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This is an online diary of my latest trip to Ireland.
Dennis J. Ahern

Tuesday, March 22nd

I stopped at the Planet Cybercafe on O'Connell to check my email and work on my blog before heading over to the National Archives. Serendipity struck again as I got an email while I was logged on from Edmond Coghlan of the Irish Titanic Historical Society. He had only just found out I was in town and as luck would have it, I was only a few blocks from where he was and we agreed to meet at the Gresham Hotel for coffee. The Irish Titanic Historical Society had been interested in having me give my talk on Caroline Lamson Brown, the last person to step off the deck of the Titanic into a lifeboat. We had a chat on the lobby before he left to board one of those open-topped double decker buses that takes tourists around town. He is an on-board guide giving a running commentary on the passing scene and asked if I would like to go on the tour, but I declined as I had work to do at the Archives. Besides, I've probably been up and down every street that bus goes on at least a dozen times this trip alone. Lobby of the Gresham
Lobby of the Gresham

My next mission was to find a one-hour photo developing place to get prints and a CD from my photos of the meeting with Bertie as I didn't want to risk carrying them home as film which might get fogged by some airport screening device. Edmond recommended one in Grafton Street, right next to the Tart With the Cart and I dropped off both rolls of film. I then stopped at the Allied Irish Bank office to open an account. I had the bank info my wife had sent by post and the recent utility bill as proof of residence. It turned out to be unacceptable, however, as it was a photocopy and not an original. At least they wnet ahead and initiated the process and after I get home I will have to send them a "real" electric bill, or a tax bill, or something. Apparantly the process is very stringent because there was a problem some years back with people opening overseas accounts to dodge taxes when they didn't actually have any residence outside of Ireland.

On my way to Bishop Street I decided to look for the Indian restaurant that Mike Ahern had taken me to on the 10th. I found it on South William Street, No. 44/45, and it's called the Khyber Tandoori. It was not open, but as I stood on the steps writing down the name and address, a woman approached as if appraising it for its luncheon potential. When I informed her it wasn't open yet, she explained in halting English that she wasn't looking to eat there, but was looking for a job. She looked and sounded to be Scandinavian and I tried to explain to her that the staff was all Indian and she might not find any job openings as a waitress.

My next stop was the National Map Centre at 34 Aungier Street, where I picked up a copy of the current Ordnance Survey map for the Inishowen Peninsula in county Donegal. This is to go with the valuation maps of the area that I had already gotten for one of my clients. Across the street, I stopped in to check out the facilities of the Avalon House Hostel at No. 55. While I have not stayed here, it looks to be a handy location for anyone planning to do a lot of research at the National Archives, which is just around the corner on Bishop Street.

At the Archives I ran into John Conklin, the Leixlip author I had sat across from at the Galway conference banquet. When I told him of my anxiety over taking the train from Galway in time to meet with the Taoiseach, he allowed as how he would have given me a ride to Dublin Sunday night if he had known. I did not spend much time at the Archives as my main purpose was to put in a request for some Donegal Rental Rolls which were in the manuscript collection at the Four Courts and had to be ordered a day in advance. I did, however, managed to find some Landed Estate Sale records for county Tyrone that may show another client's ancestors as tenants. These LES records on microfilm are tricky to read. There are the index books that tell you what volume and page number to look for but the microfilm was done in such a way that every other page is upside down and the only place the number appears is on the first page of the volume and it was apparently written in very light pencil in the upper right corner of the page. The way you have to find your place is to keep scrolling through, with half the pages upside down on the screen, looking for the first page of a group of properties. This usually has some larger display fonts of type, but because some estates have many more pages than others it is still hard to pick up the beginning of a section, and still harder to spot the tiny penciled volume number in the margin.

