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Festival reveals secrets of uncovering history

The largest genealogy event scheduled to take place during The Gathering Ireland 2013 will be held in Ennis next week. The Gathering the Scattering festival, hosted by the Clare Roots Society will take place from Tuesday until April 6 in the Temple Gate Hotel and will be addressed by leading figures in the field of tracing family histories and genealogy.

The five-day series of events will feature tours, lectures, book launches and film screenings and will culminate on Saturday, April 6, with an International Family History Conference featuring contributions from genealogical experts.

“We are delighted to be hosting this conference. We have some very prominent speakers coming that should be of great interest,” said John Bradley of the Clare Roots Society.

“Some of the speakers spoke at our conference two years ago and we are very happy to welcome them back.

“The last time we held a conference, there were over 200 people in attendance and while we don’t have final numbers for next week yet, the numbers are certainly building so I would encourage people to book their place in time,” he continued.

“Of course, with The Gathering, we have seen an increase in the numbers of people who are tracing their family histories so the chance to meet with professional genealogists is something that should be very popular.”

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Michael Gandy who has been tracing his ancestry since 1963. He joined the London Society of Genealogists in 1967 and is a fellow and former chairman and has been editor of their magazine since 1999. He is also vice-chairman of the UK Federation of Family History Societies. He is best known for his work on religious records, London and the records at the National Archives in SW London. At the conference, he will speak on English Records for Irish Families.

Other speakers confirmed for the conference include Steven Smyrl, a specialist in legal and probate genealogical research and presenter of RTÉ’s Dead Money, who will discuss Dead Money – Probate Genealogy; Tim Collins, member of the Kilfenora Céilí Band who will speak on The Music of the Sliabh Aughty Region of North-East Clare and South-East Galway; Fiona Fitzsimons, research director of Eneclann who will discuss Pre-1800 Records; Peter Higginbotham, creator of the website workhouses.org.uk who will speak on The Irish workhouse and workhouses in County Clare; Clare historian Liam Curran will talk about The Irish Soldier in the First World War; Dr Catriona Crowe, head of special projects at the National Archives of Ireland and manager of the Irish Census Online Project will speak about, Forthcoming online sources for Genealogy at the National Archives and Eileen Ó Dúill, lecturer will outline Finding Cousins in the USA.

“Anyone who has Irish blood, a link to Ireland or even just a love of our country is invited to join us in Clare on Saturday, April 6 for our genealogy conference, Gathering the Scattering,” said conference secretary, Clara Hoyne.

“This conference will take place at the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis and will be preceded by a week of genealogy-based talks and events including a tour of the Clare Local Studies Library, Ennis town walk, a tour of Ennis Friary and two evening lectures, one on traditional Irish music by Kilfenora Céilí Band member Tim Collins and another on Irish soldiers in the British Army by army historian Liam Curran.”

As well as the speakers, the conference will also include a host of other events. The opening day will feature a screening of films set in Irish Workhouses.

The screening, in the Banner Suite of the Old Ground Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday will showcase two films. The first, A Room in Air, was filmed in the Auxiliary workhouse in Ballyvaughan in 2012.

The film, by Frank Golden, which runs for 22 minutes, explores the way in which the famine proved to be a psychic and emotional fault line for Ireland and its people. The second film is Poorhouse by Frank Stapleton, screened on RTÉ in 1996 which looks at the Famine period in a Cavan workhouse.

Throughout the duration of the conference, there will also be several tours of the Local Studies Centre in Clare County Library and a tour of the refurbished Abbey in Ennis. On Friday, April 5, between 4pm and 6pm, there will be the meet the genealogists session. This will involve 20-minute slots with a panel of professional genealogists including specialists in army records and American records. There will be a gala dinner in the Temple Gate on Saturday, April 6.

For further information email Clara Hoyne (secretary@clareroot.org) or visit www.clareroots.org/www.facebook.com/ClareRootsSocietyConferenceEnnis2013.


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