First, and most important, things are starting to open up in Ireland! It began in early May with Libraries and Archives allowed to open (although on a reservation basis). Hotels, B&B's and Guesthouses were allowed to open this week, as well as outdoor service at pubs and restaurants. Next week, indoor dining will be allowed. Many are going back to work this week for the first time since Christmas. International Travel is expected to be allowed from mid July. Fully vaccinated US citizen no longer need to quarantine. Based on all of this good news, I plan to go forward with the October Dublin and Belfast Research Trips. Both of the trips were fully booked, but this week I've had a few people decide to postpone until 2022, so there is space available. If you know where in Ireland your ancestors were from, are fully vaccinated and are comfortable traveling, you can register here. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested. I am very excited to get back to Ireland as last October's trip had to be cancelled.
One of the benefits of the past 15 months pandemic has been the ability to take advantage of educational opportunities, not just in the US but all over the world. One of my favorite Irish sources is the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. They have frequent educational seminars, most of which are recorded and uploaded to their YouTube site. Because I'm on their mailing list, I get notifications not only of PRONI's activities, but also other educational opportunities. Back in October I wrote about the Beyond 2022 project, and last week I had the opportunity to attend another of their webinars, this one on People, Place and Power: Grand Jury Records and Local History Although the entire presentation is not online, there are snippets from Donegal, Wicklow and Offaly. In conjunction with this presentation, Beyond 2022 has created a digital book about the project which can be accessed here.
It explains the Grand Jury system in Ireland and the types of records they kept. Although it was thought that most of these records were destroyed in the Fire, a number of the Presentment Books have been found in local Archives or Private Collections. At the present time, you won't find these materials online (although that might change within a few years) but you will find them in various repositories in Ireland. I am definitely going to be looking at them in October. I'd encourage you to read the digital book if you are planning on visiting Ireland.
FamilySearch is one of the most valuable resources available for genealogists. Their project to digitize their entire Granite Vault Archive continues allowing us to access documents that previously were only available at the Library in Salt Lake City. Although the Library has been closed during the Pandemic, they have continued the digitization project and each week release thousands of additional records. One problem, however, has been the restrictions on many of the images, which could only be viewed at the FamilyHistory Library or at an authorized LDS site. Well, good news! The Library has announced a new Lookup Service. According to their press release, "Upon request, staff and volunteers at the library will look up specific records in their collections that cannot be viewed online." This is not a research service and you need to provide the specific information pointing to the record you would like to see. Because of licensing requirements, images of many Irish records can only be viewed at the Library. When you search, you get the index entry, but if you click to get the image, you get the message that it can only be viewed at the FHL. I frequently will hire a researcher in Salt Lake City to send me a copy of a specific record. This is a great service!
Another great service is the Virtual Genealogy Consultation offered by FamilySearch. It's a free 20 minute consultation with a Library Specialist via Zoom. The consultations are designed to provide research guidance, methodology, and next steps rather than research or record-lookups. These two services, together, could help you break through that brick wall. And both services are free! Thank you FamilySearch!
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!