Friday, January 22, 2010

Taking Leave of my Census

I have a new addiction, guys, and this one is a bit shameful.

I've become obsessed with the online, super-shiny, digitised Irish National Census for 1911.

Since I have very few Irish commenters on here (I like to pretend I have lots of quiet readers out there, and perhaps some of them are Irish. . .), I don't know why I'm sharing it. It's of limited interest to anyone who isn't a Hibernophile, but I'm having fun with it.

You bookish folks might be interested in Oliver St. John Gogarty's return, where he forgets that he's married. Here's Sean O'Casey, his return written in Irish, in the proper old script, so it's difficult to read. Joyce's da, John Stanislaus Joyce, was living with two of Joyce's sisters while the man himself was in Trieste. And here's Yeats, staying in a hotel with Lady Gregory just opposite Trinity College. There is a short article here on literary life in Dublin in 1911.

I found my grandmother, the one I never met, aged 11 months old, entered on her parents' census return.

I discovered that the first flat I ever rented with friends (in an old Georgian conversion in the south of Dublin city) was occupied by a large Jewish family, as was half of the street. That part of Dublin has quite a rich Jewish history and heritage, which I've always wanted to read more about, and that connection has just made it much more personal.

And the tenuous link to writing that will justify this post appearing on my books-and-writing blog? Erm. It's a good resource for character names, I suppose. Will that do? :)


  1. Ellen, that's an AMAZING link. Thanks so much! I just found both my grandfathers - my dad's dad was eighteen in 1911 (he'd surely have died in WWI if he was English) and my mum's dad was only three. So strange to see the handwriting!

  2. Well I don't live anywhere near Dublin, but I love that I am following a Dublin writer!

  3. Hi

    Oh it's great that you found your grandmother and lots of other interesting stuff like the history of your first flat.

    Censuses (Censi? :-)) are fabulous archival resources! I've catalogued a few..! So was lucky enough to be able to browse through them whilst doing so. Amazing things.

    And such stark fascinating facts too
    I like that Yeats' occupation is listed as "Dramatic author and poet".

    I don't blame you at all for getting hooked on them. They're fascinating.

    Take care

  4. I totally get that. YES, it's good for character names and ideas and visions and history and and and... lots and lots.

    Divine stuff!

  5. Valerie, I'm so glad you liked the link. The biggest thing that struck me was that there are columns for 'Children Born Alive' and 'Children Still Living'. It's strange to think how different life was then.

    Karen, that's something I love about blogging, connecting with people from different places. Utah seems to be especially well represented on my follow list :)

    Kitty, your job sounds like such fun!

    And Shelby, thanks for adding your voice to those who say I am not mad :p

  6. You have Utah followers? They're just copying me, I was first!

  7. I have at least one other apart from you, Karen, but clearly you started the trend :)

  8. I started studying the 1911 and the 1901 about three years ago. Found five generations of family in Tralee and Lismore. Spent a full week in Lombard house, the National Archives and the Irish National Library. Had thoughts of writing a story about my maternal grandmother. It is addictive stuff. Spent all my time searching and very little writing!!!

  9. I haven't seen any of the 1901 yet. I went into the archives once a few years back, before anything was digitised, and saw the returns on microfilm.

    It does get so addictive though :)


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