Thursday, 30 May 2019

Ireland Has Longest List of PeopleYou Cannot Marry Amongst EU Countries. Why?

OPINION PIECE
According to the Central Statistics Office, approximately 22,000 marriages are registered in Ireland annually. While the figures for 2018 have yet to be released, over 1,500 same-sex marriages have already been registered since the commencement of the Marriage Act 2015. However, although same-sex marriage is now recognised, various other categories of couples are still prohibited from marrying under Irish law.
On the basis of "consanguinity" - from the same bloodline -  a woman is prohibited from marrying a range of blood relatives including her grandfather, father, uncle, brother, son, grandson or nephew. Equivalent prohibitions apply to men.
On the basis of "affinity" - having a previous marriage to a person - a woman is not permitted to marry certain step-relatives or in-laws such as the former husband of her grandmother, mother, aunt, daughter, niece or granddaughter. She is equally prohibited from marrying her former husband's grandfather, father, uncle, son, nephew or grandson. Again, equivalent prohibitions apply to men. 
For centuries, a person was also prohibited from marrying their brother- or sister-in-law. Robust campaigning throughout much of the 19th century led to legislative reform in the early 1900s permitting such marriages where the spouse was deceased.
While the resulting legislation continued to prohibit a person from marrying the sibling of a divorced (as opposed to deceased) spouse, the High Court effectively removed this restriction in its 2006 decision in O’Shea and O’Shea v Ireland & the Attorney General.
Despite this limited relaxation of the prohibitions, the range of forbidden relationships in Ireland is still much wider than in many other countries. Although most jurisdictions generally prohibit relationships between a person and their direct ancestor or descendant, as well as relationships between brothers and sisters, marital relationships between aunts/nephews or uncles/nieces are often allowed.
Whatever the merits of lifting the restrictions on such consanguineous or blood relationships, it is the legitimacy of the prohibitions on the basis of affinity that is especially open to question in Ireland.
In England and Wales, relationships between in-laws are allowed and the only prohibited relationships based on affinity are those between a step-parent and step-child or step-grandparent and step-grandchild.
In Canada and Australia, there are no limits placed on the ability of a couple related by affinity to marry and all such restrictions have been abolished.
In 2015, then Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, signalled that her department and the Department of Social Protection were considering a review of the law in this area, cautiously acknowledging that the prohibitions preventing in-laws from marrying "may be outmoded".
It is hard to see what good is served by these prohibitions based on affinity and the government would do well to pursue such a review.
Any resulting reform would arguably represent the last step in the modernisation of Irish marriage law. Since the introduction of divorce in 1996, incremental constitutional and legislative amendments have reformed not only who can marry whom but also the ways in which couples may choose to get married.
Facilitated by this evolving regulatory framework, and no doubt reflecting wider social changes in Ireland, Irish marriage practice has changed dramatically in recent years.
The most remarkable shift is the fall in the number of religious marriage ceremonies conducted. In 1987, 96.5 percent of all marriage ceremonies conducted in Ireland were religious ceremonies. 20 years later, this share had fallen to 77 percent.
Statistics for 2017 show a further decline with just 63 percent of couples choosing a religious ceremony. In light of its former dominance,  it is unsurprising that the single biggest fall in this category has been recorded for marriages conducted according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church.
In contrast to 1987 when 93.3 percent of all marriages involved Roman Catholic ceremonies, just over half (50.9 percent) of all marriages conducted in the State in 2017 were according to Roman Catholic marriage rites. 
Yet not all religious denominations in Ireland are witnessing declines.
Although just a tiny fraction (0.3 percent) of all marriages solemnised in 1987 were according to the rites of religions other than the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland or the Presbyterian Church, the diversity of "other religions" represented in modern marriage practice – and the volume of marriages solemnised by such religions, which now stands at 5.1 percent – is striking.
Over 1,000 marriages are solemnised annually by the Spiritualist Union of Ireland alone. 
Notwithstanding these gains for minority religions, it is clear that the fastest growing marriage ceremonies in Ireland are secular ceremonies.
First recognised through the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2012, secular marriage ceremonies are most commonly conducted by the Humanist Association of Ireland.
Despite their relative novelty in the Irish wedding market, statistics for 2017 show such secular ceremonies now account for almost eight percent of marriages. The final category of marriage ceremony, namely civil ceremonies conducted by a civil registrar, represent a steady 28 to 29 percent of marriage ceremonies conducted each year in Ireland. This is a stark contrast to 1987 when civil ceremonies accounted for just 3.5 percent of all marriage ceremonies performed. 
However a marriage is celebrated, it continues to hold legal, cultural, social and (often) religious importance for couples in Ireland. In this context, it is hoped that reform will be forthcoming to remove any archaic and unjustifiable barriers, such as those based on affinity which prevent partners from becoming spouses under Irish law.
Source Kathryn O’Sullivan, University of Limerick

