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National Library of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

As you know from previous blog posts I am going to Ireland in the Fall and have been busy preparing my research plans for the trip. My plans for PRONI are complete and I have just finished the plans for the repositories in Dublin.

National Archives of Ireland

I have a relatively small list of items to check here. Unfortunately they don’t have a complete online catalogue. It starts about 1980 and is only updated with the new items that are donated to the archives. They do have a long list of wills and testaments but I researched most of those in 2003 but have one or two to check on this visit. There are some parish registers on microfilm that need to be checked. When I go to the Archives I will see what they can suggest for further research.

A written synopsis on the person of interest has been prepared. This will help me focus on the subject and will help the archivist/genealogist to understand what I am trying to achieve.

They have a free service for researchers. There are professional genealogists who will provide you with suggestions for your research.

National Library of Ireland

There is a long list of items for this repository. There are quite a few newspapers I want to check and they have a good selection on microfilm. There are some online but unfortunately not the ones/years I am interested in researching.

There are a few manuscripts and books that also need to be checked.

Dublin City Libraries and Archive

Here I will be searching parish registers, newspapers, a few books and manuscripts. I did a search in their online catalogue and came up with a few interesting hits so they need further research.

Valuation Office

The Valuation Office is a stop on this research trip. There are properties in Dublin and Tipperary I want to check. Fortunately these appear to be digitized and available for the public to view in their offices. I have checked and copies from this office could be expensive, especially with the current exchange rate, so I will have to be choosy about my copies.

General Register Office

There are a few birth, marriage and death records that I need to get. I already have my index references so it should be a relatively quick visit to get the copies. The office is located on Werburgh Street and is near St. Werburgh’s Church which I would like to see so I can do both at the same time hopefully.

Representative Church Body Library – Church of Ireland

I am going to the RCBL to search some parish registers. I have done research here several times and always find something I wasn’t expecting. They have online lists for some records that they hold.

So that is my plan for my research trip to Ireland. It is about 25 pages long and has addresses, opening hours, email, phone numbers, catalogue listings and any other pertinent information listed on it. I will be going through it several more times before I leave. Cleaning it up, adding more information that may be relevant. I always add a little extra so that if I have time it would be nice to find out more.

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

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National Library of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

Lately I have become a little jealous of the people in Ireland doing genealogy. They have the most remarkable resources available to them and most of them are free. I wish they were available to genealogists outside of Ireland.

What am I talking about? Lectures, usually free, being held at the National Library, PRONI and other venues. Almost daily I get new reports of what is coming up in the way of topics and speakers. I would dearly love to attend some of these lectures but it is hard to do when you don’t live in Ireland.

Unfortunately, when I am in Belfast the lecture PRONI is giving would take time out of my research. The good thing with PRONI is that they sometimes record their lectures and put them on YouTube, so I can sit at home and watch them at my leisure.

The National Library of Ireland have been holding lunch time lectures all summer and they have announced their September line up. It would be wonderful if these were put on YouTube or a podcast.

I have been listening to the National Archives of England podcasts for years and they are very informative. Yes, a podcast is a little less enjoyable than a webinar when slides are involved but you still get the main idea of the lecture and can learn something new.

It would be a boost to the Irish genealogy community, and their link to the genealogy community outside of Ireland, to start making these lectures available to people who can’t be there in person. Since the majority of the lectures are being offered to the general public for free then that should be the same for the viewing/listening audience.

Wouldn’t you love to learn more about “Mapping Ireland’s Industrial Past” or “Using maps for thinking about history: An Illustrated talk”?

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

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©2015 - Blair Archival Research

©2015 – Blair Archival Research


As mentioned in a previous blog post I am preparing to go to Ireland to do research this Fall. Since my first stop will be Belfast my main focus at the moment has been on the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland – PRONI.

They have a great website and an e-catalogue that I have been searching. The other online catalogue being searched is Sources at the National Library of Ireland because they have some information in that database that can be found in PRONI.

When you do research in Ireland you need to research in Dublin, Belfast, England and sometimes Scotland for your Irish ancestors. They may not have lived in all those places but records pertaining to them may be found in the repositories of these countries.

Sources is the online version of the Hayes Manuscripts. In the early 1940s Richard Hayes started an indexing and cataloguing project that would encompass 30 countries. He was going to source all the documents that related to Ireland and have a single place to search for them. You can read more about it here.

Thanks to Richard Hayes we have a wonderful resource to search for records relating to Ireland and her people. The records could be found in repositories around the world including PRONI. A search of several surnames provided links to documents I want to examine at PRONI.

