During the last few years I have been conducting research to identify new useful sources that can be included in the guides published by Flyleaf Press, which is my little publishing operation. It is a very interesting process. Rather than looking for a person within the records, I look at all sorts of records and assess how useful they might be as a family history source. My main search has been in the huge range of manuscripts in the National Library of Ireland and in the National Archives. For our Sligo guide for instance, there were 972 items related to Sligo in the National Library database, and 708 of these are manuscripts.
The process is simply to look at all of these (except the pedigrees which are clearly relevant) in the hope that there may be some useful material which has not been made available to date. There are wonderfully varied and interesting records, and it is strangely restful to examine these papers without the urge to scan every list for a particular name. Success is finding a new list, not in finding a person in a list. However, a dilemma which regularly presents itself is: How many names should a source contain to be worthy of mention in our guides? A rental with 80 names (particularly pre-1840s) is definitely worth a mention, but what about a list of 12 people who were given permission to cut turf, or a list of 8 servants in some big house? Even one name could be critical to somebody’s research, but it is not feasible to mention every tiny source. What we propose to do is to print the entire list in our Flyleaf Press blog for anyone to access. So far we have posted 3 such sources: (a) 39 schoolchildren in Tarbert, Co. Kerry in 1809 and (b) a 22 tradesmen and workers in farm accounts in Gorey, Co. Wexford area in 1856; (c) Labourers on the Spring-Rice Estate, Mount Trenchard, Limerick (Shanagolden area) in 1808. More will follow and if you can make a connection with some of these people, please let me know. I would love to know that these lists had been useful to someone. See www.flyleaf.ie/blog.