Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide by John Grenham. Published by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1001 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. 2nd edition 1999. xxii, 374 pp. Illustrations, maps. Softcover. $19.95 plus $3.50 p&h.

The book meets its stated aim "to provide a comprehensive guide for anyone wishing to trace their Irish ancestors". The book recognizes that the needs of the individual researcher can vary greatly and thus structures the book in three parts. Part one presents the basic sources of civil records, census records, church records and land records. Part two deals with sources having a narrower application, including wills, records at the Genealogical Office, emigration, the Registry of Deeds, newspapers and directories. Part three, the largest is a guide to occupations, source lists arranged by county and Roman Catholic records.

The first two sections provide detailed descriptions of what the records are, their contents and practical advice on how to use them. For example, in describing the 1901 census it shows how to use this to eliminate multiple options found earlier in civil registration for a person who emigrated to the US in 1897. These sections are current; for example it includes details of the 1997 CD-ROM index to Griffiths Primary Valuation, thankfully acknowledging both its strengths and weaknesses.

Section three is where the content of the book has increased greatly. This section begins with a reference guide of published and unpublished sources for occupational research. It is good to know sources exists but the bibliographic citations are not consistent, often omitting the copyright date and the publisher's name, but it does give the National Library of Ireland call number. This is followed by a 110-page listing for each county of: census returns and substitutes; local history; local journals; directories; gravestone inscriptions and estate records. The major addition to this volume is 141-page listing, with maps of copies of Roman Catholic parish registers, microfilm and database transcripts to be found in 1998 in the National Library of Ireland, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the LDS Family History Library, the local heritage centres and those that have been published. The tabular format, arranged by county, shows the dates (with gaps) for each of the baptismal, marriage and burial registers. No effort was made to find out what remained in local custody.

In the revision the following were excluded: the 822 item listing of manuscripts in the Genealogical Office, the 28-page listing of published family histories, and the 20-page listing of Church of Ireland parish registers in Dublin repositories. The Genealogical Office material is now available in The Genealogical Office (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1998) and the Church of Ireland records are listed in Noel Reid's A Table of Church of Ireland Parochial Records (IHFS, 1994).

This book is physically larger, has a smaller typeface and is 91-pages longer than the 1992 first edition. It has been extensively revised and updated, with lots of new resource material so is highly recommended for anyone doing Irish research. Yet, because of the material omitted in this revised volume the first edition should be kept on hand.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.7 no.3, 2000