Exploring GENEius at the Irish Family History Centre.

By Claire Murray, Education & Outreach Officer


We were thrilled to welcome our Irish Independent competition winners, St. Brigid’s G.N.S, Glasnevin, to the Irish Family History Centre last week! The sixth class pupils submitted their answers to the question: ‘why would you like to research your family history?’ Answers ranged from finding out surname origins and information about ancestors who fought in the 1916 Rising, to discovering whether any previous ancestors had done anything exciting in their lives like become lion-tamers in a travelling circus! The girls and their teacher, Mary Phelan, won a free visit to the centre, where they took part in our GENEius Genealogy Bootcamp, a session run as part of our Children’s, Youth and Community Programme The GENEius Project.


From the very beginning of the session the girls showed a huge level of enthusiasm and curiosity in interpreting and understanding their own family history, something we always love to see in our workshops. Mary Phelan’s own encouragement and dedication to the class shone through and was reflected in the girls and their thirst for knowledge!

We started off the session getting to know each other and understanding why family history is different to history taught in school, as well as learning some of the reasons why we might want to start researching our family’s story. Through various hands-on activities we saw what makes up a family, looked at some primary sources for some familiar literary characters – some of the girls had even brought along some fantastic family artefacts and old photographs to show us. Many had fascinating stories to tell about their ancestors and we were all enthralled! This was followed by a family history treasure hunt (to carry out some historical detective work at our workstations), and an arts and crafts workshop to finish off the day on a creative buzz.


Family history is such a personal and authentic subject for us as individuals. It is where we came from and who we are today. It is an intertwining of stories and artefacts, of past and present, and of diversity and identity. We were delighted with the response from the girls as they sleuthed through old documents, archives and records to piece together their own unique family story. Many of the girls want to return to the centre with their parents in tow, to see what other chapters they will be able to uncover.

We would like to say a huge well done to our class of budding genealogists, and we hope to see you again soon!


The GENEius Genealogy Bootcamp is run as part of the ‘Pathways’ branch of The GENEius Project. It serves primary and secondary school groups; youth groups and clubs such as Brownies, Guides, and Scouts; history/museum clubs and more. Other branches include GENEius Shorts (seasonal events) and GENEius Communities (serving disadvantaged communities, disabled and special needs groups; charities; and more). For more information on our programme, and how you can get involved, simply email education@irishfamilyhistorycentre.com


Some Young Testimonials:


‘I like the way we look at our family from years back. I liked the art as well – it was fun.’


‘It was cool to find out about our past.’


‘I loved the Irish Family History Centre – it was a great experience.’


‘It was really fun and I would recommend it to people and it was very educational.’


‘I learned so much, I think it will be a lot more successful in the future! It may even attract an elephant!’ This particular girl had decorated her personal family crest with an elephant. 🙂


‘I loved the Irish Family History Centre because it was great to look up my great grandparents. I loved doing the crests as well.’


‘I found out that there are a lot of people with my second name in America.’


‘You made learning fun and I thought the instructors were nice.’


‘It was very interesting, and the activities are amazing. I can’t wait to go back with my family. :)’