Celebrating friendships, stories and discoveries along the way

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Celtic Connections Conference - August 15 and 16, 2014

Last Friday and Saturday I attended the two-day Celtic Connections Conference, held at the La Cava Conference Center at Bentley University in Waltham. The Celtic Connections Conference was hosted by The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and the Irish Genealogical Society International (IGSI) and was the inaugural conference as a joint effort of the two Irish genealogical associations. The event featured outstanding presentations by top-flight Irish genealogists and lecturers from Ireland and the United States.

On Friday I attended five superb presentations. Brian Donovan of Eneclann and findmypast.com delivered the Keynote presentation, "Using findmypast.com to Trace Your Irish Family History." In the morning I attended Kyle Betit's excellent presentation, "Irish Landed Estate Papers" and Nora Galvin's insightful lecture, "The Registry of Deeds in Dublin Holds Genealogical Treasure." A delicious buffet lunch followed, accompanied by a wonderful talk by Sean O'Duill, "Irish - The Language Your Ancestors Spoke." In the afternoon I attended John Grenham's scholarly "Irish Church Records - The Known Unknown" and Richard Doherty's erudite "Genealogical Gold - Irish National School Records." The day ended with an delectable banquet dinner, followed by a captivating musical and lyrical performance by Brian and Lindsay O'Donovan of WGBH Radio's Celtic Sojourn.

On Saturday morning I attended Sheila O'Rourke Northrup's excellent talk on "Immigration Patterns: Irish to North America", followed by Kyle Betit's informative "Irish Occupational Records" and Kate Chadbourne's delightful "A Stor Mo Chroi: Irish Folk Culture on the Move." A delicious lunch followed, accompanied by outstanding a capella performances of songs of diaspora. In the afternoon I attended Richard Doherty's insightful lecture, "The Scots-Irish: Origins, Emigration, Religion, and Research Sources." The lectures concluded with John Grenham's illustrative presentation, "Lost Sheep: Why You Can't Find Your Irish Ancestors Online (Even Though You Know They're There)." The afternoon concluded with the announcement of the next Celtic Connections Conference in 2016 in Minnesota, with the exact date and location of the event to be announced.

Irish genealogical research is extremely challenging due to the loss of principal record collections resulting from the explosion and fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin on June 30, 1922. Census records from 1821 through 1851 were among the many records lost in the explosion. Methodologies for Irish research include identifying and accessing record collections that were not held at the Public Records Office. The conference presentations highlighted alternative record sources and suggested various approaches to assist the Irish genealogical researcher.

The conference also afforded wonderful opportunities to meet other Irish researchers and to connect with many genealogy friends, including Sharon Daly, who traveled from Buffalo, New York for the event. I wish to thank the officers of TIARA and IGSI and the organizers, presenters, sponsors, volunteers, and participants who made the Celtic Connections Conference an outstanding, memorable, and successful event.

For additional information about the Celtic Connections Conference please visit http://www.celtic-connections.org. For additional information about TIARA and upcoming events please visit the TIARA website at http://tiara.ie. For additional information about IGSI and upcoming events please visit the IGSI website at http://irishgenealogical.org/.

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