Mar30

3 Comments

I have been quite excited that the Irish Family History Foundation’s Advanced Search is now Available on All Ireland searches. Since I do not yet definitively know where my Tierneys or McDonalds came from in Ireland, that will allow me to search across almost all of the counties to try and narrow my focus. (Limerick and Sligo are not participating in advanced search.)

Trying to take advantage of this capability, I thought I would look around for my great-grandfather Michael Tierney. We have a fair amount on him over here in New York City, including his exact birth date from his NY Municipal Police records and his death certificate. (Which also has his parent’s names.)

So, I search for Michael Tierney (and surname variants) on the year exact 1858, which returned 4 possible records. Adding his parent’s names, John Tierney and Margaret Murphy to the search in various combinations discounted all of those records. But, being optimistic I thought perhaps one of them could still be valid if the names were mis-transcribed and so purchased all of the records.

An added good thing about the advanced search is that you can purchase groups of records at a discounted rate – rather the the standard cost of €5 per record, I got all 4 of them for €12.

But, sadly, I have not done very well with any of my record purchases on the site yet. My prior purchases have been in search of my  great-grandparents John Egan and Maria Farrell’s marriage and birth records. So far I have a likely marriage record and a single birth record that is a “maybe.” Slightly disappointing since I know exactly where they lived (near Creggan, Moyclare, Endrim, & Ferbane) in Kings County.

Once I purchased the batch of Michael Tierney birth records it was obvious none were for my great-grandfather – the parents names didn’t match at all and none were for a birth date of August 3, 1858. (I realize my NYC records are secondary sources and there could be a “fudge factor” on his birth year, at least. But when widening the search I am still not getting positive hits.)

But, I did notice one oddity in the 4 records – Two of them are the same record (with one missing an address), but listed in DIFFERENT COUNTIES. Argh, I say. Argh.

Duplicate Records at IFHF

I am certainly not going to give up on the rootsireland.ie site, it sure beats the cost of flying to Ireland. (Of course, I’d rather fly there but my banker keeps wagging their finger at me.)

But there are a few things I truly wish the site changed:

  • Allow users to enter an exact date and/or place name in the search fields. Right off the bat I could have discounted those last records based on date and avoided them all together, unless I was really stumped. (Which apparently I is.)
  • Provide a tad more information on the results page. In birth and marriage records, would it hurt to include at least parent’s first names? There are obviously going to be some errors from recording or transcription. If that is the case for someone whose name I know (like my great-grandfather’s mother Margaret) then listing first names of parents would help me pare down an Ireland-wide search and know I wasn’t missing anything due to spelling variations.

I get it – the site needs to make money to continue to provide services and they don’t want to give away the farm in their results. But if I need to buy several records to get the one I want EVEN if I have detailed info on the person I am searching for, it feels a little grifty to me.

For the record: Once I realized there were duplicate records in my purchases, I contacted the site via their online form, described my search and a provided screen shot of the duplicates side by side (via my Flickr acct.)

IFHF responded very quickly and by the morning provided a credit for the duplicate. Their response was also informative as to why these sorts of things might happen. Very nice customer service indeed!

Part of their explanation:

“These databases have been complied over many years by many different people. While we make every effort to remove any duplicates, some still exist for a variety of reasons:
- overlapping parishes
- recorded twice by priest
- entered by different people at different times with discrepancies that by-pass our automatic duplicate filter”

If you find any duplicates we will happily refund you and notify the centre in question so that their data may be corrected for the next upgrade.”

As I said to them – if you see my great-grandfather Michael out in the land of  Irish records, please let him know I’m looking for him.

Tada gan iarracht – Nothing is done without effort.

These are screen shots of 2 of 4 records I purchased today from rootsireland.ie. I used Advanced Search for all of Ireland for Michael Tierney, exact birth year 1858.

Michael was my great-grandfather  – sadly none of the records were for him, but as I looked at them I noticed something odd: these two records are the same record (with one missing an address), but listed in DIFFERENT COUNTIES. Argh, I say. Argh.

<b>For the record: IFHF provided a credit for the duplicate quite quickly and offered an explanation to why these sorts of things might happen. Very nice customer service!</b>
Part of the explanation:

<i>”These databases have been complied over many years by many different people. While we make every effort to remove any duplicates, some still exist for a variety of reasons:
- overlapping parishes
- recorded twice by priest
- entered by different people at different times with discrepancies that by-pass our automatic duplicate filter”

If you find any duplicates we will happily refund you and notify the centre in question so that their data may be corrected for the next upgrade.”</i>

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3 Comments

  • avatar

    Comment by Nathan M. Needle — March 31, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

    Good luck finding these folks in Ireland! I can’t stand dealing with IFHF, but most of my family is from a part of Cork they don’t cover. I suppose there was no town name on a naturalization?

    Nathan Needle

  • avatar

    Comment by John — April 1, 2011 @ 1:08 am

    When you sit and think about it, the IFHF has a difficult balance to maintain – provide a vehicle to find relevant records without giving away the farm in doing so.

    The two methods in use by companies both have pluses ad minuses -

    The pay-per-record model means you need to keep the info close to your chest and risk annoying customers with false positives (and worse for researchers – false negatives!)

    The subscription model (like Ancestry) means you have to continually strive to provide more records to keep people subscribing. While the genealogy field seems to be in a growth phase, subscribers are still a fairly finite resource and acquiring and digitizing new records takes a lot of effort.

    I was less happy with IFHF before the advanced search went online – there was no way I could keep dropping €5 per record. The staged pricing model takes some of that sting away.

    A few months back I did find my great-grandfather’s naturalizaton at the NYC NARA – but in 1885 it wasn’t much more than name, address, occupation and country of origin. I was counting on that record to bail me out, so was disappointing.

    So, now I’m waiting for my Family Tree DNA 37 marker test to come through, hoping I match others in the Tierney Clan surname group that know where their ancestors hailed from.

    I’m also casting a wider net by trying to find out if any of the other Tierneys in NYC 1850s onward might have been related. I’m slowly OCRing the city directories and plan to map out their locations in the city and occupations and see if any patterns emerge. If so, I’ll try researching those folks and see what sticks.

    If all of that fails, I’m really counting on the Easter Bunny to bring me a surprise.

  • avatar

    Comment by John — October 26, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    Just a fast update from your blog host: The nearest matches returned from my FTDNA 37 marker results are with folks in the McTiernan surname group.

    I match two people at a genetic distance of 1, so there’s a good chance our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) is somewhere in the 1790 – 1850 time frame I think.

    While those closer matches do not know their Irish family origin location, others that are a bit more distance matches in the McTiernan group have locations in Leitrim and Roscommon listed.

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