IGRS Open Day and AGM – Saturday, 6th May 2017

The 2017 IGRS Open Day and Annual General Meeting is to be held on Saturday, May 6th 2016 at the Abbey Conference Centre, 34 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BU, United Kingdom, (travel information given below).

As usual, the day will take the format of two talks in the morning, followed by lunch and the AGM in the afternoon. Below are details of the day’s programme.

All are most welcome!

10:15 Registration, coffee and biscuits
10.45 Ireland’s Court Records – What Survived 1922? Steven Smyrl
11.45 Finding the Irish in the British and Irish Army Records. Nicola MorrisSt Audoens Crowd
13:00 Lunc
14:15 IGRS AGM (All welcome, but only members may vote)
15:30 Q&A session – ask the experts
16:00 Close

The charge for attending the morning lectures and lunch is £25 members (£30 for non-members). The AGM is free. While anyone can attend the AGM, only members can vote. If you are not already a member, why not join now?

To book, please choose one of the following methods:

  • Send cheque to The IGRS, 18 Stratford Ave, Rainham, Kent ME8 0EP with your name and either an SAE or note of your email address
  • Pay online by PayPal or credit card via our Shop on the website
  • Pay at the door (though booking is highly recommended)

Please be aware that numbers are limited to 50, so prior booking is recommended.
If you have booked already, you are on the list and need take no more action.

Venue: The venue is the Abbey Conference Centre, just around the corner from Westminster City Archives, where the AGM has been held during the previous three years.

Travel information:

Railway station: Victoria
Tube: St James’s Park (District & Circle lines)
Buses: 11, 24, 211 via Victoria Street; 88 via Great Smith Street; 507 via Horseferry Road

Hoping to see you on the day!

First Tranche of Stories Published from IGRS 80th Anniversary Archive

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, we are launching the first tranche of stories from our 80th Anniversary Archive. 

Last year was the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Society in 1936. To mark this important milestone we launched a story writing project to collect stories about people’s favourite Irish born ancestors.

Royal Avenue, Belfast

Royal Avenue, Belfast, circa 1900.

Throughout the year, we heard tales from all over the world describing the colourful lives of Irish men and women lived out during the past 300 years. In this first batch of stories to be published, we hear of a soldier gassed in the Great War; an Irish Republican who served in both the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War; a Dublin middle class Protestant widow who brought a case in the Court of Common Pleas against a suitor’s broken marriage proposal; and of a working class Belfast girl who became entangled in the events of the Russian revolution of 1917.

These are just four of the stories among those published which touch on lives lived not just in Ireland, but as far flung as England, Scotland, Malta, America, Canada and Australia. What each shows is that despite the lack of so much primary source material for Ireland, the lives of our ancestors can still be researched and documented.

Click here to read the stories.

Another tranche of stories will be published shortly…so please check back again soon!

Not an IGRS member? Why not Become a Member today?

Advance Notice of the Society’s London Open Day & AGM

This year’s Open Day and Annual General Meeting is being held on Saturday, 6th May 2017 at  the Abbey Conference Centre. This is just around the corner from Westminster City Archives, where the event was held last year, in the shadow of Westminster Abbey!

For the morning Open Day, this year’s speakers will be prominent professional genealogists, Nicola Morris and Steven Smyrl, both members of the IGRS and Accredited Genealogists Ireland.

The topic that Nicola Morris will speak on is ‘Finding the Irish in the British and Irish Military Records’.nicola-morris

Nicola was born in Kenya, east Africa, to an English father and Irish mother. She draws on a rich family history that can be traced back to the court of Henry VIII, the breweries of Lancashire and farms of Yorkshire to Cork city publicans and a mysterious Italian great great grandmother. She grew up in Dublin city and obtained a degree in History from Trinity College Dublin.

In 2007 Nicola became a director of Timeline Research Ltd. She works very closely with the production company for the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? and has researched families for the UK and US series as well as appearing on screen with Jeremy Irons, Graham Norton and Chris Moyles. She has also appeared with John Waters in RTE’s Where Were Your Ancestor’s During the Famine.

