Monday, 5 December 2016

Latest PRONI stakeholder forum update

Last Friday saw the latest stakeholder forum of the Public Record Office for Northern Ireland ( in Belfast. I was unfortunately not able to attend, as I developed a nasty bout of Black Death towards the end of the week (some folk call it a 'cold'!), but I am grateful to Richard Lecky for forwarding the minutes to me. The following are some of the key developments that will be of interest to regular PRONI users:

1) The annual release of official files under the 20 Year Rule (the ‘Annual Sensitivity Review’) will officially take place on December 30th. There will be a ‘Secrets Behind the Files’ event at 1pm on January 11th 2017, led by Dr Eamon Phoenix (political historian) and Sam McBride (political editor, the Newsletter) discussing some of the key finds from the release. The talk is an open event, with the public able to register to attend via the PRONI website.

2) The Conflict Archive on the Intenet project (CAIN) has now added files from 1987, with work currently progressing to capture 1988.

3) With regards to new accessions of private records, a large collection of papers relating to the Christian Endeavour society has been acquired, catalogued under D4628. This organisation originated in America in 1881, with societies opening in Belfast soon after. By 1899 there were 10,000 members and one hundred societies throughout Ireland (as a wee boy growing up in Carrickfergus in the 1980s the society was certainly still going strong then in my church). The collection contains correspondence, minutes and reports and printed material and dates from 1900.

The Papers of Fred Heatley, founding member of NICRA and People’s Democracy, have been added D4629. Amongst the political scrapbooks in this collection are a range of political posters.

Eight pre-1871 registers from the Methodist Historical Society have been transferred to PRONI for digitisation - the registeres are from the following Belfast Churches: Ligoniel, Frecerick Street, Salem New Connection, and Ballymacarett (Newtownards Road).

4) Cataloguing continues at PRONI, as follows:
Records of the Irish Council of Churches have almost been completely catalogued, and are found under D4602/1. The collection includes minutes, reports and correspondence and dates from its foundation to recent years.

Family papers relating to the Johnston family of Slaghtbogie, Maghera, Co. Londonderry (from 1766-1943), are being catalogued under D4618. The papers give an insight into the family’s relationship with their tenants and neighbours and into the experiences of some family members who emigrated to America and Canada.

Cataloguing has been completed on the papers of Kevin Boyle (D3297). The collection vividly captures the early years of the civil rights movement in Belfast.

A land valuation volume and watercolour maps of the estate of Thomas Brooke at Lough Eske, Co. Donegal, and watercolour maps of the lands of the Marquis of Conyngham (dating from the 1890s), Glenties, Co. Donegal (dating from 1839), have been catalogued under D4493.

5) The new GIS Application / Historical Maps viewer:
Particularly good news is the fact that PRONI’s new Historical Maps viewer is hopefully going to go live at some point this week. There will hopefully be an official launch early next year (provisionally slated for January 25th 2017 at PRONI, 9.30am – 1pm), with an accompnaying half day conference around geographical mapping. (I've seen this demonstrated at a couple of previous forum meetings, and this is definitely going to become a tool that everyone doing Northern Irish research will need to bookmark.)

6) The new Rule and Fees will come into effect on the 15th December and PRONI is on track to make all the necessary amendments. The PRONI web page has been updated with a new link so users can see the new fees and charges - see

7) Preservation week will run from December 12th-16th. This is the week when PRONI takes time to play catch up with various internal issues, with the net result that although the building will be open as normal, there will be no document ordering available for the week, only the self-service facilities.

8) Forthcoming events and exhibitions:

Holocaust Memorial Day: The Holocaust event will be taking place on Thursday the 26th of January and Teddy Dixon, who was one of the soldiers that liberated Dachau, will be interviewed by Dermot Lavery from Doubleband.

History of Football in Ireland Conference: A History of Football conference will be held on the 17th of February and is being organised by Dr Chris Curran.

International Women’s Day: The International Women’s Day will be held on the 8th of March and feature journalist, Malachy O’Doherty

For further events see

(With thanks to PRONI)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Beginner's Guide to British and Irish Genealogy, A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit

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