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September 23, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
FamilySearch microfilm all digitized!
FamilySearch has announced completion of a gigantic project to digitize their 2.4 million rolls of microfilm! The project started in 1998 and was expected to take 50 years but finished in less than half that time.
Remember FamilySearch is totally free! Their collection includes 11.5 billion individuals in over 200 countries! All you need is an internet connection and a FamilySearch account (which is also free). My personal favorite way to search on Ancestry is to query the Catalog by location.
Read more about this magnificent accomplishment at the FamilySearch blog.
September 22, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Learn with IGSI!
Two great learning opportunities are coming up:
  • Saturday, September 25 – 10:30am – Noon CDT: How I Found Skunk Hollow with David Trudeau
This FREE webinar is presented by the Canadian Interest Group of the Minnesota Genealogical Society in partnership with IGSI. David will present a case study of how he found his Irish Canadian ancestors using Ontario maps. No pre-registration required. For more information, click HERE.
  • Saturday, October 9, 10:30am – Noon CDT: How to Hire a Professional Genealogist with Lois Mackin (moderator), Liz Gomoll, Bob Johnson and Lorna Moloney
This panel presentation may be just what you need! Perhaps some assistance from an expert will help find that elusive piece of information about your ancestor. FREE for IGSI members with Discount Code sent in member email/$20 for non-members. Space is limited. Register HERE.
September 18, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
I encountered a new term this week: the word "clachan."
I found it while reading Out of Ireland: The Story of Irish Emigration to America by Kerby Miller and Paul Wagner (Elliott & Clark Pubishing, 1994). Writing about overpopulation and famine, the authors described how the 19th century Irish countryside was filled with people:
"Many Catholic peasants lived in crowded rural settlements called clachans. A few dozen, or even several hundred, one- or two-room thatched cottages were clustered together, surrounded by unfenced fields for raising potatoes and a few stunted livestock..."
Here's part of an illuminating definition of "clachan" at
"The house cluster, consisting of irregular groupings of farmhouses often in association with an unenclosed and communally worked field system, was found extensively in the western regions of Ireland in the nineteenth century. This settlement form contrasted with the dispersed single farmstead, which is most characteristic of the Irish landscape in modern times. The geographer Estyn Evans christened these clusters clachans (a term with no known provenance in Irish linguistic tradition) on the basis of a similarity with a Scottish settlement of this name..." 
If you're interested in learning more about the (apparently somewhat controversial) historical concept, here's a link to the Encyclopedia article.
September 16, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
How to Hire a Professional Genealogist
Is your family tree filled with Irish stone walls? Perhaps you should hire a professional genealogist to break through!
Saturday, October 9 – 10:30-Noon CDT: How to Hire a Professional Genealogist
Featuring expert panelists Liz Gomoll, Bob Johnson,
Lorna Moloney and moderator Lois Abromitis Mackin. Presenters are pictured here, counter-clockwise, from upper left corner.
They will help you decide when to consider hiring a professional, what you need to do before that, finding qualified candidates, costs and tips.
This webinar is FREE for IGSI members but you must use Discount Code PRO21. Register HERE.
Can’t make it? Register and we will send you a link to the recording within a few days of the live event.
Let an expert help you!
P.S. While you are on the IGSI website, check out a free webinar from our friends at the Canadian Interest Group of the Minnesota Genealogical Society: "How I Found Skunk’s Hollow" with David Trudeau on Saturday, September 25th, 10:30-Noon CDT. David’s case study explores the use of maps in learning more about his Irish ancestors in Ontario, Canada.
September 9, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Time to build your genealogy skills
There still is time for…time for you to build your genealogy skills!
You can register for Saturday’s IGSI webinar, Comparing the
Irish-Rich Databases, up until we go live at 10:30am (CDT).
Can’t make it then but want to see it?
Register anyway and early next week you will receive a link to the recording and handout from expert speaker Mary Wickersham.
To register and for more information, click HERE. $15 IGSI members/$20 non-members.
September 6, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Irish orphan trains to South Dakota
My immigrant ancestors from Germany and the Netherlands settled in South Dakota in the 1880s and 1890s. I didn't realize "the Irish make up 10% of the population (there) and rank as the 3rd major ancestry group after the Germans - 37%, and Norwegians - 12%." That quote comes from a 2011 article by Robert E. Lyons about Irish orphans sent to Yankton, SD, to help create an independent Irish Republic:
