I was delighted to allocate a capital grant of up to €100,000 to the Representative Church Body (RCB) Library in Churchtown for the digitisation of Church of Ireland Parish Registers under the cultural Digitisation Scheme. These register records, some dating back to the early 1600's, are held by the library.
The RCB Library holds the Church of Ireland parish registers for baptism, marriage and burial. This includes 1,110 sets of parish records, approximately 840 of which contain varying quantities of public records which have not yet been digitised.
These unique records can be used to determine the nature of family relationships for a variety of legal, medical, social and research purposes. Church of Ireland Parish Registers also have a wide social and religious scope; for example, former US President Barack Obama is one of several presidents of the United States with Irish Protestant identity.
I was delighted to provide funding for the Representative Church Body Library’s project to digitise Church of Ireland Parish Registers, as part of the wider cultural Digitisation Scheme. This digitisation project will make it possible for people all over Ireland and indeed the world to access these unique records as they represent an important body of evidence about the Church’s history.
Digitisation of this type also provides a vital channel to connect with our Diaspora – which is estimated to be up to 70 million people worldwide – and in turn encourages cultural tourism.