Picture Postcards provide a graphic history of the late 19th and entire 20th C history – events such as political, social, sporting and even natural disasters.
They show the development of road, canal, rail, sea and air transport. They feature sportsmen, thespians, politicians and revolutionaries – and anyone anyone who might be newsworthy and heroic.
They covered the Boer War, the Great War, the 1916 Dublin Rising and Ireland’s War of Independence. National firms like Easons, Hely, Lawrence and Valentine published postcards of countrywide interest, while in every town and city were local photographers who recorded all the interesting events of the day and published them as picture postcards. The major European publishers made a fortune selling picture postcards to emigrants in America and Canada who had probably never seen the land of their ancestors.
With such a wide choice of subjects to collect, there really is plenty to suit anyone’s pocket. One hundred-year old postcards can be bought for as little as 50c, though the best street scenes attract prices in excess of €20.
Special subject cards such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Titanic, suffragettes and football teams can sell for €100 or more, while less sought after themes such as bridges, churches, big houses and country scenes usually start at 50c upwards.
Age doesn’t always provide an indication of value, for a card from the 1970’s may sell for more than one from the Edwardian era. Whatever their subject or price, however, postcards can be fascinating, stimulating, and educational – but they never fail to interest.
This is a selection of the Great Flood of Paris in January 1910.
- In late January 1910, following months of high rainfall, the Seine River flooded Paris when water pushed upwards from overflowing sewers and subway tunnels, and seeped into basements through fully saturated soil.
- The waters did not overflow the river’s banks within the city, but flooded Paris through tunnels, sewers, and drains.
- Some of the embankments and bridges were inundated with flood waters but these were quickly patched up by the emergency crews.
- In neighbouring towns both east and west of the capital, the river rose above its banks and flooded the surrounding terrain directly.
Winter floods were a normal occurrence in Paris but, on 21 January, the river began to rise more rapidly than normal. Over the course of the following week, thousands of Parisians evacuated their homes as water infiltrated buildings and streets throughout the city shutting down much of Paris’ basic infrastructure.
- Police, fire-fighters, and soldiers moved through waterlogged streets in boats to rescue stranded residents from upper-storey windows and to distribute aid.
- Refugees gathered in makeshift shelters in churches, schools, and government buildings.
- Although the water threatened to overflow the tops of the quay walls that line the river, workmen were able to keep the Seine back with hastily built levees.
- Once water invaded the Gare d’Orsay rail terminal, its tracks soon sat under more than a metre of water.
- To continue moving throughout the city, residents traveled by boat or across a series of wooden walkways built by government engineers and by Parisians themselves.
- On 28 January the water reached its maximum height at 8.62 metres (28.28 feet), some 6 m above its normal level.
The picture postcards speak for themselves but the messages on the back (also illustrated) often give additional details about the social and economic disruption.
Many people collect vintage postcards from Paris but the following cards show Paris in a very different way to how we usually remember a trip to Paris. This is just a small selection – there are many hundreds of different cards available to collectors.
Many people, upon seeing my selection of prints of an Ireland long since disappeared, comment that they are “about to do” or “must get around to doing some family history research” and ask for tips on how to go about it.
This short article (loosely based around the NLI’s “Getting Started – Family Research Guide“) sets out a series of increasingly time-consuming steps on how to do this. My prints, ranging from the 1890s to the 1950s depict street scenes, buildings, shop fronts, schools, hospitals and public buildings as they appeared when your grandparents or great-grandparents were alive and, perhaps, walking around in them.
My prints are scanned from my personal vintage postcard collection – put together over a 35 year period and reflecting a pictorial history of Ireland during (arguably) the period of greatest change in our social, political and economic history.
Step 1 – First & Second Generation (Living Relatives)
Most people begin their research by asking everyone in their immediate family about their date(s) of birth, place(s) of birth, religious affiliations and anything else of interest such as address(es), employers, etc.
The next step is to assemble a collection of photo’s for each person and scan them. Once scanned, each photo can then be indexed and a set of key words assigned to each one.
Once the photo’s have been collated, the next step is to assemble a collection of printed ephemera, e.g. newspaper clippings, old letters / postcards, birth certificates, baptism certificates, marriage certificates, snippets of information from family Bibles, etc. Like the family photo’s, these can all be scanned, indexed and have key words assigned to each. Old postcards should be examined carefully as many old photo’s were printed in postcard format – so take care not to dismiss portrait or group postcards with un-named people on them – especially World War 1 postcards of service personnel in uniform. Many of these young men never returned and these postcards often represent the last living memory of their existence.
