Irish Family History Society

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Book Reviews

Finding your Ancestors in Kerry

Finding your Ancestors in Kerry

Kay Caball

ISBN 978-1-907990-08-3

€13.00 Pages 160

Published by Flyleaf Press Dublin


This is another family history research guide in the excellent series of tracing your county ancestors.  The author’s website tells us that Kay Caball is a member of the Maloney family of Listowel and she is a resident of Tralee for twenty-five years.  Therefore she understands Kerry ancestry very well.  Kay is a qualified genealogist and is certified by University of Limerick. The book contains comprehensive lists of practically all the resources available, both in written and online form for anyone researching their Kerry ancestors in Ireland. 

The book tells us that Kerry is a county in the province of Munster in the south of Ireland.  It is thought to be named after an ancient tribal group called the ‘Ciarriaghe’.  It is a county rich in history containing castles, ancient cathedrals and monastic settlements.   County Kerry is also known as ‘The Kingdom’ and is particularly famous for Gaelic football, literature and folklore especially from the Great Blasket Island.

 For administrative purposes the book tells us that the county is divided into nine Baronies: Clanmaurice, Corkaguiny, Dunkerron North and South, Glanarought, Iraghticonnor, Iveragh, Magunihy and Trughanacmy.  Of interest to the family historian is the fact that there are 86 civil parishes in Kerry and these are divided into six Registration Districts: Cahirciveen, Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney, Listowel and Tralee.  These towns are where births, deaths and marriages were registered.  Some surnames include:  O’Sullivan, O’Connor, O’Connell, O’Donoghue, Stack, McElligott, Murphy and Fitzgerald.   

Some of the earliest records date back to 1586 when the Desmond Survey was carried out and to 1622 when the Survey of the Plantation of Munster was compiled.  There are many collections of Estate Papers which can be consulted, including those of Daniel O’Connell of Derrynane and the Lansdowne papers of the Browne family, Earls of Kenmare.  Another source of family history is newspapers and a list of Kerry newspapers is given in the book, some of which are available online at  Kerry burial records may be accessed at  courtesy of the local authorities. A very helpful bibliography is attached and an Index to make reading the book easy and enjoyable.  Further information can be obtained from various journals including the Kerry Archaeological and Historical society which is published yearly.  This a very informative book on Kerry history and is an invaluable resource for family history both for the serious amateur and the professional genealogist. 

Margaret N Loftus B A, Certificate in Genealogy UCD. 


Irish Men in the Great War 1914-1918: Reports From The Front 1914

Tom Burnell Editor

Hardcopy and eBook     Pages 252      Cost £19.99

ISBN 978 1 47382 129 0 


Tom Burnell, Irish Army veteran of the ‘Troubles’ and historian had edited this book of dispatches from the front for the months of August–December 1914 as the Great War began. Twenty-Seven Newspapers were consulted in the counties Clare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, and Wicklow.  The book begins with a story entitled “Bombarded from the Sky” and describes a night of horrors as Antwerp was bombed by a Zeppelin plane on 25 August 1914, as reported in The Tipperary Star.  The Limerick Chronicle also reports in August 1914 that a 20 year old private soldier, James Ryan, was killed in a railway accident near Queenstown Co Cork.  Many stories are recorded of soldiers returning home from the war and of how several men from the same family enlisted.  A report titled “Artillery Duels” in the Westmeath Independent states the private Thomas Hoare, Connaught Rangers, home in Roscommon” has two brothers in the same regiment’.  Also there were other Roscommon men with him in the trenches at Ypres.  

In September 1914 the Tipperary Star printed an essay on Modern Warfare under the heading “Will Your Soldier Boy Return?” It states that “The trenches with their spitting rifles, and the whirring of concealed machine guns or the deeper tones of the howitzers dirge, cast death at the unseen, or almost unseen, enemy”.

A foreword by Kevin Myres concludes by stating that in this book “we get a comprehensive depiction of how Irish newspapers reported on the lives of the Irish regular soldier at the front”.  This is a timely book being printed in the centenary year of the remembrance of the Great War and will be read by those interested in the subject of Irishmen who fought and died therein. 

Margaret N Loftus B A, Certificate in Genealogy UCD. 


Irish Mystery To Family History: A Forgotten Heritage

David C A Wilkins

Paperback     Published privately in the UK with DVD   Pages 283

ISBN 978-0-9562080-0-2


David C A Wilkins is based in Stockport, Cheshire, UK and is a member of the Irish Family History Society.  His family heritage is no longer forgotten with this most detailed and well researched book.  His Irish ancestry relates to the counties Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Meath and Offaly.  Ancestral names includes: Armstrong, Harrison, Seymour, Mangan, Clarke, Donnellan, Madden, Odlum, and Corbally among others.  The research covers some major periods in Irish history from the Battle of Aughrim, Co. Galway,  the Penal Laws, the Great Famine, 1846-1850, the British Empire and right up to the 1950s. 

The book contains case histories on the Galway Militia and the Seymour family of Co. Galway.  The surname Seymour “has its origins in Normandy and possibly even further afield in North Africa”.  The first Seymour documented in Ireland is a John Seymour Esq. of Dublin, who married a Mary Eyres of Eyrescourt Co Galway in 1688.  John was the second son of Sir Edward Seymour, the third baronet of Berry Pomeroy, Co. Devon.  Both families had holdings in Wiltshire and Devon in England.  In Ireland the Seymours leased land from the Eyres and possibly originally came to Ireland as retainers of the Eyres for the crown.

The story of Somerset House, a picture of which appears on the cover of the book, and Ballymore Castle in East Galway is fascinating.  Two branches of the Seymours settled in Galway and lived there for three centuries.  Somerset House in the parish of Clontuskert, East Galway in the post famine years, ended in the Encumbered Estates Court and was purchased by a Seymour in 1870.  The family remained in possession of the house until 1957 when the Irish Land Commission arranged a relocation to Co. Meath.  The research does not say where in Co. Meath they moved to.  Unfortunately the house has been demolished.  Ballymore was also sold in 1958, out of the family possession but that house is still lived in.

Over the years the family became part of the Irish diaspora living in such faraway places as Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada.  The early family pedigree was recorded in Burke’s Landed Gentry and the Landed Gentry of Ireland.  Nowadays the family is still remembered in East Galway as there is a townland named Somerset there among The Longford Townlands, south of the town of Ballinasloe. David also contributed to the Irish Family History Journal in 1999 with an article entitled “The Army a Family Business” and “The Parish of Clontuskert, Glimpses Into its Past” in 2008. 

Margaret N Loftus B A, Certificate in Genealogy UCD. 


Who Do You think You Are  The Genealogy Handbook

By Dan Waddell Hard Cover, Paper Back and eBook.

ISBN 978 1 84990 824 5

Pages 191 Cost £9.99

Publisher  BBC Books,  Random House Group, 2014


This book is the essential pocket guide to tracing your family history.  2014 is the 10th anniversary of the celebrity UK TV program about family history which now celebrates its 100th episode. The idea for this very successful show has its roots in 1988 when TV producer Alex Graham read an interview of fellow Scot Billy Connolly’s  working-class family history in a Sunday Magazine.   However, it was not until 12 October 2004 that the first episode was aired with Bill Oddie as the subject.  

