Clare Roots Society recently hosted a Genealogy and Family History Conference in Ennis, Co Clare with the theme ‘The Future of our Past’. The audience included attendees from Switzerland, the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia and the UK, as well as Irish from far and near.
Clare Roots Society is an Ennis based amateur family history, genealogy and heritage group in County Clare. Established in 2006, it has members at home and overseas, many of the latter being actively involved in transcribing historical records, thereby making family research so much easier for researchers.Among their varied activities they have organized the recording of graveyard inscriptions, some school rolls, parish records and that most unique of Irish records,mortuary cards. In addition they organize workshops and lectures and work closely with Clare County Library, which in turn is host to a myriad resources and is a model for every county library in Ireland.
The ‘Future of Our Past’ experience was a first for me, who dabbles in Family History. It was with some trepidation that I headed off to Ennis one wet Saturday morning in October. Not being from Clare, and the only known tenuous connection with the county being that my father’s cousin’s husband was stationed at Loop Head Lighthouse as a keeper some decades ago, only added to my lack of confidence!
Soon after arriving I had made contact with a some fascinating and interesting people from a Yahoo Genealogy Group to which I subscribe – from USA and Australia as well as Dublin and Sligo, and there too as one of the conference speakers was Dr Jane Lyons , owner of the website From Ireland who also established the Yahoo group Y-IRL.
Apart from the pleasure of meeting new people, the conference itself was a terrific success. Although tailored for Clare, the lectures were of a general nature and were filled with useful information for a novice like me. The topics ranged from a very poignant account of Irish men who fought in the First World War, delivered by Liam Curran, to Gregory O Connor from the National Archives who demonstrated the often fascinating and quirky wealth of information held in legal and court documents. We heard about the notorious Black & Tans from Jim Herlihy who was followed by Jane Lyons telling us about the importance of graveyards and encouraging us to document the inscriptions before they wear away. After lunch, Antoinette O’Brien from the Corofin based Heritage Centre gave an animated account of the records held by that centre and Dr Nick Barrett, of ‘ Who Do You Think You Are?’ TV fame led us on an excursion into the world of family history as portrayed in the media. Finally the renowned John Grenham from the Irish Times Irish Ancestors website gave useful pointers and assessments for the resources that are available for anyone looking up their past in Ireland. He also posed an interesting question about information now on computers – emails are now used and not letters; much valuable social history is shared on social networking sites; How might researchers in the future access this information or will it all be lost forever?
The entire series of lectures is available on DVD from Clare Roots at very reasonable cost. I heartily recommend it to anyone who has an interest in looking into the past, whether for research, just for fun or on a serious mission to find who your ancestors are.
Clare Roots Society staged a wonderfully successful and professional conference, with a list of speakers second to none. Congratulations and thanks are due to them and we look forward to the next one!