The website is Irishgenealogy.ie and the welcome message from the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs reads: "I am very pleased to welcome you to irishgenealogy.ie the website dedicated to helping you search for family history records for past generations. The website is now home to the historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths of the General Register Office. These records join the Indexes to the historic records of Births, Marriages and Deaths that were already available on the website.
My Department and I are conscious of the importance of genealogy as an important way of connecting with those abroad who wish to trace their roots and, also permitting those here in Ireland to establish their family history.
At present, the genealogy landscape can seem confusing so, my Department has concentrated on the development of some additional search functionality for www.irishgenealogy.ie by way of providing a portal or search facility for digital genealogy records.
Visitors will be able to search records from a number of on-line sources including the historic Registers and Indexes to the Civil Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths, the Church Records already available on www.irishgenealogy.ie, and others such as the 1901 and 1911 Census and Soldiers wills, to name but a few.
Further information on how to research family history in Ireland is contained in the section Research in Ireland."
There are some year limitations on some of their databases, and the search functionality can be tedious and confusing, but the website, like many genealogy websites is an ongoing work in progress - they will be adding more records as they go, so keep checking back with them.
I, personally, am thrilled - of all my backgrounds, my Irish heritage has been, without fail, my hardest to research. Stumbling blocks, brick walls, dead ends - you name it, I have it on my Irish branches. But I'm hoping these new records will open up some new avenues to pursue, some new lines of questioning. Already I've found three interesting documents, both of which I've only seen in transcription form before (and just fyi, transcriptions don't always include every piece of information from a document). The first is the death record of my 4th great grandfather, Cornelius Gorry, who died in Williamstown, Kells, County Meath on May 23, 1897 at the age of 85.
There is no new information here but there's nothing like seeing the old handwriting, the actual document (even in image form) to make it feel real and to add weight and authority to this person and event (remember, there can be mistakes in transcriptions as well).
The second document is the death record for Cornelius' wife, Mary, from Feb. 25, 1893. It lists her as the wife of Cornelius and their daughter Catherine MacNamee was the informant (Catherine's husband James MacNamee was the informant for Cornelius), but it lists Mary as being 62 at the time of her death. That means she was born about 1831. What this tells me is there was either a mistake made about her age (which often happened, though not by more than 10 years, if even that many, usually) OR this Mary was not the Mary who was the mother of my 3rd great-grandfather, James Gorry - because he was born about 1835. So, that mystery continues.
The third document I found was the civil birth record for my great-grandfather, Timothy Cronin, which I had never seen. According to it, he was born August 22, 1879 in Carragraigue - Dromtariffe in County Cork (registered in the District of Millstreet) to Denis Cronin and Hanoria Donohue. His father was a labourer and the birth informant was Julia Cronin, who was present at the birth - this was quite possibly his sister Julia, who was about 15 or 16 at the time. Now, it wasn't unusual for someone "present at birth" to be the informant, but it seems the informant was usually the father. But if you look at the record, Denis Cronin's place of residence is listed as... London!
Wait, what? Stop the presses. That's not even in Ireland! But since this opens up more questions than answers, we'll talk about this newfound discovery in my next blog post...stay tuned!!!