This blog is back!

I abandoned this blog for awhile and tried blogging at Blogger instead. I wanted to try a different platform. I discovered that I get more engagement and activity at WordPress, even when I’m not actively updating.

So now I’m back. I updated the Hegarty page and moved the links to a Resources page. It’s good to be home.

What you missed if you missed my brief sojourn at Tumblr: not much – plus a Friday link

Ancestry has their Sticky Notes blog on Tumblr, but microblogging just didn’t seem to fit with genealogy blogging for me. In my head, my blog is the chatty current front matter to the family history information I put on separate pages. Tumblr has pages but the blogstream is completely separate from them; no one even sees your pages unless they leave the Tumblr stream and go directly to your blog. It’s easy to forget that Tumblr pages exist. Tumblr also has complicated and confusing commenting. So I’ve returned to Blogger.

My ongoing Blogger issues: I am in the process of updating my family history pages from my old WordPress blog; the pages area will populate eventually. I’ve started linking to PDFs of my research on each family because it’s easier to update my research document with all its footnotes than it is to update a webpage and figure out the formatting workarounds. I have chosen to stick with Blogger comments for now rather than turning on Google+ comments because G+ comments require all commenters to have G+ accounts, and I’m not sure everyone does.  [ Edit, Nov. 2013: I have abandoned Blogger and returned to WordPress, so the struck-thru comments are no longer accurate.]
My Friday link is an old (2001) but interesting essay about the myth of the “Black Irish” by T. P. Kunesh. I got a comment on Tumblr where someone (perhaps from Ireland?) said they had never heard this term. I heard it many times growing up in Boston. It was used to refer to people of Irish descent with black hair. The Spanish Armada myth was invoked. Very often, the term was used jestingly to refer to a racial situation, such as a Black person with an Irish surname or a Black person patronizing an Irish bar.  I like the article at the link because it talks about the survival of cultural memories in an otherwise fairly nonsensical term.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

quick update

I updated the Hegarty page to incorporate sources. I removed some more speculative aspects so that what’s there is more likely to be accurate now. (No guarantees!)

Eventually I hope to work through the rest of my pages in the same fashion, but semester/holiday crunch time is upon us, so don’t hold your breath.

Also, I nested the pages and surname list to group related families.

Brooklyn represent!

I’ve been very busy with professional responsibilities lately, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but is why this blog has been quiet.

My eventual plans for this site are:

  • rewrite the family pages to incorporate better sourcing, which will force me to analyze the material I have and hopefully clarify my next research steps
  • scan some more photos
  • read more relevant history

I am not really pleased with’s new Irish databases, since they are mostly barebones indices. Many of them replicate information I already had from (because it’s the same info being indexed). I think I’m eventually going to have to join one of the Irish-specific sites, and probably also seek professional guidance, but that’s further down the road.

Today I just went through my “people with hints” list on, and discovered that some Deasy ancestors lived right here in Brooklyn! I love it when things get local!

Circling around Irish parish records online

The latest newsletter featured a great article by Juliana Smith on their new collection of Irish Catholic parish registers, which are said to be digitized versions of holdings at the National Library of Ireland. I am pleased to have these records as an integrated database and have already located a great-grandfather in them, but the fact is that I had already found the identical record at the Irish government’s free Irish Genealogy site.

I would love to see a clarification of the relationship between these two sets of records, both apparently emerging in digital format under the aegis of a government initiative. Are they the same collection? Or do they just overlap? I thought the Irish Genealogy site was stalled in its digitization project due to the economic problems in Ireland. The site says it anticipates adding more records on October 4th, which is almost as exciting to me as the new iPhone release :)

In a related point of interest, the Irish Times reports that the National Library of Ireland is making legal inquiries into the release of these Irish records on the UK branch of, with concerns that there are copyright violations. The report says that a private company digitized the records on behalf of the library. Is this private company by any chance the company Irish Genealogy Ltd. that is mentioned on the government’s Irish Genealogy site? Because that would imply that these are the same set of digitized records, wouldn’t it?

I don’t know if these are good questions or stupid questions, because I feel like I am just beginning to learn how to research Irish ancestors. Smith’s article links to the Irish Ancestors site sponsored by the Irish Times newspaper. She was linking specifically because the site reflects John Grenham’s work on civil parishes versus Catholic parishes. But the site also features a surname search, with links to surname histories, bibliographies, and link lists.

Naturally I typed my surnames Hegarty and Costigan into the little search box. Imagine my surprise when I found the Irish Times site linking to me! And not even to this site but to my now defunct Earthlink site. I was so disheartened; it is like when tells you there are new hints but the hints are only people who have linked back to you. I don’t know whether to email the Irish Times and give them my new URL or not. I don’t feel I am an expert, but apparently no one else is researching these names — or if they are, they’re not doing it online. (N.B.: There is another Costigan researcher listed — she is my 3rd cousin with whom I traveled to Newfoundland. The other Hegarty researcher is working on the Donegal branch, not only not mine, but a whole different region.)

An unrelated linkage note: Now that Google+ is open to everyone, I am there. There are a lot of genealogists networking on Google+, though I also use it for academic stuff. Feel free to follow me!

tiny update

Made a small change to the early Coombs generations based on what I feel is right given the information that I currently have. Also added a tiny shred of immigration information to the Murphy page.

I joined and so far have found it useful for nailing down elusive military details for my Murphy branch, as well as for having some (but not all!) of the naturalization petitions I need. I find the search process a little cumbersome.