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Day 5 - The National Archives of Ireland

Finding Aids at the National Archives in Dublin

After a full Irish breakfast this morning (that's an egg, rashers of Irish bacon, sausage, baked beans and a tomato...I ask for mine without the pudding), we were on our way to the National Archives, located on Bishop Street, about a 15 minute walk from the hotel. We were met by Gregory O'Connor who provided an orientation (while the group's readers tickets were being processed). Gregory had pulled out lots of different types of documents to show the possibilities. You're not likely to find your ancestors in all of these, but understanding why documents were created helps to focus your research. If you haven't worked in an archive before, it can be intimidating. You have to have a general idea of what you're looking for, and then become familiar with the finding aids to order the correct material. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as looking in a catalog.

I wanted to find records of the Battle of Ballynahinch during the 1797 Rebellion. There were a set of finding aids referred to as the Rebellion Papers. I started with a "slip" index (slips of paper with handwritten names and numbers copied onto a page and bound together). The books are alphabetical, sort of, with names, places events etc., all mixed together I found a slip marked Battle of Ballynahinch with the number 727. OK, now what?

That takes you to another set of books (five volumes) that are organized by date. Luckily Gregory was there to tell me it's probably in volume 4 or 5. It was volume 4. Page 727 listed a document on the Battle with a series of numbers, 620/40/140. The next step was to find out (by asking) that the microfilm series was MFP 6. Off to another set of books to find MFP 6 620/40/140. Success! Now I just have to fill out an order form to get the microfilm. Once I had the microfilm I quickly found document 140 and was able to view it. I ended up taking a photo of the microfilm screen so I could blow the document up to transcribe it.

I have about another 15 references, but now that I have the process down, it should be fairly easy. That's the thing. Finding the first document can be painful, but once you learn how, you can easily repeat the process. Bless the Archivists, in this case, Gregory who patiently walked me through this.

There were other things that happened today as well. Two of the researchers took the bus out to the Representative Church Body Library (Church of Ireland) which is about a half hour outside of Dublin. If you have specific research to do with Church of Ireland records this is the place to go. They have a number of the original surviving registers as well as material on Church of Ireland clergy.

I walked the researchers who needed records from the General Register Office (GRO) down the street to pick up their certificates. (The building does not get any better looking from year to year!) is wonderful, but unfortunately there are some records which you have to get the old fashioned way. Protestant marriages from 1845-1863 and deaths from 1864-1876 are not yet online. If you need anything after the privacy statutes (100 years on births, 75 years on marriages and 50 years on deaths) they are available at the GRO. However, in addition to the €4 fee for the certificates, if you need to use the GRO indexes it will cost an additional €2 for every 5 years you search. You can cut down on some of this expense by using the indexes for the Republic from FamilySearch up to 1958.

It was a busy first day of research; some researchers had great results, others not so much. It happens! Tomorrow we're at the National Library bright and early.

Happy Hunting!

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