Guest Article: Gerry O’Mahoney
Gerry O’Mahoney is our guest blogger. Gerry has a idea that links geneology with education. Below he tells the story of his business idea and how he plans to roll it out. You can contact Gerry at any of the contact details below the article.
“Anseo!” Probably more than any nation on earth, we have one word which has found its way into the daily vernacular and instantly puts all parties within earshot into a state of almost drunken nostalgia. Anseo indeed!
Irish Roll Books is a business idea that had it’s origins during a quiet moment of discussion between Gerry O’Mahony and John Tierney back in 2010, just as the Ardmore Pattern Festival was drawing to a close on a sunny July evening. Gerry had met with some people from the area who had come back to the village from their foreign abode to take in the atmosphere of this wonderful festival and these returning exiles were reminiscing about their days in the area and of people they used to know. Some of these people were still around, some were dead, and some were, like themselves, on foreign shores.
The chat also revolved around schooldays, who the classmates were, who the teachers were and so on. The thing is, some names had been forgotten, some dates had been forgotten and, in fact, some of the actual years of school attendance had been forgotten! That’s when the little business idea lurking in the mind of Gerry O’Mahony was first broached in public conversation.
Why not record the data in School Roll Books? Now when I say record, I mean scan or photograph the pages, then collate them properly, tag them properly and store the images safely and securely. By properly “tagging” the photographs, a search function can be enabled on wherever they are stored which would make searching for certain school years or pupils/teachers names all the more easier for those undertaking some family history or genealogy research. And it would safeguard the school records in case of fire, theft, vandalism etc.
Now there are certain data protection issues regarding the roll books that are less than 100 years old; a former pupil can only see entries where he/she are included so the recording of these books would simply be for archival purposes only. Books over 100 years old are not subject to any restriction and these ones are called Historical roll books, an essential tool for those carrying out detailed family research and genealogy. The service on offer would envisage recording the pages of ALL roll books for archival purposes, it would reduce the usage of the actual books thereby prolonging their lifespan and as stated earlier, it would make a search request all the more easier.
Irish Roll Books can do this service; but so can the schools themselves if taught how to do so, as each passing year a new book enters the 100 year arena and it would need to be added to the digital archive already there. The skills needed to do this can be taught, and a good knowledge of technology is all that is needed as a starting point.
Going back to my friend John Tierney who I mentioned earlier, he is a partner in Historic Graves, a company that teaches heritage groups and individuals how to record the data found on headstones and monuments in their own local graveyards. He has often said that my business concept would tie in well with the work he does, stating that those doing family research often want more information than simply a few dates on a slab. Having data from historical school roll books stored digitally within a community would give them that data. From Blackboard to Grave.
I think the idea has merit, as do many people I have spoken to in the history/genealogy/education field; after all, aren’t we being bombarded left right and centre about or heritage and the impending Gathering 2013 every day of the week? Books do not have an infinite lifespan whereas digital records can be easily updated and made compatible with any format. Will the books that are now 100 years old still be around in 2113? Digital archives will be.
Bio of Gerry O’Mahony
Presently unemployed but working towards a November 2012 launch of Irish Roll Books www.irishrollbooks.blogspot.com which will be a service aimed at National/Primary schools in Ireland. Born in 1960, Gerry is a well-known amateur photographer in the Waterford area and has an avid interest in family research and genealogy. Married with six children ranging in age from 21 down to six, he spent his early years in Monatrea in west Waterford but has lived in Ardmore, Co. Waterford since 1991. His two youngest children attend Ardmore N.S. which is 100 metres from home.