The topic that Steven Smyrl will speak on is  ‘Ireland’s Court Records – What Survived 1922?’.

Steven has practiced as a specialist in Irish legal and probate genealogical research for over twenty-five years. In 1992, he founded Massey & King Ltd., which specialises in resolving complicated intestacy estates.

He was admitted to membership of Accredited Genealogists Ireland in 1991 and has served as a Council member since 1992, and as president during the years 2012-2015. He is a founding member of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), and the current chairman of Irish Genealogical Research Society.

Steven ffeary-Smyrl, FIGRS, MAGIChairman

Steven is author of Irish Methodists – Where Do I Start? the first in the series ‘Exploring Irish Genealogy’, published by the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations in 1999. Published in 2000, he is also co-author with former AGI member, Eileen Ó Dúill, of number two in the same series, Irish Civil Registration – Where Do I Start? He has published in various journals and is an occasional contributor to Irish newspaper media and radio. He writes a regular column for Irish Roots magazine. In December 2009 his extensive research on the congregations and records of Protestant dissenters in Dublin was published under the title Dictionary of Dublin Dissent – Dublin’s Protestant Dissenting Meeting Houses 1660-1920.

In the spring of 2012 Dead Money, a six part series was shown on Ireland’s main TV channel, RTE, which was based exclusively on probate research undertaken by his firm, Massey and King. Each episode told the story of the search for relatives for a person who had died intestate and without any known next-of-kin.

Booking for the Open Day will begin in later March. Please call back to our website soon for further details. 

80th Anniversary Archive Project Now Closed to Submissions

Thank you to everyone who responded to our 80th Anniversary Archive project by sending us your stories of a favourite Irish born ancestor. Submissions to the project are now closed.

Smyrl#5We were delighted to receive stories from all over the world, reciting tales of ancestors lives. Some lives were lived, and told, briefly but brightly whilst the lives of others stretched into old age, often as the head of extended families growing up far from their Irish roots, their stories enriched with many side tales of family lore and even precious pictures.

We will be working on assembling the stories into themed chapters and publishing them in batches on a special section of our website in the coming months, available to all.

Not an IGRS member? Why not Become a Member today?

Terrence Punch and Zita Kelly Elected Honorary Life Members

In January 2017 the Society’s governing Council decided that one of the final events to mark the Society’s 80th anniversary would be to elect two Honorary Life Members from among the Society’s membership. The candidates would be two long-standing members, who have, individually, made a significant contribution not only to the Society over a very long period, but to Irish genealogy at large.

Accordingly, the Society is delighted to announce that the recipients of this honour are Dr Terrence Punch, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Miss Zita Kelly, London, United Kingdom

Terry Punch Order of Canada

Terrence Punch with David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada, on being made a Member of the Order of Canada in September 2011.

Dr Terrence Punch, CM, is a well-known long-standing Canadian speaker, teacher and writer on genealogy and history. Terry joined the IGRS in 1959 and since then has always been a very regular contributor to the Society’s journal, The Irish Genealogist. He holds masters and doctoral degrees from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. His thesis at Dalhousie University discussed the Irish adaptation to Halifax from 1815 to 1871. He has held the chair of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia, the Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes, and the Charitable Irish Society, is a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and a former trustee of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. He is resident genealogist for CBC Maritime Noon, a live radio phone-in.

Among Terry’s numerous publications are: Irish Halifax: The Immigrant Generation, 1815-1859, Sons of Erin in Nova Scotia, Genealogical Research in Nova Scotia (4 editions), and four volumes of Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada, 1761-1853. He edited The Genealogist’s Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research, and is a regular columnist in The Canadian History Magazine, Saltscapes and the Seniors’ Advocate, and has twice won awards for historical writing from the Canadian Authors Association. His latest book, Some Early Scots in Maritime Canada was launched in May 2011.

