Archive of the Month August 2016
At a reception in St Audoen's parish church, Dublin, at 6.00pm on Wednesday 3rd August 2016, the Director of the National Archives, John McDonough, launched The List of Church of Ireland Parish Registers: an online colour-coded resource featuring live links to other relevant online resources.
The list accounts for all Church of Ireland parochial registers of baptism, marriage and burial - noting what survives, the dates covered, and where they are located. Where registers were destroyed in the burning of the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) during the Irish Civil War in 1922, the list records details about abstracts, transcripts and where they are held.
The original list was the work of Margaret Griffith, Deputy Keeper at PROI, who in the 1950s used extant parochial returns (dating from the 1870s) to compile a hand list of Church of Ireland parish registers known to exist in 1922. In the ensuing decades the list was heavily annotated by PROI staff with notes about abstracts, transcripts and locations of microfilms. Latterly, from 1984 onwards, when the RCB Library was designated as the official place of deposit for Church of Ireland registers in the Republic of Ireland, the updating of the list was carried out by Library staff in conjunction with the National Archives and the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.
The new online version of the list interpolates all previous work into an accessible, colour-coded resource. Additionally, it now includes live links to other websites holding indexes, transcripts and scanned images of parish registers. Ultimately the list will further link to the RCB Library's detailed in-house hand lists of the collections of parochial records - including the registers but also the wide variety of other records such as vestry minute books, preachers' books, accounts and magazines.
In producing this new resource, the RCB Library has collaborated with the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) as a project to celebrate the latter's 80th anniversary. Widely known for her online genealogy blog, Irish Genealogy News, Claire Santry, a Fellow of the IGRS, painstakingly reworked the list to create a one-stop search tool that links easily to online information.
IGRS Chairman Steven Smyrl said: "Parish registers are a vital tool to genealogists and the loss of so many in 1922 has been an ever-present handicap. This new online resource, highlighting the existence of so many surviving registers, along with abstracts and copies of those that do not, will prove invaluable. Its launch today is a terrific way to mark the IGRS' 80th anniversary."
Dr Susan Hood, Librarian and Archivist at the RCB Library, said: "For a small record repository like the RCB Library, collaboration with committed organisations like the IGRS whose volunteer members have such an interest in Church of Ireland records (most especially the parish registers) is positive and rewarding." She thanked Claire Santry who had worked so hard on the project and expressed the hope that there will "future opportunities to work so constructively for mutual benefit."