Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not in That Boat Again

Why is it, when I Google one topic, I find not what I’m looking for now, but material on a totally different subject which happens to provide the answer I was seeking the other day?

Why couldn’t I find it back then? While I may be glad to find that other information, it’s sure to throw me off track for my current search—Bunny Trail Alert!—and it causes the kind of déjà vu experience I’d rather not count among my more serendipitous moments. Besides, where’s the answer for what I’m seeking now?

Search is something I’d rather do once, cut to the chase, glean all the goodies, then move on to the next task. I certainly don’t want to waste time retracing my steps, repeating the same process.

I’d liken today’s search experience to that well-worn childhood joke about Pete and Re-Pete. You know: Pete and Re-Pete were in a boat. Pete fell out; who was left?

Repeat? That’s what I’m doing now!

Now that I’m home and have caught you up on our travels—at least the parts about our Flanagans and Malloys in County Limerick and the start of our pursuit of the Tullys and Flannerys in County Tipperary—my next step was to go through those many pages of notes I took at the National Library of Ireland. The goal, of course, was to fit those notes nicely within the commentary on our trip to Ballina.

Well, that was a nice plan.

Of course, I had to run into a glitch which got me thinking about the source for one of my records. So I thought, “Simple! I’ll just Google it.”

What I wanted to do was just check and see exactly what I could obtain online from the National Library of Ireland (you know, that place in Dublin where I sat for a full week, tied to a microfilm reader with ball and chain around my ankles). I was hoping to find a recourse, in case I copied something down incorrectly—just to double check. (Oh me of little faith…)

You see, one of my goals in checking the baptismal records for the Catholic parish of Ballina was to fill in the non-Flannery blanks from a website I had found before our trip to Ireland. While I was grateful for all the transcribing work done by the Flannery Clan—it did, thankfully, point me in the direction of my husband’s great-grandfather’s baptism by virtue of the mother’s maiden name being Flannery—I really wanted to see what else might be in those records on the non-Flannery people omitted from their transcription.

If you come with me, back to that page of Flannery baptisms and marriages, and scroll through the records there, you can see some of the same items I’ve noted in past blog posts. I, of course, also know of several notes I took, myself, last month in Dublin, trying desperately to finish up that near-impossible dim microfilm copy on my last day at the library. Those are the ones I wanted to re-check.

There are some items on this Flannery transcription that I found in the microfilm—Ed-blot and his son Cornelius being a happy example of such discoveries—and there are some records the transcribers seem to have seen better, several years ago, than I could, under the current circumstances. But I had my doubts on some discrepancies: what if someone wasn’t as hesitant as I’d be, to make certain their guess was exactly what was originally written?

That’s why I wanted to see if I could go back and rectify some disagreements.

So I Googled “National Library of Ireland” and the Catholic baptismal records for the parish of Ballina in County Tipperary. Do you think the results would include any information at the National Library of Ireland?

No. That would be too easy.

What it did give me was the type of material I wish I had been able to find before leaving for Ireland. Like local studies resources in county libraries, for instance—my attempt at finding such resources had failed miserably in the planning stage, leaving me no time to follow up on a chance comment by someone in town, once we made the drive up to Ballina.

A very helpful website by professional genealogist Mary Ellen Grogan, complete with much to be contemplated on my post-trip review (all the while kicking myself for not having discovered it prior to traveling) lists the types of resources I had—I promise—spent hours trying to find, back in September. Google: where was this when I needed it?!

An immense file on Irish research—say, over five hundred pages of just what I needed—from the library at Brigham Young University tells me everything I wish I knew. Then.



Perhaps I just need to find the right keywords. I’ll be graceful and pretend I didn’t try hard enough. Or enough times. Who knows? Maybe someone’s website page rank rose astronomically in my absence. Perhaps the moral of the story is to look again. And again.

You know: like Pete. And re-Pete.

View from the Brian Boru Heritage Centre in Killaloe looking across the River Shannon toward Ballina in County Tipperary Ireland

Photograph: View across the River Shannon from just outside the Brian Boru Heritage Center in Killaloe, County Clare, looking alongside the one-lane bridge leading to Ballina in County Tipperary, Ireland. Photograph courtesy Chris Stevens.


  1. Oh man -- it's not like it's a 2-hr drive to the land of genealogical opportunity either. If only . . . .

    1. Oh, I know it, Wendy. Live and learn. Who knows...maybe we will go back, some day. Or maybe the resources will come to us. Records are getting digitized at an astronomical rate as it is. We can hope...

  2. Now I remember this bridge!! The black and yellow bouys are where you steer your boat under it!


    1. When we were there, Iggy, I had remembered you saying you had gone under that bridge. Once I saw the bridge for myself, I was wondering exactly how and where. It's not that big a structure.

  3. Replies
    1. Tell me about it! I'm already wishing I could make another trip back to Ireland.

  4. Did that site only cover Tipperary? I was perusing the site but could not find any other counties. Great post and information.

    1. Sometimes, Claudia, I try to hack into website addresses to see if I can locate other parts of the site, but no such luck in this case. I also checked the website address where the owner said she was transferring her updated material, but it turns out to be an undeveloped site by another woman I met while in Ireland.

      While it looks like the site doesn't focus on any counties other than Tipperary, there are other clickable subheadings you could peruse, Claudia. And the site does give an email address to contact the owner directly. If you decide to try that route, let us know what you find out.


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