Wednesday, 30 May 2012

National Archives Genealogy Service suspended

Bad, bad news came forth from the National Archives of Ireland today with an announcement that its free genealogy service would be suspended from this Friday, 1 June.

See update to this story on 3 June.

The Genealogy Service has been provided free of charge to users for several years. Members of APGI, the Association of Professional Genealogists of Ireland, manned the service exclusively, ensuring visiting researchers received the very highest standards of advice. The service, which has been running for the best part of a decade, had its hours cut last October to 10am to 1.30pm. That was bad enough.

I don't know what the reasons for the suspension are. I shall try to find out. This move seems completely out of step for a publicly funded institution controlled by a government that claims to see genealogy research as an integral part of its recovery (genealogy tourism has huge earning potential). And at the start of the tourist season, too.

Let's hope this is a temporary blip. I hate to be pessimistic but I feel it won't be, despite the announcement's 'hopes to be reinstated soon'.

Incidentally, I was in the Reading Room last Friday week at about 1.30pm when genealogist Rosaleen Underwood should have been finishing for the day. I stuck my head around the genealogy service door and saw there were still three people queuing to speak to her. She was still there half an hour later when I left the building. That's dedication. And I know that all the APGI genealogists put in a similar level of commitment to help visitors from around the world uncover their Irish heritage.