I was in Dublin visiting friends over the weekend, and because of the Bank Holiday in the UK, had decided to stay until the Monday and grab some precious research time – and my first foray into records there.
I had an early start, as I was driving into Dublin from Co Wicklow, but traffic was definitely not as bad as it was a few years ago. First task was parking the car, and I’d chosen the parking building off Trinity Street, despite it being horrendously expensive, as it was near to my last stop of the day.
And so, onto Lombard Street and Joyce House, where I hoped to pick up the marriage certificate of Mary Jane Clark and her first husband. After a short wait, I was told at the counter that they only dealt with certificates for marriages after 1920, and directed me to Navan (where the marriage took place) and the GRO in Roscommon. Neither place was on my itinerary for that day! I hurried over the river to the Irish Life Centre in Lower Abbey Street and the GRO Research facility there, where I filled out the appropriate form, paid €4 and waited. I was warned it would take approximately 20 minutes, and I was thinking I should have brought a book with me, but in the end it was probably only ten minutes and then I was on my way.
Just across the courtyard, in Block 2 of the Irish Life Centre, is the Valuation Office. It was very quiet in there, no waiting at all, and after giving a staff member the name of the townland I was interested in, relevant Revision books (or ‘Cancelled Land Books’) then came out. After Griffith’s Valuation, the revision books show the change in ownership and occupancy, as well as size and value, of a piece of land over the years. Changes were recorded in different coloured ink, depending on the year, which makes it more useful to view the original books in colour, rather than in black and white on microfilm at an LDS centre. The books themselves go from around 1859, essentially a copy of the Valuation, up until 1977. (Thanks to Donna Moughty and her blog post that alerted me to this valuable resource!) Self-service full-colour A3 copying is available, at a cost of €1 a sheet, and it took almost no time to copy the fifteen pages I wanted.
Next stop: the National Library in Kildare Street. I stowed my bag and coat in a free locker, and set off upstairs to the Main Reading Room to get a reader’s card. To view the church records I wanted, it didn’t look like I needed one, but they’re valid for three years, so it was good to get it for later research. I had brought along some passport-size photos, but they weren’t required as they take your photo there. Once I’d been issued with my card, I headed back downstairs to the Genealogical Service room with a helpful staff member, who showed me where the church records on microfilm were kept and set me up with a microfilm reader in a separate room. Once I found a record, I had to take the film back to the Genealogical Service room to wait for a reader connected to a scanner. I also had to buy a printer card (€1) from the shop to pay for any copies I wanted. Unfortunately, when I came to print the first record I had found, the scanner machine failed to work. Which meant a 20 minute wait for the only other machine in the room. (I felt sorry for the main staff member in the room – very overworked, and running around doing an amazing job trying to help everyone as quickly as she could.) After finally being able to print the record, my time was up – I had just enough time to grab a very quick cuppa with a friend before heading off to the airport.