On Friday, 7th December, at AGI’s 31st Annual General Meeting in Dublin the election was announced of David McElroy as a Fellow of the Association, recognising his decades’ long contribution to the pursuit and study of Irish genealogy.
It was in 2004 that Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI) established the status of Fellow of the Association to mark significant contributions by members to the world of Irish genealogy. Since then there have only been five elected, with David now being the sixth.
Such contributions come in all shapes and sizes: some are very public, while others can be regarded as more understated. David’s contribution definitely falls into the latter. He isn’t a genealogist involved in high profile family history work. You won’t see him on TV shows or named as the author of genealogy books.
David’s contribution is more subtle, perhaps less obvious, but nonetheless significant: he is now the only remaining true founding member of the Association. Noting David’s election as a Fellow, AGI Council member Paul Gorry made this observation. “Though we loosely talk of those who were involved in AGI’s formation in the ‘long year’ that stretched from May 1986 to October 1987 – or were admitted to membership by the first Board of Assessors during that period as – ‘founding members’, in fact David was a founding member in every sense. He is now the only Member of AGI who was there at the very beginning, back in May 1986.”
It was through David’s early hard work and advocacy that the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland (APGI) – as it was called then – went on to become an island-wide organisation. Despite sometimes fairly poor north / south relations in Ireland in the mid-1980s, APGI/AGI began as and has remained an organisation which, island-wide, cherishes difference: be it cultural, political or religious. Indeed it is this very “all-Ireland” angle that has allowed the Association to punch well above its weight over the successive decades.
David has been a professional genealogist for at least the past 35 years. Before he was a founding member of APGI he had been accredited by AGRA, the accrediting body based in England & Wales. Although he went on to specialise in legal genealogy, in his early years in practice he undertook a great deal of historical genealogical research all across Ireland.
Long before the genealogical heritage centres took off or indeed anyone had dreamed of Ancestry or FindMyPast, David had recognised the problem of identifying pre-civil registration marriages in Belfast where there are literally innumerable places of worship and where mixed marriages happened with great regularity. His remedy was to carefully create the Belfast Marriage Index which comprised a reference to every surviving pre-civil registration marriage record for the city of Belfast and its environs.
David is widely known for the thoroughness of his research: leaving no stone unturned to ensure that his work is 100% reliable. His knowledge of records and how to quite literally wring the last drop of data from them is phenomenal. Even what appears to be the most impossible genealogical conundrum will generally crack after David brings his powers of perception to bear.
David’s AGI colleagues heartily congratulate him on his election to the Fellowship of the Association