The book contains eleven case histories with some family secrets and surprises being uncovered along the way.  Billy Connolly discovered he had Anglo–Indian ancestry by using civil records, parish registers, census returns and military records. Jason Donovan, the actor, had one ancestor who was transported to Tasmania for receiving stolen goods, and another ancestor who travelled to Australia as a soldier who was in charge of the convicts.    Patsy Kinset had to search criminal records and at the same time discovered a Good Samaritan who founded a charity to look after the poor.  Samantha Womack actress and singer started out her search with a blank canvas.  By checking army records, newspaper reports, passenger lists to the USA and census records she found her long lost family who had been performers like she was and this gave her a sense of family pride.   

Alexander Armstrong comedian discovered that his ten-times great-grandfather was a close friend of King Charles I of England. Also at the College of Arms Alexander learned that William the Conqueror was his twenty-seven-times great-grandfather. While not many people will be able to trace their ancestry back that far yet it’s worth while to do your unique family history research and rejoice in the findings whatever they reveal.

Margaret N Loftus B A, Certificate in Genealogy UCD. 


Tracing your Limerick Ancestors Second Edition 2013.

First published 2003 

Paperback and eBook 160 pages.  Cost €13

ISBN 978-1-90799006-9

By Margaret Franklin

Published by Flyleaf Press Dublin (


Ten years after its first publication this book has been updated and is testimony to Limerick’s unique history.   The second edition is easier to read as the text is larger, paragraphs are organized better and there is extensive use of outlining headings in bold.  Most of the chapters remain the same but have been re-organised with a new chapter on Miscellaneous Sources.  It includes numerous illustrations and an Index.

County Limerick is situated in the province of Munster close to the west coast of Ireland and is noted for its fifteenth century Tower Houses and its nineteenth century “Big Houses”.  It is divided into 14 Baronies, 8 Poor Law Unions, 131 civil parishes and 1630 Townlands.  The city has St John’s Castle (1212), St Mary’s Cathedral (1168) and the Hunt Museum formerly the Custom House.  It has been designated National City of Culture for 2014. 

In the foreword the editor tells us that “Limerick is unique in that it has many wonderful institutions that have led the field in uploading Internet records. Limerick City Library, Museum and Archive services have all contributed with a wealth of free online resources”.  Chapter 8 on Land records has a very useful list of the major collections of Limerick Estate Papers.  Most common surnames are: Ryan, O’Brien, Fitzgerald, Sullivan, Hayes, McNamara and Walsh among others.  Unfortunately the fine image of The Seal of Limerick City in the first edition was not re-produced in the second edition. 

The book opens with a Chinese Proverb: “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.”  People are not going to forget their Limerick ancestor’s history with this essential guide. 

Margaret N Loftus B A, Certificate in Genealogy UCD.  .



Census: The Family Historian’s Guide  Second Edition 2014

Paperback and eBook   362 pages

Cost £16.99

ISBN 9-781-4729-0293-1

By David Annal and Peter Christian

Published by Bloomsbury London


First published in the United Kingdom in 2008 by The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, now fully revised and updated to take into account new census data that has been published online in the last 6 years. 

The book starts with the history of census collecting which dates to 1800 when John Rickman 1771-1840, an English government official, drew up the first Census Act.  However from 1801 -1831 the census, taken every 10 years, just recorded the number of houses and people (male and female) and their occupations.  These records are stored at County Record Offices and only a few transcripts are available at Kew.  Not until the census of 1841 were details of individuals recorded, although not their exact ages, and these returns have survived. 

The early census returns for Scotland 1801-1851 was administered from London.  In 1861 The Census Scotland Act was passed but the 1901 and 1911 censuses were taken under the terms of the Census of Great Britain Act.

It wasn’t until 1821 that the first full Irish census was taken.  However, the returns have not survived.  The census returns for Ireland: 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 were mostly destroyed by the government.  Only the censuses of 1901 and 1911 have survived. 

Not well known is the fact that the suffragettes decided to boycott, not entirely successfully, the 1911 census in their campaign for women’s suffrage.  The idea probably was the work of Emmeline Pankhurst who was employed as a register of births and deaths form 1898-1907. Emily Davison spent census night hiding in a cupboard in the Houses of Parliament. The book includes a few case studies, including the family of Charles Darwin. Although the Darwin name is missing from the index it appears under case studies.  Reference to Thomas Hardy is also missing from the Index. The Appendix contains a complete list of all census dates for England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

There is an extensive analysis of free census indexes online as well as the leading commercial websites which is most informative. Good advice is given such as the electronic indexes all contain errors or omissions resulting from the transcription process.  Serious researches should check out The Online Historical Population Reports (OHRP) collection at  which is hosted by the University of Essex.  This is an excellent comprehensive guide to understanding the history of census returns and is suitable not only for the family historian but also the general reader.    

Margaret N Loftus B A, Certificate in Genealogy UCD. 


Bervie and Beyond , Thom Family History By Colin W. Thom. Book Review by James Robinson


        “If you didn’t write it down

          and tell somebody about it,

          it didn’t happen”


         Guy Cosmolmagno S.J. Curator of Meteorites at the Vatican Observatory


The author, Colin Thom, obviously subscribes to this dictum, as it has taken thirty five years, on and off, to write his family history.  It was only on retirement that he finished the task, an obvious example to all of us who undertake the writing of family genealogy.

Family historians have inevitably referenced “Thom’s Directory” in their research.  This book is the family history of Alex Thom, the man who founded the Directory.  Colin is the three times great—grandson of Walter Thom (father of Alex) and he has traced the family descent through different lines throughout the world.

This study starts with Alexander Thom (born 1715) from Bervie (hence the title) and his wife Margaret (née Dorward).  They came from Kincardinshire, now Aberdeenshire, in Scotland.  Alexander and Margaret married when they were 17 and 14 respectively and had two children.  All the Thoms referenced in this book descend from the second child, who was also called Alex, born in 1742.  This Alexander was a merchant who supplemented his income by resorting to smuggling.  His

conflicts with the law are detailed from the 1770s.  Alex married Christian (née Henderson) and he eventually became a weaver in the linen industry.  Their son Walter saw little future in this activity and consequently moved to Aberdeen, where Walter set up as a bookseller.  He also acquired a reputation as a writer on historical and statistical matters.  In 1800, Walter Thom married Margaret Turner before moving to Edinburgh, to concentrate fully on writing. 

