Internet message boards have been around nearly as long as the internet itself. For many people message boards have been replaced by Facebook and Twitter, which have quicker response times. Message boards are still useful for the genealogist despite the possibility that you may wait months or years for an answer. If a lengthy potential wait seems unreasonable to you, keep in mind that some genealogy answers just don’t come quick or easy. On several occasions, I have found answers that were worth the wait. Before I share a few of my “genealogy happy dance” moments, here is how you can find genealogy message boards. has free message boards that you can also find by going to Cyndi’s List is another way to search for message boards. You can search for message boards by geographical location, surname or topic. Some special interest websites, like Ireland Reaching Out, have message boards as well.

Genealogy message boards and email listsMy first message board success happened on an surname message board. On January 30, 2005 I left the following message on the O’Neill surname board.

            My great-grandfather was Thomas O’Neill who appears on the 1901 and 1911 census for Creelaghta. Family members tell me that he married Bridget Clarke of Drumlish but she doesn’t appear on either census but Thomas is listed as married. Family sources also identify Thomas’s father as Bernard and his mother as Rose Faulkner but I have no documentation of that. Can anyone help me with additional information? Thanks

On September 16, 2005, the following message was posted:

ONeill from Drumlish parish? Is Creelaghta there? In Longford?
I have been searching for ONeill family in Drumlish for a long time. Please write to me.

I wrote to Jane at the email that she included, which I have omitted here for her privacy. I shared with her my frustration over having finally found church parish records, only to find that they were very difficult to read. Jane responded that she was a retired high school English teacher and was confident that she could even read chimpanzee’s handwriting and so a parish priest’s handwriting wouldn’t be a challenge for her. She invited me to make photocopies of the entries that I was trying to read and send them to her for transcription. I did so and Jane soon returned the transcriptions that helped make sense of what was in the Drumlish parish records. I learned that most records have a format and once you learn the format, you can pick out needed information, even if you can’t read every word. That works for both difficult handwriting and records written in a foreign language. I was able to find both my family and Jane’s in the Drumlish parish records and sent her copies of the entries related to her family.

I had forgotten about my January 2005 message but fortunately had requested emails be sent to me when new responses were posted. In November of 2012 came this response:

There was 4 O’Neill families in Creelaghta, which is in the parish of Drumlish. My mother is Bridget O’Neill who married Edward Masterson, both of Creelaghta. She is now 96 years old with a great long time memory. Her father was John.
I have researched all Creelaghta families and may be able to help you if you can give some me some direction.

computer keyboard for bloggingNeedless to say, I responded to Pat as well and I gained valuable information from him. Message boards can be searched and that is how Pat found my message. That’s the value of message boards: they create “virtual breadcrumbs” that allow other researchers to find you and your questions.

Ireland Reaching Out is an Irish government tourism program that seeks to connect the descendants of Irish emigrants like me with the places in Ireland that our ancestors came from, and maybe even cousins that are still living in Ireland. Their website: has message boards for Irish counties and parishes. I posted this message on April 12, 2012 on the message board for Kilmacumsy parish, County Roscommon:

            Thomas Kenny and Catherine Corcoran baptized their children in the Roman Catholic parish of Boyle.  They raised them in Skeanavart.  Their son, Michael, who was baptized in 1843, is my great-grandfather.  Michael Kenny married Catherine Sweeny in 1872.  I would like to connect with other descendants of Thomas Kenny and Catherine Corcoran.  I live near Chicago in the United States.

