The Gathering: local history, heritage and Diaspora

‘The Gathering: local history, heritage and Diaspora’ is a one day conference being held tomorrow, Saturday 24 November, at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

The purpose of the conference is to bring a number of innovative projects that NUIM’s researchers are engaged in to the attention of professionals working in the field of genealogy and Irish diaspora studies.

The emphasis is on specialists show-casing their original work, highlighting the sources that they accessed, how they used them, what they were able to derive from those sources, how they would advise people to go about accessing and using those sources for other research, and in some cases e.g. John Joe Conwell, how one goes about setting up an initiative such as the Reaching Out project.

As part of the event, there will be an opportunity for delegates to view the Morpeth Testimonial Roll and to hear a presentation on what it is, how it might be of use to genealogists as a major census substitute, etc. This will be given by Christopher Ridgway who is curator of Castlehoward where the Roll was discovered.

The Morpeth Testimonial Roll was compiled on Autumn 1841 when on the departure of George Howard, Viscount Morpeth, from the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, his supporters set about organising an extraordinary farewell gift. Their valedictory outpourings of affection for Morpeth resulted in a unique document. The Testimonial Roll, wrapped around a gigantic bobbin, measures 429 metres in length and contains around 250,000 signatures gathered from across the whole of Ireland in just four weeks. Not seen since the time of its commissioning over 170 years ago, the roll will go on public display in 2013. This event will afford genealogists, local historians, heritage officers and librarians a unique opportunity to preview the Roll and to hear about its potential as an invaluable census-substitute.

Given that the Roll is unique and comparatively (as yet) unknown in genealogical circles, and in light of its significant potential as a source that will be useful to genealogists in years to come, this event on the 24 November will provide genealogists with a rare opportunity to familiarise themselves with the source, to ask about plans for its being made available to researchers, etc.

An important feature of the day’s proceedings will be a presentation, made by Mario Corrigan, County Librarian for Kildare, about how local historians, genealogists, librarians, heritage officers and others can help us with the task of identifying the approximately 250,000 people whose signatures or marks are recorded on the Morpeth Testimonial Roll. The hope is to get local communities on board in the coming months to share their knowledge of local history and local families in order to help us identify as many of these people as possible.

View the full conference programme

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