Launch of ‘Resource Roscommon’ an invaluable tool for family history research

A new CD which will be an invaluable resource for family history researchers in Co. Roscommon, was launched this week at an event in Roscommon County Library, as part of the local celebrations for Heritage Week.             The CD is the work of John Hunter from Brisbane and the octogenarian was in Roscommon this week for the launch of the CD, which he described as ‘a labour of love.’ The CD gives details of the 1856 Griffiths Valuations in Roscommon, the Elphin Diocesan Census of 1749 and census records from 1830, 1857 and 1901, done by civil parish. Apart from the lists of family names, the CD also provides important information in relation to townlands, civil parishes, baronies and electoral divisions, all invaluable information for the family history researcher.             Speaking at the launch, local historian Fr. Francis Beirne said that the new CD will be an invaluable resource for family history researchers. ‘It has been established that there are over 64 million people worldwide of Irish descent and there is a continuous demand for a range of genealogical services. 86 percent of people visiting this country are here to trace their ancestors,’ said Fr. Beirne.             ‘Thankfully developments in technology have dramatically improved access to archives and local history resources and this latest initiative will complement that and be a tremendous asset to our excellent library service.’             ‘John, you have rendered an invaluable, highly commendable and laudable service to this county by collating so much information in this very compact CD.’             The CD was officially launched by Mayor John Kelly, who described the CD as a ‘wealth of information that can be sourced, shared and made available to the wider community.’ He thanked Mr. Hunter for his work on the project.             John Hunter, who worked for a number of years compiling the information for the CD, became involved after researching his own family history and that of his wife. In particular he was interested in James Byrne of Killumod (between Elphin and Carrick-on-Shannon) and Margaret Nerney. They went to Australia from Cork in 1862. James Byrne got on the boat as Beirne and got off as Byrne, further hampering efforts to trace the family.             Mr. Hunter thanked a number of people who helped him over the years, including PhD student Seamus Brennan, Albert Siggins, Fr. Francis Beirne, County Librarian Richie Farrell and Tom Norton, who holds eight MAs and is the indexer of the Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Journal.             He said that it took him a long time to get to grips with the concept of an Irish townland and also the fact that emigration officials in bygone centuries wrote down what they heard and that’s the record that survived in the new country.             The new CD rom, entitled Resource Roscommon, is currently on sale locally, priced at €18.