In 1813, Robert Peel, Chief Secretary of Ireland, invited Walter to move to Dublin to edit “Faulkner’s Dublin Journal”, a government-subsidised evening newspaper.  This was published each Monday, Wednesday and Friday and sold at 5 pence per copy, and was produced from 15 Parliament St., Dublin.  Walter accepted the offer and lived above the premises.  In 1819, Peel handed proprietorship of the newspaper over to Walter.  However, the publication went into decline and sales decreased due to a change of government policy, which conflicted with the views of the Lord Lieutenant, the Marquis of Wellesley, who favoured Catholic Emancipation.  The recently introduced “Evening Mail” also attracted Protestant readers from the “Dublin Journal”.  Walter Thom struggled in this business environment and in about 1820, his son Alex gave up his studies in Edinburgh High School and moved to Dublin to assist his father.  Stress took its toll and Walter died, aged 54, in 1824.  Alex Thom subsequently took over the newspaper on his father’s death.  In the following year, 1825, Alex closed down the “Dublin Journal” and relocated his printing plant to 13 Mecklenburgh St. (now Waterford St.), where he restarted in business as a general printer with his foreman, a Mr. Johnson.  Some three years later, Alex moved to 21 North Earl St., Dublin, where he set up as a printer, publisher and bookseller.  With business slow, Alex had a brainwave!  He applied to Sir Robert Peel, now in London, for recognition of his and his late father’s losses, sustained in supporting government policy.  Through Peel’s influence, the London Stationery Office gave Alex Thom the entire contract for the Post Office printing in Ireland.  The business prospered and Alex received the printing contract for all future Royal Commissions in Ireland.  These included “Griffith’s Primary Valuation of Ireland”, another publication familiar to all genealogists. 

The firm of Alex Thom and Co. was now expanding at such a rate that it relocated to larger premises at 87-88 Middle Abbey St., Dublin, later the headquarters of “Independent Newspapers”.  The firm became the industry leader in the printing trade in Ireland, despite the economic depression which affected the Dublin printing industry from 1839 – 1842. In 1844, Alex Thom’s eldest daughter, Margaret, married Frederick Pilkington of Newbury Hall, Carbury, Co. Kildare.  He was a government bookbinder whose premises adjoined Thom’s.  The two firms merged and Frederick assumed a management role in the new company.  In 1844, Alex Thom launched what was to become the highly successful “Thom’s Directory”.  The firm was appointed the Queen’s Printer in Ireland in 1876.  Three years later in 1879, after six decades in the printing industry, Alex Thom transferred ownership of the company to Frederick Pilkington.  This was also the year in which Alex died, aged 78 years.

Alex Thom had first married Maria (née Dillon) in 1824 and they had nine children.  Mariah died in 1867, aged 70, and her death certificate noted that she had been insane for twenty years.  Subsequently, Alex married his housekeeper, Sarah Mackay, a widow.  Sadly, he became somewhat estranged from his family on his remarriage.

Thom’s Irish Almanack and Official Directory”, to give it its full title, is considered his greatest achievement and is still extant.  It was first published in 1844 with Alex Thom as editor and printer and it contained 650 pages – 7.5 inches by 4.75 inches in size.  It was hailed as the most ‘complete and valuable work of reference...that has yet appeared in Ireland’.  The 160th and final edition to be published in book form occurred in 2012.  It contains a staggering 528,000 business and residential entries on 13,066 streets in Dublin City and County and Bray County.  From this year on, it is only available online and on CD Rom.  Thom’s Directory’s place in Irish society was surely secured by the mention of it on five occasions in James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. 

Bervie and Beyond” references those Thom Family descendants throughout the world, principally in Australia and Argentina as well as Britain and Ireland, and individual kin are indexed for easy identification.  While primarily of interest to family members, the reference to historical persons, places and events will find a resonance with all readers.

Of particular interest is the reference to “Pedestrianism”.  The extraordinary walking feats of Robert Barclay Allardice, who was known as ‘Captain Barclay’, were published by Walter Thom in 1813.  A probable acquaintance of Walter, the heroic exploits of this athlete is well documented.  They include a feat accomplished in 1809, when Captain Barclay walked a mile in every hour, for 42 consecutive days and nights!  Over ten thousand people attended the event.  Substantial prize money was won in these events and betting on the outcome was common.  Barclay didn’t wear any form of athletic strip and his dress for competition consisted of “a top hat, cravat, warm, woollen suit, lambs wool socks and thick-soled shoes”

Another fascinating reference in the book is that of Bessie Thom, a probable kinswoman of the author, who was burned at the stake with two others for witchcraft in 1596.  This unfortunate woman was one of 23 who lost their lives for the crime of witchcraft over a two-year period.  The exact type and cost of materials used in this grizzly event are documented.  It is of interest to note that the last burning-at-the-stake of a woman in Great Britain occurred as late as 1789, when a Catherine Murphy suffered this fate at Newgate Prison, London.  Her conviction of being a counterfeiter was equated with that of treason.  The only recorded mass-trial for witchcraft in Ireland took place in Islandmagee, Co. Antrim in 1711, when eight Presbyterian women were tried and convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to one year in prison.  During this time, they were pilloried in public stocks and, presumably, pelted with rotten fruit and stones on market days.  Ireland repealed this 1563 witchcraft law in 1821, 110 years after the Islandmagee trial.  It is claimed that 200,000 people were burned for witchcraft in Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

The vicissitudes of the Thom family are well-described throughout the generations.  Included is the estrangement of the Thom and Pilkington families, who didn’t communicate with each other from the late 19th century until 2011 when the author re-established contact.  This was probably due to the unequal distribution of family wealth, as outlined in Alex Thom’s will. 

The Boer War in South Africa saw second cousins on opposite sides in this conflict.  Alexander Thom, originally from Ireland, opposed the Commonwealth forces, and after peace was agreed, received his discharge papers from General Botha, who led the Boers.  General Botha became famous for capturing Winston Churchill. Incredibly, Alexander was fighting against his second cousins, Albert and William Thom, from Australia.    

The recall of a suicide in the family is sensitively told as the story of an only-surviving daughter who had eight brothers and led a miserable, lonely life.  In 1909, she was bequeathed an annuity of only £25 from her father’s £37,000 estate.  This spinster daughter contested the will and succeeded in having the annuity increased to £80, and later to £200, after her over-bearing mother’s death.  Occasionally, she went to Dublin and stayed with her brother’s family from her home in Co. Meath.  During one such visit, she committed suicide and was found with her throat cut and a razor by her side.  She was forty years of age.  Newspapers covering the subsequent inquest reported that she left a note, lamenting her dire financial position and expressed concern about her not being successful in her suicide attempt.  The scandal was enormous.  This unfortunate woman died in poverty in the midst of plenty.  As her niece put it, “...the only girl amongst all these boys.  One would think she would have been adored”. 

This book is crammed with photographs, family trees and indentures.  The author diplomatically urges family members, who are now in their twilight years, to write their family stories.  He thoughtfully provides blank pages at the end of the book for this purpose – just as was done in family bibles in days of old.

This reviewer has a confession to make.  He helped the author, who is Australian, in his research for the book.  However, this doesn’t jaundice his eye as to the merits of this charming work, which is an ideal template to anyone considering writing their family history.  The greater Thom family owe a debt of gratitude to Colin for this labour of love.  I must also refer again to Alex Thom, whose widow, Sarah, made a bequest of Alex Thom’s private library to the National Library of Ireland in Kildare St., Dublin.  This collection consists of 3,900 volumes and is known as the “Alexander Thom Collection”.  Access to it is permitted, but restricted. 

