I blogged here some weeks ago about the condition of some of the Catholic Baptismal records in the Kerry Diocese. From my experience visiting various presbyteries checking baptisms & marriages, I have found some excellent locations where every care has been taken over the years resulting in legible, well preserved records, going back to the very early 1800’s. But sadly in other locations, the years have taken their toll. The current guardians are doing the very best they can but they have inherited records that have been kept in damp, mouldy houses, where mice have had a field day and the resulting books are in a very poor state.
John Grenham, the well known Genealogist wrote about this in yesterday’s Irish Times –
‘Roman Catholic parish registers constitute by far the most important set of records for 19th-century Irish local and family history. And, in the furore over access, one vital point is constantly missed. The original records are still sitting in the sacristies and presbyteries around the country where they have been for the past two centuries. No organization on the island is concerned with preserving them: there is no archival programme to ensure their survival’
John goes on to ask if this should matter? They have been copied and are on microfilm in the National Library as well as online at IrishGenealogy.ie. But we should remember that these are just copies
John continues ‘No copy can take the place of the original. The registers themselves are the property of the Catholic Church, and also the Church’s responsibility. If the Hierarchy wants to keep them private, by all means let them be locked away in diocesan archives for a century or more. But something has to be done to stop these priceless records from rotting away.’
These are priceless records, as well as being the originals, they are also the only records we have of any births or marriages prior to Civil Registration in 1864. A number have been lost already, see Links & Resources.
Isn’t it time we got all these registers collected in one place, re-bound and restored if necessary and kept in optimum conditions for future generations?