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The National Library of Ireland

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Main Reading Room at the National Library of Ireland

Today was the first full day of research and it began with an orientation to the National Library by Steven Skeldon who runs the Genealogy Service. It was a tight squeeze into one of the Board Rooms as the Library is undergoing extensive renovation, but it was well worth it. Steven gave an overview of the history of the Library and their Collections as well as some great hints on ways to successfully search the Catalogue. Most of the material needs to be ordered at least a day in advance to the proper Reading Room...the Main Reading Room or the Manuscript Reading Room. There are also a number of e-Resources that can be utilized in the Genealogy Service.

So here are some additional comments from the participants on their experiences over the last few days.

From Mary...

Today I was finally able to get ahold of a book at the National Library that I’ve known about but could not find anywhere online or locally at home. “Kilgarvan Moments and Memories”. Kilgarvan is my grandmother’s home parish in Kerry. I only got through half so far, but its goal is to document the life and times of our ancestors. Subjects include iconic local figures, archeology, social customs, interviews with residents and lots of pictures. Although it doesn’t include my direct ancestors in particular, there are many familiar names and folks that I know are connected to my family and so many anecdotes about growing up and living in Kilgarvan. A real gold mine of information. Looking forward to reading the rest.

Marion was quite excited about her find in the Manuscript Reading Room...

We had a surprisingly successful visit in the Manuscript Room today. I never could have imagined such materials survived for over two hundred years. We photographed 75 or more letters regarding a will, saved by a 3x great-grand uncle over six years, several of which were written by my 3x great-grandfather. Reviewing/digesting the information will take time – time to get to work!

Kira also worked with manuscripts today.

My first time at the NLI could very well have been intimidating, were it not for Donna. I felt prepared, only because of the primers she gave us leading up to the trip. After our orientation, I picked up my readers' ticket and headed down the block to the Manuscripts Room where I had preordered about 6 folders of estate records. I spent more than 4 hours thumbing through rent rolls and old maps not really finding too much of interest...until the very last antique, and very delicate, map from 1749! My ancestor of interest wasn't yet alive then, but I found two men on the land with his surname, Keeffe, at least one surely being a direct ancestor!! Plus, the map included the placename Lissmonaheen (another spelling variation of Lismonihis) where my Keeffes hailed from. I had never been able to locate this neighborhood on a map, since Farahy was chosen as the Townland name for the area when townlands were standardized. Finding this was a goal of mine that I'm super excited to have achieved. From there, I marched back over to the Main Reading Room where I had preordered 2 rolls of microfilm (my first time working with this medium). After an archivist gave me a brief overview, I paged through and only found the records I was seeking once the clock signaled the end of the day! So, I'll have to return later this week for the goodies.

Anne had pre-ordered books to the Main Reading Room

I’m so glad I preordered books because I had a treasure trove waiting for me upon arrival. One in particular was a bound copy of original typed letters on onion skin paper written by O’Donovan during his Ordance Survey of County Leitrim. His descriptions of places and people were priceless and the feel and smell of the book had me feeling I was really there in 1836.

I also received some information about consultations and exploring over the weekend...

Lisa visited the Little Museum and Epic as well as her Consult on Sunday. Very successful!

And most of you will probably recogonize the person on the right in the photo of the Genealogy Guys, and his brother, Jeff, here with their Consultant at the Family History Centre. Kayleigh was very excited to be meeting a celebrity from the United States.

Drew commented:

Since there were two of us, we were fortunate to have a 1-hour consultation with Kayleigh at the Irish Family History Centre. Even so, the hour passed extremely quickly as Kayleigh called up items from databases and answered some basic questions. As she talked and found things online, she copied and pasted images and links into an email that she sent right after the consultation. She gave likely explanations for why our ancestors went from County Laois in the late 1840s to England instead of the United States, and she explained how Ancestry DNA's results could break through the question about one of the female ancestors' unknown birth surname. This was an extremely valuable consultation with lots of ideas for further research.
While waiting for the train from Portlaoise to Dublin, we happened to sit next to someone who knew about the Abbeyleix Heritage House and turned out to be the person who wrote and narrated the script for the 8-minute history video we had watched. Talk about a small world!

Happy Hunting!

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