Irish Lines and Female Finds CONFERENCE

Conference Program

Click each day below to see the detailed program. Each presentation will be followed by a short time for Q&A.

All time slots are shown in Eastern Daylight Savings Time. Click here for a time converter.

12:30 – 13:00      Welcome and Introductory Remarks

13:00 – 14:30      The Registry of Deeds, Dublin: Recording Irish Women Down the Generations (All levels) with Roz McCutcheon

Many researchers working on Irish records will be aware of the terrible losses caused by the destruction of the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922. However, the Registry of Deeds was housed elsewhere and remained intact. In this talk, Roz will show you how to look for an ancestor in the registry and what sort of information can be gleaned. This is a huge, relatively untapped source, containing millions of names but very poorly indexed. The deeds, covering the whole of Ireland, were registered from 1708 onwards, and included all classes of people: from carpenters, servants and bricklayers to lords and ladies. The repository is full of references to family relationships, property handed down via the female line, marriage settlements, and even women who set up businesses and coped on their own. Roz will give examples of the many references to women and also describe the free Registry of Deeds Index that is slowly growing online, thanks to a small group of volunteers.

15:00 – 16:30      Targeting your Irish Ancestors with DNA (Intermediate) with Maurice Gleeson

This intermediate-level talk will cover how to select a particular Irish line for investigation and characterize that line’s brick wall as best one can (using naming convention and baptism records to identify possible parents and siblings, respectively). Maurice will then explore testing known cousins that triangulate on the brick wall and how a cluster of shared matches can be identified. As accessing family trees for each member of the cluster can be a challenge, he will offer various hints and tips for achieving this. He will also explain how to generate an autosomal DNA matrix, which helps you estimate the relationships between the cluster members, highlight close connections, and isolate specific ancestral lines down which the DNA has been passed. Ultimately, this exercise generates clues and leads that point you to a common surname, location or ancestor that you can focus on when studying the documentary records.

17:00 – 18:30      Finding Herstory in the Archives: Researching Female Ancestors (Intermediate) with Gena Philibert-Ortega

We are certainly lucky to live in a time where so many records of genealogical value can be found online. But not everything is online; nor will it ever be. In this presentation Gena will explore what items useful for researching female ancestors you can expect to find in an archive and what archives you should be researching in Canada and the UK.

16:00 – 17:30      Towards a Genetic-genealogy-driven Irish Reference Genome (All levels) with Gerard Corcoran

Several important scientific papers have been published outlining an Irish Reference Genome: The RCSI Irish DNA Atlas, The TCD Insular Genome, AncestryDNA Genetic Communities, Living DNA and a combination of ISOGG and FTDNA regional DNA projects. It is estimated that up to 40 million people have taken direct-to-consumer DNA tests. In this talk, Gerard argues for a cooperative project between ISOGG, the genetic genealogy community and consumer testing companies to publish an open citizen-science-enabled Irish Reference Genome.

18:00 – 19:30      Finding Molly Johnson: The Search for Irish Famine Orphans in Canada, 1847-1848 (All levels) with Mark McGowan

The Canadian Heritage Minute film on “Molly Johnson” left an indelible impression of the struggle of Irish orphan children during the Famine migration. Through Molly Johnson, Canadians came to know of the destitute orphans who were “adopted” by both caring and disinterested French- Canadian families. Intensive research reveals a much different set of circumstances and a much less romantic fate for 1,700 Irish orphans. This is the story of child-placement, indentured labour, and the myriad of tragic stories surrounding the fate of these children. Mark’s presentation includes children who landed in Saint John (NB), Quebec City, Bytown, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara. Research reveals that the orphans were not necessarily devoid of both parents and were not legally adopted; nor were they placed exclusively within French- Canadian families. In fact they served as cheap manual labourers, apprentices, domestic servants and farm hands, and many fled before spending more than a couple of years in their new homes.

