rish research is made infinitely easier by the very existence of the Family History Library (FHL), created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons). The amount of reference material available through your local FHC (local branch of the FHL) is truly staggering. Five million genealogical records on individual families, and over thirty three million index cards plus one of the most active and comprehensive microfilming programs ever known to the world have made the Family History Library a genealogist's Mecca. Photographers are filming daily in locations the world over. Nearly half a million rolls of microfilm have been accumulated and several thousand new rolls are processed each month. Both microfilm and microfiche are available to the researcher on a rental basis almost literally in his or her own backyard.
The church's interest in genealogy stems from their belief that "Ordinances for the Dead" are a necessary part of providing the gospels for the spirits as a means of salvation. It is therefore incumbent on church members not only to save their own souls through the gospels, but also, by tracing their ancestors, to provide salvation for the dead. The church has micro-film copies of birth, marriage, and death records for the whole of Ireland.
As I ended my third visit to my nearest FHC, I was disillusioned, disheartened and thoroughly confused. It took several months before I realized that it was not the responsibility of the volunteer staff to teach me how to use and understand their collection. That responsibility was my own. Volunteers are people who come in all shapes and sizes and have varying degrees of knowledge. Because of the enormity of the collection available through the FHCs, it would be impossible for any volunteer to have a thorough knowledge of the entire collection. So, if you have decided that your curiosity about your Irish ancestors must be satisfied, your first step will be to learn about the Library itself.
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