Step 2 – Deceased Grandparents and Great Grandparents
From this initial research, most people can name all members of their immediate family back to their grandparents and, sometimes, even to great grandparents. The next step is to find and photograph family gravestones. From these gravestones, it is often possible to assemble a list of approximate dates (of births, marriages and deaths) as well as names (forenames and related family names) and places of residence.
This information will point the way to relevant records.
Gravestones often give clues to religious denomination and this is also important in determining which archival records are relevant to your research.
At this stage, unless you have a lot of time and patience on your hands, you may consider employing a professional genealogist to do some (or all) of the subsequent research. The information is both fragmented and dispersed but a professional genealogist will know where to look and extract the information (if it exists) quickly and efficiently.
However, many people enjoy a challenge producing a family history can be a very rewarding hobby. There are many Irish genealogy clubs and societies around the world and the Internet has brought everyone much closer together – so help should be nearby. If you choose to go on, the following sources need to be examined.
Step 3 – Archival Records
The State Paper Office (founded 1702) was originally based inDublin Castle. It’s successor, the Public Record Office of Ireland, was established under the Public Records (Ireland) Act, 1867 to acquire administrative, court and probate records over twenty years old. It was based in the Four Courts but in June 1922 (during one of the first engagements of the Civil War of 1922-23), the Four Courts were seized by an Anti-Treaty force and the repository building destroyed by detonating explosives and consequent fire. Most of the records held here, some dating back to the thirteenth century, were also destroyed.
When four-fifths of Ireland became independent as the Irish Free State in 1922, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland was set up to take over the records of that part of Ireland which remained in the UK.
A census of the Irish population was taken every ten years from 1821 to 1911 but, due to the 1922 fire at the Four Courts, the earliest complete surviving Census is for 1901. The 1901 and 1911 Census are both fully searchable online, free of charge on the National Archives website. There are also some surviving fragments of the 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851 census records but these are not (yet) available online.
State registration of all non-Catholic marriages in Ireland began in 1845. In 1864, civil registration of all births, marriages and deaths commenced. These records are held at the General Register Office in Dublin. An index to records of civil registration in Ireland from 1845 to 1958 is available on the NLI Family Search website.
Step 4 – Parish Records
For most family history researchers, parish registers provide the earliest direct source of family information – albeit in a very fragmented and widely distributed format. Unlike many other records, parish registers provide evidence of direct links between one generation and the next (via baptismal registers) and one family and another (via marriage registers). These registers are held by a variety of organisations and, even within these organisations, they are not stored in a centralised repository.
In general, baptismal registers contain the following information:
- Date of baptism
- Child’s name
- Father’s name
- Mother’s name and maiden name
- Names of godparents (sponsors)
- Sometimes the place of residence is also included.
Information contained in marriage registers includes:
- Date of marriage
- Bride’s name
- Groom’s name
- Names of witnesses
- Sometime the names of the parents and their place of residence are also included.
The NLI holds microfilm copies of the registers for most Roman Catholic parishes in Ireland (including the counties of Northern Ireland). These registers consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records. Records of burials are uncommon.
The start dates of the registers vary from, for example, the 1740/50s in some city parishes in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, to the 1780/90s in counties such as Kildare, Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny. Many of the parish registers in counties on the western seaboard do not begin until the 1850/60s. 1880 is the cut-off date for the filming of the vast majority of registers, although a few later registers were microfilmed. For records beyond 1880, you will need to get in touch with the parish directly.
The quality of the information in the registers varies from parish to parish. Latin was used in many registers, but neither surnames nor placenames were translated.
Church of Ireland (Anglican) records
These records are housed in a number of different locations. Some original registers are held in the National Archives, others are held in the Representative Church Body Library, and some are retained in individual parishes. The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) also holds many original and copy registers.
These records are held in three main locations: in local custody, in the Presbyterian Historical Society and in PRONI.
Records of Methodist births, marriages and deaths which took place prior to about 1820 are found in the Church of Ireland registers. For details of surviving records after that date, contact the Methodist Church in the area closest to your area of research. PRONI holds a county-by-county listing of surviving registers for Northern Ireland.
These records are held in two main repositories: Libraries of the Society of Friends in Dublin and Lisburn.