Finally, it is fitting to recall the man who founded what became a national institution.  A pen picture of Alex Thom at work, and published in 1936, well after his demise, noted that:


“He took a personal interest, even in the most minute piece of activity in the factory.  Every day he inspected the work; and each worker waited, not in fear (but) for the judgements of that low-sized, stout man who stood beside them – his be-tassled velvet smoking cap half-hiding his curly white head and his small hairy hands giving that necessary touch of approval to some form of work.  So he went on his daily round, whistling happily as he went, amongst those old gentleman compositors of his, who came to work dressed in tall hats, frock coats and carrying umbrellas.”

Charles Dickens, methinks, couldn’t have described him better. 

Every Thom should read this book - and I urge every Dick and Harry to do likewise!

James Robinson is a family historian who published his family history, “The Robinsons of North Kildare – 300 Years of Family History” in 1997.  Since then, he has written and lectured extensively on this topic and is a regular contributor to the Irish Family History Society journal.


ISBN Hardcover 978-1-4797-8123-2

Softcover 978-1-4797-8122-5

Ebook 978-1-4797-8124-9

To order copies of this book, contact:

Xlibris Corporation


Review by James Robinson


The Irish Family and Local History Handbook 2

Paperback, 224 pp Price Stg£10 (approx. €12)
ISBN 978 0 9552399 7 7

By R. Blatchford & E. Blatchford. Published by Robert Blatchford Publishing Ltd, York, UK

Following on the success of The Irish Family and Local History Handbook, the publishers launched the second edition at the October 2012 Back To Our Past Show in Dublin. In addition to an updated Irish Genealogical Services Directory, the handbook includes numerous new articles written by well known genealogists from Ireland and the UK with some articles updated from the first issue.

Articles include :
- Irish DNA Atlas ( Dr. G Cavalleri & Michael Merrigan)

- The Irish in Wales (Beryl Evans M.A.)
- The National Library of Ireland

- The National Archives of Ireland (Aideen M Ireland)

- Dublin City Archives
- The Irish in London (Emma Jolly)
- The Petty Session Order Books (Ross Weldon)
- British Parliamentary Papers relating to Ireland (Dr. William Roulston)

- The Gentleman’s Magazine – Irish Happenings (Fred Feather)
- Online Irish Resources (Chris Paton)

- The Irish in British India (Emma Jolly)

- The Work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Ireland.

Review by Mary Beglan, Hon. Editor


Tracing your Sligo Ancestors

Paperback, 160 pp Price €13
ISBN 978 1 907990 04 5

By James G. Ryan. Published by Flyleaf Press Dublin

The Foreword tells us how Sligo is a maritime county in the Province of Connacht and that in the 19 th century, the capital Sligo (population 20,000), was the principal emmigration port during the mass exodus that occurred from the north-west of Ireland.

As with previous books in this series, the author takes us through the various records available in a clear and easy to follow format. The book covers all the main headings needed to develop your research in the county including: Administrative Divisions and Maps, Censuses and Census Substitutes, Church Records, Land and Estate Records and Gravestone inscriptions.

Under Censuses and Census Substitutes a extensive listing of sources is available including many available in the Sligo Library such as: 1795, 57 names if residents of Leyney attending a meeting to condemm the Defenders, illicit distilling etc. and 1829 a notice listing 90 names of householders in Sligo Town requested to convene to consider a local issue.

Also included is a chapter on further reading and miscellaneous sources. A very useful index is also provided.

Review by Mary Beglan, Hon. Editor


Tracing your Westmeath Ancestors

Paperback, 160 pp Price €13
ISBN 978 1 907990 03 85

By Gretta Connell. Published by Flyleaf Press Dublin

Westmeath is often referred to as the ‘Lake County’. It is a prosperous midland county whose main towns are Athlone and Mullingar. The families of Westmeath are a mix of Gaelic, Norman and others.

Gretta Connell, is a senior Librarian in Westmeath County Library with a special interest in local history and the author of another excellent book in this series. Gretta guides us through the undestanding of Administrative Divisions and the types of records which exist under the various headings of Civil Registration, Censuses and Census Substitutes, Church and Land records, Wills and Newspapers etc. Useful maps and illustrations of records available are included throughout the book.

Review by Mary Beglan, Hon. Editor


Tracing your Cork Ancestors Second Edition

Paperback, 162 pp Price €13
ISBN 978 1 907990 01 4

By Tony McCarthy & Tim Cadogan Published by Flyleaf Press Dublin

The first edition of this book was published in 1998. In the Preface to the Second Edition the authors remark that at that time “genealogy was still an old fashioned pursuit” and “brought to mind images of middle aged people, mooching around in graveyards.” Also, that much has changed since that time and how the popular TV show Who Do You Think You Are? and the association with “celebrity” has made genealogy “cool.” Another important change is the quantum leap in information and communication technology.

The second edition is totally updated and expanded, with entirely new illustrations and material. Almost all the changes made in this edition have been necessitated by the technological advances in the last decade. The sources for genealogical research remain the same as in 1998 when the book was first published i.e Census returns, Civil records of births, marriages and deaths, Church registers, Land record, Wills etc. What has changed, however, is how we can now access these records with many available online for free and on a subscription basis. Publications over the past 13 years relating to Cork research have also been included.

The book describes how to best use the records available for Cork City and County, and where they can be accessed. For each type of record it provides background information on how they were compiled and what information was contained, and on which categories of people.

Chapter 4 on Administrative Divisions explains the administrative geography of Cork such as Townland, Civil Parish, Barony, Electoral Divisions and Poor Law Union. The chapter also includes a very useful listing of the Civil Parishes of Cork and the corresponding Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland Parishes. Maps of the Baronies and Civil Parishes are also included.

The book also provides background on the social history of Cork and how this history has affected the keeping and survival of records. A very useful index is also provided.

The book will be of great use to anyone tracing their Cork ancestors, with its expert detail on the various sources available and its easy to read format. While aimed at those with Cork ancestors, the book will also be of use to those researching elsewhere in Ireland

Review by Mary Beglan, Hon. Editor


Readers of Irish Family History journal will be familiar with the many articles written by IFHS member G. Rex Meyer (#2105) relating to his Meyer family history and related topics. The following 2 books have been published over the past 2 years and can be obtained direct from the author.


Rev. Robert Jacob Meyer (1810 - 1892) Publications Abstracts, Commentary & References Implications for Family History

Paperback 136 pp Price Aus$ 35 €18 plus P&P.

ISBN 1 876383 11 9

By G. Rex Meyer (#2105) 58/14 Victoria Road, Pennant Hills. NSW 2120 Australia

Rev. Robert Jacob Meyer was born in Wexford Town, became a Methodist Minister in 1837 and served in circuits from Carlow and Wicklow in the south to Magherafelt and Strabane in the north. He died in Belfast. Robert’s father was Rudolphus Meyer (c.1770 – c1850), an immigrant from Germany and originally a Pietist Lutheran, who on marrying Hanna, converted to her religion, Methodism. The book is divided into four parts. Part I details briefly the life of Rev. Robert Jacob Meyer. Part II deals with the publications of Rev. Meyer during his 40 years of ministry. Part III includes various abstracts which were published in The Irish Evangelist and The Irish Christian Advocate. The final part deals with how Robert Meyer’s publications add to the knowledge of Meyer family history. This book with its numerous references and notes is well researched and of interest to all researching, not only the Meyer family, but also Methodism in Ireland in the 19th century.



