Inaugural Meeting of the Registry of Deeds Digitisation Strategy Steering Group

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Dr. Michael Willis (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), Shane Tierney (Registry of Deeds Northern Ireland), Tadgh O’Shea (Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht), Liz Pope (Chief Executive, PRA), Hazel Menton (National Archives of Ireland), Mark Service (Registry of Deeds Northern Ireland), Jean Murray (Human Resources Manager, PRA), Aidan Timmins (Compliance Manager, PRA), Aileen McHugh (Head of Operations, PRA)

L-R Dr. Eoin Kinsella, (Association of Professional Historians), Fiona Fitzsimons, (Association of Professional Genealogists), Padraig Laffan, (Federation of Local History Societies), Ellen Murphy (PRA Archives Manager) Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú (Trinity College Dublin), Dr. David Brown (Trinity Collge Dublin), Dr. Natalie Harrower (Digital Repository of Ireland), Dr. John McCafferty Irish Manuscript Commission, John Grenham (Association of Accredited Genealogists)

Liz Pope (Chief Executive, PRA), (Ciarán Mulhall, ICT Operations, Infrastructure and Security Manager, PRA), Louise Purcell , Department Housing and Local Government, Margot Dunne , Department of Public Reform and Expenditure, James O’Boyle (Financial Controller, PRA)

The inaugural meeting of the Registry of Deeds Digitisation Strategy Steering Group was held on 28 June 2019 in the newly refurbished Outreach Room at the Registry of Deeds, Henrietta Street, Dublin 1. 

The records held by the Registry of Deeds are a comprehensive source of property transactions in Ireland from 1708 to present day, and a unique source of information for family, local, social and economic historians.  The Property Registration Authority has a long term vision to make the historical records of the Registry of Deeds available and discoverable online for research and the enjoyment of all. This project aligns with the strategic goals in its Statement of Strategy 2019-2021 Integrity and Innovation.

The Steering Group comprises internal PRA staff and PRA Authority Member Helen Murray O’Connor, as well as external nominees from government departments, institutions, key user groups and professional bodies from the entire island of Ireland.   The attendees have a wealth of experience in the fields of archives, digitisation, digital preservation, conservation, and historical research, and a shared archival interest in protecting and promoting Ireland’s cultural heritage. 

Liz Pope (Chief Executive, PRA)

The meeting opened with a warm welcome by Liz Pope CEO of Property Registration Authority who gave an overview of governance and legislative framework of the Property Registration Authority.

Dr. David Brown & Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú (Trinity Collge Dublin)

Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú and Dr. David Brown from Trinity College Dublin  than spoke about the global significance of the Registry of Deeds records and how the transcription software in use in the Beyond 2022 project had the potential to be used effectively on certain categories of records held at Registry of Deeds.

Ellen Murphy (Archives Manager, PRA)

Ellen Murphy, Archives Manager made the final presentation which summarised the different collections held at Registry of Deeds, their historical and cultural value to Irish state, and the rich informational content which would be unlocked by digitisation.

The floor was then open to discussion and Steering Group members offered expert advice on the next steps forward. Given that the Registry of Deeds holds over 5 million memorial records and 17,000 bound volumes, the key guidance centred on establishing priorities for digitisation by identifying and consulting with all stakeholders and user groups and the necessity of identifying funding and collaborative partners.

The Property Registration Authority are aware that the challenges of embarking on a digitisation project of this scale and extent are immense. We are very grateful for the goodwill and generosity of the Steering Group members for their support and advice as we begin the process of designing, developing and initiating a sustainable best practice digitisation strategy

We will continue to keep all of our stakeholders informed as this exciting journey evolves.