02 May 2019

Book Review: Tracing Your Irish Ancestors

I posted a link to Claire Santry's review of the new 5th edition of John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors last month. It's a classic, that's why there's the 5th edition.
My copy arrived in the mail last week, and I looked at it from my own perspective. That means any content that relates to Canada or to my own possible ancestry from Kilkeel, County Down.

There are two entries in the index for Canada.
The Irish in, 132-6
Sources for Irish origin, xx-xxi, 112-13

The first of these is in Chapter 8: Emigration and the Irish Abroad, and consists of a list of references. 11 are for Canada: General; 25 for New Brunswick; 9 for Newfoundland; 9 for Nova Scotia; 8 for Ontario; 3 for PEI; 14 for Quebec and; 1 for Saskatchewan. Several, such as Lucille Campey's book Atlantic Canada's Irish Immigrants are duplicates between provinces. Grenham does not mention her more recent book Ontario and Quebec's Irish Pioneers.

The Introduction section, Sources for Irish Origin, mentions Library and Archives Canada as having "the vast bulk of information of genealogical interest." Under "other sources" it suggests Angus Baxter's In Search of Your Canadian Roots which was good for its time (3rd  edition published in 2000). The more recent guide, Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide by
Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee would be a better source even though it too is getting a bit long in the tooth. The other mention, under Sources for Irish origin, is a scant 17 lines also in the Emigration and the Irish Abroad chapter.

Nobody would buy Grenham's book to learn about Canadian records. I did look for it to help with my interest in Kilkeel, County Down. While, unsurprisingly, the index has no entry for Kilkeel there are 12 entries for Down: agricultural census 1803; census returns and substitutes; directories; estate records; freeholders; gravestone inscriptions; heritage centre; local histories; local history societies; local journals; online and Roman Catholic records.
Those in bold above are found within a 24-page section on Down. Kilkeel was explicitly mentioned in four listings in the gravestone inscription coverage and in the 152-page chapter on Roman Catholic records listing records existing for baptisms, marriages and burials in the holdings of PRONI, UHF and NLI. Ancestry and Findmypast both have indexed versions of the NLI records.

Grenham's 650 page, 1.1 kg remains the reference source for those exploring their Irish ancestry.

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