On July 28, 2013 my then unknown cousin Jessica posted this response:

            I have a family tree written by my grandmother who was a “Kenny” that might help you out a bit. My great grandfather “John Asicus Kenny” (born March, 24th 1890 Elphin Roscommon) was the son of Michael Kenny (Boyle Roscommon) and Catherine Sweeney (Strokestown Roscommon). John Kenny was one of 15 children. There are a few blank names that my grandmother could not fill in. Above Michael’s name there is the surname “Corcoran” with a blank next to it. I’m guessing this is Catherine who married Thomas Kenny (another blank). I also have a name “Bernard Kenny” at the top for Thomas Kenny’s father. Michael also had two brothers Pat (Packey) lived in Dublin and never married. And Bernard (maybe moved to Canada?) Michael, Bernard, and Pat had a stone quarry as well as horses and a farm. Apparently the stone that built the Elphin Church. They also bred and raced horses. I’m assuming you are a grandchild of one of the 15 children of Michael Kenny. Which family member would that be because I have a list of names that I could update?

I was so excited to hear from Jessica! We continued our conversation by email and have since connected with Facebook. Jessica has shared family history notes that were the result of her grandmother interviewing her father, John Asicus Kenny, who was my grandmother’s brother. I have learned so much about my family from those notes and have used them to find even more information. Jessica lives in a different region of the United States than me and I don’t know if we would have ever connected without the Ireland Reaching Out website.

Email lists are another tool of connecting with fellow researchers. Since you are sending emails to a list of people who have expressed interest in receiving them, you often get a more prompt response than you would from a message board. has extensive listings of email lists as does Cyndi’s List. Like message boards, email lists exist for geographical locations, surnames and topics. provides the opportunity to search email lists messages for particular names, places, etc.   On April 18, 2011 I posted the following message to the County Roscommon email list:

I have a marriage record for Michael Kenny and Catherine Sweeny who married Feb. 1, 1872 at the Catholic Church in Kiltrustan, Co Roscommon.  Catherine Sweeny’s address is listed as Drummin and her father’s name is Daniel Sweeny.
I obtained a death certificate for a Daniel Sweeny who died at Drummin, District of Elphin, Union of Strokestown on Aug. 25, 1892, age 80

I also found Daniel Sweeny residing at Cordrumman, Kiltrustan parish   on both the Tithe Appoltments and Griffth’s valuation.

Is it possible that the Drummin cited in the marriage and death certificates are the same place?  And is Cordrumman, a different location or a different name for the same place?

My thanks in advance for any help

Every family has a history Christine Bell

To read more of Christine’s articles, click the picture.


Within a day, I received two responses to this message. Both provided helpful information. I have since learned that there are official names for townlands in Ireland like Cordrumman and then there are nicknames the locals use for them like Drummin. To my delighted surprise, on my birthday in December of 2012 I got a third response.

I was searching the net and I believe this was sent by you,

Cordrumman, and Drummin are the same place, My father was born next door to the Sweeney house, I can never remember any Sweenys living there but the ruins of the house are referred to as Sweeneys, hope this helps.   Mark

On the picture below, the house you are looking for was to the right of the new house on the right of the picture, There is a something showing there now as a square but I remember it as a two storey house. At this stage, it was in ruin–no windows, etc., but it did have a slate roof. My father was born in the house at the bottom of the picture, so they were neighbours.

This second picture Mark included is a broader view of the area that provides context to the above photo.

Thanks to Mark’s efforts, I not only know the place names of where the Sweeney’s lived, I know exactly where those places are!

With the time it can take for people to respond to your message board posts and email messages, you can’t rely on them as a primary genealogy tool but I have found them very useful just the same. So, find appropriate message boards and email lists and post some messages. Include as much as you know about the ancestor that you are asking about to help others know if there is a connection between the person you are asking about and the people on their family tree. Continue working, using other genealogy tools, and hopefully, as time passes, you will receive happy surprises similar to the ones I have been blessed to receive.

Christine Bell About Christine Bell
Christine Bell has been seeking her ancestor for almost forty years and continues to find joy in each one she finds. She volunteers in a Family Search Family History Center where she helps others find their ancestors. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints, she is grateful to be a member of the Church. She is a wife, mother of six grown children, grandmother of five going on six, and currently living in the western United States. Christine enjoys spending time with family and creating quilts for family, friends and Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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