The first Irish immigrants were drawn to Yankton in 1869 by John Pope Hodnett of Chicago, a native Irishman from Cork who had been appointed assessor of internal revenue for Dakota Territory by President Ulysses S. Grant. Mr. Hodnett worked heartily to build up and develop Dakota Territory and to encourage the tide of immigration which was flowing out from the Eastern states.
He had a dream to establish an Irish colony in Yankton, the territorial capital. Hodnett, a thirty year old young man from Youghal, County Cork, had been a leader of a political element known as Irish Republicans, the Fenian Brotherhood. Along with many Irishmen after their service in the Civil War, he joined the Fenians and was dedicated to the establishment of an independent Irish Republic finally emancipated from England.
George Kingsbury, in his History of Dakota Territory -- South Dakota: Its History and Its People, credits this new Irish republican organization with becoming a weighty voice in the arena of politics in America, and the voice was being uttered in distinct tones and in unambiguous language by hundreds of eloquent Irish republicans: "On the free soil of the West that had never been tainted by the footprints of a slave, Irish republicanism had its birth."
Lyons goes on about the Irish settlements at Yankton. Here's a link to the full article:
September 3, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Find a needle in a haystack
Comparing the Irish-Rich Databases with Mary Wickersham
Saturday, Sept. 11, 10:30-Noon CDT
A few years ago, an IGSI member came across a
marriage record dated 23 Sep 1811 in Midleton, County Cork, for groom Redmond Geary of Aghada and bride Mary Moore. These were her great-great grandparents and she had a place of origin!! The record was in RootsIreland.
Was it in Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindMyPast? No, no and no. A one-month subscription to RootsIreland broke down a stubborn brick wall.
What are the similarities between these major Irish record depositories? What are the differences? Register HERE for the next IGSI webinar to find out!  $15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members.
Can’t make it that day or time? Register anyway and you will receive a proprietary link to the recording and handout within a few days of the live event. 
Maybe you will find YOUR needle in a haystack!!
September 2, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
The Casey Collection
One of the jewels in IGSI’s Irish collection at the Hoffman Research Library is the 16-volume set known as the Casey Collection. If you have ancestors from Cork or Kerry, you’ll want to learn more.
This series of books, compiled by Albert E. Casey, is formally titled O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher and the Upper Blackwater in Ireland. It includes Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland and Quaker birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial records transcribed from parish and civil registers.
The title is found in only a few large libraries across the country. IGSI’s set is probably located in one of the smallest libraries and certainly the closest for most IGSI members.
Here are several helpful introductions to the Casey Collection:
  1. “Casey’s Remarkable Collection of Genealogical Sources for Kerry and Cork ... and How to Use It” by Michele Patin
  2. My Kerry Ancestors website
  3. “If You’re Looking at Cork, Don’t Forget the Casey Collection” by Ray Martin. This article appears in The Septs, Volume 16, No. 3 (July 1995), Page 90.
  4. “The Mother Lode of Irish Genealogy” by Ray Martin, another Septs article published in Volume 16, No. 4 (October 1995), Page 97.
Note you must be an IGSI member to access online issues of The Septs. The index and images from the Casey Collection are also available with an Ancestry World Explorer subscription.
Another option is to visit the MGS library and look in person at the “three feet of stout, hardbound volumes,… a monumental hoard of information” as described by Michele Patin. The books might more accurately be described as super-sized since they are both tall and 3-4 inches thick. Despite the large size of the volumes, the print can be small and researchers are advised to bring a large magnifying glass.
August 27, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Webinar Recordings Available!
Have something on your calendar to prevent you from attending
our next live webinar? Never fear – recordings are here!!
Perhaps you want to attend “Comparing the Irish-Rich Databases” on Saturday, September 11th from 10:30am –
Noon CDT. However your grandson has a soccer game or you
are attending a niece’s wedding.
Don’t worry! Anyone who registers for any of our IGSI webinars will receive a link to the recording and handout within a few days of the live event. You’ll miss out on asking your question to the presenter but you won’t miss out on the wonderful content from instructor extraordinaire Mary Wickersham!
Register today HERE.
Was there another webinar that you missed but you really wanted to see? IGSI members have exclusive access to almost all the webinar recordings and handouts. Check out PAST WEBINARS to see a full list.
Not an IGSI member? Well, why not JOIN now! Make a commitment to yourself to take the time/make the time to start or get back into your Irish genealogy today.
August 24, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Travel with IGSI to Ireland
Want to go to Ireland? Start packing your bags and come with us!!

