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The Irish Archives Resource says their site will help researchers “to search for publicly accessible archival collections that are located in Ireland.” There are five tabs to choose for information on the site: Search, About Us, Advice, Family History/Genealogy, Feedback and Links.

The Advice page helps you to get the best results from your searches in the Irish Archives Resource. You can search by keyword, dates, geographical area, collection type or name of repository and collection reference number.

If you click the “Search Results” button at the bottom of the search page then you get a complete listing of the resources catalogued on the site. When I did this I got 214 results and there were twenty results per page. Some of the results referred to a specific item and some to a collection.

There is one reference to a will for Annie Barnacle the mother of Nora Barnacle. Nora was the wife of James Joyce. Annie died in1940 and the will was lost. As the family tried to solve the problem letters were sent back and forth. These letters are the heart of the collection.

There are some collections relating to estates in Ireland. The date range of the collections starts in the 1700s and goes to the current day.

This does not cover all the collections to be found in repositories in Ireland but it does provide a good starting point when your research takes you to Ireland. There are links to the original repository at the end of each collection description.

The Irish Archives Resource catalogue is small at the moment. There are eighteen contributing repositories. When more information is added it will be a wonderful resource. Do not wait until more repositories are added to the Irish Archives Resource, go in now and see what you can find. You might be surprised.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Remembrance Day is a very important day here in Canada. Last year I remembered my Great Grand Uncle Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell who lost his life in the First World War fighting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. This year I will look at the accomplishments of my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey who was an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps).

Richard Fenton Toomey is on the maternal side of my family. He was born in Dublin in April of 1880 to Mark Anthony Toomey and Julia Adelaide Bourne. He was the last of six children, four boys and two girls. My Great Grandmother Jane Toomey was his sister. The other siblings were Mark (who died in infancy), Louisa Alice, Mark Anthony and Walter Bourne.

How the Toomey family got to Australia is a long story and I will elaborate on that in another post. Needless to say Richard Fenton Toomey was in New South Wales to sign up for the First World War on 1 March 1915.

There are no attestation papers in his military file. The first record is an Application for a Commission in the 12th Light Horse Regiment. This states that Richard was 35 years of age, a British subject, an accountant and that he is single. Richard was six feet tall and 11 stone (154 lbs/70 kg). His next of kin is his brother Mark Toomey and their postal address was Elbana Annandale St. Annandale NSW.

Listed under military qualifications and past military service are: 5th Lancers, Assam Valley Light Horse, Chittagong [unreadable word] Rifles, Lieut. [unreadable two words] and Lieut. Army Service Corps.

The Assam Valley Light Horse was part of the Cavalry Reserve in the British Indian Army and was formed in 1891. Chittagong was in Pakistan but is now in Bangladesh. To date no British military records have been found for Richard Fenton Toomey.

Richard was made a Honourary Lieutenant and Quarter Master on 29 June 1915. On 9 August 1915 he was transferred to the 1st Australian Division, 3rd Light Horse Brigade. On 3 January 1916 he was transferred to the Army Service Corps. He was made Quarter Master and Honourary Captain on 30 April 1916 and on 1 August 1918 he was made Quarter Master and Honourary Major.

He set sail on 12 June 1915 on board the “Suevic”. On 5 September 1915 Richard was sent to Gallipoli this was the battle that defined the ANZACS and a nation.

Richard was frequently in the hospital during his time at the front. On 3 September 1916 he was sent to hospital in Port Said Egypt with Pyorhea which is an infection of the gums. He was sent on to the hospital in Serapium and then Cairo. He was sent back to his unit on 20 September 1916.

Richard was back in hospital on 20 July 1917 with septic sores. He was sent to the hospital in Alexandria. He returned to the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 27 September 1917. He was transferred back to the 12th Light Horse Regiment in November of 1917. He was sent back to hospital with dysentery in August of 1918 and invalided in September of 1918. He left Egypt on the Morvada on 29 September 1919.

According to Richard’s military file his appointment was terminated with the A.I.F. in Sydney on 31 October 1919.