Meyer Family History in Ireland – Two Brothers, Sons of Devout Methodists in the Nineteenth Century - Captain William Boyle Meyer (1861 - 1878) Merchant Seaman and Sir Robert Meyer Kt. (1858 - 1935) Town Clerk of Belfast

Paperback 229 pp Price Aus$ 20 €15 plus P&P.

ISBN 1 876383 12 7

By G. Rex Meyer (#2105) 58/14 Victoria Road, Pennant Hills. NSW 2120 Australia

This book tells the life stories of Captain William Boyle Meyer, Merchant Seaman and Sir Robert Meyer Kt. Town Clerk of Belfast. William and Robert were the two youngest sons of Rev. Robert Jacob Meyer of the above publication. William Boyle Meyer was apprenticed at a young age to the shipping Company of Messrs. Devitt & Moore, who had a fleet of clipper ships serving many parts of the world, but especially the Australian colonies. Part III details the life of William at sea until his early death at 27 when his ship went missing at sea and he was believed to have been drowned along with the rest of the crew. Robert was appointed a Junior Clerk to the Belfast Corporation at age 16 and promoted to Chief Clerk (Assistant Town Clerk) in 1885. Part IV tells of his work and achievements during his time with the Belfast Corporation. In 1909 he was appointed Town Clerk and received a Knighthood in 1921. The book is very well illustrated throughout with photographs, documents and family trees.  

Review by Mary Beglan, Hon. Editor


The Irish Family and Local History Handbook

Paperback, 224 pp Price Stg£12 (approx. €10)
ISBN 978 0 9552399 5 3

By R. Blatchford & E. Blatchford. Published by Robert Blatchford Publishing Ltd, York, UK

Many will be familiar with The Family and Local History Handbook published for the UK and now on its 13 th edition. Adopting the same style, the publishers have now produced The Irish Family and Local History Handbook to help people research their Irish ancestry. Launched at the Back to Our Past Show in Dublin October 2011 it will be of interest for the beginner as well as the experienced researcher. The handbook features numerous articles written by well known genealogists from Ireland and UK and covers a wide range of subjects.

Articles include :
- Researching Irish Ancestors (Dr William Roulston).
- Using Local Genealogists (Aiden Feerick MAPGI)
- The Irish Family History Foundation (Karel Kiely M.A.)
- The National Library of Ireland
- (Anne Marie O’Dwyer)
- Irish Recorded Pedigrees (Anthony Adolph)
- Unearthing Your Mayo Roots (Karen Foy)
- The National Archives of Ireland (Aideen M. Ireland)
- Dublin City Archives
- Irish Police Records (Stephen Wade)
- The Landed Estate Court Rentals (Ross Weldon)
- Landed Estate Papers & the Search for Farming Families in Ireland (Dr William Roulston)
- Tracing the Irish in Scotland (Chris Paton)
- Seeking Irish Ancestors in South Africa (Rosemary Dixon-Smith)
- Glasnevin Trust
- Irish Family History Research on the Web (Stuart A. Raymond)
- The Kearneys of Moneygall (Rachel Murphy)
- Irish Records at The National Archives, Kew (Audrey Collins)
- Presbyterians in Ireland (Dr William Roulston)
- The Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland (Valerie Adams)
- Chris Paton’s Essential Guide to Online Irish Resources
- Irish Family History Society (Mary Beglan)
- Tracing Army Ancestry at The Imperial War Museum (Sarah Paterson)
- Irish Family History Research at the Imperial War Museum (Sarah Paterson)
- Óglaigh na hÉireann – The Irish Defence Forces Military Archives

The Directory section includes details of various Archives and Repositories. Details of Family History Societies, national and regional are also included.

Review by Mary Beglan, Hon. Editor


Tracing your Donegal Ancestors  

By Helen Meehan and Godfrey Duffy      ISBN 978-0-9539974-9-7

Published by Flyleaf Press  Price €13 plus p&p  


County Donegal is interesting in the fact that it is the most northerly county on the island of Ireland but its jurisdiction is in the south.

Population wise the figures have fluctuated vastly over the last century and a half. Prior to the famine it reached almost 300,000 and in the intervening years the numbers dipped as low as 108,000 and now it is back up to almost 150,000 souls.

Many of those missing numbers are made up of families who emigrated to various parts of the globe and have become part of the Diaspora.

This publication will be of particular interest to the descendants of those who unwillingly left these shores.

The authors tell us that Donegal families are an interesting mix of native Irish and of Scots –Irish families who came to Donegal from the 17th Century onwards. It was to experience a high level of emigration to North America , Scotland and the North of England.

The book has 15 chapters under such headings as, Administrative divisions, Civil registration, Census, church records, Wills, Newspapers, Commercial directories, emigration records and Surname and family histories. The location of these records is clearly shown in each case as are the dates and years of access.

One of the most useful items shown is a map displaying all of the civil parishes of the county. Also included is a map of the Roman Catholic parishes of the county. The areas marked are matched up with a numerical list of the parish names. All the usual sources are quoted and in most cases there are facsimiles of the important documents which are vital in family research, the likes of Index of births, of marriages and of deaths in Ireland . Other examples shown are “Special report of surnames in Ireland 1894”. “Spinning wheel premium lists” “Griffith’s Valuation of tenements” “Raphoe wills 1684 to 1858” and “Thom’s directory” plus a number of other trade and commercial directories covering the county from 1824 up to 1896.

The book finishes off with a lengthy index which seems to be a very useful tool in making the best use of information enclosed. The publication is one of a kind and does all the correct things required of such a book, directions to availability of vital data, examples of such data and all other relevant information which will steer the beginner and the more experienced researcher when searching for Donegal ancestors.

Eddie Brennan, Hon. Librarian.


"Three Cheers for the Derrys" A history of the 10th.Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in the 1914-1918 war, based on the recollections of the final veterans.

By Gardiner S. Mitchell, Published by YES Publications £16.90
First published 1991 2nd. Publication 2008

This book does "exactly as it says on the tin". It contains the war experiences of a small number of combatants from Ulster, mainly the soldiers of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

These were a small tightly knit group of young men from Co. Derry who grew up, went to school and played on the street together. Throughout the war these survivors watched their companions and comrades being slaughtered by machine gun bullets or blown apart by high explosives on the wasted landscape of northern France.

These survivors are quoted profusely by the author in this account and they speak openly and frankly of their unforgettable experiences in and out of the trenches.

Originally they were constituted as the Co. Derry UVF but on the outbreak of war they became the "Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers".

The story is related by quoting these old soldiers of the Derrys who survived into old age, in particular Jim Donaghy, Leslie Bell and James Montieth. In their own words these old soldiers convey the unspeakable horrors of trench warfare and the traumatising effects of being under constant bombardment. Occasionally there were lighter moments with hours back in rest areas or even the relief of a visit to a causality station.

Whereby the book gives a graphic insight into the harsh realities of WW1 it is not of great benefit to family historians with the exception of the endpapers index list.

There is - under the headings of Army Number, Surname, Forename,Rank, Awards, Info and Additional. ("Info" meaning, date of demise and "additional" meaning killed in action or died of wounds.) - approx. 900 names including officers and other ranks.