20:00 – 21:30      Working Wildflowers: How Three Generations of Women Turned CP Traill’s Field Notes into a Best Seller (All levels) with Kyla Ubbink

In 1861, at age 32, Agnes Fitzgibbon was left widowed with six children and in need of an income. She used her talent for art and recruited her daughters’ help to create 500 copies of a book combining the field notes of her aunt, Catherine Parr Traill, with beautifully hand-painted images. However, no printer was willing to take on the project, and the only way they could secure a publisher was to find 500 subscribers for the book. Kyla will reveal how Agnes and her daughters secured a publisher for the now renowned Canadian Wildflowers book, worked on its four editions, and helped Catherine with her later books. When Algrove Publishing reproduced Canadian Wildflowers in 2003, the process of digitization unfortunately damaged the Canadian Museum of Nature’s copy used for this reproduction, resulting in the need for conservation treatment to repair the binding and secure the pages. Kyla, a professional conservator, brought the manuscript back to life.

14:00 – 16:00    Conference Connect      

An opportunity for registrants to visit one of several breakout rooms, each covering a conference theme—Irish records, female ancestors and genetic genealogy—where experienced researchers will be available to share their knowledge and exchange ideas with the registrants.

14:00 – 15:30     Exhibitor Connect          

An opportunity for participants to visit breakout rooms hosted by conference exhibitors to learn more about their products and services.

16:00 – 17:30      Rentals as a Source for Irish Family History (All levels) with Dr. Jim Ryan

Rentals are the records kept by landlords or their agents; they may include information on tenants’ names, rental income and payments, property, and dates, though they are hugely variable in their format. They exist from the 1600s to the 1900s and are important in Ireland, where land ownership was legally and economically restricted and tenancy was the norm for the vast majority. This talk will review the history, formats and availability of surviving rentals and what they offer as family history sources. Jim will outline the historical reasons for most land-occupiers being tenants; the 300-year evolution of the estate system and of landlord-tenant relations, along with their effects on the nature and survival of rental records; the nature and range of rentals, their formats and content; and where they are to be found. The talk is fully illustrated with examples of records and their content, along with the consequent difficulties presented for scanning and on- line availability.

18:00 – 19:30      The Secret Lives of Women: Research Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind (Intermediate) with Gena Philibert-Ortega

Why is finding a female ancestor so difficult? One reason is the way we research their lives. Successful research must combine familiar genealogical sources and sources that women left behind. In this lecture we look at the women-specific sources including signature quilts, community cookbooks, and diaries.

20:00 – 21:30      Jumping the Pond to Northern Ireland (Beginner to intermediate) with Mags Gaulden

Genealogy and genetic genealogy can team up to help a family discover its way to Ireland; not an easy feat when the family believes itself to be Scottish, having lost the knowledge of its origins. Follow along as Mags, using this case study, reveals how discoveries turned a North American family’s beliefs into an exceptionally large leap onto a small Northern Irish peninsula in the Irish Sea. Ireland is a place where records have burned and insights are hard to come by. But recent discoveries, using DNA and DNA group projects, have focused the research and placed the family’s origins across the pond and squarely on a specific point in Northern Ireland. Mags will explain how answers to genealogy questions in the face of the lack of available documentation can identify specific locations. Jumping the pond is possible.

19:00 – 21:00    Conference Connect      

An opportunity for registrants to visit one of several breakout rooms, each covering a conference theme—Irish records, female ancestors and genetic genealogy—where experienced researchers will be available to share their knowledge and exchange ideas with the registrants.

10:00 – 11:30     Exhibitor Connect

An opportunity for participants can visit breakout rooms hosted by conference exhibitors to learn more about their products and services.

12:00 – 13:30      Church and State: Ireland’s Vital Records (All levels) with Chris Paton

In this session Chris will explore how to locate ancestors in Ireland using the civil registration records of births, marriages and deaths from 1845 and 1864 onwards, both online and in Ireland itself, as held at both the GROI in Roscommon and the GRONI in Belfast. It will examine what the records contain, how they may assist with research, and how they may be located online and offline via the platforms of the respective General Register Offices and government platforms, north and south. Chris will then look at the various church denominations in Ireland, how they were structured, and the types of records they kept. He will explain how to locate surviving material, to equally identify what has not survived (and why), and to understand where Protestant and Catholic Ireland occasionally overlapped, with the role of the Church of Ireland as the state church.