There are letters found in his military file addressed to Base Records Canberra. One is dated 20 February 1939 and Richard is requesting: “For the purpose of receiving employment in N.S.W. a discharge or Certificate of Service is required. I shall be obliged if you will kindly let me have either as soon as possible.” A copy of the form he was requested to fill out is in the file. It is stamped dated 27 February 1939. Richard’s address is Lisarow NSW.

Richard writes requesting a duplicate Returned Soldiers Badge of the one he had received “around 29 August 1919 on his return to Australia.” It appears the one he was given was lost in “thick bush country” and it has not been returned or found. This letter is dated 19 February 1943 and he is a public servant and the address given is 110 Phillip Street in Sydney.

In 1919 Richard Fenton Toomey married Ellie Maud Stewart in Sydney Australia. They had no children.

I have a friend who lives in the same area as Richard Fenton Toomey. There was a family story that said he had surveyed and built a road to one of the highest points between Sydney and Brisbane and that there was a park named after him. She helped me discover that there was a place called Toomey’s Walk which we believe was named after Richard Toomey. The government body responsible for this area does not know how the name came about.

There is also Toomeys Road and these are both located in the Mount Elliot area. He might have lost his Returned Soldiers Badge while surveying this area.

She contacted the local history librarian at Gosford City Library and he sent some pictures of Richard Fenton Toomey and his wife having tea in the garden.

They also forwarded a newspaper article which talks about Richard nearly loosing his life because he had taken poison instead of medicine. Thankfully his wife was a nurse and she knew what to do.

Some Australian newspapers are online and searchable at Trove. Advertisements were found relating to a chicken farm owned by Richard and Ellie Toomey. In 1929 Ellie was selling White Longhorn chicks and the farm was called Phoenix Poultry Farm. In 1933 she was selling Khaki Campbell’s ducklings.

In 1927 Phoenix Farm was dealing with floods.

Bush fires are a common happening in Australia. It seems that in 1928 a fire wiped out the poultry farm, residence, stock and plant owned by Richard Toomey. The name of the farm seems appropriate since it rose from the ashes to start again.

Richard Fenton Toomey died in 1968 in Gosford, New South Wales and is buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery.

Lest We Forget

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Library Ireland says it is “a free online resource of books and articles on Irish history, genealogy, and culture generally. Its aim is to entertain and inform, and to promote interest in all aspects of historical Ireland.”

This website is still a work in progress and you will have to go back on a regular basis to see what is new.

You can browse by genealogy, Irish names, history, social history, folklore, music, people and places.

They have many books to help you with your background research. Top of the most popular books is “A Concise History of Ireland,” by Patrick Weston Joyce. When you click on the link you get a list of the contents with each chapter highlighted so when you click on it you can read the chapter online. Where a topic in a chapter may link to another chapter there is a highlighted number you can click on to find that reference.

Genealogy has several offerings. There is a survey of the population of Ireland with regards to the 1861 census where there was a decline in the population and a comparison of the 1821, 1831 and the 1841 census years.

You will find street directories for Dublin and Ulster Towns as well as other County, City and Borough Directories. The earliest directory is Henry Shaw’s 1850 Dublin City Directory and the latest is Ulster Towns Directory for 1910. The County, City and Borough Directories are all from 1862. They provide a description of the area and a list of county officials and members of the hierarchy.

You will find an 1837 Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis. There is an alphabetical index and then a description of the place. Irish Pedigrees is a work in progress and there is Irish Ethnology.

Irish Names has a listing of books to provide definitions of names from the Irish language.

History has a listing of publications and articles to help you with your research. They cover topics with a time range from 1689 to the fight for independence.

Social History has a list of books and articles that can help you understand the times of your ancestors. There is one article from “The Dublin Penny Journal” published on 26 January 1833 that looks at the “Irish Funeral Cry (the Ullaloo, Keeners and Keening at Irish Funerals)” and provides a look at the history of the Ullaloo.

An article of interest to me was entitled “The Poteen” from the “Dublin Penny Journal” on 4 August 1832. Here the author looks at the process of making Poteen and visits a local distillery to find out more. While visiting County Mayo I tried this potent libation and it warms you through on a cold Irish day.

