Monday, July 13, 2020

Adventures in Website-Jumping

Do you ever find it easier to locate a specific record deep within one website by searching via a different website? I use that technique all the time, especially when Google can better zero in to a specific term within a website lacking an efficient search engine of its own. For instance, I'll often compose a search with the name of a website in quotes, followed by the exact book or topic I'm seeking, or even surname, such as "Internet Archive" plus "History of Perry County" plus Gordon.

Now that I'm on this mad pursuit of the parents' names for one Johanna Falvey of County Kerry, Ireland, I've aggregated a sizeable stack of notes. My tactic was to examine the Catholic baptismal records—in whatever form they are currently made available—to glean the names of all sponsors for all children born to Falvey parents in the parishes where I've already found their known children. (I chose to focus on Falvey rather than Kelly, as it is a somewhat less common surname.)

Running on the theory that all godparents are actually siblings or in-laws of either of the child's parents, for each Falvey-Kelly child baptised, I then examined their sponsors' names. Eventually, I hoped, I'd run full circle and be able to piece together family constellations for the siblings and in-laws of Johanna Falvey and her husband, John Kelly.

Well, now I have a pile of notes and am ready to organize them further. However, some come from one website and some from another. Some are digitized photos of the actual records, while others are merely transcriptions of original records. The trouble with transcripts, of course, is that someone might have made an error in the copying of the material. I need to see those records for myself—but where to look?

To the rescue came a timely blog post by genealogist Donna Moughty who, in less pandemic-ridden times, would host research trips to Ireland each fall. Donna has been writing a series of blog posts on what she considers the best websites in Ireland for family history research, and in this particular entry, had discussed the website

Because this is a subscription website, Donna recommended first checking to make sure the site included records from the region you are researching. She included an example of how she used the site for her County Mayo ancestors, but since I already was aware that the site was not the best resource for Catholic records from County Kerry, I thought I would follow her instructions in how to first check availability.

By going to the website, then the tab "Online Resources," a drop-down menu appeared, in which I clicked on my target county, Kerry. From that new page, I then clicked on the tab labeled "Online Resources." This gave me a listing of all the available records for each listed Catholic parish by date in County Kerry.

Oh, if only the parishes I wanted were in the list here at this website! But they weren't. So I went on to Donna's other suggestion: to check the status of records by going to John Grenham's site, "Irish Ancestors." There, I entered the surname Falvey, and found some interesting maps confirming that, yep, Falveys are definitely in County Kerry.

What I also found at the Grenham site was a listing of Falvey Roman Catholic Baptisms. It was a clickable link, so what else was there to do but click on the link?! Along the left hand column was a listing of all baptisms by county and parish. Clicking on the parish link there would bring this curious Alice to the actual entries in the subscription site Find My Past. Because I already have a subscription to that service, what else would a curious researcher do, but click on through?

Of course, I already had been prepared by knowing the name of the three potential parish locations for my Falvey connections, so hopping over to Find My Past was deftly facilitated by John Grenham's cross-linking. Easy peasy.

Lest I get overwhelmed by that curiouser-and-curiouser feeling, what I need to do next is cull all the information I've already gathered into a much more manageable form. Then, since I'm now touring the Irish Catholic baptismal records for County Kerry at Find My Past, I may as well make myself at home and take those other surnames for a test drive. Surnames already linked to our Kelly and Falvey family are Connor, Cullinane, Fleming, O'Brien, and Sullivan. Somehow, as sponsors, they are supposedly in-laws to our Johanna Falvey or her husband John Kelly. My next step needs to be to find out as much about these other in-laws as I possibly can.


  1. Oh boy - I would need a lot of paper and pencil for this one. Hope you can tie it all together!

    1. It's a good thing my family has stockpiled scrap paper! We are up for this challenge, Miss Merry.

  2. thanks Jacqi, I put all the Scanlons in Dingle parish (child, father, mother & sponsors) on a spreadsheet, but was missing records from 1828-1833. Found them at Find My Past.

    1. I'm glad all these organizations are still adding records to their collections, but yes, it is frustrating to encounter a gap. Glad Find My Past filled the bill for you, Kat!


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