With a smaller contingent of Irish exhibitors this year, even more visitors were drawn to our stand, which meant our volunteers were kept extremely busy trying to guide beginners to logical starting points for their research and steering folk in the direction of appropriate records, collections, archives and databases.
“It was another very successful show for the Society,” said chairman Steven Smyrl.
“While it was satisfying to be able to help so many new researchers — often just by telling them that Irish research was feasible despite the perennial myth that EVERYTHING was burnt in 1922 — it was also terrific to have so many existing members come along to say hello and tell us how they’re getting on with their research.
“But we didn’t just have members popping along. We also had a knowledgeable band of IGRS volunteers on the stand. I’d like to thank them ALL for their generosity, and for the hard work that they provided in such good humour. Troopers, every last one of them.
“With the show only just finished, we haven’t yet had a chance to take stock of how many new members signed up on the day, but we seem to have distributed just short of 1,000 membership brochures while around 500 visitors signed up for a free, promotional copy of this month’s e-bulletin. These figures alone tell the story of just how busy the stand was.
“Without the efforts of our volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to respond to that level of interest.”
Away from the IGRS stall, this year’s exhibition didn’t produce quite as big a haul of major news stories as it usually does. Nonetheless, there was plenty of interest to discover.
The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, for example, announced that the Valuation Revision Books will be launched on the PRONI website at the end of March, while Flyleaf Press was showing off the latest in its series of ‘County’ guides to ancestral research: County Clare.
Ancestry confirmed that Lord Morpeth’s Testamentary Roll, which holds 225,000 signatures, will be released, fully indexed and free, during March and the Northern Ireland Family History Society was debuting a booklet entitled Researching Your Ancestors in County Monaghan. It is to be the first in a series of publications covering each of the nine historical counties of Ulster.
Meanwhile Tourism Ireland announced that 2013 is to be Ireland’s Family History Year. The promotion is a bid to encourage the diaspora to find out more about their Irish ancestry. It’s an initiative within the existing Gathering initiative and will see a number of this year’s family history and local history events marketed together under this new banner.