Day 15 - Presbyterian Historical Society North of Ireland Family History Society

Martin McDowell doing a DNA Presentation at NIFHS. (Photo by Mirta Ramer)

This morning two researchers visited the Presbyterian Historical Society. It's not a place where everyone needs to go...its strength is in congregational histories and minister lists. Most of the registers of Presbyterian baptisms, marriages and (rare) burials are either on microfilm at PRONI or in Local Custody. Lila commented that she did get a pamphlet that hooked to her Dad's life story, but had hoped for more. If you plan to visit, spend some time on their website, especially the Library and Archives sections to make sure they have the material you need.


The balance of the group went to the North of Ireland Family History Society, about 15 minutes north of Belfast in Newtownabbey. Things got a bit difficult for me. I came down with a cold while in Dublin and have had a head cold this week. I have done a COVID test every few days, and they have all been negative, Yesterday it moved to my chest and I began coughing. I stopped at a Pharmacy and got some cough medicine and cough drops, but the coughing kept me awake most of the night. I felt better this morning and after dropping the researchers off at PHS, I walked back to the hotel and met the group to take them to NIFHS. Once there I began coughing and couldn't stop. Rather than disturbing everyone, when the two researchers arrived from PHS, I took the taxi back to the hotel. It's the first time in 10 years, I've gotten sick in Ireland...not fun. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be better!


The staff at NIFHS (Michael, Ann and Kathleen) were wonderful and hosted the group, including a presentation by Martin McDowell on the North of Ireland DNA Project. Diann said:

"Today I had a great day experiencing the North of Ireland Family History Society. Our small group had a wonderful tour by a volunteer showing us their hidden gems of genealogy resources. I looked through some records on loan permanently from PRONI which covered a family surname. Kathleen show me how to dig deeper into some Belfast records. I found my 3rd great grandmother’s burial record and one of her grandchildren is buried with her. It made me wonder where is her husband buried? Finally, Martin McDowell, an administrator of the North of Ireland Family Group Project gave a presentation on FTDNA and some of their enhanced research tools. I now have a list of names who match me on the North of Ireland Family Group on FTDNA. Some group members purchased memberships and FTDNA kits. A wonderful group of NIFHS volunteers made this day special for us."

Sherry commented:

I could spend weeks at the NIFHS. I so enjoyed the DNA presentation by Martin and found out that I share 22 cMs with Jonny Perl (DNA Painter). Martin knew many of my matches and I will spend several days chromosome mapping the DNA matches.

I should point out that Diann and Sherry run the DNA SIG at The Villages in Florida. Jeannette also was excited about her library finds and the DNA talk.


Tomorrow is the last day in Belfast...time to finish out their research. We have a group dinner scheduled for tomorrow evening. Some are heading back to the US on Saturday (which means getting a COVID test tomorrow) while others are heading out to visit the localities of their ancestors and to check local resources. I'm returning next Wednesday which gives me some time to focus on my personal research.


There are still some slots left for the October trip if you are interested. Information and registration can be found on my website.


Happy Hunting!



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