If your ancestors came from east Kerry or northwest Cork you have a special resource not available to the rest of us! Between 1952 and 1971, an Alabama pathologist by the name of Albert E. Casey (with a big interest in genealogy) compiled over 3,000,000 (yes, 3 million) names from this small area of Ireland. The title of his work comes from some rather obscure geographical references to the area and is O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher and the Upper Blackwater in Ireland. This work encompasses 17 volumes and you better have good eyesight and a magnifying glass (the example above shows four pages reduced and reproduced as one page in the book). It includes some pretty esoteric stuff (blood types, skull sizes and some classic Irish histories with translations from Gaelic and Medieval Latin), but it also includes Catholic, Church of Ireland and Quaker birth, death and marriage records, tombstone inscriptions, newspaper abstracts, civil documents, court records and some interesting maps. Here’s a link to an article that was published in The Septs, the Journal of the Irish Genealogical Society located in Golden Valley, Minnesota which includes a basic index.
So here is a Irish resource with over 3,000,000 names and you ask, “Why haven’t I heard of it?” Most likely it’s because you don’t have ancestry in this small area. The first time someone asked me about it during a lecture, I was completely unaware of it. At the time I was still working just on my own family and had no ancestry in this area. Being rather embarrassed that I was unfamiliar with such a large collection, I began to look into it. The first problem was to locate it. The originals were donated to the library at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama (along with some of Albert Casey’s manuscripts). This is where the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research is held, so mark your calendars for 2014 when the next Irish Course will be held. Copies can be found at Family History Library and it is also available on microfilm for circulation to the Family History Centers. The problem is that information from the same geographic area may be found across multiple volumes, so selecting the correct microfilm can be difficult. It is also available at various libraries around the country (although some don’t own the entire set). Lucky for me, the John F. Germany library in Tampa has the entire set. One way to find the nearest copy to check WorldCat. I type in “O'Kief, Coshe Mang” and get 32 hits. The reason I don’t type in the entire title is that various libraries sometimes catalog it with a truncated name (which is why there are 32 separate hits). When you select the title from the list of hits, you will see the name of the libraries that include this holding. If you type in your zip code, it will tell you the distance to the library (the library is New South Wales is 9200 miles...quite the research trip <g>).
Even now I have only spent a limited time with the collection as I’ve only had one client with ancestry from this area. I do look forward to using it more in the future.
I am in the process of updating my website and if you find a broken link or something that’s not working, I’d appreciate it if you would email me so I can fix it. This week I added a new store to my site which provides links to many of the books I’ve referred to in various blogs. You can order these books directly from Amazon by clicking on the link on the Shop page.
Also, if there is a topic you would like me to write about, please send me an email.