Today was the travel day from Belfast back to Dublin. Eight of the researchers from Belfast will be spending their second week in Dublin along with an additional six researchers. Mirta was kind enough to write about her experience in Belfast so I could share it with my readers.
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Day 2 - Ulster Historical Foundation (Belfast)
Jackpot! After a so-so day of research yesterday, today I won the jackpot. In my consultation with Donna, she provided me the name of an article that could be found at the Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) in their publication called Familia. After a brief presentation by their very knowledgeable staff, Fintan Mullen and William Roulston, I asked William about the article she referenced. He immediately went off and within minutes had a copy in my hands.
In the article, I was able to find two new ‘pearls’ that I could pursue in my research. First, the location of my 6th great uncle’s watchmaking shop which was described in detail. After looking at the local map, I discovered it was only a few blocks from the UHF. I walked there and took pictures of the site which I will share with my family upon my return. The second item the article contained was the burial site for my uncle. The cemetery was also within walking distance, but I need to make an appointment with the curator to get inside. Something to look forward to for next year’s trip to Belfast!
Day 3 - Ulster American Folk Park (Omagh)
Couldn’t have picked a more perfect day for a drive and stroll through the Tyrone countryside. The homes, churches, schools, and shops that were reconstructed at the park were done in amazing detail and made you feel like you had stepped through a way-back machine into the 1800s. Docents dressed in period attire were present at several of the venues to tell us about life in that era. After a wonderful lunch at the Mellon Inn, we were able to search the files of the Mellon Center for Migration Studies. I didn’t have much luck
Day 4 North of Ireland Family History Society (Belfast)
Based on the information I found on Day 2, I worked with the president of the NIFHS, Ann Robinson. She directed me to a website which had information about grave-sites and headstone inscriptions for Belfast cemeteries. Bingo! There was not only my uncle’s gravestone, but also his mother’s (my 6th great grandmother). The lot numbers were included and as I was looking through the names of the graves nearby, there was my grandmother’s family name and lot number. Feeling pretty good about my finds so far today, I headed to PRONI to try again at finding some other ancestors which I had not had much luck in finding on Day 1. I decided to start drilling through the digitized parish church records (which are not indexed or searchable) from the first one dated 1802. Bingo! Bingo! It paid off multiple times. I found the brothers and sisters of my direct descendant and his parents too. Needing a break from B/M/D records, I tried my luck at searching deeds and discovered a deed from 1800 which had the name of one more generation back. I think I better go down to the betting parlor and buy a lottery ticket before my luck runs out!
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I want to thank Mirta for taking the time to write this up. Research is different for everyone. Sometimes it is discouraging when the records don’t seem to provide the answers. Working in a new environment, especially in an Archive can be intimidating. As Des McCabe described in his orientation on Monday, you don’t know, what you don’t know and you don’t know what questions to ask. Then all of a sudden a single record can open up a whole range of new options. One trip to Ireland is never enough. This year I have seven people between the two trips that have traveled with me in the past. Hopefully Mirta will join that group.