Who Do We Think We Are?

Inishowen Development Partnership hosts genealogy workshops online

Who Do We Think We Are?

Inishowen Development Partnership Family Research Zoom session

What better time to show people how they may research their family history than during those long lockdown hours when we were confined to our homes during the coronavirus pandemic?

The co-ordinator of the Cross Border Shared Heritage PEACE IV Project Tracey McRory approached local well-known genealogist Boyd Gray to facilitate some online sessions on family history.

Boyd was delighted to come on board, he said: "There is nothing more rewarding than discovering your roots, finding out who your people were, where they lived, what family they had, who they married and where they went.

“And over the last few years, almost 90% of all you will ever find out about your ancestry has gone online. All you need is the expertise to do the research.’’

With that in mind and considering the limitations of the format, a series of 6 sessions were designed to show the members of the Who Do We Think We Are group how they might go about researching their ancestry.

The starting point was the two censuses of 1901 and 1911 and then the civil births, marriages and deaths which are online at three different websites.

The participants were shown how to navigate their way through the Griffiths Valuation land survey of 1857, which is also online along with its accompanying maps and aerial views.

With the time in between sessions the group were busy working on their family tree and really amazed at the progress they were making.

“Having participated in the workshops with Inishowen Development Partnership and with Boyd’s help, I have been able to find right back to my great, great, great grandfather!’’

In the final session, using the same sources, we explored the effects of the other great flu pandemic of 1918/19 and find out more about the tragedies that befell some of the people of Inishowen back then.

“One poor man lost his mother, wife and two children all in one week.

“And we were also able to have a look at some of the research some members of the group had already done based on the first few sessions and help them push further forward.

“Boyd and Tracey have been a great help to me, and I have found out information for my family tree that I have been stuck on for years!

“A fantastic programme to be involved in.’’’

But perhaps one of the most important results of this online genealogy course as part of the Cross Border Shared Heritage Project which is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) was in demonstrating that, be it the sources one uses to research family history, or the horrific effects of the flu epidemic of one hundred years ago, both communities in Donegal and border counties have a shared history and what unites us is always more important than what divides us.

The programme is yet another small milestone in the progress towards peace and reconciliation in Ireland that we all wish to achieve.

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