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Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD is set to launch the Kerry Genealogy Roadshow, in Killarney, on July 12th.
The Roadshow, a free mobile service being offered to visitors to the county as part of Kerry’s Gathering Programme, is a joint initiative between South Kerry Development Partnership, North & East Kerry Development Company and Kerry County Council, supported under the Leader Programme, and will visit 25 venues and events between now and early October.
Following the official opening on Friday in Killarney, the Roadshow will visit Kenmare for the Food Carnival on Saturday and travel onto Knightstown on Sunday for the Valentia Island King Scallop Festival. The following weekend it will visit Dingle and Listowel.
“The Genealogy Roadshow is the first of its kind in Ireland and is expected to attract visitors from within the county and beyond”, Kerry County Council’s Gathering Coordinator, John Griffin explained.
“Genealogy has emerged as a major attraction during Gathering Year and Kerry has one of the best sets of genealogical data available and this will be enhanced by all available data from other counties”
The unit will be staffed by professional genealogists from Ancestor Network, the Dublin-based company who have worked on numerous international genealogy exhibitions, RTE’s upcoming ‘Genealogy Roadshow’ and programmes like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’.
Professional genealogists will be assisting visitors with their genealogy queries and helping them trace their family trees. Available in the mobile unit will be free “live” online search facilities with four workstations fully equipped with laptops. This will allow them to carry out online searches of Irish and international genealogical sources including Census Returns, Tithe Applotment Books, Griffiths Valuation, Civil Birth, Death and Marriage Records, Church Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records and other free-to-access and “pay sites” like ancestry.com and findmypast.
The genealogists will provide general information about Kerry, the principal Kerry families/family names, their origins and distribution, including famous family members. There will also be a mounted exhibition on “Finding your Kerry /Irish ancestors” in the mobile unit. Leaflets on Finding Your Kerry Roots and other guides will also be freely distributed. Visitors to the unit will be encouraged to leave their names and contact details to enrol as “Friends of Kerry/Cáirde Chiarraí”.
Noel Spillane, CEO of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd (SKDP) noted that this project is the most significant genealogy advisory and tourism event in the country and saw it as an excellent opportunity to attract and advise thousands of visitors to Kerry of their roots. It will bring a significant boost to Kerry’s economy during the summer and autumn months, positioning the County to attract genealogical tourists not only in 2013, but in the years to follow.
John Griffin noted that “the Kerry Genealogy Roadshow is designed for individuals and groups living overseas who are back to visit the Kingdom and are interested in exploring their Kerry ancestry. The project will not only help visitors to trace the origins of their families, it will give a boost to the local economy,” he said.
“As it’s the only facility of its kind in Ireland, we expect overseas visitors to travel from other counties to the various Kerry locations to visit it. Visitors will need accommodation, places to eat and socialise, entertainment, transport and more than anything else, a warm welcome. Local communities and tourism businesses can help meet these needs and add opportunities to enhance the experience for visitors.”
John Griffin also pointed to the collaborative nature of the project, with the local authority and the two Leader groups, South Kerry Development Partnership and North & East Kerry Development.
“The Roadshow just would not be possible without their support”, he said.
John Hamrock of Ancestor Network said he was pleased to work with the Kerry Gathering Group. “This is a unique undertaking and has set an example to other counties,” he stated.
The services and genealogical information that will be made available in the mobile genealogy unit will include access to Irish and international genealogical source information from sites such as www.irishgenealogy.ie; www.nationalarchives.ie; www.ancestry.com; www.findmypast.ie; www.myheritage.com, www.rootsireland.ie, www.familysearch.org, and other leading genealogy websites. All these factors will make the Kerry Genealogy Roadshow a great success in 2013 and hopefully in the years beyond.
The Gathering Ireland 2013 is an ambitious tourism led initiative which aims to provide a platform for Ireland to connect with its diaspora around the world. The objective of the Gathering is to attract an additional 325,000 overseas visitors and to help attract overseas and domestic tourism revenue. Central to achieving the aims of the Gathering will be the part played by local communities, organising special gatherings to engage the interest of family, friends and connections around the world. Kerry has over 250 Gathering events which continue until the end of December 2013.
Vital to the success of this project is the co-operation and support from South Kerry Development Partnership (SKDP), North and East Kerry Development (NEKD), through the Leader Programme and from Kerry County Council. The project will be delivered by Ancestor Network Ltd, a leading Irish professional genealogy services company with wide experience in delivering genealogy advisory services to the Diaspora.
Substantial funding from the above organisations for the project has resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for overseas visitors to come to County Kerry to trace their roots, experience the warmth of a Kerry welcome and explore its rich culture and history.