14:00 – 15:30      Forgotten Women: Researching the Marginalised Women on your Family Tree (Intermediate) with Janet Few

Even without meaning to, family historians often focus on the men on their family tree. It is usually the men who carry on the surname, who join the armed forces and who are more likely to write wills, to vote or to rent property, thereby leaving a trail in the documentary record. Merely by virtue of her gender, a female ancestor can become overlooked, and some women are even further on the margins than others. If we, as genealogists, do not research their lives and preserve their memories, who will? In this presentation Janet will use a series of case studies to describe the sources available to research the women who spent time in workhouses or asylums, the mothers of illegitimate children, prostitutes and those accused of witchcraft, amongst others.

16:00 – 17:30      The Irish DNA Atlas Project (Intermediate) with Edmund Gilbert

The extent of population structure within Ireland is largely unknown, as is the impact of historical migrations. Dr. Gilbert participated in a study of the Irish DNA Atlas, a dataset about a DNA cohort of individuals with four generations of ancestry linked to specific regions in Ireland. In this talk Dr. Gilbert will present the results of analyzing the genetic profiles of such individuals together with their genealogical profiles—revealing the relationship between Irish genetics and history along with the insights the researchers gained into both subjects.

12:00 – 13:30      Seeking the Primrose Girls, 50 Irish immigrants to Canada from a Small Galway Town (All levels) with Martin Curley

Martin will describe The Mountbellew Orphan Girls Project—the Primrose Girls, which is research on a group of workhouse orphan girls who were sent to Canada from Mountbellew, Co. Galway, as part of an assisted emigration scheme. On 16 July 1853, they sailed on the Primrose from Limerick, Ireland to Quebec, Canada, arriving on the 6th of September. The girls’ passage was paid for by the Workhouse Board of Guardians as part of the same scheme which earlier had sent girls to Australia. In Quebec they were taken in charge by the Emigration Agent at the port, A.C. Buchanan, and sent to Toronto and Hamilton, where immediate employment opportunities were available. Through DNA and research the researchers are hoping to reconnect the girls to their families with whom contact was lost 170 years ago.

14:00 – 15:30      Finding the Poor and Destitute Irish (All levels) with Brian Donovan

Poor relief, dispensed by the church, the state or private charities, was available in Ireland at almost all time periods. The poor relief records have left information about millions of impoverished people from all over the country. Often these records date from before the Great Famine (1845–52) with information unavailable anywhere else. Given that the poor Irish were the most likely to migrate to America, these records are an essential resource for Irish research, and Brian will explain how best to get the benefit of their information.

16:00 – 17:30      Hunting Through Matches (All levels) with Mia Bennett

In this talk, Mia aims to help you identify who your DNA matches are and hence where they fit within your family tree. Often people are faced with just a list of names and no idea how to make them useful in expanding their family tree. Mia will present various hints, tips, tools and techniques to help make each match useful. The talk will cover many aspects: known people; tools to identify common ancestors; approaching a new match; grouping matches; dealing with matches where only limited information is provided; identifying overlapping trees; building quick and dirty trees; searching for surnames and places; and keeping records. Mia will also explain potential pitfalls of some of the tools and techniques. The talk assumes that the audience is familiar with traditional family history research.


Mia Bennett

Mia Bennett

Mia Bennett has followed in her ancestors’ footsteps as an engineer for her “paid” job but loves using her analysis skills to investigate the fascinating world of her relatives. Based in England, she has been researching her family history for over 25 years.

Mia has been a trustee of the Society of Genealogists for over five years, running brick wall workshops, providing advice and working in the SoG library. She is also an associate of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. Mia carries out family history research and DNA analysis for clients and gives talks on traditional genealogy and DNA, including at RootsTech, Family Tree Live and on an Unlock the Past cruise. Science is at the fore with her interest in using DNA to solve older genealogical mysteries.
Gerard Corcoran

Gerard Corcoran

Gerard Corcoran IEEE, ISHG, ISOGG, GSI  heads Innovation and Research Partnerships for the Huawei Ireland Research Centre and was Senior Solutions Manager and Account Director for the Huawei Enterprise Business Unit in Western Europe with responsibility for Smart and Safe Cities.

