Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Michael Purcell

(Michael Purcell - Monday, October 08, 2001 -  The Nationalist Archives)

Historian hands over wealth of genealogical information

A wealth of historical material which should prove invaluable to people tracing their ancestors has been handed over to the Carlow Genealogical Centre.

Included in this latest acquisition is a complete record of all the birth and marriage records in the county from the mid-18th century to 1900 containing hundreds of thousands of names.

This extensive collection, all on microfilm is a copy of the detailed compilation of all such records in the country which was carried out by the Mormons in Ireland in the 1950’s.

The material also includes various indexes of the births, deaths and marriage registers in the county, as well as almost 2,500 genealogical enquiries from all over the world. The enquiries in themselves provide material which the Carlow organisation would not have possibly had, especially when cross-referenced with local resources.

The person who has handed over this extensive collection is local historian Michael Purcell, who has spent almost 35 years collecting items of historical and genealogical material relating to Carlow.

“My uncle waited until he was 98 years of age before he handed over his lifetime collection. I don’t think I am going to be around that long so now is as good a time as any to hand over the collection,” Michael joked.

“I was always interested in history and genealogy in particular. I also believe that a properly run genealogical centre, as we now have in Carlow, will prove an invaluable attraction for tourists, especially from the US,” said Michael.

The Genealogical Centre, which is run by Carlow Heritage Family Research Limited, a company supported by the local authority, already has an indexed collection of all births, marriages and deaths from the Catholic churches throughout the county, which took over three years to compile.

"This has all been coordinated by genealogist Mary Moore and the centre probably provides the best service of its kind in the country because of its state of the art computer system. This is due to the foresight of County Secretary, Jim Kearney, who has also acted as secretary of Carlow Heritage Family Research for the past five years,” Michael stressed.

Also included in the material was a microfilm of the birth and marriage parish records for County Laois, which was handed over to the Rossmore Development Group. “It is hoped this will act as catalyst for the establishment of a genealogical centre in the Killeshin area to serve all of County Laois, which at the moment is serviced by a centre in Offaly,” Michael pointed out.

Michael Purcell - Monday, October 08, 2001 -  The Nationalist Archives



By Marlcne O'Hayre

The Nationalist 19th July 1996

Michael is the true "Quiet Man". He wears many hats, however he is not so quiet when it comes to heritage and genealogy. His title is Coordinator of the Heritage Society and Projects of Carlow, Ireland. If you are looking for your ancestors in the Carlow-Wexford area, he is the man to see. If you can find him. He is involved in many projects, such as the Holy Angeles, a school for children of special needs or maybe you can find him Sunday evening collecting bread at the food stores, which he gives to families in need or the elderly. Better yet, just ask for him at City Hall or the Chamber of Commerce.

We found him by asking the City Clerk, who made some phone calls and located him at an old convent where he was overseeing a project. We walked over to the convent to meet him and chased him around town to extract some genealogy information. We have gotten more form him than any computer could give us. It is called personal attention and education. His enthusiasm spills over and you absorb, and soon share his love of Irish history, heritage, Carlow Town, County Carlow and Ireland as a whole.

Even walking through an old graveyard can be an excursion with Michael. It was 1991 when we walked into the County Clerks office to find Michael. We now count him among our most treasured friends. I wish I could let you know more of what he does but that is the quiet part of the man. He is a mover and a shaker and gets the job done ...quietly. He is a national treasure!

Marlene and Walter O'Hayre of Phoenix, Arizona, representatives of the International Sister Cities Organisation, are presented with copies of “Carlow in old picture postcards" and "The Carlow Gentry,'  by UDC chairman Walter Lacey.


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