Monday, August 11, 2014

Seeking Direction

There are some research libraries so large that, upon first entering them, I regret not first finding someone to guide me to just the right spot to begin my search. In this crazy pursuit of genealogical research, I’ve been to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I’ve spent time—though not as much as I’d like, admittedly—at the library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since I have roots in New York City, I’ve even bumbled about in that city’s overwhelming public library. I can’t think of one library to which I’ve traveled that I didn’t arrive with that oh-oh sense of needing further direction.

So I’m headed to Ireland in the fall. I now have a daughter who is a student there, so I’m taking the opportunity to visit the country while I visit my daughter. It seems to be a natural fit. No matter how well prepared I might be for this trip, though, I still want to heed that sense of being at a loss upon entering a new library. I want to maximize the results I’m hoping to gain.

Sometime last winter, when my husband and I were first talking about the possibility of this trip, I ran across a flier promoting a genealogical research tour to Ireland. I took a careful look at it, and it seemed to fit my intentions exactly, so I marked it to follow up on more thoroughly.

At about the same time—this is where that word serendipity comes in handy—as newsletter editor for our local genealogical society, I received a request to promote another organization’s spring seminar. The seminar’s featured speaker, I noticed, happened to be the very woman who conducts the research tour to Ireland that I wanted to check out more thoroughly.

Since the other society’s seminar was held within a two hour drive of my home, I decided to attend. That way, I could meet the speaker face to face, ask my questions, and make my decision whether to sign up for her trip to Ireland.

As it turned out, the speaker was well recommended by local board members, as well as by others who knew of her. Her class sessions that day were informative and capably presented. Since I had emailed the speaker directly to make arrangements to talk, I was able to meet with her on the day of the seminar and discuss the specifics of my research needs and situation.

While my daughter’s study abroad situation had us temporarily in the throes of stress over whether she would be accepted into her program before it was too late to register for my genealogical research tour, in the end everything was done decently and in order—to my relief. I submitted my application for the tour—thankfully, there was still space left to attend—and am now going through the process of sending records for the consultation that is included in the tour fee.

This research tour to Ireland—you thought I’d never get to this, did you?—is conducted on an annual basis every October. The lead genealogist—and the tour’s organizer—is Donna Moughty, member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. While she is located in Florida, she has presented at genealogical seminars—as well as for webinars—across the country. In addition to organizing the research tours to Ireland and providing genealogical consultation, she regularly posts on the blog at her website.

Donna’s Dublin research tour will include an orientation—the key ingredient I was seeking—of the various points of interest for those researching Irish genealogy: the National Library, the General Register Office, the National Archives and Valuation Office. In addition, a vital part of this package includes consultation with Donna and an assembled team of professional genealogists both prior to the trip as well as on-site during the week in Dublin. It’s always helpful to have a coach on hand, capable of keeping the team on track to achieve their goals.

Of course, in our particular case, we will be going for more than this one week’s experience. But the bulk of the heavy lifting in this research endeavor will be done during this week in Dublin. While I hope to be well prepared before our plane ever takes off for Ireland, it’s reassuring to know that, should I get off-track somewhere along the way, there will be capable guidance on hand to steer me back to my goal.

Photograph: "Silence Is Requested," declares a sign at the reading room of the National Library of Ireland in this 1905 photograph by Robert French of Lawrence Photographic Studios in Dublin; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. :) Hopefully somewhere in those hallowed, dusty halls are "directions" to the little village(s) in the countryside where your roots are from.

    1. I'm with you on that one, Iggy! And it won't be long 'til we find out!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip, Jacqi! Hope you have a great time and make lots of good research discoveries. Can't wait to see pictures and hear about it!

    1. Ah, Shelley! We were just talking about you! It seems like it's been so long since we've been to Columbus.

      I'll be posting pictures and descriptions, for sure. It's one way to help journal--and remember every place we'll go. And take you along, as well ;)

  3. Serendipity, for sure! It's amazing how the trip and research tour are working out so well.

    1. Wendy, it did seem like one of those magical moments when I received that flier...and then the tour announcement at nearly the same time.

  4. Replies
    1. I'm so encouraged that the help, in this case, seems to be quite capable. Helpful to have that safety net so I don't end up traveling all that way, just to flounder at the library!


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