Monday, 8 April 2019

David Norris On 40 Years of Saving North Great George’s Street



David Norris outside his home in North Great George's Street

In the mid-1970s I was running a gay disco on Parnell Square. Numbers began to fall dramatically and it turned out that two enterprising capitalists had opened a commercial disco just around the corner. I had never heard of North Great George’s Street but I went round to case the joint. Once in the street I fell in love with it and decided to purchase a house, which I did in the autumn of 1978.
Shortly after the purchase I was walking down the street one evening when I saw lights on on a first floor with two people, Brendan and Josephine O’Connell, up on scaffolding restoring a magnificent Rococo ceiling. They saw me looking, Josephine opened the window and shouted down to me. She and Brendan invited me in to admire the work and have a slice of her home-made apple pie.
I discovered that there were already people restoring but in isolation. There were people such as Harold Clarke, Desiree Shortt (whose house number at number 38 has what I consider the finest 18th-century doorcase in Dublin) and Tom Kiernan. 
I am a political animal and I decided we needed concerted action. I called a meeting in my house in June 1979 and so the North Great George’s Street Preservation Society was born in my drawing room on that day. Within a short space of time we attracted attention, and Lewis Clohessy of the Heritage Council gave us a grant of £3,000. Some members wanted small individual grants but I persuaded them that we should blow the lot on a public exhibition. 
Exhibition
We used a lot of before-and-after photographs to show what could be done. We featured an exploded map of Dublin as the centrepiece showing Parnell Square in the middle with Dominick Street and its attendant stable lane Dominick Place on one side, North Great George’s Street on the other with its attendant stable lane Rutland Place. The two once-magnificent 18th-century streets were therefore demonstrated as direct parallels.
There was a photograph of Dominick Street in 1909 and one showing the devastation caused by corporation demolition. On the other side was a photograph of North Great George’s Street in 1909 and a contemporary photograph with a large question mark. I wrote a booklet for the exhibition, illustrated by Tom Kiernan. It was a huge success, drawing the presence of the lord mayor of Dublin and government ministers.

The house next door to me was in great trouble, with the back wall held up by raking shores (temporary supports). Dublin Corporation had tried to resolve the situation but without success. I laid in wait and built up a case which was ultimately successful, with the owners ordered to rebuild the back wall and restore the house.
I also continued the battle for the conservation of Georgian Dublin in the Senate, pointing in particular to the problematic fate of properties numbers five and six on the street. They once housed the Revenue Commissioners social club, which caused a lot of late-night disturbance and which I put out of operation by another court action. Despite the minister’s assurance I went around one day and found a lorry at the back of the properties with a wrecking ball ready to go. I got the minister out of a meeting and the wreckers were called off.
Ownership transfer
I got myself involved in the positive transfer of ownership of a number of houses in the street. I did this by researching who the 18th-century builders were, who did the plasterwork, the extent of that plasterwork, who currently owned the building and whether it could come on the market. Altogether I calculate I have been involved in the cases of 12 out of the 48 houses on the street.
One of these was Thomond House. When I got the house sold the owner was very grateful and asked for my fee. I said there was no fee but that I had noticed that the lock on the back of the door matched exactly where a similar lock had been removed from my door before I bought the house. A screwdriver and some elbow grease later and my front door is now graced by a magnificent 18th century brass-bound mahogany lock.
One of the other buildings under great threat was number 35, once the home of the earls of Kenmare. I knew that James Joyce had been educated at the top of the street in Belvedere College and that his brother Charles had lived at the lower end. There was good chance therefore that number 35 was mentioned in Ulysses, and so it was. In 1904 number 35 was the location of the dancing academy of Prof Denis J Maginni, a colourful eccentric who floats through several episodes of Ulysses. This was enough to prise it out of the corporation and over the years we have gathered several million euro for the restoration, which is now complete. 

