Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review of “Advanced Methodology for Irish Research”

As part of my continuing series where guest authors share reviews of courses at genealogy institutes, here Ann G. Lawthers writes about one of the courses at the British Institute  which is sponsored by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.

Review of “Advanced Methodology for Irish Research”
by Ann G. Lawthers

Do you have an Irish brick wall? Or do you merely have ancestors from Ireland you wish to know more about?  David Rencher’s course “Advanced Methodology for Irish Research” at the week-long British Institute helps you scale the walls and follow the trail of breadcrumbs left by your ancestors. The course principally builds research skills, but also introduces the student to the rich array of Irish resources available at the Salt Lake Family History Library. Many of the FHL resources can be ordered and sent to your local Family History Center. Since Irish records suffered a devastating blow with the demolition of the Public Records Office in 1922, the tools, skills, and strategies learned researching one’s Irish ancestors also apply to researching an ancestor from a burned county in the US.

Students begin by learning to thoroughly mine what they know about ancestors on this side of the pond for clues about the people left behind in Ireland. Next, transferring the focus to Ireland, students learn to evaluate and use pre-20th century lists of names, such as Griffiths Valuation, for clues about ancestors. And location, location, location. A wealth of resources about Irish places and institutions awaits you at the Family History Library: the Parliamentary Gazetteer, Ordnance Survey maps, county histories and more. For those with ancestors from Northern Ireland, the course spends a day introducing the student to the special problems of Scots-Irish research.

I would highly recommend any of David Rencher’s Irish courses. He is an engaging presenter and thoroughly knowledgeable about the subject. You will learn research techniques that help you not only with your Irish research but can be used for other family lines as well. You will find yourself regularly referring to the excellently organized syllabus when you return home to remind yourself of specific strategies. To top it off, being in Salt Lake for the course and having the resources of the Family History Library at your fingertips, makes for a priceless experience.


Ann G. Lawthers researches her Irish, German, French-Canadian and English ancestors from her home in Massachusetts. She has completed the BU Certificate course, the BU writing course, as well as the 2012 British Institute course, “Advanced Methodology for Irish Research.” Ann juggles a full-time job, various volunteer posts, participation in ProGen 15, as well as the siren call of her family’s history, but hopes to achieve Certified Genealogist status one day.

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