Celtic Journeys is offering a 12-day/11-night tour to Ireland for IGSI members for $2,675 per person (sharing a double/twin room). The tour departs Monday, September 26, 2022, and ends Saturday, October 8, 2022.
You’ll visit Belfast, Derry, Donegal, Galway, Killaloe, Kinsale and Dublin, seeing sights
such as the Giant’s Causeway, Slieve League, Glenveagh National Park, the Rock of Cashel and the Cobh Heritage Center. Built into the itinerary are opportunities to spend time researching your Irish ancestors at various libraries and records offices in Belfast and Dublin…or just spend the day exploring on
your own.
Accommodations for 11 nights, full breakfast each morning, 8 evening dinners, entrance fees, and transportation are included. Airfare, personal expenses, other meals and driver/tour gratuities are not included.

SPACE IS LIMITED TO 28 PEOPLE so reserve your place today!! Past tours have filled up quickly. A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your seat on the bus (Celtic Journeys strongly suggests you purchase travel insurance).

You can find the detailed itinerary HERE along with the registration form.

Questions? Contact Celtic Journeys at

Click Join at left to become an IGSI member so can join us as we tour beautiful Ireland!
August 18, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
No one-stop shopping
There is no “one-stop shopping” in on-line genealogy databases
and not everything has been digitized BUT each week, more and more critical records we need to learn about our Irish ancestors become available.
So, where should you look? Is it worth it to purchase a one-month subscription to FindMyPast, RootsIreland or another database? What makes them unique? What does each contain? Which one(s) will give me the best chance to break down that pesky brick wall?
Join us Saturday, September 11th from 10:30am – Noon (CDT) 
for Comparing the Irish-Rich Databases and learn from Mary Wickersham as she takes us through the overlaps and differences between the Irish-rich databases.
$15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members. Register HERE.
August 17, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Come to the Library!
It will be great to have the Hoffman Research Library open and available to researchers again!
Beginning September 1, the library will return to full hours
of service: Wednesdays 10am - 4pm, Thursdays 10am -
8pm, and Saturdays 10am - 4pm. At the time this was posted, vaccinated persons do not need to wear a mask at the Minnesota Genealogy Center; unvaccinated persons should wear a mask while in the building.
Irish Saturdays will resume at the library on the second Saturday of each month, starting September 11. IGSI members will be available to help you start your family research or perhaps give an assist with a problem point. The IGSI collection of 3000+ items will be available to researchers.
Read more about the Minnesota Genealogy Society and its library here.
Note: Due to the North Star conference, the Hoffman Research Library will be closed on Thursday, September 30, and on Saturday, October 2.
August 12, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Comparing Irish-Rich Databases
Are your Irish ancestors hiding in plain sight?
Perhaps you have used the free records available in FamilySearch. Maybe you have a subscription to the full version of Ancestry. But did you know there are other subscription databases such as FindMyPast, RootsIreland and JohnGrenham with records you will not find elsewhere?
Join us Saturday, September 11, at 10:30am CDT for Comparing the Irish-Rich Databases with Mary Wickersham to find out what is in each and help identify the differences. Your elusive Irish ancestors may be hiding in one of these!
Register HERE. $15 for IGSI members with Discount Code/$20 for non-members
August 10, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Genealogy Research Course Level 3
The Minnesota Genealogical Society is offering IGSI members discounted tuition to their next Levels course, which starts September 12. This is a great opportunity to take your skills to the next level within a small group setting.
Students will build and practice skills developing a research project; taking their project idea to an actionable research plan; systematically capturing their research findings; and writing their story in the form of a project report or article. A guest speaker will present a special topic in each class.
Prerequisite: Registrants must successfully complete Level Two or demonstrate to the instructor they have the knowledge and skills learned in Level Two by submitting a resume or work sample to
Pre-course assignment: Ideas for a research project – due Friday September 10th before Class One Answering a specific question about a person or family Options: undertaking a larger project, e.g., surname search in records (land, census, vital)
The series of four progressive 2.5 hour classes will be supplemented with three optional “office hours” coaching sessions.  To see the schedule, costs, and to meet your instructors, Lois Abromitis Mackin, Robert Johnson, Paula Stuart Warren, Shirleen Hoffman and Elizabeth Gomoll,  visit
