Findmypast.ie, the world’s newest family history site, is aiming to provide the 80 million people that are part of the Irish Diaspora with the easiest possible way of researching their Irish roots.
Findmypast.ie is a joint venture between brightsolid, the Scottish based experts in the digitisation of precious records who own and/or operate a family of sites including findmypast.co.uk, ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk as well as the Friends Reunited Group, and Eneclann, an award-winning Trinity College Campus Company based in Dublin. In 2009 Eneclann made it their objective to digitise what they felt was the greatest untapped Irish genealogical resource, The Landed Estate Court Rentals. They approached brightsolid online publishing with their proposal and from this, findmypast.ie was born.
Launched in Dublin in May by the Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, the new site aims to increase its current collection of records from almost 10 million to over 50 million within the next 12 months, making it the world’s most comprehensive online database for Irish family history research.
At the launch Brian Donovan, Director of findmypast Ireland, commented: “This is a major achievement. By teaming up with findmypast.co.uk and brightsolid, we are bringing Irish history to life for millions. These remarkable records are available online to researchers and family historians all over the world for future generations. We are committed to publishing family history records which provide more than simply names and dates, instead describing what your ancestors did and how they lived.”
One of the most significant set of records available on findmypast.ie is the Landed Estate Court Rentals records. Up until now, the biggest problem with the Landed Estate Court rentals has been access. Although used by professional Irish genealogists, the microfilm records stored at the National Archive of Ireland were difficult to use unless the name of an ancestor’s landowner was known.
With the permission of the National Archives and an agreement to allow free access to the digitised images in five years’ time, the 100,000 microfilm images were taken, digitised, indexed and placed online at findmypast.ie.
The critical information contained in these catalogues are the rentals, especially the lot descriptions. The details often include:
– Names of tenants
– Map reference
– Yearly rent in pounds, shillings and pence
– Day rent is due: labelled as “Gale days”
– Size of plot: in acres, roods and perches
– Length of tenure
Previously, the amateur family historian would have been content to discover names and dates associated with their ancestors, but genealogists have now found new windows into the past. The Landed Estate Court records are an example of this as they provide not only names and dates but key facts about ancestors’ lives. These land and estate records include information on where they lived, who they lived with, what their lodgings were like and what the area in which they lived was like.