Fiona Goes West.

Fiona Fitzsimons, our co-founder and Director, gives us a quick update on what she’s been up to (on both sides of the Atlantic) in the last month.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, during which I’ve spent most of my time in America, doing some incredible things, and meeting some interesting people.

I started in Boston in the New England Historic Genealogical Society. On Saturday 16th September, I led a full-day workshop on Irish family history, to a capacity audience.

British Institute in Salt Lake City

Thank you for presenting a wonderfully informative talk to us “Yankees” at NEHGS … Your expertise in Irish research is magnificent. You looked too young to know all that!
Louise Crespi, attending NEHGS workshop


From there I went on to the British Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was last at the British Institute in 2015, and was invited back this year to lead the Irish Track, where I was leading workshops on finding Irish Ancestors before the Great Famine. We all had a great week of learning and I received some kind words back from the attendees:

New England Historic Genealogical Society

I greatly appreciated your amazing depth of knowledge….the patience and respect you demonstrated….your keen sense of humor and obvious enjoyment with practicing your profession.
David McCabe, attendee at Irish Track, British Institute 2017


While in Salt Lake City, I came across Comic con and had to stop for the obligatory photo:

Comic con SLC statue

Comic con, SLC 

Comic con fiona

Sydney Cruice-Dixon popping into the tardis, Comic con SLC

troll statue Comic con SLC 

Me having a run in with a troll, Comic con SLC 


I returned to Ireland in time to speak at Trinity 425, a symposium on ‘Trinity through the Centuries’, held on campus, on September 26th, to celebrate the 425th anniversary of the founding of Trinity College Dublin. I was fortunate to be talking alongside some brilliant speakers – An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD gave the opening address and The Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast spoke on Trinity in its fifth century, among others.

I spoke on the entrepreneurial origins of Trinity College Dublin, which was very well received by the College, Fellows and assembled audience. We had a lovely evening toasting the college.

Fellows and assembled audience

Group shot of the speakers at the symposium

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD  giving the opening address

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD  giving the opening address

Theo Dorgan, who delivered Paula Meehan’s opening poem

Theo Dorgan, who delivered Paula Meehan’s opening poem.

Linzi Simpson, Archaeologist, spoke on the Prehistory of Trinity College Dublin

Linzi Simpson, Archaeologist, spoke on the Prehistory of Trinity College Dublin

Dr. Elizabeth Ann Boran

Dr. Elizabeth Ann Boran, Librarian: Worth Library, spoke about Trinity in the 17th century.

Prof Michael Brown

Prof Michael Brown, Aberdeen University, spoke on Trinity in the 18th century.

Dr John Bowman on the history of Trinity in the 20th century

Dr John Bowman on the history of Trinity in the 20th century.

Dr Patrick Prendergast

Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost Trinity College, spoke on Trinity in its fifth century.


After the symposium, I headed back out Stateside for the Association of Professional Genealogists Board meeting in Washington. I had to change my dates because of a family illness, but in my absence was thrilled to be honoured by the APG, receiving a certificate of appreciation in absentia.

Certificate of Appreciation awarded to Fiona Fitzsimons, for service to APG as a member of the Board of Directors, for her work on revising APG’s bylaws, and for her advocacy to grow and strengthen APG in Ireland.

I’m back in Ireland now, but excited about the ideas that came out of discussions, meeting and talking with so many fellow genealogists. I always love hearing other people’s thoughts and ideas. Thank you to everyone I met on my travels, your interest informs and inspires me.

I’m starting genealogy courses in Trinity College Dublin, and Blanchardstown Library this week, and am excited about what this next term will bring.

By Fiona Fitzsimons 

Fiona Fitzsimons

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