Irish Gathering 2013

Ancestry Research, Stories from the Irish and The 2013 Festivities of the Gathering in Ireland!

April 17, 2012
by Christine

“Enda Kenny not a Penny, Government not a Cent”

“Enda Kenny not a penny, Government not a cent”, these were the cries of over ten thousand protesters who marched down Dublin’s O’Connell Street to the doors of the Fine Gael ArdFheis on the 31st of March. Christine and Sabrina Joyce were there talking to people and taking pictures. The feeling amongst the protestors was one of frustration and defiance. Many were in negative equity and a large amount of people we spoke to were retired and had lost their whole pensions due to the reckless investments of the Irish banks. These people simply cannot afford the ambiguously named “household tax” and fear the increase of between 1000 to 2000 euro per year, when the tax evolves into a property tax next year. Protesters told us about the tens of thousands euro they had already paid in Stamp Duty (a form of property tax) to the Irish government and how they were still paying interest on the amount they had to borrow in order to purchase their home. Many already in negative equity mortgages just feel it is a double tax and they can’t and therefore won’t pay. Over 50% of the country feel the same and have not registered or paid the charge by the deadline of the 31st of March, which means half of us, are now lawbreakers.

April 17, 2012
by Sabrina

The Fighting Irish – Tracing your Military Ancestors

Up until 1922 any Irishmen in the military would fall under British records as Ireland was under British rule until that date. Also many Irishmen decided to fight with the Allies during the Second World War and so joined Irish regiments within the British Allied Army. When researching your ancestors’ military career it is very important to know what regiment they served under. (Calvary, Guards, Foot, Corps (artillery Air, Engineer etc.)) Records can be obtained in a number of places. Online you can go to The National archives website. There you can view service records (via and pay a fee). A list of what’s available is at
You can also write to the Ministry of Defense for your relative’s service records. Although you must prove you are next of kin/ related. The Veterans’ UK site gives details on how to do this here:

After 1922 any military records for Irish servicemen are held in the state. To request the service record of a family member you must write to the Military Archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks. Some of the info which will help to speed up the search is as follows:

- First Name and Surname
- Date of Birth
- Army service no.
- Address at time of enlistment
- Units served in
- Corps Served in
- Did they do Overseas Service, if so where?

Full contact details to write to are at the bottom of the page at

Joyce & Goulding Wedding 1943

April 17, 2012
by Sabrina

An Irish Family Tree, from Root to Bud

Researching your ancestry is one of the most interesting and rewarding things you can do. It can be both a vocation and a pastime to a researcher. My Father Derek Joyce instilled a love of Genealogy in me from a very young age. He researched as a pastime and I became enthralled with watching the family tree expand. For my father it was relatively easy. Being a grand nephew of James Joyce, most of the work was already done. However, he continued to joyfully track down his family tree right back to the 14th century. For many others it is not so easy.

Joyce & Goulding Wedding 1943

Joyce & Goulding Wedding 1943

Through Irish immigration and diaspora, connections have been severed, letters have been lost and family histories have been forgotten in dusty attics.

It is my belief that those researching their Irish ancestry should be allowed to do so for free. Some companies do amazing work in compiling and restoring databases and I understand why they must charge to cover their costs. However, there are many websites which charge researchers for online databases which are already free. I do not believe this is justified and so I have listed below a number of databases where information on your families past can be obtained without the added charges of a “middle man”. If you can suggest any other free databases which you feel may be helpful to fellow researchers please email me and I would be delighted to add it to the list below.

Happy hunting!

Sabrina Joyce-Kemper
March 17th 2012

Ancestry Online Searches:

1. Irish Church Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths pre 1900.
The information (in some cases burial records) was recorded by the clergy in ledgers, the pages of which have been scanned in and a searchable database put online. The basic search fields are first name, last name, location and date of ceremony. If you have an address or parish you can also browse the database by location and view all records for that parish area.

Tip: As the records were handwritten some entries may be illegible or difficult to discern. This means that they may have been misspelled in the online database. So if your first search returns nothing try variations of the spelling.