As the soldiers are in the main from Co. Derry and Ulster men it follows that researchers from that area will find the book useful. The book contains many excellent photos of events both during the training period and also during the course of the war when soldiers of both sides are featured. There are photos of each of the constituent companies gathered in for the official pictures which are sharp and clear and will make it possible for descendants to identify soldiers. In the case of officers their group pictures have full captions as is the case of the NCO's.

An easy read for those students of WW1 but not for those principally interested in family history.

Reviewed by Eddie Brennan,
Vice Chairman and Hon. Librarian IFHS


How to trace your Irish ancestors - An essential guide to recording and documenting the family histories of Ireland's people

By Ian Maxwell, Published by How To Books, Oxford, England.
Price Stg.£ 9.99
ISBN 978 1 84528 234 9

This production follows the usual genealogical style of layout which has been used effectively in the past. The book contains more than eighteen sources of information making it simpler to organise your search and easier to carry it out.

There are only so many avenues to follow in Irish genealogy and Maxwell has included them all. His chapter headings cover the usual subjects such as: Administrative divisions, Civil registration, Census returns and Old Age Pension claims, Wills and Testamentary records, Election records, school records, Migration and Emigration, landed estates, Taxation and Valuation, Church, Law and Order, and researching on-line. His research into all aspects of Irish genealogy has been very thorough and he gets into the minutiae of all of his chapter subjects. He gives detailed explanations of the workings of such repositories as the General Register Offices of Dublin and Belfast, the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast, and the National Archives of Ireland.

In his preamble to each chapter the author gives a resume of the history of the particular resource such as Poor Law Union workhouses, Griffith's Valuation survey and Law and Order structures. What is unusual in this book is Maxwell's approach to Emigration and Immigration. He shows how to follow the path of ancestors who left for USA, Canada, Australia and Gt. Britain giving useful details of existing sources in those countries plus lists and indexes available here. I am not sure that this has been done before.

This book, though not up there with the likes of John Grenham's "Tracing your Irish ancestors" has merit and at Stg. £ 9.99 will be worth investing in for a complete beginner.

The author, Ian Maxwell is a former Records Officer with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and now writes for Family History Monthly and Ancestor magazines.

Irish Roots

Published by Irish Roots Media Ltd.,
Blackrock, Blessington, Co. Wicklow.

The Society recently received the second edition of this publication produced by Irish Roots Media Ltd. under the editorship of Maureen Phibbs and it displays an obvious effort to maintain the standard set by previous editor Tony McCarthy. There is a good mix of family history articles, letters, reviews and photographs although I did think that the double page photo spread of Castlefreake Castle in West Cork is more space filling than informative. Under the heading of "Genealogy Guide to getting started in 2008" Paul Gorry provides a well detailed introduction to family history research in Ireland in a two page article. The editor generously gave two pages to the genealogical societies under the heading "Society Notes". All of the leading groups have submitted an updated account of their activities. A nice touch comes in an article by Mattie Lennon entitled "2008 is the year of the potato" which includes a vintage photo of a Mr. Pat. Phibbs Snr. walking behind a two horse plough in 1961. Maureen's (editor) grandfather no doubt. Now that is family history. There is good use of colour throughout the magazine which makes the ad's more readable.

Irish Roots appears quarterly and sells at Euro 4.25

They can be contacted at: and the website is:


Historical notes on the ancient sept of Clancy/Glancy of Dartry

Compiled by Maria Clancy
Published by Linden Publishing Company.

The geographical location of this sept is in the northeastern area of Co. Sligo stretching into parts of Co. Leitrim in the region of Lough Gill. The Glancy/Clancy sept claim to be of Gaelic aristocratic origins and to have been around for some one thousand years. They can show a pedigree dating back to 1590 to a Teige Óg MacClancy.

Under the many chapter headings there are twelve interesting titles, which cover a time scale from medieval history to some modern day members of the sept. One slight criticism here would be the quality of reproduction of some of these photos. They fail to add anything to the accompanying text.

Under the heading "County Sligo Miscellanies" there are a number of articles pertaining to various personalities of the families down through the ages with extracts from the Hearth Roll Tax to Tithe Applotment and on to a detailed account of a John J. Clancy who became the Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1914.

There are also a number of brief biographies of other prominent sept members such as, William Clancy a leading Fenian of his day, Rev. John J. Clancy, the bishop of Elphin and another John who was elected to the first Dail. Two others of note, who were obviously Indian civil servants, were Reginald J. Clancy finance minister to a Nizam in India circa 1911 and a Bertrand J. Clancy who was governor of the Punjab 1941 to 1946.

All in all a very interesting group of people and although limited in its appeal to genealogists it will be of great benefit to any who are researching this name and this area.

Published Ireland 2007 / ISBN: 978-1-905487-08-0 Paperback, 100 pages incl. b/w photos and maps

Available from: Maria Clancy, 42, Evora Crescent, Howth, County Dublin, Ireland or email:
Price: Euro 20, Stg.£15, U.S.$30, Aus$30, Can.$30 incl. p. & p. Pay by cash or cheque.

Tracing your Roscommon Ancestors

By John Hamrock
Published by Flyleaf Press

The initial interesting fact to appear in this book is the population figures for the county as they changed over the last century and a half. The total for 1841 was 253,591, which slipped to 174,490 in the years following the famine. The latest data show that the figure is now down to 54,000 and growing. Immediately this trend points to a massive outflow of people, which added to the Diaspora, which is no doubt the Genesis of interest in Roscommon heritage.

This is where this publication becomes important. It is one of many as there is a number of "Tracing your ancestors" books available covering many counties. This is the first for the county of Roscommon. It does the job well by providing lists of sources and facsimiles of the many documents, which a researcher will encounter when the search begins. Reproductions from such as " Lewis' Topographical Dictionary", A numbered civil parish map of the county, a copy of a death cert.from the GRO, a page from the "Book of Surveys 1654 - 1656", a census of Elphin 1749, a householders sheet from the 1901 Census of Ireland and the "Griffith's Valuation for the Civil Parish of Kiltoom". All of which make for an easier understanding of what to look out for those beginning research.

This is a well thought out publication and leaves no avenue of research uncovered in trying to steer the researcher in the most profitable direction.

There are lots of lists, addresses and a lengthy list of surnames common to the county.

If you are new to research in Roscommon this is a publication you should have.

Reviewed by Eddie Brennan,
Vice Chairman and Hon. Librarian IFHS

Introduction to Family History

by Stuart A. Raymond
Published by The Federation of Family History Societies.

Family history has become much easier to research in the last few years. Some of the most important sources are now available at the click of a mouse on the internet. However, a basic understanding of these sources is still needed if you are to trace your family tree.

This 146 page A5 book has the detailed information to set you up ready to plunge into the fascinating world of research of family history. Although it is written with British researchers in mind the basic principles apply to all.

The author breaks down the task by chapter from the first steps under headings such as "where to go, who to ask, and what to read". He then leads on to "The major sources". Under "Other Kingdoms and Dependencies" he includes Ireland, on only two pages he manages to display lists of repositories, web-sites and relevant reading material. Very basic.

