My recent trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah was part of my preparations for my upcoming trip to Ireland. In both Utah and Ireland I hope to learn more about my Brady, Coyle & Mullane families.
Although the staff at the Family History Library was all polite and friendly I did not encounter anyone who could help expand my knowledge of my Irish families. I was told:
1. “Irish research is difficult. That’s not my field.”
2. “Catholic records are hard to find.”
3. “Many places in Ireland won’t allow us to copy their records.”
4. “They will help you at the National Library in Ireland.”
I was discouraged by these comments. I had hoped someone would sit with me and make suggestions to direct my search. I wanted to get the most out of my time there so I switched my goals to focus on books.
Before I had gone to Utah I had searched the website to discover their Irish resources. Since I can order microfilm and view it at my local FHL I focused on books, only available in Utah. Knowing I was centering my research on Counties Cavan & Tipperary, I listed books that would teach me more about these areas.
I looked for these books for County Cavan:
· The Graveyards of County Cavan, a survey by Mary Sullivan 941.69 V3
· Old Irish Graveyards: County Cavan by Eileen Hewson 941.69 V3
· Sources for Cavan Local History by Sara Cullen 941.69 H23
· A Copy of the Registry of Freeholders in the County of Cavan by Ireland, Court of quarter Sessions of the Peace (Cavan) 941.69 R2
I looked for these books for County Tipperary:
· Ireland, County Tipperary: genealogy & Family history: special extracts from the Irish archives 941.92 D27
· Clonmel: an Architectural Guide by Elizabeth Shee and S. J. Watson 941.92 H2
· History of Clonmel by William P. Canon Burke 941.92/C1 H2
· My Clonmel scrap book by James White 941.92/C1 H2
· Priest, Politics and society in post famine Ireland: a study of county Tipperary, 1850 – 1891 by James O'Shea 941.92 H2
· History of South Tipperary by Patrick C. Power 941.92 H2
· Tipperary County, people and places: an anthology of the evolution of County Tipperary, some historic events and the history of the principal towns in the county editor: Michael Hallinan 941.92 H2
I found a space at a large library table and wandered through the stacks. I found sections for Counties Cavan (941.69) & Tipperary (941.92). Each of these was a shelf of books about 3 feet long. I gathered books, headed to the table and started checking the indexes for my family surnames. Although I found nothing about my Brady, Coyle or Mullane ancestors I did find information on the areas they lived; what life was like when they lived there. I find that very useful when trying ot understand and in writing about their lives.
There were two books I could not find. I asked two library volunteers who could not find the books either. One told me the library did not have the books [although the books & call numbers came from their website]. The other volunteer suggested the books were being used by another patron. I decided to get to the library early the next morning before the books could be pulled off the shelves.
The flowing morning the books were not on the shelves. What should I do? I could once again approach the staff for help with my Irish research. I could ask the staff for help locating the books. I could leave.
I wandered through the stacks. That’s something I enjoy doing in libraries and often discover great pockets of useful materials. I found a section of shelves for over sized books. Within this area were shelves of Ireland books. I looked at each book there and found the books I was searching for and other relevant books. Hurray!
I also found:
· County of Cavan, Valuation of the Several Tenements in the Union of Cavan, 1857, Dublin: Printed by Alex, Thom and Sons. 941.5 R2g V3.
· Index to Townlands and Towns of Ireland. 941.5 X22t: 1871. [especially helpful!]
· Clonmel 1840 – 1900: Anatomy of an Irish Town by Sean O’Donnell. 941.92/C1
As with working in a library or archive I find I need to go prepared with my family information and information about the facility I plan to visit but once there I do need to be flexible enough to adapt to the resources available to get the most out of my visit.
(part 3 in my next blog)