A momentous … indeed, groundbreaking … day took place on 18 April 2018. The Irish Family History Centre (CHQ Building, Dublin) had the pleasure of our very first online genealogy consultation. And I had the honour of doing it. The client was a young man from Hastings-on-Hudson in New York State (USA) for whom I had done some previous research.
I had managed to break down a major brick wall in his family by finally identifying the birthplace in Ireland of his great-grandmother. The man was now hoping to find some living descendants in Ireland. So, with both of us linked in real time over the internet, off we went, exploring the various options he has by which to discover relatives in Ireland and find people he can actually talk to. In the process, he was particularly pleased that some of the Roman Catholic records for the Archdiocese of New York are now online at Findmypast.ie, so he was able to build a bigger profile of his Irish ancestors. In a nutshell, I was happy, he was happy, and the technology of Skype and Google Hangouts worked.
So, what does this mean for you, the reader? If you are thinking of taking the wonderful new opportunity to have an online genealogy consultation from the comfort of your own home, and from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection, then it’s even more important that you come to your computer well prepared. In essence, have handy, in a form that you can easily rummage through, all the relevant information that you have collected.
This is important so that you can answer, to the best of your knowledge, the various questions that the genealogist at the other end will be asking in order that she or he can assess what you have, what you don’t have, and what you need. If all you know is that there is an Irish connection somewhere and you really want to find it, just have whatever you have researched handy and accessible to you so that the genealogist can use that to help you move forward.
From a technical point of view, you must have a good internet connection. If you’re using WiFi you need to be close to your router. Use the latest version of Skype or Google Hangouts and ensure that you have downloaded all the most recent updates to your operating software. If you can, use a headset or earphones while you are on the call, and ensure that the speakers, microphone, and camera are all working. It is also crucial that there is no background noise and no bright light behind you.
The feedback we got from our New York customer was very positive. I think this is going to be a major step forward for Irish genealogy and a great innovation by the Irish Family History Centre. It offers a new way to access expert help in exploring your Irish roots – and from just about anywhere on the planet!
By Maura Flood