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Article posted: April 29, 1999

Surviving 1851 Census Returns of Ireland on CD
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

The 1922 fire which destroyed the Irish national archives left a big dark hole for many researchers. Many archivists and research groups today set themselves the task of reconstructing some of the missing records, as much as they can.

The Irish Research Group of Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society took it upon themselves to put together as much of the surviving 1851 census of Ireland as they could. A recent website which displays misleading information about the 1851 census has led them to publish the results of their work in the form of a CD-ROM. This CD is entitled "Surviving 1851 census returns of Ireland".

The CD is reasonably priced and is available from ( click for more information). It includes the free software Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.01, which you can install first and which permits you to read the CD. The display is very well set up, with the contents key visible on the left of the computer screen, and the text on the right. You can enlarge the text if you desire, but I found it very clear as it was.

There is a useful introduction which explains how this project came about and who participated. The material included is not all of the surviving 1851 census, but a substantial part of it, including 171 townlands in Antrim, four parishes in Cork, Clonee in Fermanagh and five townlands in Aglish (Co. Kilkenny). In addition there are samples of material accidentally preserved in old age pension applications and a history of the Green family (as an example of how some elements of this census still exist in genealogies).

The usual census information was requested, but the Irish census also asked if anyone in the household had died in the last decade (since the last census). This is very handy stuff to know if you happen to find a family member. The cause of death is also given, in its original colloquial terms; one entry I noticed said a man had died of 'mortification of the head'. I wonder what that could be.

Spellings of names in the Irish census were no better than anywhere else. The editors note that they found as many as three different spellings of the same name in the same household!

I had a look at my own family names from Antrim. There were no Lunns, a single family of Hawthorns, but a great many Hunters. I will spend an afternoon sometime looking through them to see if any lived in Hunterville, our own little hamlet.

The CD requires a 486 or Pentium computer, with Windows 3.1, 95 or 98, 25 MB hard disk space free minimum and 16 MB RAM minimum, and CD-ROM 2X. It can be used on PowerMac or Mac OS 7.0 or later.

Ryan's Heritage Notebook...

Cheryl MacDonald's new history of Port Dover includes material about sailing on Lake Erie which will be of interest to those with connections from Windsor to Fort Erie. Her chapter on sailing includes rowboats, small sailboats and larger boats with engines, and includes information about shipwrecks and other activities in the Port Dover area. Port Dover: A Place in the Sun, v. 1 1669-1914 is published by the Port Dover Board of Trade and available from Heronwood Enterprises.

If your family lived in Simcoe County, you will want a copy of B. E. S. Rudachyk's Simcoe County Book of Days, a novel idea which lists every day of the year with events which happened on that day. The first volume includes dates up to 1919, with a twentieth-century volume to come. Available from DBS Heritage Consulting, 72 High Street, Suite 1, Barrie L4N 1W4,

Another New Ottawa Valley Book Coming In May

Another new publication from global Heritage Press, concerning Hull and Aylmer, Quebec, will be released by GHP on May 28, 1999:

The Pioneers of the Upper Ottawa, by Anson A. Gard. A facsimile reprint of an extremely rare book of historical and family sketches with an extensive new index and introduction by Ryan Taylor. The book was originally published in 1906 and contains thousands of names and accounts from the early settlement period of Aylmer and Hull, Quebec area. The book will be published in hardcover. Send an e-mail to Sandra at Global Genealogy, if you would like to be notified when it is ready, or check out the Global Heritage Press web site at

Books By Ryan Taylor

Across The Waters, Ontario Immigrants Experiences 1820 - 1850 - by Frances Hoffman & Ryan Taylor, 1999. Riveting first-hand accounts of the immigration and settlement experience, taken from the diaries and letters of 150 immigrants.

Routes To Roots, The Best of Ryan Taylor's columns from the Kitchener Waterloo Record, by Ryan Taylor 1997

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Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
(Pontiac County, Quebec)

The Merivale Cemeteries
(Protestant - Ottawa area)