2. Irish Census Records 1901 and 1911
In Ireland there are two census years available to search online 1901 and 1911. (All records before 1901 were destroyed, by either being pulped due to a shortage in paper at the time (a travesty!) or they were burned in the fire at the public record office at the beginning of the civil war. You can search forename, surname, county, town land-street, District Electoral Divisions, age and sex. The info returned tells you where the person lived and who shared the house with them, their age, occupation and literacy. You can also see who lived on the same street as your ancestor.

Tip: (In many cases people married close to home so if uncle Patrick Donoghue was single in 1911 but you know he married Mary Reynolds a year or two later check to see if a family of Reynolds lived on that road.)

3. National Archives
You could literally end up with anything when you search on this site. The search is very general in that you can enter any search term; a name, a place, an event whatever you can think of. Any reference the national archives have with that search term will come up. This could include wills, petitions to local authorities, court judgments, job appointments its very random but interesting. Some results will have scanned copies of the documents, those that don’t would have to be viewed in the national archives via appointment.

4. Ireland Cemetery Records
Again a big thank you must be given to the historians and volunteers who have compiled these lists of inscriptions from various cemeteries around Ireland in their own time. If you know where your ancestors resided then perhaps they have a family plot in the local cemetery. This is a very easy way to trace the generations.

5. Passenger Lists
Passenger list of ships leaving Ireland can be very helpful in tracing where your ancestor emigrated to and the date that they arrived. You can also see who their fellow passengers were on the journey. There are hundreds of databases worldwide. Most compiled by volunteers. There is a large collection of lists and databases put together by private individuals and historical societies spanning nearly four centuries. The majority of searches are free. If you know the name of the ship or the year your ancestor travelled this can be very helpful.

6. Ellis Island Immigrants
Search lists of all US immigrants (Irish Emigrants) that went through Ellis Island. This is a free service and you can get info on the date of arrival/ name of residence in US (if provided by passenger) and age of passenger upon arrival, however if you wish to view more detailed information they do ask that you register with your name and email address.

7. Griffiths Valuation
Overseen by Richard Griffith, this was the first full scale property valuation in Ireland precursor to the rates offices. It was published between 1847-1864. The very least information that you need is a surname. The more info you have the better. Information provided includes tenant details landlord details, townland and district information. You can also view the original printed pages from the Griffith valuation books.

8. Prison and Court Records
Was your ancestor a bit of a scoundrel or a martyr for the Irish cause? You can do a free search on the above website with just a surname to see if they show up in prison or public records. The free search will give first name, surname, status, year of committal, prison name and prison county. If you wish to have a detailed report you must sign up and buy credits. However the free info may be enough to ascertain why your ancestor dropped off the face of the earth for a while.

9. Index of Irish Wills 1484 – 1858
Although the main documents were destroyed in the fire of 1922, historians at Trinity college and the national archives have worked hard to recreate the index. You can do a free search at the above link, which will give you first name, last name, year will lodged, county and information source. For more detailed information you must sign up and buy credits.
Cork and Ross area Will Index 1548-1800 pdf copies. Free information. There is also a wealth of other information of this website for those with Cork roots, including an Index of Marriage Bonds Licenses 1623 to 1750, a list of Cork city DED’s and a list of  it’s alleys and lanes.
Northern Ireland diocese will index. Again information is free, only the index survives and no other documentation is available.

10. Social Security Death Index
This information database is more for discovering emigrants in the early 1900’s to the US or their descendants. The Index lists all people in the US who died with a social security number from 1962 (i.e. if they were there illegally this may not help you). The info provided is first name, last name date of birth, date of death, social security number and area where they resided. The information is free.

Please note: take no responsibility for content on external websites.

Rhododendron flowers

April 16, 2012
by Sabrina

Killarney – Ireland’s Southern Belle

Killarney, Co. Kerry in the south of the country is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Many a Joyce family childhood year has been spent roaming the forest rivers and beaches, but like many beautiful spots in Ireland that attract many tourists, the commercialism can be hard to take. Its very easy to get information on the usual tourist spots, Ross Castle, Muckross House, Gap of Dunloe and Lady’s view to name a few, but there are quieter beauty spots not yet overrun by tourists. I list some of my special spots here.