Another house in whose sale I was involved was number 50. The house had magnificent plaster ceilings and original door fittings. When I went in first I was very concerned about some large bulges in the wallpaper. I feared that what was concealed was a massive outbreak of dry rot. However, when I pulled the paper away it revealed some wonderful classical plasterwork featuring masonic symbols in mint condition.
The lower end of the street contained several sites of dereliction and a number of distressed houses. I first tried to rescue the surviving houses by proposing a hostel for university students. This failed because of insurance problems and a lack of interest from the universities. The corporation then proposed a set of out-of-scale local authority housing. I possessed myself of a copy of the plans and leaked them to The Irish Times, which put them on the front page under an ironic caption “Corporation Georgian?”. I had rescued four doorcases from the demolished houses and while I kept the one that stood at the door of Charles Joyce’s home and re-erected it in my garden, I gave the others to the corporation to use as models for the reinstated houses which I eventually persuaded them to build. 
The most controversial project was the proposed erection of a set of wrought-iron gates or railings at the lower end of the street. This came to me in a dream and when I recounted it to the society I got unanimous backing. The architect John O’Connell and I conducted a search and actually found a set of superb gates. These were late 18th-century wrought-iron with lantern emplacements. They had been the garden gates of Santry Court and belonged to Pino Harris, who generously donated them to the society. 
Irish begrudgery
However, the gates provided the classic opportunity for Irish begrudger. A tiny dissident element stirred things up and a petition was launched with names from all over Ireland and the UK, most of whom had never set foot in North Great George’s Street at all. Some letters indeed were even forged. Leaflets were distributed suggesting that we were a collection of snobs intent on excluding the lower orders. This was the reverse of the truth. In fact, the idea was to stop the rat run of stolen cars, and to privilege pedestrian access by leaving the side gates on the pavement open 24/7. 
This did not prevent newspapers printing dishonest illustrations showing the street closed to pedestrian access. Moreover there was a social aspect to the question that was not the one suggested. In truth there were many corporation estates in the immediate vicinity that had a closed access to their streets for precisely the same reasons. A compromise was eventually reached, the street is now one way and trees have been planted at the lower end. Some of the trees have died and the others obscure the view of the street and Belvedere, which the railings would not have done. I have inquired several times about the fate of the gates but they appear to have disappeared and may even have been destroyed.
I felt that since a major policy of mine had been defeated I had no option but to resign while remaining loyal to the society. We have had half a dozen chairman since then, including the present chairman, Tom McKeown. One of most outstanding was Muireann Noonan. She initiated the window box competition and she also entered us for a national competition, Pride of Place, which we won.
Over the years I have been asked to engage in fire-brigade action to save Georgian buildings. I have given moral support but I refused to let my focus stray from North Great George’s Street. I felt that if we succeeded in North Great George’s Street this would provide a valuable headline for other restoration projects. After 40 years, and refreshed by new members, the North Great George’s Street Preservation Society is going strong and fighting the good fight. Happy birthday.
Source: The Irish Times

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Don't Panic! Don't Panic!


As the Brexit drama unfolds, we have been inundated with queries from the UK regarding people waiting to receive the birth certificate of an Irish relative so they can apply for an Irish passport.
We are working through the huge voulme of applications presently but the volume of applications is unprecedented
However some applicants seem to be particularly anxious to obtain their certificate because they are under the impression that they must apply for the Irish passport BEFORE the UK leaves the EU.
It is worth taking note that the Irish State has always allowed people to apply for an Irish passport through providing proof they have descent through having a relative born in Ireland.
This service was offered BEFORE the UK voted to leave the EU.
It will continue to be available f the UK leaves the EU.

It will continue to be available if the UK does not leave the EU
It will continue to be available if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.
And it will continue to be available if the UK leave the EU without a deal.
In the words of Lance Corporal Jones - "Don't panic, don't panic! " - because there is no closing date for applications for Irish passports.


Saturday, 9 March 2019

A Marriage Certificate: A Key to Finding Irish Birth Records


We have received many queries from applicants in the UK and the US who are trying to locate the birth records of their Irish parents and grandparents to apply for Irish citizenship and hence an Irish passport.


Many applicants have sparse details about their Irish relatives but we recommend that people seek out the marriage certificate of their Irish relatives BEFORE applying for a Irish Birth Certificate for that long forgotten Irish ancestor.
A Marriage Certificate - from Ireland or indeed any country - can be a source of valuable information when trying to track down Irish relatives.
Firstly the certificate may give the date of birth of the Bride and Groom, a piece of information many applicants lack.
Alternatively the Marriage Certificate may give the AGE of the Bride and Groom on their wedding date, allowing the searcher to estimate a relatives year of birth.
In some cases the marriage certificate will state both parties to the marriage were FULL AGE at the date of marriage.
This means both parties were 16 years of age or over on their wedding day, which means you can estimate a rough year of birth so you discount any year of birth that makes them less than 16 on the year of the wedding date.
The marriage certificate will also provide the name of the Father of the Bride and Groom AND their Father's occupation.
The occupation of a father can be very useful when trying to sift through birth entries that are near matches to a sought birth record.
Some later marriage certificates MAY include the names of the mother's of the wedding couple.
Finally some marriage certificates will state where the Bride and Groom were born in Ireland which is another vital jigsaw piece when tracing an Irish ancestor.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Long & Short Birth Certificates? What is the difference?