Enquiries about Jewish records should be addressed to the Irish Jewish Museum.
Step 5 – Property Records
Records of place can provide useful information about where your ancestors lived. The main sources are Griffith’s Valuation, the Tithe Applotment Books, estate papers and maps. In 2013, Trinity College Dublin made The Down Survey Maps available online.
The Primary Valuation of Ireland or Griffith’s Valuation – carried out between 1848 and 1864 – provides detailed information on where people lived in mid-nineteenth century Ireland and the property they possessed. Griffith’s Valuation was a valuation of property holdings carried out to determine liability to pay the Poor Rate (for the support of the poor and destitute within each Poor Law Union). It is arranged by county and, within counties, by Poor Law Union. Each Poor Law Union is broken down into electoral divisions, civil parishes and townlands.
Griffith’s Valuation contains the following information for each townland or street:
- Map reference number (corresponds to the location of the holding on the first edition six-inch Ordnance Survey maps)
- Name of occupiers of holdings (tenants, heads of households)
- Names of immediate lessors (the person from whom the holding was leased, landlord)
- Description of the tenement (holding)
- Area (acres, roods and perches) of each holding
- Valuation of buildings, land, etc. and total annual valuation of each holding
Griffith’s Valuation is fully searchable online, free of charge at www.askaboutireland.ie
Tithe Applotment Books
The Tithe Applotment Books were compiled between 1823 and 1838 as a survey of land in each civil parish to determine the payment of tithes (a religious tax). Unlike Griffith’s Valuationthey do not cover cities or towns.
The Tithe Books contain the following information:
- Name of occupier
- Name of townland
- Classification of land
- Amount of tithe due
The Tithe Applotment Books are available online, free of charge at www.familysearch.org
Down Survey Maps
Taken in the years 1656-1658, the Down Survey of Ireland is the first ever detailed land survey on a national scale anywhere in the world. The survey sought to measure all the land to be forfeited by the Catholic Irish in order to facilitate its redistribution to Merchant Adventurers and English soldiers. Copies of these maps survived in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland and Britain, as well as in the National Library of France. This Project has brought together for the first time in over 300 years all the surviving maps, digitised them and made them available as a public online resource.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the vast majority of the Irish population lived as tenant farmers on estates. The administration of these estates by their landlords produced large quantities of records such as leases and deeds, rentals and account books, maps and other correspondence.
During the 20th century many of the estates were broken up and sold off under various land purchase acts, and many estate collections found their way into public repositories such as the National Library of Ireland.
Estate records provide circumstantial evidence about the people who lived on an estate. The information available in these records depends on the type of document. The most useful documents for family history research include rentals containing a list of tenants’ names, the location of the tenants’ land holdings and the amount of rent payable; leases or agreements containing information on property to be rented by a tenant from a landlord; correspondence from land agents about particular tenants and events on an estate; household and farm accounts showing names of tenants and their families who were employed in the landlord’s house and on the estate farm; and papers relating to encumbered estates, the Land Commission and Congested Districts Board.
Many collections of estate papers in the NLI contain detailed maps of parts of the estate. In addition, the NLI holds a large number of maps created by individual surveyors, such as the Longfield Map collection. Maps can contain a wealth of information on the topography of a particular location as well as on landholdings of individual tenants.
Step 6 – Other Sources of Information
In addition to the above, there are other sources of information relating to family history and genealogy. Many of these have now been digitised by libraries and are available online but some are still in hard copy format in various degrees of preservation.
Occupational Directories and Databases
The National Library of Ireland also holds source materials to help you trace the occupations of your ancestors such as directories and access to online databases that are usually only available via subscription. Directories are very useful for researching the gentry as well as the professional, merchant and trading classes. They can provide circumstantial evidence of growing or declining prosperity, emigration or death.
Some examples are:
- Wilson’s Directory (1751-1837)
- Pettigrew and Oulton’s Dublin Almanac and General Register of Ireland (1834-49)
- Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory (1844-)
- Pigot’s Commercial Directory of Ireland (1820)
- Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of Ireland (1846, 1856, 1870, 1881, 1894)
Information contained in these directories includes the following :-
- Names, addresses and occupations of merchants and traders
- Names of doctors, lawyers, bankers, clergy, magistrates, and those involved in the administration of healthcare and justice in big towns and cities
- Names and addresses of noble and gentry families
- Some Dublin directories (e.g. Thom’s) contain a street-by-street listing of inhabitants of Dublin city and county
There are also specialist occupational directories such as British Armed Forces records and RIC lists,
The NLI has the largest collection of national and regional newspapers in Ireland, covering over 1,770 individual titles from the seventeenth century to the present day. We also collect titles of Irish interest published abroad.
