A Sit Down with David R. Elliott

A Sit Down with David R. Elliott

Posted on April 18 by admin
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As part of our Ask an Author series, this week we were able to catch up with David R. Elliott who is the author of one of our new releases Researching Your Irish Ancestors At Home And Abroad and ask him some questions about his book and writing in general.

CS: Tell us about your book.

DRE: This is a book by someone who has fallen in love with Ireland, whose ancestral lines, both Protestant and Catholic, lived in the North and the South.  It is a practical book on Irish genealogy that addresses the complex political/religious history of Ireland as it has affected the genealogical records. It then shows how to discover the counties in Ireland from which your ancestors came using the records from their adopted country.  The geographical and land divisions of Ireland, the might effect where their records in Ireland might be found, are explained.

The book then deals with issues of travel to Ireland, car rental, driving in Ireland, accommodations, meals, Irish locations of Tim Hortons, and some aspects of culture shock.  The reader is guided to the major genealogical repositories in Ireland and what he or she will expect to encounter at them.  Another chapter deals with more specific record collections that might put “flesh” on their ancestors’ genealogical “skeletons.”   A final chapter explores Irish cemeteries and how to get the best results using digital photography.

CS: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

I wrote this book because Irish genealogy is very difficult and there is so much mis-information on the subject that needs to be corrected.  Some people expect to walk into the Irish archives and expect their genealogy to be handed to them on a plate.   Others give up on finding their ancestors, believing that all the records have been lost.  Some erroneously think that the Church of Ireland was the Catholic Church.   Other people need to know about the primary land divisions, the townlands, parishes, and counties.

CS: Did you have a specific readership in mind?

The book is directed to people who have some interest in genealogy, but who may have ran into brick walls trying to find their ancestral county in Ireland.  This requires considerable ‘homework’ being done in their home country before ever going to Ireland.  Therefore I have included record sources in Canada, the US, Britain, and even Australia and New Zealand which might yield information as to the Irish birthplace of emigrants from Ireland.   The same techniques can be used to trace ancestors who had come from Britain or Scotland.

CS: How did you research your book?

I had already spent eight research trips to Ireland working on my own genealogy and on the genealogy of my clients.  That research had taken me to most of the major repositories of records throughout  Ireland.  After contracting to write the book I checked out the archives and libraries that I had not visited before, and also the new facilities of others I had previously used, making sure that I had the most up-to-date information about procedures, parking, and photocopy resources. I also took photographs especially for this book and obtained copies of documents from the archives to serve as illustrations.

CS: Describe your ideal writing environment.

I wrote a number of the chapters during the evenings after indexing Irish cemeteries during the days. I was staying at our friends’ charming rural cottage in County Fermanagh.  In that ideal setting, with the natural beauty of Ireland surrounding me, and having no distractions from television, the ideas quickly flowed from my mind to the laptop and I had the first draft almost completed by the time I returned home to Canada.

David R. Elliott is a retired professor of Canadian and European history and the author of three previous books. He has operated a genealogical research company, Kinfolk Finders, for ten years. As well as lecturing on Irish research, he has indexed Irish cemeteries, parish registers, and poor law union registers. Dr. Elliott is the past-chair of the London/Middlesex branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the vice-chair of the OGS Irish Special Interest Group. He lives in Parkhill, Ontario.