There is a lengthy letter published in the current Sept/Oct issue of the journal, History Ireland, complaining about the difficulty in accessing Irish genealogical records, and how the few sites, or organisations, that to make such records available charge prohibitive amounts to actually view any search results. (http://www.historyireland.com/ to find the letter, type Giddings in the search box at the top right corner - you will need to have a subscription to the journal to read the letter itself).

 

Mrs Giddings complains that whereas in other countries birth, death, marriage records etc are viewed as being the property of the public and made readily available via national and regional archives, museums, libraries and local study centres, in Ireland there is no such network and the few county Heritage Centres that do exist appear to be geared to generating a profit from overseas family history tourists.

 

One of the worst offenders of the type of profiteering that Mrs Giddings refers to that I have come across is the rootsireland.ie website that is operated by the Irish Family History Foundation - which claims to be a "not-for-profit" organization. This website boasts that it has 18 million records in its online database, which is wonderful. The problem is, though, that you can only conduct a free search through its hopelessly inadequate index , which provides such vague results (deliberately so?) that you can frequently be presented with dozens of potential matched records and to view the records you need to create an account. Whereas most genealogy site will allow you to view ALL records for a modest monthly, quarterly, or yearly fee, the Roots Ireland site charges 5 Euro to view EACH individual record. That may not prove to be too expensive if your ancestor had an uncommon surname (such as my own) and was from a specific small village, but if your ancestor was a Murphy from Dublin it would cost a small fortune to view all the potential matches.

 

The lack of regional archives and local history centres reflects the lack of government interest and funding over many decades. It is pleasing, though, to see that steps are being taken at a national level to improve online access to records (although the current financial crisis has meant that funding has again been cut), with the national archives leading the way by making the entire 1901 and 1911 censuses available for free on its website www.nationalarchives.ie The department of Tourism, Culture and Sport is also currently making many Roman Catholic and C of I registers available for free on the Irish Genealogy website http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/index.html Here is a link to the burial record from this site of my GGG-Grandfather, William Holt http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/reels/d-268-4-1-103.pdf who was Quatermaster of the Dublin City Militia

Kieron

 

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Kieron, can we post this in our new Irish Family History Blog, under your byline?
I'd like to get the IFHI side of the story. It's a site I use and they are supposedly based in Newbridge where I work.
That's fine by me, Ger.

Hi Robbie,

I can understand why the IFHF might charge a small fee to cover their operating costs, but I can't see how they can justify charging 5 Euro to view each record when they claim to be a not for profit organization?

Kieron 

Yes, Robbie, it'd be ideal to reach out to them. You can post their response, and outline your own experience with the firm, in a follow-up blog post. Coordinate this with Alannah, our Family History Producer, at aryane@thewildgeese.com, or via this bulletin board.

Robbie Doyle said:
I'd like to get the IFHI side of the story. It's a site I use and they are supposedly based in Newbridge where I work.

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