Newspapers provide a contemporary commentary on the major occasions in the political, religious, sporting and cultural life of the nation. They are also a major source of information on everyday life – advertisements, reports of social events, accidents, court proceedings and inquests – all the exciting and mundane details that made up the daily lives of Irish people over the years.
The NLI and most good local libraries in Ireland also provide free on-site access to a number of subscription websites which are helpful for genealogical research. These include:
- Irish Newspaper Archives
- Irish Times Digital Archive
- 19th Century British Library Newspapers
- Dictionary of Irish Biography
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Burke’s Peerage
- The Times Digital Archive
- House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
- Irish Origins
Information about emigrants was usually gathered at the port of destination rather than the place of departure, therefore the following archives are of potential interest.
USA and Canada
The National Archives, Washington DC holds immigration records for arrivals in the US from foreign ports between 1820 and 1982. These records usually contain information on :-
- emigrant’s nationality
- previous place of residence
- name and address of relatives in the US
- name of the ship and the place of entry to the US
These records are arranged by the port of arrival and are available on microfilm. See www.archives.gov for more information.
Information about records for emigrants to Canada is available in the Library
and Archives Canada, see www.collectionscanada.gc.ca.
Australia and New Zealand
Penal transportation from Ireland to Australia took place between 1791 and 1853. The records of the Chief Secretary’s Office, held in the National Archives of Ireland, are a major source for information on transportees and include documents such as the transportation register entries, prisoner petitions and convict reference files.
The National Archives of Australia holds records of immigration after 1923 when immigration became a Commonwealth Government responsibility. Pre-1923 immigration records are held by the individual states.
- New South Wales State Records, see www.records.nsw.gov.au
- Northern Territories, see
- State Library of South Australia, see www.guides.slsa.sa.gov.au/immigration
- Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), see
- Record Office of Victoria, see www.pro.vic.gov.au
- Western Australia, see
Other Emigration Databases
- Shipping Passenger Lists by Century & Destination
Useful addresses and websites
- Kildare Street, Dublin 2
- Tel: + 353 1 603 0200
- Email: email@example.com
- Bishop Street, Dublin 8
- Tel: +353 1 407 2300
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 3rd floor, Block 7, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1
- Tel: +353 90 663 2900/1890 252 076
- Braemor Park, Churchtown, Dublin 14
- Tel: +353 1 492 3979
- Email: email@example.com
- Henrietta Street, Dublin 1
- Tel: +353 1 871 6533
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1
- Tel: +353 1 817 1035/817 1149
- Email: email@example.com
- Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Dublin 16
- Tel: +353 1 499 8003/499 8004
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 3 Walworth Road, South Circular Road, Dublin 8
- Email: email@example.com
- 2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9HQ
- Tel: +44 28 90 534 800
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 26 College Green, Belfast BT7 1LN
- Tel: +44 28 90 727 330
- Email: email@example.com
- Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, UK
- Tel: +44 20 88 763 444
- 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, USA
- Tel: +1 866 272 6272
- Queen Victoria Terrace, PARKES ACT 2600, Australia
- Tel: +61 2 6212 3600
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know where your father was born, why not buy him a print showing what his home town (or village) looked like between 50 and 120 years ago.
These prints are available in three different sizes and can be framed while you wait.
We have a massive inventory of over 10,500 different prints for you to browse through.
We also have scenes from schools and universities – all of which would make an ideal gift for Father’ Day.
Other Irish themes include :-
- Irish Aviation and airports
- Irish Castles & Antiquities
- Irish Market Days
- Irish Politics (great 1916 Rising pics)
- Irish Railways & Trams
- Irish Shipping (incl. Titanic, Lusitania and many of the old ferries)
- Irish Sport (large stock of team photo’s of Gaelic Football, Hurling, Rugby and Soccer)
The Irish Print Gallery is located in the entrance of Blackrock Marketand is open every weekend, from 11:30pm to 6:30pm.
At the moment, we are exhibiting a selection of “framed” local scenes from Blackrock, Booterstown, Dalkey, Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown), Killiney, Monkstown, Newtownsmith and Sandycove.