On the evening of Friday, 23rd September a reception was held in London to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.
It took place at the College of Arms, where 80 years earlier the Society had been founded, on the 15th September 1936, in the rooms of the then York Herald, Aubrey J. Toppin, CVO, a longtime friend of Fr Wallace Clare, the Society’s founding father.
On this occasion our host was once again the York Herald, a position currently occupied by Peter O’Donoghue, who was joined by his colleagues, Patric Dickinson, Clarenceux King of Arms, and Timothy Duke, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms. Among the sixty or so guests was the Irish Ambassador, Dan Mulhall, President of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Brian de Save, Head of the London FamilySearch Centre, Sharon Hintze, and Else Churchill, resident genealogist at the Society of Genealogists. Other guests well known within Irish genealogy and archives included Maurice Gleeson, Jill Williams, Anthony Camp and Aideen Ireland.
Chairman of the Society, Steven Smyrl, gave a few words of welcome on behalf of the Society’s President, Fergus Gillespie, who was unable to be present on the evening. This was followed by an address written by one of the Society’s vice-presidents, Mary Casteleyn, and delivered by another vice-president, Roz McCutcheon, as Mary too was unable to attend. Mary wrote with true passion of the history of the Society and its innumerable achievements over the past 80 years (full text here). This was followed by Steven Smyrl who spoke of the strides the Society has made in the past decade engaging with the era of the Internet, and all achieved through the dedication of the members of Council (full text here).
The formalities finished with a toast to mark the Society’s Ruby Anniversary. Overall, it was a wonderful evening of celebration, marking, to quote Mary Casteleyn, “eighty years of research, eighty years of expertise, eighty years of scholarly writing,…eighty years of acquiring manuscripts and rare documents, eighty years of gathering together a research collection of books,…and eighty years of publishing unique genealogical materials. What a record! Our founding fathers should be proud of us.“