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Hotel's 'family butler' helps guests trace roots

THE SHELBOURNE Hotel's genealogy butler is enjoying a boost in demand as tourists track the ancestral trail.

Celebrity family history TV show Who Do You Think You Are? has driven interest into research into family trees in the United States.

Helen Kelly, who has been involved in historical research for more than 20 years, is the world's only genealogy butler after the title was copyrighted by the hotel.

Mrs Kelly was appointed in 2007 and meets clients from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.

And despite the recession, Mrs Kelly is run off her feet.

In the course of an hour's advisory session, the expert assesses available information on ancestors and draws up a practical research plan.

"It's definitely gaining momentum," she said. "I have on average four or five meetings in one week."

Guests can sign up for the service online or when they book into the hotel.

"I ask them to fill out a form on their emigrant ancestors -- their name, year of birth, county of birth," she said.

"With that info I assess the sources available to me and provide a personal report."

From there Mrs Kelly encourages the guests to explore local historical amenities such as the archives in the National Library.

"I empower them to do further research in the various institutions or online," she said. "Everyone has a story to tell. It's hugely enjoyable."

There has been a renewed interest in tracing family history after the 1901 and 1911 census reports went online.

"I think that we should all take ourselves to the place where our ancestors lived, to find the essence of the diaspora," she said.

"Tourists want to know now and I can be with them within the space of an hour."

Mrs Kelly, served as a consultant at the Genealogical Office in Dublin and also engages in consultancy work at the genealogy advisory service in the National Archives.

The exclusive Genealogy Package starts from €309 per couple.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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