Free Summer Talks in the NLI: WEEK 2

The Summer Talks at lunchtime will take place every Tuesday and Thursday in August & September from 1-2pm.

Paul McCotter (NUI Cork)

Tuesday 11th of August

Paul Mac Cotter

 ‘Irish Surnames, a family heirloom’

‘Our surname is our oldest family heirloom, as the late Dr. Edward McLysaght once famously wrote. And this is nowhere more true than in Ireland, as the Irish invented surnames. To this day these remain a rich source of family history and pride, and the story of the evolution of the Irish surname over time remains one of the great stories of Irish history. This presentation will cover some of the more interesting aspects of the Irish surname’

Venue:National Library of Ireland


Dr. Paul MacCotter began his interest in heritage as an amateur genealogist in his Twenties. This interest led into an appreciation of Irish history and heritage, and MacCotter obtained his MA by independent research at UCC in 1994 for his thesis on a leading Anglo-Norman lineage. After this he continued his studies into general and Specialist genealogy and medieval history. During this time he continued to study, research and publish in the areas of medieval history, Anglo-Norman history, church history, genealogy, and Irish surname studies. These publications ranged from populist genealogical magazines to high status peer reviewed historical journals. MacCotter currently has nearly fifty papers published and four books. He was awarded his PhD in UCC in 2006.

Two years later his thesis was published. Medieval Ireland: territorial, political and economic divisions (Fourcourts Press, 2008, rep. 2014) has come to be regarded as a major reference work and MacCotter as a leading authority on this important aspect of medieval Irish history. He worked as Historical Consultant for the Heritage Council funded INSTAR project, Making Christian Landscapes, between 2008 to 2010, and obtained a prestigious two year Government of Ireland fellowship, in 2010. Dr. MacCotter currently continues his academic research, with several studies forthcoming, and is an assistant lecturer in the Schools of History and Adult Continuing Education, UCC, and a research associate with the Irish Ancestry Research Company of the University of Limerick. A list of his extensive publications may be accessed at


Bruce Durie (U.Strathclyde)

Thursday 13th of August


Heraldry – obscure mediaeval mumbo-jumbo, or valid genealogical technique?

Records of registrations of coats of arms – and the associated pedigrees – may be the only evidence there is of a lineage. This can help break down genealogical brick walls. But heraldry is often dismissed as difficult, recondite and of no contemporary relevance. Nonsense! Heraldry is a living science and art, and paradoxically very easy to understand.

Dr Bruce Durie will explains how heraldry works – with examples of real-life genealogies solved with heraldic records (Scottish, English and Irish)

Venue:National Library of Ireland


Dr. Bruce Durie BSc(Hons) PhD OMLJ FSAScot FCollT FIGRS FHEA

Bruce Durie is considered one of Scotland’s top genealogists, with an international reputation. He is perhaps best known for his BBC radio series, “Digging Up Your Roots” (eighth season in 2014), and “A House with A Past”, and he has authored 30 books, including the best-selling “Scottish Genealogy” now in its 3rd edition. (

Bruce founded the much-acclaimed Postgraduate Program in Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, which he headed for six years as Course Director, until 2011. Now a Fellow at Strathclyde, he is developing a full-time one-year Masters and a Doctoral programme. He also teaches courses on Genealogy, Documents and Heraldry at the University of Edinburgh.

Recently elected to the prestigious Académie Internationale de Généalogie (the only member from Scotland), he is Shennachie (Genealogist and Historian) to the Chief of Durie, and was recently appointed official Shennachie to COSCA (Council of Scottish Clans and Associations).

 Bruce co-organises ancestral and historical tours with Jamie, Lord Sempill( His background is in medicine and neuropharmacology, as well as holding a doctoral degree in history. He sits on the Council of the 2016 International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Science, due to be held in Glasgow, August 2016.

Bruce has just been announced as the Fulbright Senior Scottish Studies Scholar, and will be spending seven months next year at a university in the USA, researching and teaching aspects of Scottish migration to the Carolinas.

 More info at and books at

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