Friday 23 March 2012

More on RootsIreland

Many thanks to the readers who have been in touch since the announcement on RootsIreland's changes (see - already one person giving a talk in the USA tomorrow about Irish research for beginners is having to re-jig his presentation on the back of it!

However, another comment from reader Robert Forrest in Northern Ireland is also worth airing concerning the site. Not only does Bobby wholeheartedly agree with my analysis on the changes, he has also raised another issue. With his permission, the following comes from his email to me:

"There is also a problem with payment methods as the site does not accept Maestro Card. As I do not have a credit card I cannot purchase credits. I emailed them yesterday & got the following response:

"Dear Mr. Forrest. We do not accept payments from debit cards outside the Republic of Ireland due to the bank charges etc. it would involve. We would have to set up bank accounts in sterling and so on. We are not in a position to fund that at this time. The UHF (Ulster Historic Foundation - Chris) is a company registered in the north of Ireland where the currency is sterling. However, we do take your point on board. But a credit card is the most secure way to purchase online. In relation to charging for our index we have researched this step extensively and taken on board the view of many of our users since late 2007 that the Scotland's People model was the way to go. There are now reduced charges per view of a record's details of you bulk buy. Yours sincerely, Customer Support Team"

"I am so disappointed to be palmed off like this - most sites accept Maestro debit card for payments so the RootsIreland people are losing out on my custom"

Thanks to Bobby for this. I must admit that I am not sure why RootsIreland is saying it cannot accept debit cards, as I use Visa Debit to make purchases, unless this is set up in a different way to Maestro. As a Natwest user, with an account in Bristol, England, Maestro was replaced by Visa Debit some time ago as the debit tool on my card.

With regards to the main development, I have now emailed RootsIreland to express my concerns, citing examples as quoted in my previous blog post. Last weekend I spent about 80 Euros on the site to progress two Donegal lines in my tree, and was thoroughly satisfied with the results. In fact, it is hard to believe that just a few months ago the site had a temporary month long sale with major reductions on pricing - tragically I missed out as I was overseas at the time! Quite how the progress from that offer to the modern set up has emerged is well and truly beyond me, but I suspect I'll be holding back for a bit now before any future purchases.

I can say for definite though, this may be inspired by the "Scotland's People model", but this is not the same set up as ScotlandsPeople! Records on that site cost about £1.40 including the search fee, and that is to see the original digitised image, not a transcript. The exception on ScotlandsPeople is the option to see a transcript of the 1881 census, rather than the image, which will cost just 47 pence for the search and the transcript view. Clearly the inspiration from Scotland only went so far...

UPDATE: If you're unhappy with the changes, let the team at RootsIreland know what you think by emailing them at


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  1. With regard to methods of payment for RootsIreland (and perhaps other Irish resources), for those with non-Euro accounts. I used my existing Euro currency card (FairFX) which had a small amount left from a previous trip. It also meant that I didn't incur any transaction charges from my bank. This works out well for those buying small amounts of credits occasionally, the cards have a min £10 top-up and no expiry

  2. Thanks for this Lynn - I'm not familiar with this card, but from the sound of it am I right to say that it is a bit like the reverse of a debit card - one that you top up in advance, rather than debit from an account? If so, a useful tip!

    1. I've heard of the card - think it used to be used to avoid airline booking charges. There's some information here:

  3. Chris

    yes, it's a pre-paid card, but you only need a £10 minimum and can top up online. The biggest benefit is avoiding transaction fees for small-value amounts, that can mount up for credit cards (and they also do dollar versions)

  4. I'm sorry to see them charge for formerly free searches. Lucky for me I had just done some stuff a few days ago.

    I wish they would add new records. Coverage for COI records in Tyrone is, frankly, lousy, and their coverage for Fermanagh and Monaghan isn't much better for me. It's been *years* since I've seen new records added for Tyrone.

    Contrast this with the records released in the least few years from Kerry and other counties (both Catholic and Protestant), which are indexed, free and original images.

    Why can't the rest of Ireland - both of them, get on the ball? I don't mind paying a reasonable price, but I prefer original records.

  5. Hi Chris

    Frankly, I don't understand why RootsIreland don't offer a subscription service a la Ancestry, FMP etc. Pay-per-view (for a transcript rather than a facsimilie of the original document) at the price being charged is not what most of us might call good value for money.


  6. In a recession, particularly one hitting the Republic as badly as it is just now, you would think encouraging people to use the site in an affordable way would be a priority. There are some genuinely great people working within RootsIreland, but it is a coming together of various different bodies through the IFHF. I suspect trying to keep something together that keeps everyone happy may not be so easy - but the net result for years has been a poor profile and an impression of just wanting to fleece customers. I was genuinely delighted about the changes they made over a year ago when they created discounts for multiple births purchases and in particular the ability to use the Advanced Search at such a detailed level - as most sites do. The site still had some quirks, and the records were still dear relative to other companies, but it was a useable site, and I have given many Irish online records talks in the last year praising it to the hilt.

    But how times change. Whoever thought the basic tier for payment should be for 35 credits when only 26 are needed for a single records, either needs maths lessons or business lessons, in my opinion. ScotlandsPeople offers 30 credits, which is divisable by 6 - 1 credit for a search and 5 to view the record - so a chance to see 5 complete records. That makes sense, and let's not even get into the actual what you get in return for your money from ScotlandsPeople!

    But if there is one thing that I find unforgiveable - it is the removal of some of the advanced search tools to control searches at parish level for children searches. That smacks of the IFHF sticking its two fingers up to its users. Deeply unimpressed.

  7. One thing of note is that Limerick can now be 'advanced searched', although I am yet to find what I am looking for, and fear I would need to take a loan out to do so !!!

  8. To a degree - but although Sligo and Limerick are now better to search, it's not the old Advanced Search - they've renamed it Standard Search, but have also restricted ability to do a parent search at parish level which you were previously able to do in Advanced Search. So two steps forward for Limerick and Sligo - but one back for every county.

    Quite a serious issue . My search pattern tends to be when was someone born (identify parents), when did parents marry, and how many children did they have. Now hamstrung on the last as I cannot search by parish, only the whole county. I quoted example of a search for a William Smith's family, as I actually have one in Antrim! Billy's quite a common name in Antrim, now much more difficult to identify how many kids he may have had as I can no longer focus the search onto his parish. No mention of that in the RootsIreland news alert of course - but I have emailed them to ask them to explain why they have done it. As an immediate step, that really needs to be reinstated in my opinion.

  9. At least you have records! As I said above, they've not updated my counties of interest in ages. *sigh* I'll probably be dead before I get any progress on my Irish research, which is frustrating.

    Bonnie M.