He has over 40 years’ experience in the ICT industry with special focus on New and Emerging Technologies applied to the development of Smart and Sustainable Cities. He is founder of ISOGG Ireland, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, which has over 6,000 members mainly in the Irish Diaspora. He has researched a number of books on Irish monks in Europe in medieval times and their impact on European civilization.

Martin Curley

Martin Curley

Martin Curley is a full-time genealogist working in east Co. Galway, where he administers the East Galway Genealogy and DNA Facebook group and the GEDmatch East Galway Ancestor Project. He maintains a Facebook page, “Soghain Genes,” where he highlights findings from his research. 

He works with schools and community groups delivering workshops and talks on family history, local heritage in Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath. He aims to help re-establish the links with those especially who left during An Gorta Mor [the Great Famine] 1845–53 from east Galway—some who went to the British Isles, others to the Americas and Australia. Martin has successfully managed through DNA to reunite descendants of the orphan girls sent to Australia in 1852 with their kin in Galway and in the diaspora.

Brian Donovan

Brian Donovan

Brian is the Strategic Initiatives Manager at Findmypast. He lectured in history at Trinity College Dublin in the 1990s and since then has lectured worldwide on history, genealogy and digitization.

Brian’s experience in digital technology, as well as his background in history, helped motivate the founding of the well-known Irish genealogy company Eneclann (the Irish Family History Centre) in 1998. He formed the joint venture with the Scottish media organization DC Thomson that created Findmypast Ireland in 2010, and continues to help develop its Irish collections. Currently Brian is responsible for a range of global initiatives at Findmypast, involving new data, new markets and new opportunities.

Janet Few

Dr. Janet Few

Dr. Janet Few is an English genealogist and social historian who has lectured across the English-speaking world and at sea. Her particular interests include women’s history and the history of medicine.

Janet is very keen that our ancestors should be much more than just names and dates; she encourages family historians to set their ancestors within their social and geographical context. As well as writing articles for local, national and academic history and family history magazines, Janet has written several non-fiction books of interest to family historians, such as The Family Historian’s Enquire Within and Remember Then: Women’s Memories of 1946-1969 and How to Write Your Own. She has also published two based-on-fact historical novels, Barefoot on the Cobbles: a Devon tragedy and Sins as Red as Scarlet: a Devon Town in Turmoil.

Mags Gaulden

Mags Gaulden

Mags is an international genetic genealogy lecturer, blogger and a social media maven. She serves as Admin for Facebook groups, including the ISOGG Facebook Group.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Columbia College, she began to work on her own genealogy as a “hobby”. This 30-year “hobby” eventually led her to a Leader role with WikiTree, where she currently leads The DNA Project Innovators Team, The United Empire Loyalist Project, the Templeton and McElmoyle name studies and the Templeton and McElmoyle DNA group projects. Working with WikiTree led to Mags starting Grandma’s Genes in 2016. Through her non-profit work with, Mags and other genetic genealogists are providing a free and accessible YDNA and mtDNA database for the genealogy community, “Doing DNA Right.”

Edmund Gilbert

Dr. Edmund Gilbert

Dr. Gilbert is a postdoctoral researcher based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin, Ireland. He has a PhD in population genetics and genomics from the RCSI, University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Dr. Gilbert is interested in the impact that a population’s history has on its present-day genetic variation. This research works in the intersection of population genetics and history, as well as medical genetics research. His research background is with Irish and British genetics, both studying the general Irish and British populations as well as the genetics of the Irish genetic isolate, the Irish Travellers.
Maurice Gleeson

Maurice Gleeson

Maurice Gleeson is a psychiatrist and pharmaceutical physician as well as a genetic genealogist. He is administrator of several surname DNA projects, including the Gleason, Spearin, Farrell, Ryan, and O’Malley projects.

