New: Wallace Clare Award prize announced


02 November 2020
A new award that celebrates outstanding, long-term contributions to the development of Irish genealogy worldwide has been announced by the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

In 2020, the new Wallace Clare Award is being presented to four recipients, all of whom have made a significant impact on aspects of the study of the genealogy of the people and diaspora of Ireland.  

Reflecting the global spread of Irishness, two of the recipients are from the USA and one is from Argentina. The fourth person is honoured posthumously for a major one-name study that involved records from many countries.

The inaugural Wallace Clare Award winners

The four inaugural recipients are:

  • Marie E. Daly, from Massachusetts
  • Christina Hunt, from Pennsylvania
  • Guillermo MacLoughlin, from Buenos Aires
  • the late William D. O’Ryan.

Marie E. Daly

Marie has been researching, lecturing, and writing about Irish genealogy since 1976, the year she made her first visit to Ireland.  In 1983 she helped found the Massachusetts-based TIARA (The Irish Ancestral Research Association) and she served as president for its first three years.  

She joined the staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston in 1987.  Over three decades she worked in the posts of Chief Financial Officer, Director of Library Services and Senior Genealogist.  She led NEHGS’s Irish research programs for decades.  Along the way she edited TIARA’s Newsletter, contributed to gravestone transcription projects, wrote in NEHGS’s publications, Register and Nexus, lectured at conferences in New England and Ireland, and worked on her own family history.  With Judith Lucey, she wrote NEHGS’s Genealogist's Handbook for Irish Research, published in 2016.  She retired the following year but she continues to pursue local and family history, serving as a board member and municipal commissioner on a number of genealogical and historical organisations.

Christina Hunt

Christina Hunt is the moving force behind the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP) founded in 2000 and which encourages others to contribute a wide variety of genealogical information and data: church records, directories, gravestone inscriptions, memorial cards, newspaper obituaries, wills, etc. Since 2012 she has been the overall manager for the entire project, overseeing the collation and digitization of many useful records for the worldwide Irish genealogy community. 

Under her guidance IGP has grown to be a serious provider of free online Irish genealogical data. In order to help promote the Project, in 2012 Chris set up a number of IGP county pages on Facebook, through which thousands of people on a weekly basis learn and exchange knowledge about Irish genealogical research and history. 

Guillermo MacLoughlin

Guillermo's unique contribution to Irish genealogy lies in his long and influential position amongst people of Irish descent in Argentina and his involvement in Irish-Argentine relations. Argentina has one of the most proud and active Irish Diaspora in the world, where at least half a million Argentines have Irish ancestors. Guillermo is sixth generation Irish in Argentina. His father's family is entirely of Irish descent and originates in Glascorn, five miles from Mullingar, in Co. Westmeath, and his mother's family is a mix Irish and Spanish descent.

He is a public accountant, an economist, a historian, but not least an expert genealogist and a long standing member of the IGRS who has lectured widely and whose research has appeared in many publications. Since 2009 Guillermo has held the position of director and editor-in-chief of The Southern Cross, an Argentinian newspaper founded in 1875, covering Irish current affairs, cultural and social matters, and issues of historic and genealogical interests. Guillermo’s association with The Southern Cross dates back to the mid-1970s when its then editor encouraged him to write local histories relating to the Irish community in Argentina. Guillermo has since gone on to map the story of the Irish in Argentina. 

William Delmar O’Ryan (1915-1969)

This award is made posthumously. Up until his death Bill O’Ryan had over the course of a number of decades amassed a huge quantity of genealogical material relating to the surname Ryan, O’Ryan or Mulryan from around the globe. This was helped by the fact that Bill worked for the US Foreign Service, which facilitated him travelling overseas. Wherever he visited he attempted to acquire Ryan biographical, historical and genealogical information, no matter how brief.  

Some of the places where he gathered data include Argentina, Canada, Chile, England, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Tenerife, USA, Vatican State, and the West Indies. After Bill’s death, at a relatively young age, a letter was found in which he hoped that the IGRS would benefit from his work. He had been a member of the IGRS since 1963. His collection ran to seven filing cabinets stuffed with paperwork which, as his son, Rick, and daughter, Josephine, said on accepting the Award for their father, was achieved “with a typewriter, carbon paper, pen and stamps as well as his many visits to libraries around Europe and the world”. A digital copy of Bill’s material has been donated to the IGRS which will in due course become available on the Society’s website.  

The Wallace Clare Award 

The Award is named in honour of Reverend Wallace Clare (1895-1963), a Catholic priest and keen academic who founded the IGRS in 1936. This was as a response to the great conflagration of 1922, which consumed almost the entire contents of Ireland’s Public Record Office. Fr. Clare was the author of the first ever work on Irish ancestral research, A Simple Guide to Irish Genealogy, published in 1937, and he was the first individual to be elected a Fellow of the IGRS. Since its foundation, the Society has gathered together an invaluable collection of transcripts and abstracts compiled from documents subsequently destroyed in the fire. It is the world’s oldest membership organisation devoted to the study and pursuit of Irish genealogy.