Monthly Archives: March 2014

Free Irish Newspapers You Can Search Online

Old Timey Newspaper

Newspapers are one of my favourite resources to search. Not only are they fun and interesting to read, but they provide a sense of the lives and concerns of their particular place and time that is unavailable in census reports and birth records. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and start reading a fascinating story about town politics or who won what at the county fair. They’re an excellent source of birth, death, and marriage announcements (especially useful if the civil registration records don’t exist or are unavailable) and you can discover some surprising information about your family (like I did when researching my ancestor Josiah Spriggs). You can also use them to learn about how world event effected the people in the community where your ancestors lived.

Newspapers are definitely worth your research time. Here is a brief list to get you started.

Richard Heaton’s Index to Digititalised [sic] British and Irish Newspapers Online Beta One of the wonderful things about the genealogy community is that its members are always creating content to help each other. Richard Heaton has created this index of digitized newspapers of the British Isles and Ireland. Not all the newspapers listed are free and some that are require membership to a library in the UK, but it’s an excellent place to start your search.

The Belfast Newsletter is available as an index, another example of genealogists helping genealogists.

An archive of Trinity News in Dublin from 1953 to 1970 has been digitized from the bound volumes of a private collection. The website also has a link to the newspaper (still in production) which has its own archive going back to 2008.

Villanova University Library has a searchable collection of historical Irish periodicals, mostly from the 19th and 20th century.

Eddie’s Extracts is yet another example of a genealogist’s hard work made available to us all, providing indexes and transcriptions of many different types of notices in local newspapers of Northern Ireland. Nick Redden is another genealogist whose newspaper extracts are worth a look.

Ireland Old News contains transcripts from, you guessed it, old Irish newspapers. It covers most counties, but its coverage varies greatly. However, they add new transcripts often, so it may be work bookmarking and checking periodically.

Not an Irish newspaper but it may be of use, The Boston Pilot ran a “Missing Friends” column from 1831 to 1921 in which Irish people could could post messages searching for lost friends and relatives who had emigrated to America. The collection is hosted and made searchable through Boston College.


If you’ve run through these free options and found yourself less than blessed of Irish luck, and you’ve decided to open your purse a little, a good option is the Irish News Archive. It provides access to over 40 papers from around Ireland covering 300 years of publishing. Costs run from €10 for 24 hour access to €350 for a full year. If you have a good idea of what you’re looking for (names, keywords, dates, location, etc.) or would be willing to binge search the archive for a few hours, you may find the results worth the cost of a 24 hour subscription.

What are your favourite resources for searching Irish periodicals?

Vintage Guinness Advertisements

There’s that old joke that an Irish seven course meal is a potato and a six-pack of Guinness. There is no question that Guinness is an iconic part of Irish heritage, not least because of it’s fun and clever advertising. Although it relied on word of mouth for most of its long history, it began launching ad campaigns at the end of the 1920s, many becoming so popular that even today they can be seen on posters in college dorm rooms throughout the world.

Some of the most iconic of the vintage Guinness ads are the ones attributed to John Gilroy, a graphic designer working at S H Benson, Ltd. His first published ad in 1928 started the “Guinness for Strength” campaign.

If St. George and the dragon both have a Guinness, won't they be evenly matched?

If St. George and the dragon both have a Guinness, won’t they be evenly matched?

Over the next 35 years he helped create nearly 50 poster designs for Guinness, including some of the brand’s most memorable. He is responsible for the various zoo animals (the toucan being the most famous) and for that (rather creepy) face in the beer froth that appeared regularly in ads from the 30s to the 60s.

So creepy

So creepy

Apparently the toucan was originally designed as a pelican balancing seven pints of Guinness on its beak for the “A Guinness a Day is Good for You” campaign, but it was redesigned as a pelican by Dorothy L Sayers who was part of the team that worked on the Guinness account.


Of course, more recent advertising standards have meant that Guinness hasn’t been able to use the “Guinness a Day” slogan in years, although some studies have suggested that a pint of Guinness may have similar effects to aspirin to reduce blood clots.

Although many of the ads are cute or silly, the brand has still made use of some of the usual tropes one expects to find in a beer ad.

Two Things