A Long Birth Certificate is not about the length of the document, but about the CONTENT of the birth certificate.
A long form birth certificate has a person's name, date of birth, place of birth, parent's names and address.
Depending on when the birth was registered it may have one parent's occupation, or both.
The certificate itself tended to be a rectangular shape in varying sizes through the years from 1864.
Short Birth Certificates were A5 in size and ONLY contained a person's name, date of birth, place of birth and no more.
With computerisation of birth, death and marriage records in Ireland in 2004, short birth certificates were no longer issued, all certificates were issued in A4 format, and records registered from April 2004 were no longer recorded by hand in phyiscal Registers.
Short certificates are no longer used and are not acceptable for passport application.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Mystery Surrounds Burren Settlement Excavated by Archaeologists


When a prehistoric people built a large settlement in the Burren up to 3,000 years ago, why did they choose a mountain-top with no running water?

Was it the closest point to a sky god, or was the location selected for some type of ancient gathering or “Dáil”?
“Truly one of the most enigmatic places in Irish prehistory” is how NUI Galway (NUIG) archaeologist Dr Stefan Bergh describes the exposed summit of Turlough Hill in northeast Clare.
His team secured Royal Irish Academy funding for a three-week excavation of a settlement of some 160 circular huts, bordered by a large burial cairn and two large labyrinthine enclosures of stone.
Turlough Hill, overlooking Galway Bay to the north and west and the Slieve Aughty mountains to the east, is the only Burren summit to have evidence of hilltop residence.
It is one of only two of its type on the island, with the second being in Co Sligo.
Whereas a typical prehistoric settlement comprises two or three dwellings, this is the size of a “housing estate”. Blue gentians are currently blooming within the foundations of the huts built across two halves of the summit footprint.

Slabs of stone were set along the hut edges, with hazel posts possibly used for skin cover. Most of the huts have a defined entrance or are conjoined with one other in “semi-detached” fashion.
The settlement was not defensive, Dr Bergh believes, although the summit’s distinctive “rim”, comprising an eight-metre-high cliff face, serves as a type of natural “moat”.
The larger of the two enclosures, built some distance from the settlement, is 140m in diameter. It has 10 entrances, and is not a hillfort, Dr Bergh says.
“Its location and construction could suggest that it might have been some sort of gathering place for two different peoples,” he says.
When a prehistoric people built a large settlement in the Burren up to 3,000 years ago, why did they choose a mountain-top with no running water?
Was it the closest point to a sky god, or was the location selected for some type of ancient gathering or “Dáil”?
“Truly one of the most enigmatic places in Irish prehistory” is how NUI Galway (NUIG) archaeologist Dr Stefan Bergh describes the exposed summit of Turlough Hill in northeast Clare.
His team secured Royal Irish Academy funding for a three-week excavation of a settlement of some 160 circular huts, bordered by a large burial cairn and two large labyrinthine enclosures of stone.
Turlough Hill, overlooking Galway Bay to the north and west and the Slieve Aughty mountains to the east, is the only Burren summit to have evidence of hilltop residence.
It is one of only two of its type on the island, with the second being in Co Sligo.
Whereas a typical prehistoric settlement comprises two or three dwellings, this is the size of a “housing estate”. Blue gentians are currently blooming within the foundations of the huts built across two halves of the summit footprint.
Semi-detached
Slabs of stone were set along the hut edges, with hazel posts possibly used for skin cover. Most of the huts have a defined entrance or are conjoined with one other in “semi-detached” fashion.
The settlement was not defensive, Dr Bergh believes, although the summit’s distinctive “rim”, comprising an eight-metre-high cliff face, serves as a type of natural “moat”.
The larger of the two enclosures, built some distance from the settlement, is 140m in diameter. It has 10 entrances, and is not a hillfort, Dr Bergh says.
“Its location and construction could suggest that it might have been some sort of gathering place for two different peoples,” he says.

What is even more curious, in his view, is the absence of a regular water supply, and the fact that the occupiers left little or no trace of their activities.
In excavations of several of the huts over the past three weeks, the team has found samples of charcoal and hazelnut shells, along with a hearth for cooking, but no pottery or toolmaking material to date.
The charcoal and shells will be sent to Uppsala in Sweden for radiocarbon dating, according to site director Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin and site supervisor Dr Noel McCarthy.
Volunteers
“Normally, as archaeologists we focus on the fine detail, but in this case we are analysing the landscape and trying to work out what these people were thinking,” Dr Bergh says.
“Religious beliefs can drive people to extremes, but there might be another purpose for this site.”
The “explicit liminal location at the physical edge of the characteristic Burren landscape” could have offered a “symbolically charged” neutral ground for activities shared with groups based elsewhere, he says.
Dr Bergh’s interest in Turlough Hill was sparked by his work at Mullaghfarna in Sligo, which has the only other known prehistoric hilltop settlement of similar size on the island. It also has about 150 circular house or hut foundations dating from the Neolithic to Bronze Age.
A large lowland settlement of 74 tightly-clustered dwellings has also been located at Corrstown, Co Derry, and dated to the Bronze Age.
Source : Lorna Siggins, The Irish Times