How we got on at our Free Family History Day in Athlone

Eneclann and findmypast  are currently visiting public libraries in many parts of the country  in response to an invitation to come and help library users with family history.  In this year of commemoration, there has been a great focus on our past, and this in turn has focused people on their own family history.  It is intriguing to consider where our ancestors were in 1916  and to place them in the context of their very turbulent times.




In each location we visit a talk is given, and before, during and after the presentation, other members of the team offer a one to one consultation.

As part of the team, I left Dublin on a cold – very cold – February  morning, headed for Athlone.  It may have been cold outside but received the warmest of welcome from Athlone library staff in their state of the art library building.  Based in Athlone’s Civic Centre, adjacent to one ( of the two) shopping centres, I was struck with how fortunate the people of Athlone are to have this light filled space,  right slap in the middle of things.  I couldn’t help thinking, as I often do, that when Dublin’s Dundrum shopping centre was built, a great mistake was made in not locating its public library in the centre.

But we were in Athlone to talk family history, and talk and search we did until it was time for the train back to Dublin.  Thank you to all who shared their family history with us, their past stories, sad and happy and puzzling.

I especially  loved that people shared their photographs with us.  It was so great to find census and other records to flesh out the lives of the people in the photographs.

 I loved that three generations of one family turned up to find their family tree. The input from the ‘older ‘ family member enabled us to search findmypast successfully for the family’s records.  The younger family member  now lots of clues to follow to piece the history together, but most of all, that day in Athlone library allowed him to ‘hear ‘ his family history from his great aunt.

I loved that a lady wanted to work hard to flesh out her information to hand on to her new grandson.

I loved all of the stores that were shared with us that day, some sad, it is true, but glad now that people can solve puzzles that have been in their family histories.

Apologies to the people who waited patiently for us to begin and waited again while we sifted through all the clues we wanted to follow in each story.

Our thanks to Athlone library staff for inviting us and for the excellent set up in their magnificent library, with plenty of computer terminals and a dedicated lecture space, we were all set for a great day of family history.
I look forward to meeting more of you when I next escape from Dublin!

By Carmel Gilbride.

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