Now I only have one full day and several hours to do research at PRONI. There is no way to get a readers ticket prior to my visit. Therefore there is no way to pre-order documents I want to examine before I actually get there.

When I get to PRONI I will be researching with military precision so that I can access all the information I need. Just to double check I emailed PRONI and they confirmed that there was no way to pre-order copies before my visit. Copies can be ordered and mailed to me but there is a £15.50 search fee plus copy charges for every document I want copied. Since the exchange rate is not very good at the moment this option is financially unfeasible.

In the reading room five documents can be ordered at a time and it takes 20 minutes to get the documents. Reading the website I have learned that a photocopy order form will have to be filled out for each document. Once the copies are ordered the next five documents can be requested. Since there is 20 minutes to wait for the orders to arrive the forms can be filled out while I’m waiting.

To date I have about 27 documents to view and about 10 microfilms to search. The documents are almost certainly related to my family. This can be deduced from the catalogue reference description. The microfilms are church records and finding something is less certain.

So my research plan for PRONI is almost complete. All that is left is to tidy up the cutting and pasting I have been doing from the online catalogues. This is a great way to make sure you have all the right information to order the documents.

Next are the research plans for the Dublin repositories!

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

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Mark Anthony Toomey was born in Dublin in 1844 to Mark Toomey and Jane Kelly. He married Julia Adelaide Bourne in 1868 at St. Peter’s church in Dublin. She was from a respected legal family. When his daughter was born in 1875 he was a wine merchant.

Mark Anthony was very active in Freemasonry and was initiated in Commercial Lodge No. 245 in 1871 in Dublin. In 1878 he was installed as Worshipful Master of this Lodge. He was also a Life Governor of both the male and female Masonic Orphan Schools in Ireland.

There were six children in the family: Mark born 1869 and died in 1871; Louisa Alice born 1871; Mark born 1873; Jane born 1875; Walter Bourne born 1878 and Richard Fenton born 1880. The children were all born in Dublin.

Mark Anthony Toomey got into what was described as “financial trouble” over a debt he had guaranteed and could not pay. This was an offence you could go to prison for and two of his Bourne brother in laws suggested he went to Australia. According to family lore he left for Sydney in 1883. There is a letter dated 2 March 1880 that suggests it may have been closer to 1880. If this is the case then the reason Julia and family did not go with him at the time could have been because she was carrying their son Richard.

When Mark Anthony arrived in Sydney he hired a Chinese girl to look after the house and then Julia and family joined him.

Julia and the children joined Mark Anthony in 1890. They left London on 5 February 1890 and arrived in Sydney on 27 March 1890. They were on the Coromandel which originated in Greenock Scotland. Julia could not settle in Australia and did not like the Chinese help so she went back to Dublin. She left her son Mark behind. Julia wanted to leave Jane in Australia because Jane wanted to stay but Mark Anthony said no girls.

Walter Bourne Toomey returned to Australia via Canada. He arrived in Montreal in 1907 and arrived in Sydney in 1909. It is believed that Richard returned to Australia in 1911. The female lines were the only ones to remain in Ireland.

On arrival in New South Wales Mark Anthony joined the Freemasons. In 1885 he helped to form Lodge Hiram No. 41 and was elected Secretary. In 1887 he was made Grand Secretary and also held the position of Deputy Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales. He was a member of the Leinster Marine Royal Arch Chapter No. 266.

Mark Anthony Toomey died in Sydney on 29 March 1916. He died at the home of his son Mark Toomey at Rubyville, Church Street, Chatswood. The funeral was at the Church of England Cemetery Gore Hill.

Julia lived in the home of her daughter Jane and her family. She retired to her bed to die when she was 60 and did not die until she was 91. She died in 1932 in Rathmines Co. Dublin.

Julia Adelaide Bourne Toomey is buried in St. Nahi’s Cemetery in Dundrum Co. Dublin. The headstone reads: In Loving Memory of our parents Mark Toomey who died 21st March 1916 aged 72 and his wife Julia Adalaide (daughter of the late Walter Bourne of Taney House in this Parish) who died 9th April 1932 aged 91 “Peace Perfect Peace”with loved ones far away. This must have been put up by their daughter’s as the sons were all in Australia at this time. Mark Anthony Toomey is actually buried in Sydney Australia.

Mark Anthony and Julia Adelaide only lived together for about 14 years. They spent more than double that living apart from each other. If Julia had not returned to Ireland then I might not be here writing their story.

