CLARE Roots Society has just released its 39th book with their publication, the Old Military Barracks; and it’s fair to say, what started as a genealogy group 15 years ago has become an incredibly prolific publishing group.
The Clare Roots Society was established in 2006 by local developer Larry Brennan. The Ennis man had been working on his family tree for a number of years when he had the idea to put an advert in The Clare Champion to find like-minded people. With a view to setting up a society, 16 people turned up for the first meeting at The Old Ground Hotel and the Clare Roots Society was formed.
Today the group has about 200 active members and 39 books have been published about local history, encompassing diverse subject such as the 1958 Carmody Hotel disaster, Drumcliff Graveyard, and many of the streets and residential areas of Ennis. The books introduce characters of County Clare’s past and tell their stories through story and photos. Currently, books on Hermitage and Parnell Street are being produced, which will tip the group’s repertoire to over 40.
They also host workshops on genealogy and a number of talks annually; one of which recently included a speaker who is the daughter of famed organist Ernest de Regge, who died in the Carmody Hotel incident.
While physical monthly meetings have in recent times become virtual events, John Bradley, PRO for the group, tells The Clare Echo that this has in fact expanded their reach worldwide. “We have about fifty overseas members. They’re very active particularly since we went on Zoom, they are very much with us so we want to continue with both the live meetings and also the zoom meetings.” He adds that the group works hand in hand with Clare Library, who he reserves great praise for.
John himself was born on the Clare Road in Ennis and says the group takes great pride in preserving history and helping people find out about their family history. The father of three, who once worked for the National Lottery, quips that he is so busy in the group that he hasn’t had any time to delve into his own family history, continuing “but it’s a great link in finding out your predecessors, their placing in the town or in the locality or what they worked at or what they lived on, where they lived and what were their circumstances and you know going back over the years, back over the generations you will find extraordinary things about your family, most of it good of course but some things that you wouldn’t have expected, something that wouldn’t want to be associated with.”
The Old Military Barracks book can be purchased at the Ennis bookshop, Mary Kelly’s, O’Connell’s Street or O’Connor’s Newsagents in the Market, selling at €15 each. To contact the Clare Roots Society, visit http://www.clareroots.org/ or find Clare Roots Society on Facebook.