He was elected a Fellow of the IGRS in 2009. In the 2011 New Year’s Honours List, Terrence was appointed to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. The citation accompanying the award particularly notes “his contributions to the development and popularization of genealogy in the Atlantic provinces” of Canada.

Zita Kelly joined the Society in 1979 and has achieved a lifetime of contribution to the promotion and study of Irish genealogy. She is widely known as a most methodical, conscientious and extremely knowledgeable Irish genealogist, one with an enormous depth of understanding of the available resources, particularly those held by the National Archives of Ireland, National Library of Ireland and the Registry of Deeds. Without doubt, the Society recognises her as a genealogist who not only wears her knowledge lightly, but one who has always been ready and willing to assist others.

She was the Honorary Secretary of the Society from 1986 until 1991. She very efficiently looked after library users and dealt with library visitor inquiries over a period of many years. In addition, she undertook voluntary work for members in the Registry of Deeds in Dublin, as well as in the National Library, Dublin, and in the British Library’s Newspaper Library, London. In 1991, Zita was elected a Fellow of the Society.

In announcing these two Honorary Life Memberships, the Society’s chairman, Steven Smyrl, said: “2016 was a terrific year for the IGRS, one in which it celebrated its 80th anniversary. This milestone was marked with a number of high profile events and launches held over the year. Given this, it seemed so fitting that we should complete these celebrations by recognising the work of two of our stalwart members; two people who have generously given so much of their time and expertise to Irish genealogy and genealogists over so many years. 

On behalf of the whole Society, may I offer hearty congratulations on this fitting recognition of the work of both Terrence and Zita; their lifetime of contribution to the promotion and study of Irish genealogy.”

Not an IGRS member? Why not Become a Member today?


Early Irish BMD Indexes Swell to Quarter of a Million Names

Great news for anyone seeking their elusive Irish ancestors! There’s been another huge update to the IGRS’ Early Irish Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes, bringing the total number of names noted to just over a quarter of a million!

The latest update of 9,000 new BMD events brings the total combined record count to just over 120,000 individual entries, comprising 22,000 births (noting 47,500 names), 82,500 marriages (182,700 names) and 15,500 deaths (22,000 names). The total number of names runs to 252,000.


Record relating to James Carey, born in 1844. (c) Society of Genealogists

A significant portion of these are culled from the British Civil Service Evidence of Age Index. While it isn’t surprising that evidence of as many as 1,420 births and 1,227 marriages have been gleaned from this resource, it has also proved to be a source for deaths – this update includes 17 references. In the absence of formal written records, friends and neighbours often provided a sworn statement as to their knowledge of the applicant’s age.  In the case of James Carey, born in Clonoulty, Co Tipperary, in 1844, his neighbour, Patrick Tierney, writing some 22 years later, confirmed James’ date of birth as 7th January 1844, commenting: “I can declare to same from the fact that my father died on said day.” If you find an entry pointing to the British Civil Service Evidence of Age Index then follow this up by checking the original record to obtain the full details. These can be found on the website of the Society of Genealogists.

Another source drawn upon for this latest update are Church of Ireland Marriage Licence Bonds. Roz McCutcheon, the Society’s coordinator for the Early Irish BMD Index project, said: “Although generally only the indexes remain to Marriage Licence Bonds, they are nevertheless a primary source, and include a surprising number of Catholic marriages.  I have recently come across some papers, while cataloguing at the Society of Genealogists in London, which include full abstracts of some early marriages in the Dioceses of Ferns & Derry. Thus, whereas my previous entry for the Ferns marriage of Henry Haughton showed him marrying Catherine Cavanagh in or after 1682, the new additional information from the abstracts notes the exact date of the bond was 10th June 1682, and that the couple were both from Co Wexford, that Catherine was a spinster, living at Polemounly, while Henry was from Ballyane.”

drogheda-argus-5-aug-1843Finally, the death index has been boosted too by 3,260 records noted from newspapers.“It is surprising that newspapers are still a much underutilised source for biographical information” said Steven Smyrl, Chairman of the IGRS. “In particular, notices of death become more common from the 1830s onwards as the middle classes begin to grow in strength and numbers“, he said. As the months roll on, it is hoped to add many more entries to the database culled from newspapers, proving that despite the great loss of 1922, there still remain many untapped sources for Irish genealogists to explore.

