Tracing ancestors from time of Irish Potato Famine

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ANYONE who researches their family history secretly goes into it, I suspect, with hopes of turning up the glamorous or wealthy, or just plain eccentric.

Yet for many,their roots lie in places and periods that knew only great hardship.

The National Archives has just announced that its partners, Findmypast, have published on-line, from its collection, the Poverty Relief Loans Records, which may interest many of the people round here who have Irish ancestry.

The Irish Reproductive Loan Fund was a privately funded initiative, established in 1824, to provide small loans for what were described as “the industrious poor.”

There were people affected by poverty and hunger, the collection of almost 700,000 records covering, as they do, the period of the Irish Potato Famine.

Contained in handwritten ledgers and account books, they are reckoned to give a valuable insight into the experiences of families at that time, from which sprang the Irish diaspora.

The records are available to search and download on-line, and can illuminate aspects of people’s lives.