At its recent Annual General Meeting the Council of the IGRS announced two new recipients of its award the Valued Service Certificate. This award, inaugurated in 2020, recognises members whose voluntary work on behalf of the IGRS has been noted as exceptional.
The two newest, very disserving recipients are Gay Conroy and Hilary Fairman, both of whom have given years of service to the IGRS through the Society’s Ireland Branch.
Gay has been a member of the IGRS for fifteen years and she has served on the committee of the Ireland Branch for over a decade. From 2018 to 2020 she occupied the chair of the branch committee. She also represents the Society on the Irish Committee for Historical Sciences, the representative body for the historical discipline and for historians in Ireland. Over the years Gay has contributed greatly to the Ireland Branch’s lecture programmes and annual Open Days, with suggestions of topics and speakers, and she has brought much variety to the branch’s Summer Outings. She took a leading role in the celebrations held in Dublin to mark the Society’s 75th anniversary in 2011. Her many contributions to the Ireland Branch are greatly appreciated by the branch committee and by Council.
On hearing of the award, Gay said “From the moment I met the Ireland Branch IGRS ‘gang’ I felt at home, though punching above my weight in research terms. However, I soon realised that it takes all types to make a good team, where everyone’s individual strengths get a chance to flourish. My last 15 years in the IGRS have been really enriching, especially in terms of interacting with committee and members – a most important dimension in my life.”
Hilary has been a member of the Society since 1989. As well as having served on the Ireland Branch committee for several years, she managed the Mailchimp account, ensuring efficient communication with members. She has produced a searchable database of names and subjects appearing in the Irish Ancestor periodical, which was published by the late Rosemary ffolliott from 1969 to 1986. In due course, this is to be uploaded to the Society’s website. The chairman of the Awards sub-committee, Paul Gorry, said this of Hilary’s award “On a personal note, I can say that in the 1990s I witnessed at first hand Hilary’s unassuming dedication when she took on mountains of administrative work for the Second and Third stagings of the Irish Genealogical Congress, held in 1994 and 1997”. Hilary is the epitome of self-effacing. She never seeks acknowledgment or any form of recognition for her contributions of time, energy and expertise.
Responding to the announcement of the award she said “On a fateful day in 1989 I noticed in the What’s On column of The Irish Times that the IGRS was holding a lecture and decided I would attend. These were the times when genealogy was a niche interest – before online records and Who Do You Think you Are? I found not only an enthusiastic and interesting group of people but also a very welcoming one. I have been delighted to contribute, in whatever way I could, and along the way pick the brains of those more learned members! The IGRS has stood the test of time, no more so than during the last 15 months, and I am delighted to be a member.”
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