New award recognizes ‘selfless dedication’ in Irish family history

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14 April 2020
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Award winners Maureen Fitzgibbon and Margaret Purcell
The Irish Genealogical Research Society has inaugurated a new award, the Valued Service Certificate, with the first award going to long-time friends and research companions Maureen Fitzgibbon and Margaret Purcell.

The Society announced that it hopes the new IGRS Valued Service Certificate will go some way towards recognising its members’ achievements, ‘their dedication and their voluntary contributions to the work of the Society and to the wider-world of Irish genealogy’.

Maureen, from Cheshire, and Margaret, from Lancashire, have been a fixture on the Irish genealogy circuit for many years now, both in England and in Ireland and have volunteered not just with the IGRS, but with the Catholic Family History Society and other Lancashire based societies with Irish research interest groups.

When the Society attended the ‘Back to Our Past’ family history show in Belfast in February 2018, both Maureen and Margaret flew over to volunteer on the stand, as they have done at other events for many years.

Having been informed of the award, on behalf of herself and Maureen, Margaret recalled their years involved in genealogy: ‘Most of it was in the pre-Internet and computer days, when we had to travel to libraries and record offices to see and copy by pencil and paper the records of interest. I particularly remember being part of a small team transcribing the registers of St Wilfrid’s, Preston, and later St John the Evangelist, The Willows, Kirkham.  Transcribing St Wilfrid’s took four years to complete, working one day per week. 

‘We also “manned” the Catholic Family History Society (CFHS) and other Irish Group tables at family history society conferences giving advice. We found that any enquiry for the CFHS usually ended with advice on Irish ancestry.  We were also sometimes invited to give talks at family history branch meetings. 

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‘Although we keep telling people we have retired, newcomers at society branches are generally directed to us if they mention Ireland!’

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