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?

IGRS Library: Holiday Closure

shutterstock_baubles-goldPlease note that the Society’s Library, currently operating from the Society of Genealogists (SOG), Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London, EC1M 7BA, will be closed for the Christmas holiday on Saturday, 24th December.

Additionally, because of stocktaking at SOG, the Library will also not open on Saturday, 31st December and 7th January 2017. Our volunteers will return to the Library’s normal opening schedule from 1:30pm on Saturday, 14th January.

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

Evensong at St Patrick’s Cathedral

resized_img_20161204_162851Members and friends of the IGRS attended evensong at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, yesterday afternoon, Sunday 4th December. This event was one of a number arranged this year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its founding in 1936. In the photo are included IGRS President, Fergus Gillespie, Vice-President, Roz McCutcheon, and former Hon. Treasurer, Dr Christopher Richards, following the well-attended servive.

Don’t forget we’re having some Christmas drinks tonight, Monday, 5th, at Café en Seine on Dawson Street in Dublin from 6pm onwards. Join us for some festive genealogy chat.

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!

Ireland Branch Autumn Lecture

20160521_151823The Ireland Branch annual Autumn Lecture takes place on Tuesday, 15th November at 18:45 (sharp!). The Speaker will be Alan Phelan, archivist of the Erasmus Smith Trust Archive and he will be speaking about the Trust’s records. Full details are given below:

Autumn Lecture:

Title:The Records of the Erasmus Smith Trust Archive
Speaker: Dr Alan Phelan
Date: Tuesday, 15th November at 18:45
Venue: Helen Roe Theatre, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 63 Merrion Square South, Dublin 2

All are most welcome – no booking is required!

Death of IGRS Vice-President Walter J.P. Curley, former US Ambassador

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death in New York on 2nd June 2016 of Walter J. P Curley, former United States Ambassador to Ireland (1975-1977), former United States Ambassador to France (1989-1993), and a Vice President of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

Walter Joseph Patrick Curley Vice-President (sometime US Ambassador to Franceand to Ireland)

Walter Joseph Patrick Curley

Walter Curley was born on 17th September 1922 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and had an extraordinary career. He studied at both Yale University and Harvard Business School as well as at the University of Oslo; and he held an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Trinity College, Dublin. During World War II, Ambassador Curley was a young Marine Corps infantry combat Captain and served in the Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam and North China campaigns. He held decorations from the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and The Republic of China. He wrote a memoir about this time entitled Letters from the Pacific 1943-1946.

After the war he worked in India and Italy before becoming a partner in J.H.Whitney & Co, the venture capital firm, from 1960-1974. He went on to become the Commissioner of Public Events and Chief of Protocol of New York City, prior to being appointed as Ambassador to Ireland.

He was a Trustee of The New York Public Library and other educational establishments and was a former Director of the New York Life Insurance Company, the Bank of Ireland and Guinness Peat Aviation (U.S), The New Yorker Magazine and Chairman Emetritus of Sotheby’s International Advisory Board. Ambassador Curley was also Honorary Chairman of the French-American Foundation, Trustee Emeritus of the American Hospital in Paris and of The Frick Collection.

A true man of letters he had several publications to his name. These include Vanishing Kingdoms: the Irish chiefs and their families (Lilliput Press. 2004) and Monarchs in Waiting: the descendants of Europe’s Royal Families (1975). This last publication examines the various pretenders to mostly European thrones and includes genealogies and biographies of the major pretenders. His wide interest in European, and particularly French history, led him, as departing American Ambassador of France, and to enormous applause of the watching crowds, to lay a wreath in the Place de la Concorde to commemorate the execution of King Louis XVI. This was on the 200th anniversary – January 21st 1993 – of Louis’s appointment with the guillotine. With Cherubini’s Requiem for Louis XVI blasting from loudspeakers and royalist supporters carrying white flowers and fleur de lys banners, Ambassador Curley’s sense of history led him to say that he was there because Louis had been instrumental in aiding American independence and that it was most appropriate that the US should recognise the French input into the establishment of America by the laying of this wreath. He was certainly a man with a great sense of occasion.

Ambassador and Mrs Curley, the former Mary Taylor Walton of Pittsburgh, lived mainly in New York but also had a home in county Mayo.  We extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs Curley and to their two surviving children and are grateful for the time that this remarkable man was able to give us. Rest in Peace.

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