The panels containing the above headings in each chapter are coloured in Yellow for web-sites, Green for addresses and blue for reading material. This makes for quick reference.

Facsimiles are used throughout also to illustrate various data originals such as: Census forms, Birth, Marriage, Death certificates, Directories and Newspapers.

If you are a regular reader of our review section I am preaching to the converted and you should be well past this stage. However you may know someone about to embark on a journey of family discovery and if you do then maybe you should recommend this book to them.

The book retails at Stg.£8.95

The Second World War

by Phil Tomaselli
Published by The Federation of Family History Societies.

The Second World War was long, complex and brutal. People living between the years 1939 to 1945 played a part in this great event.

Researching ancestors who took part in the Second World War can be challenging because individual service records are not yet openly available. There is much else that is and this book looks at the sources for tracing men and women who served in the armed forces and Merchant Marine.

The book is rather slim, a mere 48 pages, but in it the author provides a wealth of detail of each branch of the armed forces with information on the how and where to access available sources. It appears that service details are available to veterans and their next of kin by post from the various locations such as the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow.

There are some pitfalls in pursuing research that are worth noting, i.e. anomalies such as Tank Corps and armoured regiments being listed under Cavalry.

All the relevant War Office Indexes are listed by section of service such as British Army in France 1939/1940 which are under ref. WO 167 and Home Forces under ref. 166. These can be researched at The National Archives at Kew.

For more helpful information the author has included a list of further reading material.

The book retails at Stg.£4.95

Nelson's navy 1793 - 1815

by Keith Gregson
Published by The Federation of Family history Societies

Britain's naval power, known as "The wooden wall", kept the country free from invasion by the French for twenty years from 1793. Each of these wooden ships was manned by hundreds of seamen. The Royal Navy was the biggest employer of the period. Think of the big set piece naval battles such as The Nile, St. Vincents and Trafalgar - all great victories for the wooden ships. Yet for most of those years the navies main duty was the blockade of the French coast.

Life in Admiral Nelson's navy was rough and raw for the ordinary seamen and not a whole lot better for the officer class.

Thousands of Irishmen signed on during those rousing times and many had a watery grave.

At the time of Trafalgar the Royal Navy had a total manpower complement of 110,000 and at that same battle there were eighteen different nationalities on board HMS Victory. There is family history in there for sure. The author tells us that much of the research material can be found in books, CDs and Internet sites. There is a "Trafalgar Ancestors” database available at the National Archives at KEW, London.

The final chapter consists of a list of web-sites which cover more than just Trafalgar during the period mentioned in the title. Under "Further Sources" we are given a full list of reading material covering all aspects of naval life aboard the ships of the line including naval ancestors and their life under sail.

The booklet consists of 32 pages in A5 and retails at Stg.£3.95

Reviewed by Eddie Brennan, Hon. librarian IFHS


Irish Family History Society Journal

Volume 22, 2006

Richard Flatman (editor); published by Irish Family History Society, PO Box 36, Naas, County Kildare, Ireland; e-mail:; 2006; 128 pages.

The annual IFHS parson's egg dropped in the letter box at the latter end of 2006. Like the clergyman in the adage, this reviewer will concentrate on the good parts.

The cover illustration is of a handsome young man who turns out to be Norman Robinson, a WWII pilot, killed at the age of 26 when his aircraft crashed shortly after taking off on a bombing raid to Germany. The author of the piece, James Robinson, makes a very interesting story of the tragedy.

He has some fascinating material to help him, including Norman Robinson's diaries. He relates how Norman attended Clongowes Wood College — James Joyce's alma mater — and later found it difficult to get employment in Ireland. He failed to get into the Irish army due to a thumb injury. He then went to England and joined the RAF.

Another off-beat piece deals with the relocating of a Toronto cemetery in which many nineteenth century Irish immigrants were buried. The photographs accompanying the article are fascinating. They are of items discovered in the process of disinterment. The rosary beads, clay pipes, coffin ornaments and crucifixes were all reburied with their former owners.

A twelve page index to Irish Family History Society journals from 1985 to 2006 is included. However, though the compiler must have spent a considerable amount of time producing it, it seems to be of little value as a finding aid. The articles are indexed 'by country or by subject'. In the case of Ireland and England, the index has been further sub-divided under various subject headings. The items in each of the subdivisions are not alphabetised.

Again on the negative side, there are 17 pages of 1901 and 1911 census return extracts which seem quite random.

Original review by Tony McCarthy appeared in Irish Roots Magazine, 2007 Issue No. 61 First Quarter, and is reproduced here by kind permission.

Potterton people and places, three centuries of an Irish family

By Homan Potterton
Published 2006 by Choice publishing
Mayoralty Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Selling at Euro 15 and available also from:

This publication is the genealogy of the Potterton family of Co. Meath who came to Ireland from Yorkshire in the late 17th Century. They settled in the Trim/Athboy area of that county and have remained there farming to this very day. Their story, which is carefully and methodically researched, is the history of an English settler family who through hard work and application became an important part of the community.

The book covers all of the connecting branches of the family through the townlands in connecting parishes. In the early chapters there are a series of line drawings of the houses in which many branches of the Potterton lived from the 18th. Century onwards.

Each of the principal townlands in which the family lived within the parishes has a separate section and some helpful genealogical detail emerges as the other neighbouring family occupiers are noted.

The author includes family "who's who" biographies from the first settler to date.

Description of houses, properties and of in-law families who lived in neighbouring towns and parishes are included. He has also added very helpful maps of all the areas and estates mentioned with the family holdings indicated. They leased initially from Lord Darnley and later bought land of their own.

Another interesting aspect of the book is the inclusion of lots of family photos which the allows the reader to identify the leading personalities of the dynasty.

To add to the understanding of the family lines, Potterton has included a dozen pages of family trees with identifying eadings (first of the line) or by location in the first townland settled. I found the charts a little confusing in the manner of their layout.

In spite of this the book is extremely well researched and it is plain that the author has a deep interest and love of his ancestors and of what they have achieved over the centuries.

This is a well-ordered publication which although of limited interest outside the Potterton diaspora (some went to New Zealand) it makes interesting reading for genealogists.

Reviewed by Eddie Brennan, Hon. librarian IFHS


Register of the Parish of Shankill, Belfast, 1745 - 1761

Edited by Raymond Gillespie and Alison O'Keefe.
Published by the Representative Church Body Library.

The register, which covers a mere seventeen years, is in essence a loose social history of a parish in a young though not always healthy town. In between the years of the title the growing town of Belfast was subject to constant change in its social, cultural and business life, from a medieval settlement at a river crossing or ford, Belfast (Beal Feirsde in the gaelic form) grew slowly to become a town and a port with ever increasing trade.

The book opens with an interesting history of the growth of the parish of Shankill and of Belfast during the 18th. Century.

It was the parish of Shankill, (from the gaelic, Sean Chill or Old Church) which enclosed the town of Belfast and from the earliest days there was a church close to the crossing. The first recorded mention was in a Papal decree in the year 1306.

Planter baron Sir Arthur Chichester decided that a new church was required and that the old one be refurbished leaving each church with its own graveyard. This situation is the reason why entries in the register refer to either Shankill or Belfast as burial places.