Ross castle

Ross castle, Killarney

Black Valley
Wild and wonderful the views of the mountains and valley in good or bad weather are breathtaking. You can be guaranteed the stereotypical “Irish Sheep” photo here with the wind, trickling bog streams and the bleating of the sheep the only sound to reach your ear. The black valley is reached via the Gap of Dunloe and the very narrow road runs through the valley to Molls gap. Due to the remoteness of the area very few houses dot the landscape, you will see many ruins of cottages abandoned during the famine. The black valley was the last place in Ireland to receive electricity due to it absolute remoteness. Where the valley road and the head of the Gap meets is Lord Brandon’s cottage where coffee and cake and be consumed while contemplating the scenery. You will need a car or a hardy pair of walking boots to traverse the valley.

Torc waterfall
After leaving the car park you are transported to a mystical green forest where the luscious green moss blankets the rocks and ground creating a silence only broken by the birds and the distant roar of the waterfall. There are many walks around the waterfall and a direct path up to falls itself. A walk here is magnificent whether in sunshine or the ever present light misty rain. It take 15 minutes to walk to the falls itself and you can continue up and past it if you are feeling adventurous. Torc Waterfall is approximately 7 kilometres from Killarney Town and approx. 2.5 kilometres from the motor entrance to Muckross House and can be accessed from a car park on the N71 better known as the Killarney – Kenmare road.

Torc waterfall

Torc waterfall, Killarney

Blue Pool Nature Reserve
This is an amazing little secret place. Its known to locals but very few tourists. I am sure there are “little people” and faeries living here as it is such a magical place. The pool is colored naturally by local limestone deposits resulting in a crystal blue hue to the pool. The wildlife is also spellbinding with kingfishers darting in and out of the water and trout trying to avoid them. You can also spot the odd squirrel foraging in the trees. To reach the reserve turn left at Molly Darcys pub on the Muckross Road and follow the signs.

Derrynane Beach and House
We first visited Derrynane house while my father was researching his family. The cousin of Daniel O’Connell the liberator (who grew up in the house), Ellen O’Connell married into the Joyce Family and her portrait hangs in the main drawing room. The house is very interesting and tours take place regularly, there is a little cafe and you can wander amongst the rhododendrons in the gardens to walk the scones and cream off.

Rhododendron flowers

Rhododendron flower, Kerry

However the best thing about Derrynane to me is its majestic beach one of the most beautiful in Ireland. It’s a sandy beach curved around a natural harbor, but with large “islands” of Smooth dark rock dotted on the far end of the bay. When the tide is in, they almost look like large animals lumbering out of the surf. To the right arm of the beach is a church and graveyard which are slowly being reclaimed by the sea but which make a poignant and beautiful scene. The beach has a blue flag and is same to swim there. The waters are a refreshing turquoise blue in the sun and a mysterious duck egg blue when the sky is overcast. Not to be overlooked. Take the N71 t before the town turn right onto the N70 and follow along the coast to Catherdaniel where Derrynane house and beach is signposted.

March 19, 2012
by Christine

Global Announcement of “The Gathering” by An Taoiseach

Further to the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmores brief reference to The Gathering 2013, (a year long tourism drive that will attract attention internationally with a view to turning the tide on business relocation in the state), An Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to officially launch the drive during his tour of the United States this week. Using the International St. Patricks Day festivities as a platform to deliver his intentions to the worlds media, he has deployed numerous TD’s to capital cities across the globe to highlight the positive message that Ireland is again "open for business".

The idea of The Gathering came from discussions between members in attendance at the second Irish Global Economic Forum which took place in Dublin in 2011. The original forum was the brainchild of economist David McWilliams, who approached the government about a think-tank meeting of great Irish minds. Successful Irish people from around the world were invited to be in attendance at the first forum in 2009 in Farmleigh in a bid to attract business and open up new avenues in all industries.