© 2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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In the Irish Times on 4 Jun 2013 there is an article called “Newly discovered images of Edwardian Dublin’s Herbert Park Expo.” Lantern slides were found that include the expo and several other areas around Ireland such as Belfast and Newtown County Mayo. The Expo was a World’s Fair and one of the images is of a building with Canada written on it. I wonder if that was the Canadian exhibit at the Expo. These are lovely images.

The Church of Ireland Representative Church Body Library have digitized these images and made them available on their Archive of the Month page for June.

After you have viewed a slide show you can view the images again and find labels attached. Not many can identify the people in the images but they are interesting and focus on a particular time in Ireland.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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This morning I attended Brian Donovan’s lecture entitled “Landlords and Tenants: Irish Land and Estate Records for Irish Family History Research.” As usual Brian did not disappoint. The lecture was great and very informative. He also provided some good background information into the records.

He did announce that some new records are going to be put on Findmypast and on the National Archives of Ireland website.

It looks like we can look forward to seeing records relating to church records, original wills, workhouse registers, school pupil rolls and all pre 1901 census survivors and search forms should be available in the next 12 months. The pre 1901 census suvivors and search forms and the will indexes will be available for free on the National Archives of Ireland website.

In the next six months the Field & House books will be availalbe for free from the National Archives of Ireland.

These records will help Irish researchers to find out more about their family history. The land records in particular can be invaluable.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Irish Life & Lore An archive of Irish voices” is a website offering an interesting service. They have captured “…over 3,000 voices …. as they discuss their own lives and histories, along with personal and family experiences of events in Irish national and social history.”

You can purchase a CD or download a MP3 of the recordings. The MP3’s cost around €7.00. You can browse or search the catalogue online. The catalogue can be searched by county name, non-county collection or keyword.

The keywords under browse are Ancient monuments; Funeral undertaking; Gardaí Siochána; 1916; ESB [Electric Supply Board]; World War One; Blacksmithing: Missionaries; Smuggling; World War Two; GAA [Gaelic Athletic Association]; and Gaelic football.

They provide a service to help people “Record and Preserve Your Family Voices.”

Some of their recordings have been turned into books.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Have you heard of Ancestral Atlas? It is a mapping website. It is free to register and you can upgrade to a subscription for £20.00. When you subscribe you have access to history map layers for England, Wales and Ireland; historical boundary maps for the USA; all new licenced data added to the site; Life Maps functionality and other benefits.

The map is world wide and you add events related to your family history and where they happened. If my Great Great Grandmother was born at 23 York Street in Dublin then I can go to that place on the map and upload the information of her birth. You can decide to keep the information private or share the information. You must register to add your own information.

There is a link for quick help where a box pops up and it has information to help you add a new person, edit an existing person, viewing the location of the people/events in your people list, adding an event when you know the location, and many other options. You have the choice of printing this help page so that it is close at hand when you are entering your information. There is a page of FAQ’s to help you with any questions you may have.

When you look at the map for the place you are interested in you will see little blue balloons and if you click on them then you will get information that someone uploaded regarding a person linked to that place.

You can filter your search by given name, family name, start year and end year.

Visit the website and see what Ancestral Atlas is all about.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Gone as far as you can with your family history in North America? Want to go further in Ireland? Experienced researchers will love this opportunity to tour the research trail in the Dublin area in the company of Ruth Blair, professional genealogist, author and lecturer who specializes in Ireland. Local genealogical professionals will help you navigate the repositories, with free time to pursue your own research and interests. We’ll help you regroup if you’ve hit that metaphorical brick wall! This is a special opportunity to uncover those hidden and fascinating facets of your own family history abroad.


• We will be in Dublin Ireland from February 26 to March 6, 2013
• Delve into genealogy research at the National Archives, National Library of Ireland, and Church of Ireland Representative Church Body Library;
• Search the General Register Office, Land Valuation Office, and Registry of Deeds;
• Research trip coincides with the timing of the “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” family history show in London, ideal for touring before meeting the research group in Ireland. Take advantage of this opportunity in London to also visit the National Archives at Kew or the Society of Genealogists;
• Research plan preparation, onsite research assistance, and daily consultations in Dublin.


For more information or to register, please contact Ruth Blair at:
or 905-808-3963

Or on the web:

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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On the Linen Hall website there a section called “Unearthing Hidden Treasures in the Linen Hall Library.” The Linen Hall library is starting to digitize some of their collection and they have put a few items online. These items are not going to help the average Irish genealogist but they are interesting.

One of the items is “Poems in the Scottish Dialect” by Robert Burns printed in 1787. You can also find a “Contemporary account of the Battle of the Boyne” from the London Gazette published in July 1690.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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