In the period covered by the register the parish of Shankill extended from the river Lagan in the East across to the mountains of Antrim in the west and as far North as Greencastle.

The parish covered a total of twenty-seven townlands and encompassed the town of Belfast.

From the prospective of outside observers the most striking feature of the community of Belfast was its religiously iverse nature. Richard Pocoke, Archdeacon of Dublin at the time, wrote of the Church in Belfast "indeed the congregation is but small and most of them of the lower rank, for of 400 houses there are about sixty families that go to church. The richer people with a number of others are of the new light Presbyterians and the rest of the old light and Papists. The new light are looked on as Arians and these two lights have a greater aversion to each other than they have to the Church."

The index covers pages 47 to 300 in this volume of 350 pages filled with details of baptisms, marriages and burials by year and by day of the month with headings in bold type indicating the page numbers in the original register. The end pages contain an alphabetical index of all the included persons.


Reviewed by Eddie Brennan, Hon. librarian IFHS


The Clergy of Clogher, Biographical succession lists

Published by The Ulster Historical Foundation.

The Church of Ireland diocese of Clogher consists of the six deaneries of Clogher, Clones, Enniskillen, Kesh, Kilskeery and Monaghan.

The book begins with lists containing names of bishops, deans, chancellors, precentors, prebendaries, canons and diocesan curates of the Diocese from 1923 onwards. Under the heading of Bishops the first one named is MacCarthinn, a companion of St. Patrick, 493 a.d. These are followed by 90 pages of pictures of the parishes churches and the incumbents from its inception to date.

The rest of this large publication consists of an alphabetical list of the biographies of the clergy, beginning with Aldhouse, Frederick Stephan, 1845 - 1941, through to Young, Agustus, 1845 - 1941.

From there through to the index there are pen pictures of Bishops, Deans and Canons and also of parishes, which are listed alphabetically, showing the incumbents and their year of inception.

This very large hard covered book is a very helpful resource for anyone researching clergy of the Church of Ireland within the diocese and a useful source of reference.

A History of St. Margarets, St. Canices and Finglas

By Peter Sexton.

This publication has only just come to hand even though it was first published in 2001. The author although Cork born became an active member of St. Margarets parish when he moved to Dublin after the second World war.

He describes in great detail the history of the parishes from the earliest church built in the 18th. century through to the year 2000.

It is not of great genealogical value as individuals do not feature strongly but there are local families mentioned through the narrative. There is included a small number of group photographs taken from different eras such as school pictures taken in 1937, 1940 and an ICA group taken in 1948. These have lists of names included as captions. It may have a limited interest to non parishioners but it will be a source to researchers of the area of north Co. Dublin covering St. Margarets, Naul and north Finglas.


John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” 3rd edition

Right away the reader will notice the change in cover style and the increase in bulk of this latest edition. Grenham has been a major player in the field of family history research since the publication of the first edition in 1992. This time he has excelled himself and has managed to broaden still further the base of research by including extra features giving new angles and insight to the previously published broad range of data. He has broadened the “Introduction” section by adding in two new chapter headings, “British sources for identifying Irish place of origin” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints”. Under the heading of Emigration the author has extended the range greatly and where there was seven pages devoted to this in the first edition, it has been increased to a total of 23 pates. This expansion is achieved by a greater coverage of locations and therefore longer lists of sources and of publications pertaining to the Irish abroad.

The coverage given to the County Source List has doubled from vol. 1. The information given has been extended greatly under each heading with all published works on any given county gathered together in one list. I particularly liked the changed layout of the chapter on Roman Catholic Parish Registers. The data is laid out alphabetically by parish showing the years of available data under Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, with the appropriate location and reference numbers. I particularly liked the new style maps of each county showing the parish divisions. Very clear and concise.

One small criticism. A colleague of mine who specialises in Co. Sligo genealogy, noted the omission of three particular local publications from Gresham's listing. Are there others?

All considered, this is a much improved publication and one I would buy for my own use. When I got my copy of the first edition, I thought it was the "bees knees" of family history references books. This edition surpassed it. It is an all you ever wanted to know publication.

The book is published by Gill & Macmillan. The cost is Euro 22.99.

Reviewed by Eddie Brennan, Hon. librarian IFHS


Journal of the Irish Family History Society

The latest issue of the Journal of the Irish Family History Society, that for the year 2005, with its 128 pages and twenty articles, as usual, provides interesting reading. This year, it is a bit light on source material. Most of the articles are personal accounts of research carried out, and descriptions and characterisations of various ancestors and their times. This personal emphasis makes the booklet more entertaining. It is most unlikely that anyone is going to find a reference to one of their ancestors in a sampling of source material that can be fitted into a short article. Much better to celebrate the lives of ancestors and relate the adventures involved in discovering them.

Margaret Purcell's piece: 'Recollections — Looking for Ancestors in Ireland', details her search for the roots of her 'four great-grandparents of Irish stock', all of whom settled in England during the nineteenth century. Luckily for her, one of her forbears, John Purcell, left a Bible after him in which he had written: 'This Bible belongs to John Purcell, son of Thomas Purcell and Mary Bryan of Grawna in the Parish of Ballingarry, County Tipperary, Ireland'. The inscription was dated 6 May 1854. Her experience of the ancestor trail in Ireland was very positive. She encountered a parish priest who gave her full access to the parish baptismal records. Afterwards he directed her to the local authority on family history, a shopkeeper, who was able to send her on to the place from which her Purcell ancestors came. She was welcomed to the homestead by cousins who had never met her, or even heard of her before. Since then, she has stayed in the homestead on a number of occasions as a guest of her new found cousins.

Patricia Moorhead had a piece in the 1999 edition of the journal of the IFHS about her great-great-grandfather Bernard Sheehan. Part two of the article appears in this issue. Over twenty pages in length, it is the longest article in the booklet. It is very well researched and written in an engaging style. Here, she tells us more about Mr Sheehan who was a Cork pawnbroker who fathered fifteen children and featured regularly in the press due to his involvement in local politics. The article is very well illustrated with old photographs of Bernard and his descendants.

Richard Flatman writes about a more recent ancestor, his grand-father James Michael Duffy. Mr Duffy worked in the Natural History Museum for over forty years, most of it spent in the 'bone room'. The short article gives a little insight into what working in one of the institutions of the state was like in the early part of the last century.

Other articles of note are Perry Mclntyre's piece on 'Famine Orphan Girls to Australia 1849-1950' and 'Oscar Wilde's Friend and Benefactor, Helen Carew (c.1856-1928)' by James Robinson.

The focus of the various articles indicates a good geographical spread. Patricia Moorhead's piece, centred on Cork City, is balanced by Margaret Bonar's 'The Gweedore Estate of Lord George Hill', with its focus on rural Donegal at the other end of the country.

The journal concludes with a number of reviews of genealogical publications, both CD-Roms and books.

Original review by Tony McCarthy appeared in Irish Roots Magazine, 2006 Number 1, and is reproduced here by kind permission.

Contact the Irish Family History Society
Post: 17 Aubrey Park, Shankill, Dublin D18 CX64, Ireland.