Having accomplished my tasks, I headed back in the direction of the photo shop in Grafton Street, stopping at the cyber cafe in Parliament Street near the Dublin City Hall. One of the things I like about this particular cyber cafe is that they do not have a minimum time. In other words, if I am only in there for ten minutes, they charge me 50 cents for a ¼ hour. If I am in there for 20 minutes they charge me one euro. Having such options makes it easy for me to stay current with my email and if I have the time, to work on my blog. I was particularly concerned about an ongoing exchange with someone in Dublin who seemed to be unhappy with me no matter what I said or did. Knowing that I would be meeting with the Taoiseach, they had pressed me to raise the subject of the GRO and when I was logged on earlier I emailed them to relate how I had done as instructed, bemoaning the limit of five-a-day and the cost for looking at index books. When I related that Bertie had chuckled at my tale of beating the system by using the Gilbert Library to look at the indexes, this was interpreted as "a true indication of what a low priority genealogy is for this government." I can see the headlines now "Bertie Bemused at Bureaucratic Obstructionism" but he was not laughing at the plight of genealogists. He was chuckling at my having found a way around the system. But then she went on to reveal the real reason for the bilious tone of her email. It seems that when her husband and I were both on the program at a conference last year, I had gone over my time by twenty minutes, an unpardonable transgression in her view. I was the penultimate speaker and gave my talk on Using the Internet for Irish Genealogy. Her husband's talk was on courtship customs in 19th-century Ireland. That some people walked out before his talk was finished was seen as a great insult and all my fault for having blathered on too long about a subject people could hear me speak on anytime, whereas her husband had come all the way from Ireland. Now, if I were equally vindictive, I might suggest that they left because his subject, while interesting as folklore, was of little value to the genealogical researcher. I would not, however, be speaking for myself because I found the subject quite fascinating and an excellent talk. I might have let the whole matter drop, except that she closed by saying "If you see him at the Eneclann launch tomorrow and don't apologize to him, (and nicely) I may be tempted to pop you one...right there in the library of Trinity College.... Put that in your blog!" [so I did]

Then it was off to the Glibert to look at some Griffith's Valuations, picking up my prints on the way. This was the first time I used the option of having a CDROM created of all the pictures on the roll as well as prints. This means I won't have to worry about finding a scanner and can email selected photos from a cybercafe if I need to. After a brief perusal of some Griffith's pages at the Gilbert, I headed over to the Valuation Office to ascertain to what extent their records for the six counties of Northern Ireland had been transferred to the PRONI in 1922. I was wondering if, perhaps, they still had the original valuation maps or the cancelled books up to 1922, but no, everything went to Belfast after the partition. While at the Valuation Office, I met up with Ann Rodda who had a great many printouts of cancelled books and valuation maps. I took the opportunity to tell her I had decided not to try and make it to the Genealogical Society of Ireland meeting Wednesday morning in Dun Laoghaire. Wednesday would be my last full day of research in Dublin and I was hoping to go to the Eneclann reception at Trinity in the evening, assuming I could find a bodyguard. Ann allowed as how she was going to the RCB Library on Wednesday and may or may not make it out to Dun Laoghaire either, and had a ticket for theatre Wednesday evening and would not be attending the launch at Trinity.

Next stop was one of those tacky shops on O'Connell street selling paddywhackery to the tourist trade. My sister had asked me to get one of those teddy bears wearing an Irish sweater. She had brought one back for one of her daughters from our trip in 2001 and now one of her other children wanted one. Not wanting to be carrying this with me on the plane, I went next door to Eason's and bought a padded mailing envelope, stuffed Paddy O'Bruin inside and mailed him off from the GPO.

This left me with one more mission to accomplish. If you recall, I bought a travel clock at Roches Store the day I landed in Dublin. It kept time all right, but after the third day the alarm stopped working. I would set it, but it wouldn't go off. Unfortunately, I did not retain the sales receipt. I figured it was worth a try, and I noticed that the same clock I had bought three weeks earlier was now on sale. Too bad I didn't have the receipt. I could turn it in for a refund and then buy a new one for less. In the end, I was happy enough to be able to exchange it, no questions asked.

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