August 9, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Names--Scottish or Irish?
Every Sunday a Letter from Ireland arrives in my email box from Mike Collins. In this week's letter, a reader named Hamish asked a question: how can you tell if a name is Scottish or Irish? 
Collins replied with an example of how Scottish and Irish names sometimes grew apart over time:
"...Starting at the beginning:
  • James (originally known as Jacob) was one of the 12 apostles from the bible.
  • King James 1st made the name popular as a boy’s name when he assumed the throne of Scotland in the 1600s. Its popularity grew further when he became King of a united Scotland and England.
  • However, the Irish language has a problem pronouncing the "J" sound in "James" - and so changes it to a "Sh" sound. As a result, James became "Séamus" (pronounced "Shay-mus") in Irish/Scots Gaelic. This was also the way for a number of other biblical names - such as "John" which became "Seán" (pronounced "Shawn").
  • Now, bear with me on this step. When you address someone with their Irish/Gaelic name - the grammar changes a little. If I wanted to say: "How are you, James?" I would say:
"Conas a tá tú, a Shéamais?" (pronounced "Cunus a taw too a hay-mish?").
  • The insertion of the H into the name "Shéamais" causes the sound of the S to disappear! Over time, the name "Seamus" became anglicised as "Hamish" (pronounced "Hay-mish") in parts of Scotland due to this little twist of Gaelic grammar."
You can read past Letters from Ireland and subscribe yourself (free) by clicking here.
August 7, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Ancestry changes its terms
Are you confused about all the consternation you're seeing on social media regarding changes in Ancestry's terms and conditions?
Whenever I have a question about legal technicalities related to genealogy, my go-to source is Judy G. Russell and her blog,
As usual, she's on top of the latest Ancestry issue! Read her August 6 posting as well as comments left by readers, where Ms. Russell responds to their questions. 
August 5, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Still time for Irish Genealogy 101
There is still time for…time for you to build your genealogy skills!
You can register for Saturday’s IGSI webinar Irish Genealogy 101 up until we go live at 10:30am (CDT).
Can’t make it then but want to see it? Register anyway and early next week you will receive a link to the recording and handout from expert speaker Tom Rice.
To register and for more information, click HERE. $15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members.
August 1, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Webtember: Genealogy All September Long

MyHeritage is sponsoring a fun (and FREE!)

online genealogy conference taking place

each Friday in September, with 30 live

and pre-recorded webinars.


You can join live for all four Fridays, or pick

and choose, or enjoy the recorded talks

(FREE) at your convenience through the   

end of the month.                                                         See the schedule and register here.

July 29, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Irish Genealogy 101 with Tom Rice, CG
Obviously, you are interested in learning more about your Irish heritage or you wouldn’t be reading this! However, over and over we hear that people either don’t have the time or don’t take the time to dig in to learn more about their Irish ancestors.
It’s not rocket science. You can learn more about who your Irish ancestors were, where they came from in Ireland and where they went. BUT you do need to take the time.
Why not start by registering?
Irish Genealogy 101 with Tom Rice, CG  
Saturday, August 7, 10:30 am - Noon (CDT) 
This webinar will take you through the process, give you an overview of finding the place of origin, plus give you insights into Irish naming patterns, Irish places and history and provide many hints and links to records and resources in the U.S. and Ireland. It will give you the tools you need to begin or refresh your research.
Register HERE now!! $15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members. Can’t make it on August 7th? Register anyway and you will receive a link to the recording and terrific handout within a few days of the live event.
Make the time…take the time!
July 27, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Call for CCC 2022 proposals
A year ago this week we were revving up for a virtual Celtic Connections Conference 2020. 
And now the CCC 2022 planning committee is calling for proposals for Journey Home, to be held virtually between 9 July and 30 Sept 2022.  In keeping with the conference theme, successful proposals will address Celtic (Irish, Scots-Irish, Scottish or Welsh) topics, or tools and methodologies useful to Celtic researchers.  
Proposals must be submitted by 1 Sept 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.  All presentations will be pre-recorded and available for viewing by everyone who registers.

