Success in the Forum!

Our chairman recently made a breakthrough in his research after posting a query in the Society’s new Members’ Forum about his Belfast born relative Samuel Smyrl McCurry, 1855-1946.

In May, after an upgrade of the IGRS website, the Society added a Members’ Forum, the purpose of which is to allow members to post queries about family history and/or genealogy sources in hopes that others might be able to assist them, or even enable contact with distant or long lost relatives. The posts in the Forum are open too all, which means that they are soon picked up by Google, allowing anyone googling an ancestor or subject to quickly to land on the post.

‘Smell o’ the Turf’, published in 1912

In June, Steven Smyrl, current Chairman of the IGRS, posted about his relative Samuel Smyrl McCurry, born in Belfast in 1855 and named after his maternal grandfather, Samuel Smyrl (1764-1853), who had died just two years earlier.  He was the son of Isaac McCurry, the owner of a building business, and his wife, Margaret Smyrl, from Coagh, Co. Tyrone, who married in Belfast in 1853.

Samuel Smyrl McCurry

Samuel got a good job with the Post Office which brought him to Dublin at about the age of 20. He spent the rest of his career living in south Co. Dublin, and working in the city centre at the GPO on Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), rising to senior clerk in the Secretary’s Office to the Postmaster General.

He was also a published poet and writer of short stories, virtually all of which celebrated the vernacular of the Ulster-Scots dialect. His first book was published in 1907 by Hodges Figgis & Co., in Dublin, under the title In Keswick Vale & Other Lyrics. Several more followed, including his best known, The Smell O’ The Turf, published in 1912, with an introduction by his friend Professor Edward Dowden of Trinity College Dublin.

After the 1916 Rising, which saw the GPO burned out, Samuel and his wife Lily retired to Sussex, where their married son, Rev Norman Samuel McCurry, was the rector of Brighton. Norman’s son, Rev. Norman Ernest McCurry, went on to become a widely known cleric in the Church of England during the 20th century.

Steven Smyrl’s post in the Forum about Samuel Smyrl McCurry


Steven’s post in the Forum was soon fallen upon by a great grandson of Samuel McCurry, living in the south of England, who made contact.

They were able to share information, including a photograph of the huge polished gravestone for the McCurry family in the graveyard adjoining Magheragall parish church, Co. Down, from where the McCurry family originate. Steven was given contact details for an octogenarian granddaughter of Samuel McCurry, also living in England.

Steven certainly had success with his post in the Society’s Forum and no doubt you could too! Here’s the link to the Forum. Don’t forget, while anyone can read the posts, only members of the IGRS can reply to them or post their own queries.

If you’re not a member already, why not join today?



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