decifer. It is a frustrating experience when you think you have the information needed. In my case, I needed to order their marriage certificate from Chicago, which would probably list John's Irish parents names. And yes, you will receive a card for each microfilm the geneologist suggests, then take it to the main library and they'll pull the film for you although I think you can only view one at a time so my husband took one and I took one, sat next to each other and tried to read. Also, if you can see a geneologist early and get the films they suggest, then you can make your 3Pm meeting. Good luck, I'll keep checking in to see if you are successful.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 05:58 AM
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Kat:

Thanks. Can I confirm my understanding?

Let's assume I've done all my homework. Every wedding certificate, every 1901 census scrap got from the Mormons, every post-1865 civil registration - even checked the microfilm catalogue numbers on the NLI website. De Woiks.

Are you saying you have to talk to a functionary - who's not there from 11 to 1 - before you can get to the microfilm? And that, for each different film you want, you need to talk to her again? (I won't ask whose taxes are paying for this, since the answer's probably depressingly obvious).

Because, with Dublin's traffic and Ryanair's attitude to carry-on bags, my flight will probably get in just in time for me to see this charming, but unproductive, person disappear for an extended break as I arrive at the NLI.

So I can't start the search till 1pm?
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 06:41 AM
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This thread is fascinating. Flanneruk, I sure hope you are able to find the information you need, at the NLI, in the short time you have!

I was just now looking at the NLI website, and the opening hours they have listed are different from the hours Kat6688 states:

"The Genealogy Service for personal callers

The Library's Genealogy Service is designed to assist all of those who wish to research their family history in Ireland. The Service is freely available to all personal callers to the Library. For first time researchers the Genealogy Service is an ideal starting point, allowing them the opportunity to discuss their research with experienced genealogists and Library staff, ready access to important finding aids and useful information panels. More experienced family historians are also welcome to avail of the Service as, from time to time, they may need assistance with on-going research.

The Genealogy Service hours are as follows:

Monday to Friday: 10am to 4.45pm
Saturday: 10.00am to 12.30pm "

http://www.nli.ie/fr_serv.htm

(this is the SERVICES page. If you click on OPENING HOURS, it gives the hours for certain rooms - main reading room, manuscripts room - but if you click on
FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH, and then scroll down a bit on the new page that opens, it shows the hours I've pasted above, for the Genealogy Service)
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 08:09 AM
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Let's see if I can clarify this. Remember, this was our experience only. As soon as we entered the Library, as I said the guard places your belongings and we were told to go directly to speak to one of the 2 geneologists on staff. The main reason was to pinpoint the parish my ancestor had come from. We thought he was from the town of Kilmeedy, Co. Limerick. There were 3 or 4 parishes in that area and those were the film numbers we were to ask for. Seems everything lies in the exact parish. If you know the parish, then you probably will not have to see the geneologist but you'll need to check with the guard as I'm not certain if you need the card I spoke of with the film number on it. The reason I said not to go between 11-1 is because that is the time not only for lunch but there were at least 10 people who signed in before us - so our lady was remarkably busy trying to handle everyone's questions. If you've checked the microfilm catalog #'s on the website, I'm assuming that you know the parish your ancestor came from. Then you should be able to breeze through this. Sorry about the hours being incorrect, I mixed them up with the National Gallery. Just be armed and ready when you arrive and you can start your search anytime you arrive. If you do in fact need the cards the geneologist's give you in order for the librarians to pull the films and you already have the numbers, you may just be able to check in at the Library and go from there. Then you won't run into the confusion that we experienced. This was highly emotional for me as she was so rushed, talked too fast and I did not realize that everything depended on the parish. Hope this clears things up, if not reply and I'll reply to you. When is your trip? And please remember to post your experience upon your return. I'll be very interested!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 08:58 AM
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Kat6688, just from looking at the NLI website, it looks like a complicated process, indeed. I'm sorry you didn't get all the information you were searching for. I can understand why that was an emotional experience for you. Hope at some point you are able to go back and find more pieces of your family history!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 09:06 AM
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Kat:

An Irishwoman? Talking too fast? Can't be possible!!!
It's just that the genes for understanding normal-speed speech decay with exposure to driving on the right hand side.
And I'll keep part of the following day clear, just in case they do force you to wait while they have their lunch.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Flanneruk, at least you'll be going in with a terrific sense of humor. I just felt like a lost sole in the middle of something I didn't understand.

BrimhamRocks: Thanks for the sympathy, I need it. The geneologist rushed through information I didn't understand and at one point, tears came streaming. They try with us but when their rushed it's a bad experience. It is confusing as heck but a bit more scouting and we'll be closer.
Thanks again, Kat
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Old Oct 24th, 2003, 05:51 AM
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Hey flanneruk, have you done this yet? Were you successful in your quest? It would be interesting to hear your experience.
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Old Oct 24th, 2003, 07:09 AM
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Well, thanks for remembering.