He works with adoptees and with people of unknown parentage and has appeared on Irish TV as a consultant for the TV series Adoption Stories. He authors several blogs (e.g. DNA and Family Tree Research), is a regular contributor to genealogical magazines, and posts YouTube videos on genetic genealogy. He has organized the DNA Lectures for Genetic Genealogy Ireland in Dublin and Belfast since 2013, as well as giving talks all over Ireland, the UK, and internationally. He was voted “Genetic Genealogist of the Year 2015” (Surname DNA Journal) and “Superstar Genealogist, Ireland” in 2016 (Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections).

Roz McCutcheon

Roz McCutcheon

Roz was born and brought up in Co. Cork and began researching family and local history in her teens.  Since graduating from Dublin University, she has lived in London, where she works as an actress and singer.

She is a Fellow and Vice-President of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (, which maintains its library in London, and has edited the society’s biannual newsletter since 1991. Roz has lectured extensively in the UK and Ireland, teaches classes at the Society of Genealogists in London, and also presented a paper at the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City in 2015. More recently, she has presented numerous online webinars.

Mark McGowan

Prof. Mark McGowan

Mark is a professor of history at the University of Toronto and the Principal and Vice-President of the University of St. Michael’s College. He has served UofT in various administrative capacities but is better known for his work in the social, religious, and migration history of Canada and Ireland.

Mark is the author of numerous award-winning books and articles on the history of the Catholic Church and the Irish. He was a primary contributor to the Ireland–Canada co-production of Death or Canada, which was based loosely on his book of the same name on the Irish Famine migration to Toronto in 1847. He is the recipient of four university teaching awards and is currently working on two book projects—one on Irish Famine orphans, and the other on the assisted migration from Strokestown, County Roscommon, to Canada, during the Great Irish Famine.

Chris Paton

Chris Paton

Chris Paton is a genealogist, tutor and writer based in Ayrshire, Scotland, who runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service at

As well as contributing to many of the UK’s best-known family history magazines, he also writes for his own Scottish GENES news blog and regularly gives talks to family history societies across the UK and worldwide. Amongst his recent publications are Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd edition), and Sharing Your Family History Online.

Gena Philibert-Ortega

Gena Philibert-Ortega

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, researcher and instructor whose focus is genealogy, social history and women’s history. She holds a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Women’s Studies) and a master’s degree in Religion.

Her published works include two books, numerous articles published in magazines and online, two volumes of Tracing Female Ancestors, Tracing Your Ancestors: Hispanic Research, and Tracing Your Ancestors: Tips & Tricks for Online Genealogy Research (for Moorshead Publishing) and a QuickGuide from Legacy Family Tree. She is the editor of the Utah Genealogical Association’s magazine Crossroads. Her writings can be found on her own blogs, Gena’s Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera, as well as on the GenealogyBank and Legacy Family Tree blogs. She is also a course instructor for The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Gena has presented talks to diverse groups worldwide, as well as virtually through the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series. 

Jim Ryan

Dr. Jim Ryan

Dr. James Ryan is a writer and publisher who has been active in Irish genealogy for the past 35 years. He founded Flyleaf Press in 1987 and this has now been merged with Ancestor Network.

His book Irish Records (published by Ancestry Inc.) has been a standard guide for Irish genealogists since its publication. Recently he has been researching rentals (i.e. records of tenant agreements and rent payments), which are an extensive resource in Ireland due to the dominance of large estates as land-owners. He gives regular presentations at genealogy conferences and has also written guides to researching in Dublin and in Sligo. He publishes a regular blog and also writes for Irish Roots magazine.

Kyla Ubbink

Kyla Ubbink

A professionally accredited book and paper conservator, Mrs. Ubbink owns and operates Ubbink Book and Paper Conservation and has been a practising conservator for the past 20 years.

She is a frequent speaker at conferences and provides workshops and lectures on preservation and conservation for both heritage professionals and enthusiasts. She regularly contributes to the Quebec Family History Society’s Connections magazine and has served on several boards and committees of heritage-related organizations.

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