Saturday, March 29, 2014

Family History Day 2014

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The Dublin City Library and Archive organises a Family History Day in March and a Local History Day in October every year. The day consists of a number of 45 minute presentations on relevant but not necessarily related topics.

Today (28/3/2014) saw the Family History Day. The conference room was full and the programme packed with goodies.

However, before launching into the talks, it was Máire Kennedy's sad duty to call for a minute of silence for Shane Mac Thomáis who died tragically at the end of last week. You can see a tribute to Shane here.

The programme kicked off with Conor Dodd taking us through the available military records, with particular emphasis on WWI, the centenary commemoration of which starts this year. Conor has been a long time at this and seemed to know the UK National Archive in Kew like the back of his hand.

He was followed by his father, Liam, who took us through the Irish Lights records. Liam has spend some 30 odd years in the service and not only is he familiar with what is available, he was responsible himself for destroying a fair bit of what is not available, and while he now bemoans the destruction of many records including those he destroyed himself, he has a clear conscience as he acted under orders and the objective at the time was simply to free up precious space.

Ricky Shannon took us through her vast family of tanners, many of whom lived in the James's St./Mount Brown area. She told of a small planned family reunion which quickly expanded to take 100 people but which nevetheless proved a great success.

The afternoon kicked off with Jacinta Prunty illustrating the usefulness of maps to the family historian. She showed how many maps have unexpected quantities of genealogical information and made the point that one always needs to walk the walk, even if it is only on paper. The physical/geographical element provided by maps is a vital element in getting the sense of a place and these are becoming increasingly available including in the series of town atlases which is being added to all the time.

Jacinta continues to field questions at the end of a very lively Q&A, while Máire manages the digital transition to the next session.

Padraic Kennedy gave us a whistlestop tour through the Irish military archives of which he is Director. These archives have a vast amount of material which is being steadily digitised. While it is necessary to make an appointment to visit the archives, you get the royal treatment as soon as you go through the door. I can testify to that from my own experience.

And finally we get to Rosie Hackett. Rosie has got the latest bridge over the Liffey named after her following a very intensive online campaign conducted mainly by three young ladies whose enthusiasm for the task sometimes led to supporters of the Rosie campaign rewriting of history on the fly.

Never mind. James Curry demolished the myth and revealed behind it a very worthy and fascinating lady who well deserves to have the bridge named after her. He helped prepare a pamphlet showing the real Rosie Hackett and this will be launched by Dublin City Council on 9 May next.

Meanwhile there will be some tidying up of the records to be done, not least replacing the photo of Lady Gregory on Rosie's current Wikipedia page with one of the real Rosie. The page is here and hopefully by the time you get round to looking it up it will have been straightened out.

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