Book Review: Irish Family History Resources Online. 2nd ed. by Chris Paton

Irish Family History Resources Online, 2nd ed. by Chris Paton

Irish Family History Resources Online. 2nd ed. By Chris Paton. Published by UnlockThePast Publications, PO Box 119, St Agnes SA 5097, Australia. AUS $19.50. Available as an e-book from, AUS $9.05. Available in North America from CAN$21.50. Available in the UK from ₤9.00. 2015. 64 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Mr. Paton rightly points out that the Irish, north and south, have been dragging their feet when it comes to providing access to records to assist researchers in finding their ancestors. But that is all changing, and actually very rapidly as this book illustrates, with a revision of a book first published in 2011. Great strides have been made by the General Register Office in Northern Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland with their digital platforms, new websites have been created and sadly a few have disappeared.

The book is divided into five sections. The first, and largest, examines who are the Irish, specifically addressing: civil registration; the GRO Ireland indexes; church records; burial records; wills and probate; biographical databases and heraldry. The second focuses on where were they, covering: censuses; street directories; land records; maps and gazetteers. The third section examines archives and libraries: PRONI; National Archives of Ireland; National Library of Ireland; RASCAL (research and special collections available locally) and IAR (Irish archive resource). The fourth section highlights newspapers, books, journals and magazines. The final section of useful material covers: gateway sites; military, police and the law; emigration; miscellaneous sites of interest; and magazines.

There is a growing collection of Irish records coming online through the large international sites, especially FamilySearch (free); FindMyPast and Ancestry (commercial). These collections and all the major Irish sites are thoroughly discussed highlighting when it is better to use one site over another because of better, more flexible search engines, more extensive collections, or cheaper options. Often it is not clear what collections are on which site, for what time period. This book describes the collections, the periods they cover, and importantly explains how to drill down to the correct dataset. The advanced search options are explained along with how to interpret the results. A full section about a particular set of records needs to be read because another website may provide a more extensive set of results, or more details. The book is well illustrated with numerous screen shots.

The book is full of clear practical advice that will be of value to both the novice and seasoned Irish researcher because so many resources are coming online quickly. Even though this book is new (2015), major collections (e.g. Irish Catholic Parish Records) have still come online since it was published. The records that are already online and those that are coming online are changing how we do Irish research. If you are doing Irish research this guidebook will make your life easier providing guidance on accessing online Irish indexes and records through a growing variety of websites.

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