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A first look at the Virtual Treasury

I’ve had a busy few weeks, but I have spent some time at the Virtual Treasury since it was released. You may have read some of my earlier blogs about the Beyond2022 effort to recreate information lost in the 1922 fire at the Public Records Office of Ireland. I’ve commented that they won’t be able to bring everything back (what I wouldn’t do for the COI records for Rossinver Parish in Leitrim), but they have partnered with repositories all over the world to collect substitute records.

The genealogical records that are highlighted are those from the 1766 Religious Census. They have collected the bits and pieces from various locations and put them together in one place. But realize even they aren’t complete. From a genealogists perspective, other than the Virtual Tour, the site is not intuitive. The structure of the records is unfamiliar and information is sometimes nested 3 or 4 levels. Read the User’s Guide before you begin.

I think I expected more of the information to be uploaded at the start of the project. The Virtual Reality walk through of the PROI is impressive, but there is not much on the virtual shelves.

I began with Browse to look at the types of documents that were being made available by the project partners. One that caught my eye was the Longford County Library and Archives. I’ve actually been there to research. The first set of records are Grand Jury Records with two volumes covering the period of 1759-1907.

You are presented with a digital image of the volume and the icon of the magnifying glass on the left allow you to search within the document. A search for Moughty turned up no records (I guess that’s good 😀). Without having this search capability you would have to read each page like microfilm and unless you knew of a specific case or date, it would be difficult to find anything. These volumes replace documents that were lost in the Fire.

I also looked at the records from PRONI and was excited to see references to a number of Estate Papers, including the Downshire Papers which I use when I’m in Belfast. Those references, however seem to be just placeholders…there is nothing there.

You can also use the search feature from the home page. Start with a simple search, for perhaps a landlord or location. A search for Downshire here brings up 50 documents, mostly correspondence.

Last week John Grenham wrote about the Virtual Treasury on his blog. The article is titled “The rabbit-holes outnumber the rabbits” and I agree with most of what he said. He commented that this is a long term undertaking and asks the question, after the initial splash, will the funding for the project continue? Hopefully it will, but as noted above, much of the initial material is still not loaded. I could encourage you to read John’s blog and also view his YouTube video on the Virtual Treasury.

Happy Hunting!

Have you registered for the Celtic Connections Conference. It began on July 9th and goes through September 30th so you stil have plenty of time to view the over 50 presentation and participate in the various chats. If you've listened to my lectures let me know your thoughts. (BTW, there was a problem with audio dropping in the Strategies lecture and I re-compiled it this week and hopefully it has now been uploaded.)

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Met a lovely man from Co Cork yesterday at my place of employment. He is visitng the US. He asked me a question and I couldn't for the life of me understand him and thus I asked where he was from. Welll, my dearest friend has a son in law from Co. Cork and I told him she had told me although they are from Co. Lough, they couldn't understand Patrick at all. So we had a good Irish laugh over this.

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