I sort of took my own advice (but see later) to do every possible piece of research. If you do this, and you're fairly confident, this is what happens:

You arrive, simply sign in, and if you think you're above the services of a genealogist and have downloaded the church index from the NLI site, you ask for the relevant church microfilms.
They take about 5-10 mins to arrive, and the people behind the desk are very friendly and helpful. Getting there early means you can nab a microfilm reader: there certainly weren't enough to cope with the kind of busload of ancestor-hunters you sometimes see at the London equivalent on a Saturday.

The microfilms are awful. I'm talking the Catholic records: the Church of Ireland ones, which may have had some legal status, may well be rather better disciplined.The records are scrappy and ill-sorted, often illegible. years sometimes missing and the form they're in can change terribly quickly. None seem to have an index. The ones in Latin are often easier to read than the ones in English.
So if you've any experience with the records the Mormons have filmed, allow several times longer to plough through these records. And remember that parish boundaries can change.

After a morning making relatively little progress, I went to see the customer and came back the following day. This time, I had the humility to talk to the genealogist. Who taught me never to assume anything.

She identified a few other sources I'd thought only contained people rather grander than early flanneruks. And, yes, there they were - in a form that led to the awful discovery that two successive earlier generations of flanneruks had lived, through the Famine, to around 90. So I clearly selected the right genes. And she suggested a few ways of penetrating the illegible scrawl of my ancestors' priests.

But there was a bigger shock. A different branch of the family had first emerged getting married a year or two after the famine in Liverpool. The ggggfather concerned claimed to have been born in "Ireland" (helpful or what?), was illiterate (odd how little changes down the generations), and said he was the son of a barrister.

"Barrister" in England and Ireland, is a lawyer with right of appearance in superior courts. Not a profession given to producing illiterate sons.

I'd thought maybe "barrister" was a kind of Dublin joke for barman. "No", said the genealogist, "But never assume anything"

So we checked the Legal List for the time. And there was a barrister with the (not rare, but not exactly John Smith) name my ggggfather had claimed was his father's. And he'd qualified about a year after the birth, and his offices had been about 100 yds from the library. Just about the right time for student wild oats with some barmaid to sprout.

The story's now almost certainly uncheckable. But enough material to justify a few more Ryanair trips across. And I haven't even started the other half.

Never assume. Do your homework. And allow LOTS of time.
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Old Oct 24th, 2003, 09:27 AM
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Thanks for the update, flanneruk. Sounds liked your experience was a mixed bag. Hope you get more answers next time! But hey, it's always a great excuse to go back, right?

Wonder if anyone else has had luck doing geneological research while on holiday?
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Old Oct 26th, 2003, 11:20 AM
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Flanneruk, I too have been wondering how your experience was. It's quite a process isn't it and the geneologists (if not so rushed) are very helpful. The microfilms, I agree, are a disaster. With my experience, we are now checking into Chicago Holy Angels church records to see if we can find my ggfather's parents names. That's been the biggest stumbling block of all! The marriage license didn't list it. Keep going as this is important. Don't you wonder if 100 years from now, our ancestors will be trying to find us? I hope so! Kat
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Old Oct 27th, 2003, 12:54 AM
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Kat and Brimham:

Thanks for the thoughts. A couple of general comments for anyone browsing:
- Holidays really aren't a good time to start chasing ancestors. The best time is almost always at home, a long time before a trip. Get the Mormons' guide to genealogical research in your ancestors' country, and get every scrap of information that's available in your country. Like godparents' names on baptismal certificates and every census record (because your gggfather may have given more information in 1891 than in 1881. And may often, unknown to you, have brought a parent to live with him). Or siblings' details (because they may have given info at their marriage your ancestor didn't)
- If - like many English-speaking people - you've an Irish ancestor, I'd say the best place to start is John Grenham's book "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide". Kat: if you've not read this, get it now. It's particularly good on sources you can access in the US or UK.
- Most of the Irish church records, while near-impossible for us amateurs, have been indexed by local groups in the individual counties, who provide a charged-for service. It irritates me that the Irish make a profit out of my ancestors, while the English and Scots make records more easily available. But that's life. There may be no alternative to paying.
- And we all have to accept, sadly, that Irish ancestry is a nightmare to research. Most people who left Ireland, especially in the mid-19th century, were poor, landless, belonged to a church with really lousy records, left before civil registration was compulsory and had their census records destroyed. And on arrival in the new country, had little interest in recording their family tree.
Before 1850 or so, we may just have to accept we can't trace back any further.
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