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Now we're all barking up family trees

AN RTE series tracing family history is fuelling a major surge in visitors to the National Archives.

Hundreds of people a week are turning into family detectives and copying the likes of Charlie Bird and Dana in tracking their own family heritage.

The show Who Do You Think You Are? saw Charlie Bird piece together six generations of his family from scratch -- his only starting point was a grandfather from Bermuda who brought electricity to Macroom.

And the programme Where Was Your Family During the Famine?, which saw Eddie Hobbs, Jasmine Guinness and John Waters searching for their family roots, is also responsible for the surge in interest.

"September seems to have been a particularly busy month, presumably on account of Who Do You Think You Are? and also the programme on the famine," said Aideen Ireland, head of reader services at the archives.

"Both of these programmes appear to have contributed to the increase. Wednesday in particular seems to be a very busy day, with about 100 people coming. It's a noticeable increase."


The fact that the Dublin census of 1911 is now online at the archives has also spurred interest in people checking their family backgrounds.

"We hope to have the Belfast census, with counties Antrim and Down and Kerry online next month," Ms Ireland said.

Staff are available at the archives to point visitors in the right research direction.

Professional genealogists are also employed to help trace the threads of family history.

The National Archives, in Bishop St, Dublin 8, is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm.

The archives says it cannot undertake research on behalf of members of the public, but it does provide a genealogy service where the public can consult a professional genealogist about sources relating to their family history. The service is free and operates the same opening hours as the reading room.

The entire census for 1901 and 1911 can be viewed in microfilm at the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) in Dublin (www.nationalarchives.ie).

The 1911 census for Dublin can be searched and viewed free of charge at www. census.nationalarchives.ie/

The six-part RTE documentary series 'Who Do You Think You Are?' will also feature Ardal O'Hanlon, Pamela Flood and Linda Martin and is screened on RTE 1 on Mondays.