The New Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy by Brian Mitchell is neither that new nor does it fit in your pocket, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time.
This is the 4th edition (2020) of a guide first produced 30 years ago by the renowned Derry-based Irish genealogist, Brian Mitchell. I already have a couple of other books by him on my shelf, so I knew it would be of a decent standard. Full disclosure, Genealogical (who also sell the book) asked me to review this book and sent me a free copy, but I’m more than happy to report that it’s worth your time.
Mitchell does a broad sweep of Irish history to start with, providing context for records which may or may not exist and the periods and patterns of emigration with advice on where to start if you are part of the diaspora, broken down by the main places Irish people emigrated to. He then gets into his 7 main categories of use for family history research and details them plus where to find them.
- Griffith’s Valuation
- Tithe Applotment books
Considering the book is a mere 122 pages, it’s really quite comprehensive and also has sections on newspapers, Ulster-Scots research, maps, military records, the Registry of Deeds and other 18th century sources, with good case studies.
However, as it’s now a couple of years old, a few of the web links are out of date, and of course, new resources that have appeared since 2020 do not feature. A small section on the usefulness of genetic genealogy feels tacked on though.
Some minor criticisms: there’s an over-reliance on examples from Derry (perhaps not unexpected given the author’s origins) and all the certs/returns have been transcribed. This might be for rights reasons, but I’d have preferred to see the originals, bad handwriting and all! There’s also a few paragraphs that are repeated in different sections and some typos, which I’d have thought would have been ironed out by the time a fourth edition came round.
Overall, a worthwhile addition to your shelf, and one you might easily pop in your suitcase if you were coming to Ireland, and wanted a light quick reference guide to consult while you were away.
We just missed meeting Brian on our trip to Ireland, he was pulling out of the parking lot as we were pulling in. He did email me later with research suggestions for my Huston line.