Extensive New Collection of 19th Century Irish Records   16 Mar 2012

15 per cent of Kiwis have Irish ancestry

• Comprehensive pre and post Irish Potato Famine collections now online

• Famous Irish Kiwis included in the collection are Hayley Westenra, Sir Edmund Hillary and the Finn brothers

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, Ancestry.com.au, New Zealand’s number one family history website, has added two new record sets to The Irish Collection - the definitive online collection of 19th century historical Irish records. These new collections will make it easier for the estimated 15 per cent of New Zealanders of Irish descent [The Irish In New Zealand: Historical Contexts and Perspectives by Dr Brad Paters (http://www.eastonbh.ac.nz/?p=479)] to explore their heritage this St Patrick’s Day.

There are now more than 35 million historical Irish records on Ancestry.com.au [Ancestry.com.au’s historical Irish record collection is comprised of historical collections and also Irish photographs and stories contributed by our members], including two million comprehensive upgraded records from critical periods prior to, and following the Irish Potato Famine, the single most significant event to drive 19th century global Irish diaspora.

The additions to The Irish Collection provide a unique insight into periods of mass emigration and will be a vital source not just for the many New Zealanders with Irish ancestry, but also for the estimated 80 million people worldwide who claim Irish heritage.

Ancestry.com.au New Zealand family historian Christine Clement comments: “New Zealand has strong historic ties to Ireland with no less than 10 per cent of New Zealanders having Irish roots. We have a rich history of immigration from all over the world and it is important that we not only celebrate our cultural diversity, but also explore its origin within our own families.

The Irish Collection is a ‘pot of gold’ for anyone wanting to uncover their Irish family stories.”

Famous New Zealand celebrities with Irish ancestry revealed by Ancestory.com.au, include:

Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) - the conqueror of Mt Everest’s grandmother Annie Clementina Fleming was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856.
The Finn Brothers – The Finn brothers grandfather Timothy Mullane was born in Limerick Ireland in 1894. In other records Timothy indicates that he was born about 1891 or 1892. Either Timothy was misinformed about his birth date, or wanted to be older than he was.
Hayley WestenraThe kiwi songstress’ 4x great grandfather, Reverend Francis T. Brady owned a cemetery and school in Ireland and was one of few immigrants to New Zealand who still owned property in their homeland.

There were several waves of immigration to New Zealand, starting with the arrival of British Imperial Regiments after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which resulted in large scale Irish settlement. Many of the soldiers were Irish and taking their discharge in New Zealand.

Royal New Zealand Fencibles were pensioned soldiers from Ireland and Britain who enlisted in the UK as a defense force for the protection of Auckland. They emigrated, often with their families, and between 1847 and 1852 alone, over 2,500 men, women and children, many of whom were Irish, arrived and settled across Auckland. In the early 1990s, it was estimated that 250,000 New Zealanders were descended from a Fencible family.

By 1851, one third [2,871 out of Auckland's population of 8,840, were of Irish background as documented in the 1851 NZ Census] of Auckland's population was of Irish background. This community continued to thrive, fuelled by the gold rush period of the 1860s, the Waikato Immigration Scheme, which was launched in a bid to bring large numbers of immigrants to help consolidate the land south of Auckland after the Land Wars, and the government’s Vogel Immigration Scheme of the 1870s.

The Irish Collection is available to UK Heritage Plus and World Heritage members. Those wishing to discover or learn more about their Irish ancestors can do so with a 14-day free access available at: www.ancestry.com.au/irishrecords.

You can share your Irish story with us on Twitter at #Irishheritage.


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