NEPTUNUS OCEANI REX Steven C. Smyrl, M.A.G.I., F.S.G., F.I.G.R.S. Some years ago my step-mum gave me some papers from among my late father’s effects, stuff he had been holding on to for years. Among the bundle of papers were my grandparents’ passports dating from the 1950s, recording where they were stationed when my grandfather, James Christie Smyrl, served in the UK’s Royal Air Force. For periods at a time, they called home places like Southern Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – (1950), Libya (1955), Aden (1966) and Germany (1970). In 2015 my dad told me in detail about his time in … Read More


THE STONE-CUTTERS OF GLENCULLEN AND SOUTH DUBLIN Sandy O’Byrne, B.A., M.A.G.I. It began with the entry in the Calendar of Wills connected with research into a south Dublin/north Wicklow family. Something stirred in memory of lines from Samuel Beckett to connect Glencullen and stone-cutting. In his youth, the great man had walked the stoney hills of Glencullen and Kilternan, and years later the monotonous sound of the stone-cutting, or more accurately cleaving, had transformed into the backdrop for the death of Malone. “No, they are no more than hills, they raise themselves gently, faintly blue out of the confused plain. … Read More


TRACING THE FAMILY CAR Sandra Doble, M.A.G.I. My family has always believed that this is a photo of my grandfather, Frank Doble, with his first car. I wondered if it was actually his own car and decided to enquire of historic motor registrations. Legislation for registering cars came into force in Ireland in 1903. It was the responsibility of each County Council to register cars in their area. Survival of early registers is patchy and even where the folio books survive, there can be gaps in information. To have a chance of finding a record, one needs to know the … Read More


KILL OR CURE Roseleen Underwood MAGI Although it doesn’t happen very often, one of the joys of searching parish registers is finding the unexpected—the odd cartoon or snide comment about the quality of the other priest’s record-keeping, showing that they didn’t always live in harmony and weren’t the perfect beings they might have liked us to believe them. I have even found knitting and crochet patterns for mittens in the flyleaves. The registers of Blackditches (Valleymount) in North Wicklow have a few gems— FOR THE GOUT Boil a handfull of the Elderbark or soft tops on sour Buttermilk & Oatmeal. … Read More


CROSSING THE LINE Robert C Davison MAGI When my Mother died in 2017 she left me a large brown envelope containing my late Father’s army documents. Dad (Christy to one and all) had been born in Belfast in 1922 and was 17 in 1939 when Europe was about to be engulfed in the Second World War. He enlisted in the 8th. Belfast Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery and became part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) posted to France in what became known as the ‘phoney war’ period, before things really hotted up! When it became obvious that … Read More

AGI / City Colleges Genealogy Course to Recommence in September 2023

Thursday 28 September will see the return of the popular Family History course run in collaboration between Accredited Genealogists Ireland and City Colleges, Dublin. This online course is aimed at both the dedicated amateur and budding professional alike. Autumn term will be a 10-week foundation certificate course with an option to continue studies in Spring 2024 when an advanced level diploma course will run. All lecturers hold credentials as Members of Accredited Genealogists Ireland. Students will be introduced to the building blocks of genealogy such as civil records, church records and census records, and are guided through other exciting resources … Read More


ONCE A PLACE OF CHILDHOOD DREAMS Paul Gorry FAGI I occasionally post photographs of ruined houses on social media, commenting ‘once someone’s home’. The photograph I share here as AGI’s image might be captioned ‘once a place of childhood dreams’. During the summer of 2023, passing this familiar building, one I pass almost daily, my attention was arrested by seeing daylight through the window in the shop door. The back wall of the ground floor had been demolished and the digger that did the work was still there. A few days later the entire innards of the house were gone. … Read More


JULIA GEARY: MOCOLLOP TO MONTANA – AND BACK AGAIN Tony Hennessy M.A.G.I. I quite recently received a research request from an American woman called Margaret who was due to visit Ireland in August and was wondering if I could help trace her Irish ancestors. Margaret’s great grandmother Julia Geary had left Ireland as a young woman not long after the Famine and settled in Montana. As a stepping off point for my investigations I was given this wonderful photograph of Julia’s memorial stone. It clearly states that ‘Mrs. Julia Helms’ was born 1 August 1840 in Mocollop, Co. Waterford, Ireland … Read More

AGI fellow John Grenham to speak in Galway

AGI fellow John Grenham is to give a talk on “Mapping Galway surnames” as part of the free Galway Roots event run by Galway County Council next week. It takes place in the Council Chamber at Prospect Hill on Tuesday August 15 next from 12 to 3.


1861 PAROCHIAL CENSUS FOR ENNISCORTHY Nicola Morris M.A.G.I. There is nothing more helpful to the genealogist when a record set contains an additional element. The parish priest of Enniscorthy helpfully enumerated the Catholic population of his parish in 1861, in tandem with the national census of that year. While the national census returns were destroyed, this record has endured. Within the parochial registers for the Roman Catholic parish of Enniscorthy, published by the National Library of Ireland ( can be found this manuscript, headed: Census of the Inhabitants of the Parish of Enniscorthy. Commenced – April 17th 1861. ( The … Read More