I have the great pleasure of introducing you to, Dara McGivern and her blog, Black Raven Genealogy, described as, “. . . Black Raven Genealogy is an Irish family history blog, created to share discoveries made while researching my ancestors. ‘Black Raven’ is the name of the house in Co. Dublin where I grew up. It has been home to our family since at least the 1850s. The cottage was probably named after a prize greyhound belonging to my great-grandfather and, as such, seemed a fitting name for a blog about my genealogy.”
How Dara Got Started in Genealogy
“Unlike so many other GeneaBloggers, I am a relative newcomer to the genealogy world and only started researching my family tree in the summer of 2011. My first blog post Welcome to Black Raven Genealogy sets out how my interest was initially sparked. Not being one to do anything by half-measures, I immediately signed up for a three year course in Genealogy at University College Dublin and graduated this year. It became clear early on that family history is more than the bare bones of genealogy’s dates, places and relationships and, while an amateur genealogist, like me, may well create an accurate, extended family pedigree, they will not be able to contextualise the results without an adequate grasp of relevant social and economic history. For this reason, in 2013, I also obtained an MA in History of Family from the University of Limerick.
Over the past few years, I have traced a number of my paternal and maternal lines back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Dublin, and so far have identified only one pair of potential fifth great-grandparents. Unless the family was titled or belonged to the landed-gentry class, this is about as far back as many of us with Irish ancestors can go. Irish genealogy is renowned for its challenges, making it occasionally infuriating, but nevertheless, extremely rewarding and I’m now completely hooked. Out of necessity, we use some fairly unusual record sets, adding an extra flavour to the research. For example, I am eagerly awaiting Findmypast’s release of our local court’s Dog Licence Register, which will hopefully reference my elusive great-grandfather, Michael Byrne, and his fore-mentioned famous greyhound. Just maybe, this register will contain the clue that will help me locate his origins. Wouldn’t that be something to write about!”
Dara’s Thoughts on Blogging
“Last September, with my MA dissertation out of the way, there was more time to spend on genealogy research. Some of the information being uncovered about our ancestors was amazing and I wanted to share it with my extended family. Blogging seemed the ideal medium and my family was very encouraging. Even those with no huge interest in their family history dip in and out occasionally. I love the interaction it generates when a story catches their imagination. And then there are the ‘new’ cousins that I hoped to encounter – thus far, half a dozen genealogy cousins have contacted me, all as a result of this blog. Not bad for my first year! Some just wanted to say ‘hi’, some provided the clue that helped to solve a family mystery and others shared a wealth of family memorabilia and photos with me. Priceless!”
Dara’s Tips for New Bloggers
“Join GeneaBloggers! Soon after my first post, my uncle Colm commented that he thought I was very brave, saying it took a lot of effort and commitment to make a blog successful. Brave? I knew nothing about blogging and the thought of ‘failure’ hadn’t even occurred to me. I had absolutely no idea if I was on the right path or not and had never expected that anyone unrelated to my family would ever want to read my posts. Then, I discovered GeneaBloggers. This led to a myriad of other genealogy blogs and bloggers, each providing example and know-how, not to mention a ready flow of engaging stories. Blogging is so much more fun when someone, in addition to family, reads your posts, so it was great to become part of this community. I appreciate everyone that comments on my blog and I’m most grateful to my friend Ellie from Ellie’s Ancestors for offering so many words of encouragement and support, especially during my early blogging days. It is wonderful to hear from others who share my enthusiasm for family history.”
Dara’s Favorite Blog Posts
“My personal favourite may well have been one that I wrote earlier this year, entitled ‘Some truth in our family lore’. It was fascinating to see how events occurring nearly 150 years ago shaped the stories still told in our family today, particularly as they occurred more than 10,000 miles from Dublin. I wrote this post while still high with excitement from having finally found my third great-grandfather, John Radcliffe, who had vanished in the 1850s. Phyllis, my new friend and third cousin, read my post lamenting his disappearance and decided to help. She located John’s death record in Victoria, Australia, thus opening up a whole new avenue for further research. My first cousin, Aileen, then obtained the register of his burial and a photograph of his gravesite. Another unforeseen perquisite of blogging is having someone help with the research!”
Dara’s Favorite Ancestors
“Undoubtedly, every family historian would struggle to answer this question, or the answer they gave might vary over time. Currently, I am drawn to my Dad’s maternal grandmother, born Mary Agnes Donovan, probably in Dublin in the 1850s. Following Mary Agnes’s ancestral trail has been exceptionally enjoyable, peppered as it was with just enough hints to maintain a search, but with the occasional breakthroughs as reward. I wrote about identifying her in two posts entitled ‘Finding Lena’s mother’ Part 1 and Part 2 and am now plugging away at trying to prove her maternal lineage. Mary Agnes was supposedly a talented pianist and was said to have played piano accompaniment in the silent movies and in Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Someday, it would be great to find documentary evidence of this and maybe even a photograph of the lady herself.”
What Dara Loves Most About Genealogy
“Like many others, what I love most about genealogy is the detective work, starting with what little is known, searching for further clues, evaluating all the information and finally, hopefully, finding that piece of corroborating evidence that either makes or breaks the case.”
An Additional Message from Dara
“Thank you for inviting me to participate in the ‘May I Introduce to You’ series and the opportunity to ‘meet’ other GeneaBloggers. Céad míle fáilte or, one hundred thousand welcomes, to everyone that drops by ‘Black Raven’ to say hello.”
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Please take a moment to head on over to Dara’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Dara, it’s great to have you here!
© 2015, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.