Monday, 9 August 2010

Response on birth/baptism issue on IFHF site

I mentioned on July 30th that I had made a purchase on the new Roots Ireland website and had been horrified to discover that civil birth records transcriptions for Belfast were being issued from the site with only a baptism date and not a birth date, despite the fact that both had been issued on the website of the Ulster Historical Foundation, which had supplied the records to the IFHF. Following an irritating automatic response telling me that the site was truly wonderful, I queried the point again, and this morning received a welcome response from a human being!

Dear Chris

Thanks for your email and sorry for the auto response.

The vast majority of the records we have only have one valid date - usually the date of birth, but some also have the date of baptism, and in some cases only the date of baptism is recorded.

Therefore we display one date as the date of Baptism/Birth and in most cases this is the date of birth. If both dates do exist the software will display the birth date. However you have uncovered a bug in this for the UHF records which had its dates formatted differently such that the date of baptism was being displayed in preference to the date of birth.

This has now been corrected, and if you re-view your purchases, it should show the correct date of birth.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused and please let me know if you have any further questions.


I am very grateful to the IFHF for responding. The site is now a wonderful and much superior resource compared to its previous incarnation, and I no longer have a problem recommending it, but I do find it a pity still that if both dates are available in a record, only one is being issued online. Thankfully the birth date is now the default, and not the baptismal date, which to me is genealogically more important, though both of course tell their own story. I'm just not sure why there would be a problem giving both - the UHF does, after all. I asked if in due course this might be something that the IFHF can have another look at, and received the response "We endeavour to the make the site as user friendly as possible, and combining the data from so many sources has been challenging. We will look into displaying both date of birth and date of christening when available." Which is fair enough.

I did in fact make another query to IFHF about a separate issue - and on that one I was wrong. I had made another purchase on birth/baptism records in south Kilkenny for the kids of another couple, and had received eight responses. The following day I did the same search, and discovered ten returns, but was told I had only paid for eight, and would need to pay for the additional two. I thought the searches were the same - but in fact they were not.

In the first search I had placed the child's surname and both forename and surname of the each parent as the search parameters, and received eight hits. However, I had also narrowed it down geographically to Carrick-on-Suir (CP), the setting for the town's civil records database. On the following day, I repeated the search, but instead of selecting Carrick-on-Suir (CP), I left it on all county basis, and found ten responses. So why the other two? Very simple - they were held on a different database, Carrick-on-Suir (RC), the Roman Catholic baptisms for the parish, hence why I was asked for another 8 Euros. In fact, I completely agree with that approach, as the flexibility to discern between civil and religious parish records is useful to have. If they were combined, you might find sixteen records returned on a search, and then discover eight of those are civil records and the other eight the baptism records - and if you are budget conscious, you may be happy to settle for just one set. So fair play to the IFHF for setting me right on that one - and it is a useful lesson that you should perform the searches on different criteria before selecting which you wish to pay for.

So I'm a happy bunny once again, and only too happy to recommend the site at!

UPDATE: the site has now added Cork, Mayo and Donegal to its Advanced Search capability.

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