Friday, 31 May 2013

Roots Ireland - strategic site review underway

Roots Ireland (, the online platform carrying records from the Irish Family History Foundation's member societies, has recently asked its subscribers to fill out a user survey, which has generated some 19,000 replies from across the world. In an email I've just received the vendor has stated that the "feedback received is currently being analysed by the consultancy firm that we have engaged to conduct a strategic review of the site."

If ever a site needed a strategic review, Roots Ireland would certainly be one you would have to offer up for consideration. There are many changes coming fast and thick with online Irish research, not least the fact that the Irish Government is planning to place online indexes to civil registration records on its Irish Genealogy website at (which has a new wind behind it), the Northern Irish GRO is soon to launch its own Ulster borne version of a ScotlandsPeople type site, the National Library of Ireland is hoping to digitise Roman Catholic parish records, and more. Some offerings on RootsIreland are also available on other platforms, such as its 1901 and 1911 census transcripts, where the originals are freely offered by the National Archives of Ireland at, and with pre-1901 census fragments soon to join the site.

RootsIreland still has many unique resources, notably its transcribed parish records holdings, and recently made some changes to its site following a fairly disastrous re-organisation of its payment system and charging, but many people have been frustrated with the service, outraged by its charges, and more, for several years. Whether this is something that emerges from the survey findings - and if so, whether the site will listen - is still to be seen. But as competitors grow in strength, one thing that RootsIreland is running out of is time, because increasingly many other options are emerging providing considerably less grief for users.


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the Old Parish Registers, starts May 15th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!

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