Check out the Genealogy Advisory Service at the National Library of Ireland.

A young honeymoon couple from South Africa, exploring the wife’s Plunkett ancestry.  The last of her ancestors actually born in Ireland was in 1850.  A school-teacher, she settled first in America where she married a widower with an interesting name, before sailing half-way round the world in 1880 to settle in Africa.The family seem to have exorcised all their wander-lust in one generation, and remain there to the present day.

An Irish lady engaged in ‘home-work’ for a genealogy course. I showed her where to find the Catholic parish registers on microfilm, and how to thread the microfilm onto the reader. She let out a sigh of relief, to see that the register from the 1840s, was written in a strong clear hand.

An older professional American couple tracing their Scots-Irish heritage.They were at first hesitant and even apologetic to ask if it was possible to find anything.  “You must be asked this all the time, and we know so little.”  The Gettys family left Ireland in the mid-1700s and put down roots on the eastern sea-board.  Imagine how thrilled they were to discover an armorial record and a published Journal article, available upstairs in the Reading Room.

Descendants of Sir John Rogerson, a merchant and one-time Mayor of Dublin.  These English ladies were thrilled to discover new information from the Trinity Alumni lists online on ,Their ancestor John Rogerson was born in 1648, a fact that is widely known (just ask Mr. Google).  Less widely known, is that he was born in Holland. On 6th April 1664, the young John Rogerson recorded this information himself, when he enrolled in Trinity College Dublin.  So despite the 451 year gap, it’s as good a source of information as is possible to get.  We also found Sir John Rogerson’s original 1724 Will survives in the National Archives in Bishop’s St. The two ladies are already planning a return trip to Dublin, to follow up this lead.

Working in the Library’s Genealogy Advisory Service has improved my practise as a family historian.  It takes me out of the archives, puts me face-to-face with other people, and teaches the importance of active listening. No matter how many generations separate an overseas visitor from their Irish born ancestors, those that turn up to the National Library, often care passionately about their Irish heritage.


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