Saturday, February 4, 2012


Clare Roots Society

Clare Roots Society will host a talk entitled Murderers, rebels and drunkards: Your ancestors and the law at the Civic Rooms, Drumbiggle on Thursday 16 February 2012 at 8 pm. Brian Donovan of Eneclann will give the talk.

There are over 3 million prison records 1790-1924 and 20 million petty sessions (or magistrates') court records 1828-1912 available for Ireland, yet they are rarely consulted for historical research let alone genealogy.
But they are one of the biggest sources of information for tracing people in the 19th century, and also contain many of the stories that bring a bare pedigree to life. Most families were touched by these records, as defendants, witnesses, criminals, victims, and parties to civil actions. It is no surprise that the Cork authors Somerville & Ross chose to use the Resident Magistrate and his court as arena for their stories of Irish society. Quite simply it was the stage where all manner of local issues and disputes were aired. Along with the prison records they are a window into our ancestor's lives and interaction with the growth of the law. The website is exclusively publishing all of this material fully indexed by all personal names and places.

Brian studied History at Trinity College, graduating in 1989. He subsequently lectured and tutored in the university and since then has also lectured throughout Ireland and the US on history, genealogy and electronic publishing. Brian's experience in digital technology, as well as his background in history, helped motivate the founding of Eneclann, with Fiona Fitzsimons, in 1998. Brian specialises in Eneclann's digitisation work, both for commercial clients and for Eneclann's own publications. He has overseen the development of Eneclann's CD catalogue, as well as the Archive CD Books Ireland project. Brian is also closely involved in developing Eneclann's online publications, playing a key role in establishing This website is a major online resource for Irish genealogical records with over 10 million items online to date, and a further 25 million due out this year. Brian was also the technical advisor for the landmark Trinity College project to digitise the 1641 Depositions, as well as many other cultural and educational initiatives.

All are welcome to the talk. There is a cover charge of €5 for non-members.

N.B. To listen to an interview re Brian's talk, go to

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