1. Home
  2. About me

Who am I?

I'm Claire Santry. That's me in the middle of the photo below, sitting with two of my brothers on a wooden train that our Grandad had made for us. 

Yes, it's a few years ago, and no, I don't wear my skirts quite that short any more.

The engine was fine for three of us, but we needed to add a passenger carriage after three more brothers and a sister joined us over the next seven years.

About five years after this photo was taken, I thought I'd found my calling. I opened a 'Museum' in my bedroom. Nowadays it would be called a 'pop-up' Museum, as I issued entrance tickets only rarely. My parents, grandparents and their friends indulged me by handing over a sixpence at the door.

Telling stories

Basically, I was hooked on history and telling stories (I got the latter from my Grandad, I think... see box, below), so I would find or create 'priceless' exhibits, each of which came with a right old yarn. For example, a pearl button came loose on the wedding dress of Queen Victoria just as she was about to enter Westminster Abbey but her lady-in-waiting, Ellen, ever ready with her needle and thread, saved the day by quickly sewing it back on before the bride walked down the aisle. Phew!

And here was that very button, in my bedroom! No touching, please.

Storytelling runs in the family

In the photo above you'll see the LMS cabouchons on the side of the wooden train 'engine' my grandfather made for his first three grand-children.

Grandad, a proud Munster man who had joined the railway as a Boy-Clerk aged 16 in 1919 and went on to work at Dungarvan, Bagenalstown and Athlone stations over the next couple of decades, told us the letters LMS stood for the Limerick, Munster & Skibbereen Railway.

It didn't. There was no such railway company. As I learned many years later, long after he died, LMS was the long-redundant London, Midlands and Scottish Railway company in Britain!

Goodness knows where he got this memorabilia from.

Storytelling runs in the family

In the photo above you'll see the LMS cabouchons on the side of the wooden train 'engine' my grandfather made for his first three grand-children.

Grandad, a proud Munster man who had joined the railway as a Boy-Clerk aged 16 in 1919 and went on to work at Dungarvan, Bagenalstown and Athlone stations over the next couple of decades, told us the letters LMS stood for the Limerick, Munster & Skibbereen Railway.

It didn't. There was no such railway company. As I learned many years later, long after he died, LMS was the long-redundant London, Midlands and Scottish Railway company in Britain!

Goodness knows where he got this memorabilia from.

There were many exhibits involving adventure by young girls. For some reason they were usually called Ellen. One such story told of how 12-year-old Ellen Driscoll had tumbled, poor thing, from the top of Mount Everest having reached the summit moments before Edmund Hillary.

Her body was never found, only a boot lace and a luggage label which, helpfully, had her name and address on it AND had fallen into my possession. She never got the recognition she deserved, did Ellen.

Reporting and researching stories

Moving on from making up stories about the past, I went on to study History and Political Philosopy at the University of London, and after some shilly-shallying that included working and having a ball in Paris for a year, I settled on a career in journalism. It had always been inevitable!

Over the years I've written for numerous publications in Ireland, England, Northern Ireland and the USA. I've specialised in business, architecture and construction, travel and, more recently, genealogy.

Given my interest in history, it was a natural fit, and like many others who started out on the quest, I found myself bitten by the genealogy bug and couldn't let it go.

Combining my hobby with my work skills was a no-brainer!

Helping others find their ancestral stories

Highlights of my work and achievements in the genealogy world are noted below:

2008: Irish-Genealogy-Toolkit.com website launched.

2011: IrishGenealogyNews.com blog launched. A few years later, John Grenham, a member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland and arguably the world's best known professional Irish genie, described it as 'the single most trusted source of updates on Irish record releases and events'.

2012: Genealogy feature content produced for the Republic of Ireland's new Certificate of Irish Heritage website.

2013: I was elected a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS), the world's oldest and most prestigious society dedicated to Irish family history

2014: First edition of my New Irish Genealogy Records ebook published, detailing the record collections and other resources released since 2011. Proving popular, I have continued to publish updated editions more or less annually.

2015: IrishGenealogyNews.com received international recognition when it appeared in Genealogy in Time's Top 100 online genealogy sites, based on visitor numbers and Alexa rankings.

2016: Working with the Church of Ireland's RCB Library & Archive on behalf of the IGRS, I reformatted and updated the 93-page Church of Ireland Parish Register List, with links to online records. It is an essential resource for Irish genealogists. Download pdf.

2017: My book - The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide - a 230-page paperback was published (Penguin Random House). More...

2020: The latest edition of my ebook, New Irish Genealogy Resources, published. Since it first appeared in 2014, it has grown to 130 pages and includes not only the records released in the past year but also books, videos, podcasts and other tools for learning about Irish local, social and family history. It is available to purchase only from Irish Genealogy Toolkit. More...

Through the years, I've written for several family history magazines (see 'Credits' box) and my quarterly What's New? Review in Irish Roots magazine has been running for more than eight years.


2014: First edition of my New Irish Genealogy Records ebook published, detailing the record collections and other resources released since 2011. Proving popular, I have continued to publish updated editions more or less annually.

2015: IrishGenealogyNews.com received international recognition when it appeared in Genealogy in Time's Top 100 online genealogy sites, based on visitor numbers and Alexa rankings.

2016: Working with the Church of Ireland's RCB Library & Archive on behalf of the IGRS, I reformatted and updated the 93-page Church of Ireland Parish Register List, with links to online records. It is an essential resource for Irish genealogists. Download pdf.

2017: My book - The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide - a 230-page paperback was published (Penguin Random House).

2020: The latest edition of my ebook, New Irish Genealogy Resources, published. Since it first appeared in 2014, it has grown to 130 pages and includes not only the records released in the past year but also books, videos, podcasts and other tools for learning about local, social, political and family history in Ireland. It is available only on this website. 

Over the years I've written for several family history magazines (see 'Credits' box, below) and my quarterly What's New? Review in Irish Roots magazine has been running for more than eight years.