Access to the Early Irish Marriage Index is completely free. The Early Irish Birth and Death Indexes are members’ only resources, although everyone is able to access the corresponding free surnames indexes:

See here for: Marriage Index, Birth Index and Death Index.

Not an IGRS member? Why not Become a Member today?

Evensong at St Patrick’s Cathedral To Mark IGRS’ 80th Anniversary

All are invited to join with members of the Irish Genealogical Research Society for evensong at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, on Sunday, 4th December, at 3.15pm (sharp!).

st-patricks-cathedralAs part of the celebrations marking the Society’s 80th anniversary, that Sunday’s evensong service will be dedicated as a thanksgiving for the lives of former officers and members who have served the Society since its foundation in 1936. The preacher will be the Rev Dr Christopher Richards, a former officer of the Society.

After the service, there will be an opportunity to meet with other members of the Society at the Long Hall bar, 51 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2.long-hall-bar

Details about getting to, and parking at, St Patrick’s can be found on the Cathedral’s website:

We look forward to seeing you!

Not an IGRS member? Why not Become a Member today?

Why Not Give IGRS Membership As A Christmas Gift?

Membership of the Irish Genealogical Research Society is a terrific Christmas gift idea for anyone with Irish ancestry…

Purchase a subscription as a Christmas gift for a friend or relative  – or even for yourself! – it’s only £21, €26 or US$26. It entitles you to full membership until 31st December 2017 and brings with it:


  • A subscription to the Members Only section of the IGRS website;
  • A copy of the Society’s monthly full colour eBulletin (see example here);
  • A copy of the Society’s annual Journal, The Irish Genealogist, (see here for example);
  • Discounts at Ancestry.com, Irish Newspaper Archive, Flyleaf Press etc…see here for more details;
  • See here for a full list of the terrific membership benefits;
  • Click here to purchase…

There’s never been a better time to join the IGRS!

IGRS is at BTOP2016

As usual, the Society has taken a stand at Back To Our Past, Ireland’s annual Genealogy Expo held at the show halls of the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

If you’re in town why not come to the show and see us? We’re at B31 in the Industries Hall.

Not sure you can make it…or live too far away? You can still bag a bargain:

IGRS Special Membership Offer: available to new members, it includes:

♣ Full IGRS membership until end of 2017;

♣ One year’s subscription to Irish Roots Magazine;

♣ A copy of the fully searchable CD containing the Society’s annual journal, The Irish Genealogist, 1937-1993.

The Special Membership Offer costs £57/€60. (equivalent to approximately US$70).

Click here and go to the foot of the page for full details.

We’re in the Papers!

Out of the ashes – An Irishman’s Diary piece on the founding of the Irish Genealogical Research Society

Our eightieth birthday was covered today by The Irish Times in a piece in the Irishman’s Diary column written by our chairman, Steven Smyrl. He says:

four-courts-explosion“When the dust had settled over the ruins of Sackville Street at the end of Easter Week 1916, down at the Four Courts, the deputy keeper of the records, MJ McEnery, found that despite the building being occupied and its contents disturbed, the Public Record Office of Ireland had escaped virtually unscathed.

“Remarkably, the only irreparable damage was the loss of one will, that of John Watson, a private in the Royal Irish Regiment, who died in 1884.

“However, the occupation six years later would not have the same happy outcome. On June 30th, 1922, the Civil War combatants destroyed a thousand years of documents, tracing the history of Ireland and its people, in one huge, cataclysmic explosion. In one great calamity, parish registers, wills, court records, letter books, deeds, census returns, marriage licences, land rentals, minute books and proclamations all rained down across Dublin city and county like so much confetti.”

Read the rest of the piece here