May 13, 2016

Gravestone transcripts

As threatened in a recent blog post, I've been spending a lot of time trying to get a handle on gravestone transcription sites. By my reckoning, at least eight separate organisations have been or are still transcribing headstones and putting the results online. The gold standard is now a full (validated) transcript, with an image of the stone, a GPS reference and a map of the cemetery. At lot of the earlier projects are text-only, but the quality of most of the work was excellent. There is much duplication and overlapping between different organisations, but that's OK: every set of transcripts has mistakes, but separate transcripts don't have the same mistakes.


The largest collection of Irish transcript-only graveyard records has long been that created by the Ulster Historical Foundation ( between the 1970s and the early 2000s, covering mostly the six counties of Northern Ireland. The records were and are still available via, but the main avenue of access appears to be shifting to the subscription side of ancestryireland. Looking at this recently I realised that my listing was seriously short. I've now added more than 600 further transcripts to the listing. The biggest additions are to west Ulster, Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone (and parts of north-east Donegal). A perennial problem is being sure that we're referring to the same graveyard. When in doubt, I've included rather than excluded.

North Wexford Historical Society

Fourteen graveyards in and around the Gorey area transcribed, imaged and referenced superbly. They re-cover much of the ground already available in Cantwell's classic Memorials of the Dead, North Wexford. But they're online. Free. Imaged. Geo-referenced!

Westmeath (Dún na Sí)

Transcripts for twenty named graveyards in the county recently added at rootsireland. Again, I had problems matching the place names ... A little scary is the detail at the bottom of the rootsireland listing: 'No [parish] name. No [graveyard] name: 2357 records'. Argh.

General Register Office transcripts

Galway Family History Society West

Rootsireland can sometimes hide its light under a bushel, but this is ridiculous. A search for a marriage in Tuam recently turned up a civil marriage record. But the online list of sources for West Galway has no civil records of any description. So I went rummaging around and found records from 17 local registrar's districts in West Galway, including Galway, Spiddle, Roundstone, Clifden, Inishbofin ... Almost all are marriages, and quite a few seem to omit the very earliest years: it looks like an unfinished part of the indexing project. But what's there is great, and really, really should in the list of sources. They're now listed and linked in the source-lists (e.g. Moyrus civil parish).

Church transcripts

Roscommon Heritage & Genealogy Company

The NLI listing for Roscommon and Kilteevan, including Roscommon town, has baptisms starting only in 1837. The rootsireland transcript starts in 1820, though their listing said 1837 until a couple of weeks ago. It took Donna Moughty to notice and let me and them know. Evidently, the Library missed a register.

The site

From next week, May 18th to be precise, a soft pay-wall will be in operation on What this means is that after five record-reference page-views in 24 hours, a user will be asked to subscribe. There will be various options, daily (€4.99), monthly (€9.99) and yearly (€69.99): to keep the site going, I need to stay out of the workhouse, but I'm under no illusions about sitting on a goldmine.

Not unrelated is the impending shut-down of The Irish Times/Irish Ancestors site. From May 23rd next, all its traffic will be rerouted to and I'll be trying to make sure my site doesn't crumble under the weight. A further week to deal with the customer support fall-out, and the ties are severed for good.

This newsletter

Is it a newsletter? Anyway, I promise no more than one a month, almost all about the records and no marketing guff. And if you come across something I should have listed, please let me know.

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