By Deborah Dale, student
Whether or not three brothers on my paternal side really did make the journey from Ulster to Maryland during the seventeenth century is beside the point. The point is that I recently traveled to Yakima, Washington to attend several fantastic lectures hosted by the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and presented by Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt of the Ulster Historical Foundation, who were winding down their 2015 genealogy lecture tour.
I arrived just in time for the introductions of the speakers and the first lecture. After giving my name at the registration area, I picked up my conference packet, which included pages and pages in a spiral-bound book created by PRONI (the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), which began with a section on How to Trace Your Family Tree and continued with sections on the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses, census substitutes, wills and probate, church records, valuation records, national education records, and much more.
The room was full with only a few seats still open. I sat down at a table at the back of the room as Fintan Mullan started speaking, and as I noticed various flyers of family history resources lying on the table, which apparently complemented my conference packet and included a nice heritage map of the Ulster Plantation, large enough to hang on a wall. Also included was a flyer from the Irish Manuscripts Commission, a public body established in 1928 that promotes access to sources of Irish history and culture. At its website, one can find out of print titles and even digitized editions.
I made notes of things I hadn’t known, such as the average size of a townland (about 325 acres) in Ireland and the size of the largest townland (over 7,000 acres) and the smallest (about 1 acre). I also didn’t know that the reason some townlands like Lower Aghaboy in County Tyrone is actually north of or above Upper Aghaboy is because their distances were measured from Dublin, so that lower Aghaboy appeared farther away.
During a lecture by Gillian Hunt, I made notes on interesting, humorous tidbits found in Irish censuses such as the occupation of a 6-year-old as “He torments the house,” or the occupation of an 8-month old as “sinner,” or the reporting of a wife with a “loose tongue,” or the more serious occupation of a woman as “militant suffragette.”
I also took notes about the Registry of Deeds (Dublin) Indexing project that you can read about here: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~registryofdeeds/, but before I knew it, the day was over all too soon and I was leaving Yakima, headed east on I-82, on a somewhat blustery, sunny afternoon.
Now as I contemplate the information I gleaned, I am thinking about other conferences I will be able to attend and their importance to my genealogical education. I end by wishing you the ability to attend as many local and national conferences that you can.