Terrence Punch and Zita Kelly Elected Honorary Life Members

In January 2017 the Society’s governing Council decided that one of the final events to mark the Society’s 80th anniversary would be to elect two Honorary Life Members from among the Society’s membership. The candidates would be two long-standing members, who have, individually, made a significant contribution not only to the Society over a very long period, but to Irish genealogy at large.

Accordingly, the Society is delighted to announce that the recipients of this honour are Dr Terrence Punch, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Miss Zita Kelly, London, United Kingdom

Terry Punch Order of Canada

Terrence Punch with David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada, on being made a Member of the Order of Canada in September 2011.

Dr Terrence Punch, CM, is a well-known long-standing Canadian speaker, teacher and writer on genealogy and history. Terry joined the IGRS in 1959 and since then has always been a very regular contributor to the Society’s journal, The Irish Genealogist. He holds masters and doctoral degrees from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. His thesis at Dalhousie University discussed the Irish adaptation to Halifax from 1815 to 1871. He has held the chair of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia, the Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes, and the Charitable Irish Society, is a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and a former trustee of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. He is resident genealogist for CBC Maritime Noon, a live radio phone-in.

Among Terry’s numerous publications are: Irish Halifax: The Immigrant Generation, 1815-1859, Sons of Erin in Nova Scotia, Genealogical Research in Nova Scotia (4 editions), and four volumes of Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada, 1761-1853. He edited The Genealogist’s Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research, and is a regular columnist in The Canadian History Magazine, Saltscapes and the Seniors’ Advocate, and has twice won awards for historical writing from the Canadian Authors Association. His latest book, Some Early Scots in Maritime Canada was launched in May 2011.

He was elected a Fellow of the IGRS in 2009. In the 2011 New Year’s Honours List, Terrence was appointed to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. The citation accompanying the award particularly notes “his contributions to the development and popularization of genealogy in the Atlantic provinces” of Canada.

Zita Kelly joined the Society in 1979 and has achieved a lifetime of contribution to the promotion and study of Irish genealogy. She is widely known as a most methodical, conscientious and extremely knowledgeable Irish genealogist, one with an enormous depth of understanding of the available resources, particularly those held by the National Archives of Ireland, National Library of Ireland and the Registry of Deeds. Without doubt, the Society recognises her as a genealogist who not only wears her knowledge lightly, but one who has always been ready and willing to assist others.

She was the Honorary Secretary of the Society from 1986 until 1991. She very efficiently looked after library users and dealt with library visitor inquiries over a period of many years. In addition, she undertook voluntary work for members in the Registry of Deeds in Dublin, as well as in the National Library, Dublin, and in the British Library’s Newspaper Library, London. In 1991, Zita was elected a Fellow of the Society.

In announcing these two Honorary Life Memberships, the Society’s chairman, Steven Smyrl, said: “2016 was a terrific year for the IGRS, one in which it celebrated its 80th anniversary. This milestone was marked with a number of high profile events and launches held over the year. Given this, it seemed so fitting that we should complete these celebrations by recognising the work of two of our stalwart members; two people who have generously given so much of their time and expertise to Irish genealogy and genealogists over so many years. 

On behalf of the whole Society, may I offer hearty congratulations on this fitting recognition of the work of both Terrence and Zita; their lifetime of contribution to the promotion and study of Irish genealogy.”

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