IGSI’s Irish Collection

I spent part of today helping Irish Genealogical Society International (IGSI) conduct the annual inventory of their Irish collection which is housed at the Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS) Library in South St Paul. I was assigned to work in the HISTORY section, comparing books on the shelves to printed inventory lists. Many times I was tempted to stop completely and read the books I was holding in my hands.

There were volumes covering all parts of Ireland, several published in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Occasionally a title indicated a particular townland which made me wish that was the area I was researching! Many of the books had labels inside showing a donor’s name.

I admit tarrying long enough to make notes about several books that I want to study more closely later. Such a precious collection! Within the next few days I’ll be posting a more comprehensive article. For now, I’ll just share a few of my scratched notes about the surnames and topics that caught my eye (limited to my assigned section of library call numbers):

  1. The Irish in Scotland, 1798-1845 by James E. Handley – I scanned the chapter entitled “The Harvesters” and read about all the Irish seasonal workers who went to Scotland for the harvest. This was interesting to me because my 4X great-grandfather was supposedly born near Glasgow while his father was working as a reaper.
  2. History of Mayo, Vol. 1 by J. F. Quinn – Gallagher is a name in my husband’s family tree. On page 142, I read about the notorious highwayman, Captain Gallagher, who was executed at the Foxford military barracks for his misdeeds. The book cites the tradition that Capt Gallagher robbed the rich to support the poor.
  3. Melancholy Madness: A Coroner’s Casebook by Michelle McGoff-McCann – The book was drawn from the 19th century casebook of coroner William Charles Waddell of County Monaghan. Chapters are devoted to subjects such as Infanticide, Suicide and the Asylum, Dangers in the Home, Death by Misadventure, Death in the Workplace and Cold-Blooded Murder. (OK, this book has nothing to do with my genealogical research; it appeals to less cerebral interests.)
  4. Records of the Four Tipperary Septs by Martin Callahan – O’Dwyer is another name in our Irish family tree, and it was one of the four septs highlighted in the book.

The library (formally known as the William J. Hoffman Library and Research Center) is now closed for the holidays and will re-open on Wednesday, January 6. In the meantime you can read about the library and search its catalog here:  http://mngs.org/cpage.php?pt=30

Stay tuned for more information about IGSI’s impressive collection.

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