Proposals may be from beginning to advanced levels. All the details can be found at the CCC website.

July 22, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Irish Genealogy 101
Irish Genealogy 101  - Saturday, August 7th – 10:30am-Noon (CDT) with Tom Rice, CG
You may be familiar with Ancestry and FamilySearch. But have you heard of
Shane Wilson's website is a large collection of excellent materials relating to Irish records, places, name distribution, etc. It's also a key site for such things as linking Roman Catholic parishes to Townlands and for learning about various aspects of Irish genealogy.
You could learn about and a whole lot more at the next IGSI webinar!
Space is limited. Register today HERE. $15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members.
Can’t make it on the 7th? Register anyway and you will receive a link to the recorded presentation and fabulous handout.
July 19, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Happy 10th Anniversary!
Tin and aluminum--representing durability and flexibility--are traditional materials for a tenth anniversary.
Ten years ago today I posted my first IGSI blog.
Since then I've clicked on Save for nearly 1690 addl postings.
In recent times I've been particularly grateful for the IGSI class announcements drafted by Education Chair Kathleen Foley. And I must admit many postings over the years were items originating with other bloggers and/or published genealogical articles which I've simply shared with our readers. A big thanks to the many sources for blog material!
Along the way, IGSI moved to a new website platform. Converting old blog postings to the new site affected the formats. I've edited some but many still appear as one long paragraph.
This morning I played around with sorting to find the oldest blog entries. At the upper right corner, you'll see there are 68 pages with 25 entries per page. When I went to page 68 and found the entry dated July 19, 2011, I was surprised to see five older entries dated December 31, 1969! Were these remnants of postings from a previous IGSI blogger? Wait a minute. 1969?
A quick scan of the five articles disclosed they did not originate in 1969. In fact they appeared to be pieces of draft postings that didn't properly make the trip from the old website. We've done a little housekeeping to make corrections and demonstrate our durability/flexibility.
July 17, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Unreadable gravestones
In doing research at cemeteries, you may have encountered gravestones with unreadable words or numbers. While I've seen advice about using a mirror to assist in deciphering information on the stone, I hadn't experienced the benefits until recently.
A friend had salvaged a piece of reflective material from an old TV. It was light and unbreakable so she brought it to the cemetery where we sought out an old, particularly discolored headstone. See what a difference the reflected light made. One can much more easily read the name and birth/death dates. It's truly striking when you're there in person.
We'll be restoring the stone's readability with D/2 solution, but using a mirror is a good alternative.
July 15, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Are your Irish research skills rusty?
Are your Irish family history skills a little rusty? Have you had “find out where great-grandma Bridget came from in Ireland” on your TO DO list for way too long? Did you or your brother take a DNA test that said you are 37% Irish and you want to know more? Then, our August IGSI webinar is for you!
Tom Rice will discuss key tools for finding your Irish ancestors: the most important record types, Irish geographic terms, Irish naming patterns, key Irish genealogy websites and books, plus a lot more. Don’t miss this!
Register HERE now! $15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members
Can’t make it that Saturday? Register anyway and a few days after the live presentation you will receive a link to the recording and handout so you can watch at your convenience.
July 10, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Latest issue of Irish Lives Remembered
Do not miss reading the Summer 2021 issue of Irish Lives Remembered.
Online and free, as always.
I haven't yet read the magazine cover to cover, but what I've perused so far has been fascinating!
Start your mid-summer adventure here