Tracing your Irish Heritage
A staggering 3 million documents are stored in the archives of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) with 900,000 official government files and 300,000 maps—a wonderful place to stir the imagination of researchers and visitors. Most records date from around 1600 to the present. For those interested in roots tourism, or anyone with ancestors from the northern third of Ireland, it is an amateur genealogist's dream; those precious transcripts could provide a vivid piece of the family jigsaw. PRONI, Titanic Blvd., Queen’s Island, Titanic Quarter, Belfast 028/9053–4800proni.gov.uk and groni.gov.uk.
The Ulster Historical Foundation, near Queen’s University, has a skilled team to help with genealogical research. In recent years, with many more records available online, there is greater access to them, and the staff is adept at unearthing information about those elusive Irish or Scots-Irish ancestors. The UHF offers personal consultation, assessment, and research, as well as document retrieval. Its research offices are at 49 Malone Rd., Belfast 028/9066–1988ancestryireland.com.
For a different take on Ulster-Scots history and language, it’s worth calling into the Ulster-Scots Visitor Centre. This government-funded agency promotes the study of Ulster-Scots as a living language as well as its culture and history. You can tour the new Discover Ulster-Scots Centre and view exhibition panels on dialect and heritage. Ulster-Scots Agency, Corn Exchange, 31 Gordon St., Belfast 028/9023–1113ulsterscotsagency.com.
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