What a great day! The North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS) was a great host for our trip. We arrived at their location in Newtownabbey and were welcomed by their President, Ann Robinson, as well as Michael McKeag and Martin McDowell, their DNA specialist. Michael and Ann welcomed us and provided an overview of the Library collections. One of the unique items is their Correspondence Collection from the Presbyterian Historical Society. On permanent loan to the Society, this includes the letters and responses sent to the PHS by people looking for information on their ancestors. The NIFHS focuses on all of Ulster (9 Counties) and has branches across Northern Ireland. The cost of an Associate Membership (those who can't attend meetings) is a reasonable £18 (about $21) which gets you access to their Members Only Content as well as their Journal and Newsletter.
Martin McDowell is a frequent lecturer and teacher on DNA and is an Administrator for the North of Ireland DNA Project through FamilyTreeDNA. This compares your DNA only to those who have also joined the project. There are thousands of projects on surnames and localities. Even though I have used FamiIyTreeDNA for a while, I learned a lot today about some of the new and advanced features. I've written about the importance of playing in all of the DNA ponds and Martin has actually written easy to follow instructions about how to upload your DNA from your testing company to FamilyTreeDNA. For those of you using Ancestry, this gives you access to a chromosome browser. Martin showed us today amazing results using the features of FamilyTreeDNA.
Just one day left.
Here are some comments from today (and yesterday).
It was the perfect weather day to take a bus ride to Downpatrick to see if I could find the gravestones of my ancestors. From the research I had done, thanks to rosdavies.com, I knew the Grays were buried in the Inch Parish Cemetery just outside Downpatrick. A hour bus ride and a short cab ride later, there I was at a small stone enclosed cemetery where I found the brown headstone of my 5x great-grandparents John and Jane Gray. Such a moving experience to be where you know your family was in the late 1700’s.
As a bonus, there was another headstone in the same plot and other stones nearby with names I recognized. I have a lot of work to do now to build out these trees and maybe find a connection to distant cousins living here.
A memorable day to be sure.
From Bill T...
Bill was kind enought to take a picture of the entrance to the NIFHS. If you would like to visit, you do need to pre-book as they are a volunteer organization and not always open. Their address is Unit C4 Valley Business Centre, 67 Church Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT36 7LS. The "C" refers to the section which you enter through a tunnel...if you're not expecting it, it is difficult to find.😀
Another A+ day. We found some intriguing bread crumbs to follow at The North of Ireland Family History Society today. Martin McDowell’s DNA talk and his explanations on how to get the most out of our matches was very interesting. Even more beneficial was having him spend one-on-one time working with our specific matches and needs.