Folklore, Music, People and Places all provide collections of books and articles on various topics.

What will you find at Library Ireland?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Have you ever wanted to travel to Dublin to do research? Wish you had someone who could travel with you and assist you? I will be taking a group to Dublin Ireland to do their family history research from February 29 to March 9, 2012. Please download the brochure for more information.

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There is a website called South Dublin Images. It has been created by South Dublin Libraries as part of their Local Studies Collection. The collection includes: photographs, postcards, slides, prints, illustrations, maps and digital material. The database content has been developed by the Local Studies Section at the County Library in Tallaght.

You can search images of particular areas of Dublin and some other counties by using the location option or you can search by keyword.

I searched by the location name Donnybrook and got three images all of which were maps. The date was 1837. You click on view to see a larger image of the map. Below the image is the source citation and location of the document.

You can download and reproduce the images for your personal use. You require permission to publish the images. There is an option to purchase a laser print of image, a copy on floppy disc or on CD-ROM and by email free of charge.

I tried the keyword search with the term “Dodder” this is a river that ran through Dublin and part of it passed behind my Grandparents home in Donnybrook. My Grandmother would walk her dogs along the tow path on a regular basis. As a small child this is where I learned the importance of the dock leaf when you touch nettles. If you touch nettles against your skin they sting you. Dock leaves always grow near nettles and if you pick one and rub the spot where the nettles touched it will numb the area.

There was a small sweet shop at the end of the path in Clonskeagh where we would sometimes stop. The shop was so tiny you could only fit a couple of people inside. The elderly lady behind the counter always greeted us with a smile. There were rows of sweet jars behind the counter with the weight scale and small white bags to put your purchase in. We would go in and get a quarter pound of jelly babies or licorice babies.

If you have Irish ancestors particularly from the Dublin area why not go in and see what you can find.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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This Documentary One podcast looks at the life of children in Irish workhouses in the 19th century. It describes how the workhouses came into being, how they worked or did not work and they look at some of the history of poverty in Ireland.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Have you ever wanted to travel to Dublin to do family history research? Do you wish you had someone who could travel with you and assist you with the research?

I will be taking a group of researchers to Dublin Ireland from February 29 – March 8, 2012. We will visit the National Archives of Ireland, National Library of Ireland and other repositories. The group will stay in Buswell’s Hotel on Molesworth Street which is right across from the National Library of Ireland.

This trip is for the researcher who knows where their family is from in Ireland. You will need to know the county at least but a townland or parish is recommended.

Not sure how to prepare for a trip like this? You will be assisted in preparing your research plan so that when you arrive in Dublin you know exactly where you will need to go to start your research.

Space is limited! If you are interested please email me and I will provide you with the details and costs of the trip. My email address is info (at) familyhistorysearches (dot) com

You might decide to travel before the group meets in Dublin. If so I would recommend a stop in London England. The weekend before we meet in Dublin is the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show. It is being held at the Olympia in London on February 24-26, 2012. They bill it as “the biggest family history event in the world”. Last year there were over 13,000 visitors to this three day event.

Act now so you won’t be disappointed!

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The RTÉ Radio 1 program “Documentary One” has two podcasts relating to the 1916 Easter Rising.

The Week to Come” is the story of the 1916 Easter Rising as told by those who took part. The documentary is made from archive recordings. The archive recordings were made by Proinsias Mac Aonghusa in the 1960s and first broadcast in 1966 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Rising. The documentary was first broadcast in 2006.

In “The 1916 Room with Garrett Fitzgerald” four people are gathered to discuss how the 1916 Easter Rising affected them and where they were in 1966 during the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. The guests are Garrett Fitzgerald – his father was in the General Post Office during the Rising, Tommy McKearney – whose family were active in the IRB and were still active in the IRA, Richard English – author of “Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA” and Eilean Ni Chuilleanain – her family were involved in the events of 1922 and she grew up hearing the stories of 1916.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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My Dear Cousin” is a look into the correspondence between a cousin in Dublin and one in America that spans over fifty years. Marie never kept the letters May sent from America. When Marie died the family of cousin May sent the letters to Marie’s family in Dublin. May had died several years earlier.

