Today started with a surprise. While enjoying a traditional Irish breakfast with some of the researchers, the gentleman at the next table inquired as to how we were enjoying Ireland and our genealogical research. He was full of questions and we happily answered them. It took a while to get to a full introduction, but we were conversing with Jimmy Deenihan T.D., the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. He was interested in our thoughts and experiences with the Irish repositories, and we shared our observations, particularly on the location and condition of the new GRO and the poor impression it made on genealogy visitors. Although that falls outside of his responsibility, hopefully he will share it with the appropriate people.
After that it was off to the National Archives. The police were out in force for the expected demonstrations in front of the Dáil, but there was nary a demonstrator in site. One of the main interests at the Archives were the manuscript books for Griffith's Valuation. The process of valuations began in 1826 and valuators were sent out to determine the value of the land. Their findings were recorded in field and house books and many of these books survive and are on microfilm at the National Archives. Although the final printed books of the Townland Survey contain primarily statistical information, the field books may identify individuals in the townlands.
Another area of interest was wills and administrations. Unfortunately the majority of the early wills which were housed at the Public Records Office in 1922, were destroyed in the fire. Prior to the fire, however, a number of abstracts were done and those do survive. In May, the National Archives added the Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858–1920 to their online sources. For the first time, users can search by the name of the deceased person and also by name of executor/beneficiary. The Calendars give details of principal family relationships, and assets of which the person died possessed. The indexes are linked to digital images of the original calendars.
I was able to review some estate files which consisted of ledgers. There were four ledgers, covering the period of 1798-1820 and I read each one for instances of a particular surname. While most of the ledgers consisted on debits and credits, what an individual owed for rent, what they paid, and whether or not they were in arrears, one page was an alphabetical list of all of the individuals owing money to the landlord, and identified most of the individuals with their father's name, i.e., James of Thomas or Michael of Patrick…very helpful. When working with estate file you really never know what you're going to find!
When returning to the hotel, I expected to find thousands of demonstrators as they had blocked off the entire street that ran in front of our hotel. There were at least 50 Garda including mounted around the Dáil and in front of the Library and our hotel, and I saw a total of less than 10 demonstrators. I understand there were a few more earlier in the day, but they were always outnumbered by the Garda.
Demonstration from Hotel (yellow vests are Garda)
If you missed the earlier blogs: