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Monday, October 3, 2011

Some bingos and a bombshell

Today the government of Ireland released the remainder of what it had intended to release of the south Cork church records. Thanks to this effort I have new insights on my Grandmom's Collinses, I believe I have a more conclusive link to the Mahonys in Bredagh, and I have discovered a bombshell in the Humphrey Collinses of Lissane, which really is just another insight.

First, some words about these church records. I can now better understand the delay for releasing them. The illegibility of some of these records made indexing and computerization very difficult, and no doubt there are substantial errors. In my own family I have discovered a number of errors already.  Therefore, I encourage anybody reading this to take the time to browse the records, and to be very flexible with your searches. When new information becomes available one has to be ready to throw out some old assumptions. 

Second, here's a little trick when searching for Christian names in the church records. You can build a search string as a large boolean expression. For example, to search for a woman named Catherine Neil, enter the following string into the name field:

(Cathe or Cath or Catherine or Catharine or Kath or Katherine or Kate or Kattie or Katy or Katty) Neil

The software engine is normally pretty good at cross-indexing surname variants. But not always. Again, I highly recommend browsing. And take a good look at the images, because there could be errors in the index. One day while browsing Skibbereen I noticed somebody with the surname Neil with something like Sheehy appended to it, as if Sheehy were a local nickname. That wasn't in the text index.  You just never know what you'll find.

If you are researching south Cork like I am, read Nora Hickey's article,  "What's in a Name?"  Unfortunately, the website originally hosting this article has taken it offline, and you will be directed to the Internet archive.  When you get to the archive, make a backup copy of it on your own computer to reference. 

The article talks about some of the odd south Cork locality-specific secondary names you may be struggling with while researching your ancestry.

Thank God these records are finally online.  It is better to have these illegible records with their dark smudgy illegible handwriting and indexing errors than to not have them at all. 

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