The letters start in 1917 and end in 1970. It is a wonderful journal of the life of her family and a look at the how the country was changing. Each letter that is read is accompanied by a musical interlude and memories of Marie’s family are interspersed in the documentary.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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My online search for information regarding the 1924 Imperial Scout Jamboree for a previous post led me to search for other online sources that relate to audio and video resources. A few have been mentioned in other blogs.

They are a treasure trove of information and provide some wonderful entertainment at the same time. Here are collections found in Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, United States, Australia and Europe.


Library and Archives Canada has Virtual Gramophone which contains historical Canadian sound recordings. There are biographies attached to some of the performers. You can listen to a full range of recordings in the podcast section.

There is a section on historical sheet music and songs relating to the First World War.

On the National Film Board of Canada website you can watch some of the productions that came out of this wonderful Canadian institution. There is a documentary entitled “Action: The October Crisis of 1970” which covers the events of the October Crisis.

One of my personal favourites is “Paddle to the Sea” that was produced in 1966 by Bill Mason.

They have channels for history, arts, kids’ movies, the Green channel, biography, hot topics, outside the box, world, aboriginal peoples, classics and HD.

I had a client who found a film where his mother was interviewed and he bought a DVD copy of the production.


Scotland has the Scottish Screen Archive. Not all the titles have a clip or full length video. You can browse the collection by featured videos, all full length videos, place, subject, genre, series, biography or decade. You can view a full clip relating to making bagpipes dated from 1967.

Not everything in the collection is strictly Scottish. You can find a full length video from 1959 entitled “Australia Week” which is an advert for Australian foodstuffs. They do mix in the foodstuffs of Scotland in the advertisement.


British Pathe has a video archive of their newsreels online. You can search the Editorial Picks or check Categories to find clips. Under Entertainment and Humour you can find “A Chicago Blizzard” a 1938 newsreel of the city of Chicago after what they call a severe snow. This one has audio.

Under Historical Figures and Celebrities you find a clip called “Ireland-Through the Ages” which is a newsreel of a historical pageant that was presented in Dublin in 1927 at the conclusion of Civic week. Near the end the Carlow Sugar truck had the old fashion cone of sugar on the back. Wouldn’t it be nice to know who the ladies at the end of the newsreel were and what happened to them?

The English Folk Dance and Song Society provide no audio but do list many old songs and give a little history.


The National Archive of Irish Composers website is difficult to see because of the black background but it does provide some history and other resources. You can access their digital library to view digital images of sheet music.

Thomas Hamley (Hamly) Butler (c1755-1823) wrote “Erin Go Bragh A favorite Irish Air” and you can view a digital image of the sheet music.

There was a performance of the “Musical Treasures from the National Library” on 26 November 2010 and you can view that and specific performances from the evening. You can read a short biography and watch a video of the composition being performed. The compositions range from the last few years of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.

United States

National Jukebox is a website created by the Library of Congress in the United States. You can search their holdings by classical music, ethnic characterizations, popular music, religious and spoken word.

Sometimes the recordings are difficult to hear because of the static on the old recordings.

They have a disclaimer that states “WARNING: These historical recordings may contain offensive or inappropriate language.”

Under Ethnic characterizations is a recording of “The little Irish girl” performed by James McCool in 1906.

Under Popular music is the tune “Cat Duet” performed by Ada Jones and Billy Murray in 1908.


The Sounds of Australia is a database of “Australia’s audiovisual heritage online.”

The earliest recording is 1896 and is a novelty song called “The Hen Convention” that features chicken impersonations. You will find a link to the sheet music and a link to the audio.

You can find historical newsreels from various places in Australia including footage of the Australian Flying Corps training and at war in 1918 in France and the Middle East. If you had family who flew with the Australian Flying Corps then you should view these images. The curator’s notes on these pages are wonderful.

There are a variety of newsreels available to view. You can view documentaries, short films, television programs and other historical images and sound recordings relevant to Australia.


European Film Gateway is a film archive for Europe. It is still small but is growing. You can view clips of films most of which are foreign language but have English subtitles.

Have fun viewing and listening to these wonderful archives. Let me know if you find something interesting.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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