Irish Catholic parish registers for SoG

By Editor, 27 August 2009 - 2:05pm

Those with Irish Catholic ancestors should welcome a recent aquisition by the Society of Genealogists, says Else Churchill.

It had always been difficult for family historians to obtain copies of Irish registers. Indeed in some cases anyone wanting to use these records would have had had to apply to the Bishops of certain dioceses before being allowed even to view films of the records at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.

Thankfully that restriction has recently been rescinded. Additionally a recent (2008) statement from the Pope announced that access to Catholic registers by the Mormon Church is to be refused in future, hence it seems unlikely that Catholic records will be available to view on the IGI/Family Search sites in any the significant numbers.

The Society of Genealogists is always keen to augment its extensive collections of parish registers but we can obtain the films only under certain conditions – namely that we cannot make a copy in any form (including digital) of the microfilm, or supply or lend a copy of the microfilm to any other person or institution, in accordance with the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

The format of this microfilm is under copyright to the National Library of Ireland, and cannot be copied or made available in any other format without the express permission of the Board of the National Library of Ireland. The microfilm will not be digitised in whole or in part without the express permission of the Board of the National Library of Ireland.

The SoG carried out some research on crude numbers of people born in the various Irish counties who had moved to England by 1861-71. Most counties were represented by numbers from three to four figures (low 100s to around 6000 people). But by far the largest numbers of Irish immigrants came from the two counties of Cork and Dublin (18,500 to over 25,000).

These counties are NOT well covered by indexing on registers on the Irish Heritage Foundation website. Therefore the Society’s Librarian, Sue Gibbons decided that she would like to concentrate her purchases of original registers on these two counties. Unfortunately the Society’s resources are limited and we have had to ask members to contribute to the costs of buying these records.

SoG Members have been invited to sponsor the purchase of registers which they would like to see in the Library. Sponsors then get exclusive use of the records before they go into the microfilm cabinets for anyone, including non-member day visitors, to use in the library. The first few registers for these counties are beginning to come into the Library and we hope to have more available soon.

We believe that this is extremely welcome news for all those of us with Irish Catholic ancestry.

Anyone wanting to visit the SoG Library or join the Society can find information on our website www.sog.org.uk

Else Churchill, Society of Genealogists

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