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Genes Reunited attend the 'Back To Our Past' exhibition in Dublin

Published on 22 Oct 2010 17:00 : back to our past dublin events : 0 comments : 1010 views

Hi there, my name is Katie and I am Product Executive for Genes Reunited. Last Thursday, along with Rhoda, head of Genes Reunited, I caught an ealry Aer Lingus flight and headed over to Dublin to attend the 'Back To Our Past' exhibition. Rhoda and I were both pretty nervous having never taken part in an exhibition before, we didn't know what to expect or what the reaction to Genes Reunited was going to be like.

We arrived at the exhibition hall on Thursday and got to setting up the stand. Cue panic and worry that not all of our posters and hand outs have arrived! A few hours ensued that consisted of struggling with pop up posters, trying to locate drawing pins and scissors, setting up computers and screens and panicking because we didn't have enough plug sockets. Eventually, having located the stress inducing, mislaid last box of leaflets and laid out the essential bowl of Worthers Originals for visitors to the stand, we were happy with our stall and set off to find our B&B.

One of the first things I noticed about Dublin was how beautiful the houses were. We were staying in a little B&B in Donnybrook and the houses in this area were stunning. Beautifully kept town houses, which looked old but cosy and smart all at the same time. In the evening we ventured out in to Dublin town centre to find some dinner and were met with lots of kind and welcoming people. Even the taxi drivers were all smiles and tips on where to go and what to see.

Friday started with a frantic search for an extension lead! After a visit to a very helpful local hardware shop we were on our way safe in the knowledge we could now plug in both computers. Friday proved to be a busy day, from the minute the doors opened until 6 pm Rhoda and I were constantly talking to people, showing them how to use the site and explaining how Genes Reunited can help you even if all of your ancestors are Irish. Although we do not currently have any Irish records, you find that a lot of Irish people have ancestors who came to work in England at some point. More often than not, you can find an Irish ancestor in one of the English Census returns whilst they are over in England working. Even if you can not find any Irish ancestors in the England Census, Genes Reunited have over 60,000 Irish members, so it is very likely that you will be able to find another Genes Reunited member with an ancestor of yours in their family tree. The next step is to get in contact with this member and swap information, what do they know that you don't and vice versa, maybe you are even distantly related?

Researching your Irish routes can prove very difficult. For any genealogist hoping to find records from the 19th century the tale is one of frustration. The first four Irish censuses (1821-1851) were largely destroyed by fire in 1922; all that survive are fragments. As if that wasn't pain enough, the government destroyed the returns from 1861-1891. That means you're completely out of luck for 19th century censuses. The first Irish Census available is 1901, so all us lucky people researching ancestors living in England can sympathise and realise how hard it must be for those researching their family history without the benefit of Census records!

Despite this I was lucky enough to meet lots and lots of Irish people who have done very well in their family history research, many with the help of Genes Reunited and connections they have made via the site. I sat with one lady who was looking for a living relative but had no idea how to find her. In less than 2 minutes we had discovered the woman she was looking for had a family tree on Genes Reunited and we could send her a message right there and then. Another gentleman was looking for an ancestor who had come to work in Wales in the early ninteen hundreds. Again, in just minutes we had found him, his ocupation listed as cole miner.

Over the next 2 days we had lots of similar scenarios, we met some fantastic people, received some very positive feedback and also got to listen to suggestions of how we could make things easier for our members. It was also great to have people come over and show their appreciation for the site, on more than one occassion someone approached me just to say how much they loved the site and how they had met distant cousins and family they never knew they had via Genes Reunited. It was great to hear these stories and makes all of us feel like the work we do on the site is worthwhile.

The weekend flew by without a hitch, no computers crashed, we didn't run out of Worthers Originals, and I think we got to speak with everyone who showed an interest in Genes Reunited. The experience and feedback we gained in Dublin was invaluable and we will certainly be participating in more exhibitions going forwards. The next exhibition we have our eye on is the 'Who Do You Think You Are' fair in London in February. Nothing is certain yet, but keep your ears and eyes open for news and hopefully we will see all of those who can make it at Olympia!