Updated 8 Nov 1999
Transcribed from public records by Anita and posted to Genexchange County Cork mailing list and used here with her kind permission.
The following article about Mallow Heritage Centre appeared in the 14th October 1999 edition of the Mallow Star paper.
MALLOW HERITAGE CENTRE---CONNECTING PEOPLE WITH THEIR ANCESTRY.
Some readers may be vaguely aware that the parish of Mallow sponsored Diocesan Parish Centre Indexation Project has been up and running for several years, but what many people might not realize is that the project in the Parish Centre, Mallow is painstakingly transferring records from every parish in Cloyne onto computer, a total of 734,011 entries to date. Not alone that, public demand for details of ancestry is such that a special Heritage Office has been set up in a separate office in the Parish Centre, providing an invaluable service to visitors from all over the world.
The job of compiling a computerised database of church records began 12 years ago, and it really is a major task which is still continuing. Saranne Walsh O'Rourke, Director of the Heritage Centre told the Mallow Star that the indexation of church records from areas as far away as Youghal in the east and Ballyvourney in the west, is incredibly detailed, as each name has to be checked at least 7 times by a variety of workers. Each name is first checked, then checked again, then placed on computer, then checked again and again. Each check is carried out by a different person to ensure there is no human error, and at the end of all of that, every group of records is subject to an audit and is sent for re-indexing if found less than perfect.
The work of painstakingly transferring all of these records is carried out by FAS trainees, under the supervision of Co-Ordinator Mary Mullane and assistant coordinator Deirdre O'Brien. The trainees on the project are on a 6 month FAS Community Response Training Programme......
The indexation continues and Saranne Walsh O'Rourke says that with 12 years gone, the project could take another 12 years to complete, as the laborious task of transferring census records, graveyard indexes, school roll books, tithe applotments, etc. still has to be carried out.
In recent years with the rise in interest in genealogy, many people were calling to the Parish Centre seeking details of their ancestry, and it was decided last year to open a Heritage Office to deal with these enquiries. The office was set up with grant assistance from Blackwater Resources and since then has been extremely busy. Running the office has been Saranne Walsh O'Rourke with the assistance of Virginia Gould. The majority of queries come from Americans, followed by Australians and English and to a lesser extent, Irish people.........
The Office is certainly busy, and with the advent of email and the internet, Saranne says that things have gotten really hectic, to such an extent that there is an ever-lengthening waiting list.
Saranne, who hails from Dungarvan always had an interest in genealogy and after studying in Anthropology and History at College, did post graduate work in Anthropology and Irish Heritage. It was while on a field trip to heritage centres that she discovered you could find work in the field, and so began her career in Mallow, compiling a list of all the church records in the Cloyne diocese. She finds the work extremely rewarding, and says that sometimes people come from far away, hoping to find details of their ancestry, only to find that they have relatives alive and well and living in Ireland......
The work of the Indexation Project depends on the goodwill of several groups and individuals, and the Project singles out the support of the sponsoring body, consisting of, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan P.P., FAS, Martina Ahern, parish secretary, who has carried out research for many years at the Parish Centre; historian Christy Roche from Fermoy, and of course the co-ordinators and trainees themselves, all of whom have combined to provide an invaluable service which will benefit generations to come.