The 1916 Easter Rising

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” – RTÉ Radio 1 Documentary One

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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The Treasures to be Found in Historical Audio and Video Collections?

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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The Newfoundland Connection on RTÉ Radio 1

This RTÉ Radio 1 “Documentary One” podcast looks at the connections that have linked the southeast of Ireland and St. John’s Newfoundland. The earliest record is 1683. They talk to the descendants of the original settlers to help tell the story.

The stories are wonderful and the people and music are delightful. One lady shares some great advice she was given to protect herself from the fairies. If you have Newfoundland or Irish ancestors then this podcast could provide some new information. If you do not it is still worth listening to “The Newfoundland Connection.”

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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History of the Irish Potato

There is a radio documentary called “History of the Irish Potato” on the RTÉ Radio 1 program “Documentary One.” It was first broadcast in 1984 and includes interviews with Theodora Fitzgibbon a famous traditional Irish cookbook writer. The documentary presents “the historic and sociological impact of the potato.”

The potato is important in Irish history. It is interesting to learn how it arrived in Ireland. You will discover how the potato blight affected the people of Ireland, about different cures for ailments using the potato, recipes and other fascinating facts about the history of the potato in Ireland.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Top Five for Irish Family History Research

These are my top five lists of books, blogs and websites that can assist you with your family history research in Ireland. Do you have any that you feel should be added? If so please leave a comment.


Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” by John Grenham [all three editions recommended]; published by Genealogical Publishing Co.

General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland: Based on the Census of Ireland for the year 1851” published by Genealogical Publishing Co.

Irish Church Records” by James G. Ryan; published by Flyleaf Press

A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland” by Brian Mitchell; published by Genealogical Publishing Co.

The Big Houses and Landed Estates of Ireland: A Research Guide” by Terence Dooley; published by Four Courts Press


Pue’s Occurrences

National Library of Ireland blog

Irish Family History

Irish Genealogy News Blog


National Library of Ireland

Census of Ireland 1901/1911

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives

Find My Past Ireland

The IreAtlas Townland Database

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Online Resources for Churches in Ireland

Recently I came across a Flickr group for Churches of Ireland. People have taken photographs of all sorts of churches in Ireland. You can search by county and some place names. You never know what you might find so go in and have a look.

Similarly another website is Stain Glass in the Church of Ireland. These are photographs of stain glass windows found in some Church of Ireland churches. They provide the date of the window, who designed the window and the studio that made it, who commissioned it and other information.

The search can be done by building or window. You can even search by the subject type of the window. Buildings are broken down into the choices of buildings, location, diocese, county, architect, country and parish group. Country is either Northern Ireland or the Republic.

The window search is broken down into building, iconography, artist, studio, date, location, diocese, county, architect, country and parish group.

You can leave the search criteria broad and have a large number of windows to look through or you can narrow the search. When the search is complete you have the option to display the windows or remove the criteria and start again. If you chose display you get a list at the bottom of the screen. If you click on the highlighted numbers under the window section you will see the display of the windows. If you click on the highlighted Principle Name you will get a picture of the church and the windows. You can click on the smaller images to make them bigger.

If you click on Diocese you will get a long list of the churches in the diocese. There will be pictures of the church along the bottom of the screen and if you click on the image you will get more detailed information and pictures of the windows for that church.

When people think of churches in Ireland the first thing that comes to mind is Catholic and Church of Ireland. Then you might think about Quakers, Presbyterian and Methodist. There are other religious denominations represented in Ireland. You can find Jewish, Baptist, The Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, The Salvation Army and Moravian just to name a few.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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“Bullet Holes in the Manuscript” – the Destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922

RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) is the National Public Service Broadcaster for Ireland. On RTÉ Radio One there is a program called “Documentary on One”. They cover many and varied topics. I download them through ITunes and listen to them on my IPod. You can also listen to them online or download them from their website.

Under the topic history was one very interesting program. It is called “Bullet Holes in the Manuscript” and was broadcast in 1991. It is a radio documentary that focuses on the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922. It is very interesting to find out some of the stories behind the event.

I remember my Grandfather telling me that he was 11 years old when the fire started and he saw bits of scorched paper floating down into his back garden. The family lived in Clonskeagh a suburb of Dublin. He said it was quite a sight and although my Grandfather did not know it then he was watching some of his nations printed history float down into his garden.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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National Library of Ireland Databases

Have you visited the National Library of Ireland’s website recently? They have a lot of information available on their website to help the family historian.

The first is their page on doing family history research at the National Library of Ireland. Here you can download a PDF file to help you get started. The file is two pages and gives brief descriptions of civil, church, census and land and property records. There is a list of useful addresses to further your research.

On this page you will find a link to a description of the Genealogy Advisory Service which is free to all those who go to the library.

There is a searchable online catalogue and if you are lucky you may find some digitzed items in the results. You can narrow your search to just digitized items but you may miss out on something important.

Sources Database is the online version of Hayes Manuscript. I discussed this database in a blog posting entitled “Hayes Manuscript now Online at the National Library of Ireland.”

The Newspaper Database is a searchable database to find newspapers available at the library by either publication name or by publication town/city or county. You can chose to include titles from the Newsplan Project which are not held by the National Library of Ireland.

Manuscript Collection Lists provides a detailed listing for the contents of the manuscript collections. You can search by the following categories: business, cartographic, estate, family, Gaelic, literary, military, personal and political. You can browse the records by these categories as well.

Photographic Databases include: The Lawrence Collection, The Clonbrock Collection, The O’Dea Collection and The Poole Collection. This past St. Patrick’s Day Ancestry announced that they had the Lawrence Collection. You can view it for free here. Searches can be done by county, description keyword and location keyword.

The Clonbrock Collection can be searched by title, subject and year. The O’Dea Collection can be searched by county, location, description, date and subject. The Poole Collection can be searched by subject and year. There are some more specific search criteria but these will be the ones used by most family historians.

The Digital Photographs Database has eight collections: Clarke Collection; Eason Collection; Independent H Collection; Lawrence Royal & Cabinet Collections; Keogh Collection; Poole Whole Plate Collection; Stereo Pair Collection and the Tempest Collection.

I found the Stereo Pair Collection fun to go through. They were meant to be viewed in a stereoscope where you would get a 3D image of the photograph. The years covered are 1860-1890.

There was one of the Little Sugar Loaf in Wicklow that brought back memories. We used to climb the Little and Great Sugar Loaf mountains and have a picnic near the top. They were called Sugar Loaf because they looked like a loaf of sugar. You used to get sugar in a conical shape and shave off the amount you needed. You have the ability to order a digital copy of the images.

Why not go in and have a little fun at the National Library of Ireland today. You do not have to travel to Ireland to do it!

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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