The 40th Anniversary of NIFHS

The North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS) was founded in 1979 and now has worldwide membership of nearly 1000 people, many Branches, and an excellent Research Centre. The Society is symbolised by the tree shown here, with foliage representing the map of the North of Ireland, and the roots representing our family roots. Designed by Caryl Sibbett, we have had this as the basis of our corporate logo and brand ever since, and it is as relevant today as it was then. 

The Society has its beginnings in a family history group formed in Bangor in 1979 with 51 Members. Over the years, as the interest in genealogy has grown at home and abroad, the group has expanded and a dozen or so other Branches were set up across the North of Ireland to form the Society. There are now 11 Branches, and we have many Branch members, and significant numbers of Associate members, mostly based overseas, because the people of this place have, like the ripples on a pond, spread across the globe – a worldwide family.

In the course of its existence, the Society has celebrated milestones at significant anniversaries with events and activities to mark those occasions, and it is only fitting that for our 40th anniversary year, 2019 into 2020, we should celebrate this milestone with a programme of events. We have now developed a special anniversary brand logo which you should soon see on communications and publicity as the year progresses.

The 40th Anniversary Reception


The 40th Anniversary Committee was set up following the 2018 Society AGM, and already some plans have been put in place for our “year of celebrations”, with a special 40th Anniversary Reception to be held on Saturday, 20 June 2020, in the Castle Upton Suite at The Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick. There will be a special accommodation package for event guests wishing to stay overnight associated with the event. Details will be formally announced at our Society AGM in September. 

On the Big Day, guests will be greeted at the Castle Upton Suite from 10 am where light refreshments will be offered, and, once seated at round tables, each named after townlands across the country, we will hear a number of guest speakers and have some entertainments, as well as having opportunities to socialise with other members, families and friends of the Society. A hot fork buffet, tea and coffee, are available, and the day will come to a close at around 5 pm following further light refreshments for those who would like them. More details, including costs, will be given once available. The special rates for accommodation associated with the event will be available direct from the hotel from the end of June of this year. 

A Year of Celebrations

Throughout this special year, we are encouraging all our Branches to mark it with celebrations to promote the Society within their own areas by holding local events, placing displays or exhibitions in local public areas, stalls at markets, fairs, libraries, etc. The 40th Anniversary Committee will give support and assistance where we can, with advice, and resources as available. It is also hoped that volunteers will visit locations across the country with a pop-up display which may be of use to local branches with their own plans. To date we are aware of projects being undertaken by Causeway Coast & Glens, and Lisburn Branches, and hopefully other Branches will let us know about the ideas and activities which they are working on.

The 40th Anniversary Committee are very keen to hear from anyone who has ideas or skills that might be of assistance in developing our plans. We would ask that Branch Secretaries please let us know as soon as possible if you have any plans to join in, as we would like to coordinate events to ensure a spread of events across the year. 


An Appeal for pictures from past NIFHS events

We are putting together a collection of pictures and recollections from past events – both national and local – for inclusion in our publicity material to promote the Society and the year of celebration events around the country. If you have any pictures or stories from previous anniversaries, branch outings or events, local fairs, AGMs, etc. we would love to consider them. Please again contact any of us through your Council members or directly and we can arrange to collect and return them to you. We would plan to scan or copy rather than display your originals. We need to have as much pictorial material as possible in time for use during this special year. Start hunting through your collections NOW! Please respond to this picture appeal by email to

We look forward to you participating in and enjoying this Year of Celebrations.

Thank you.

Ken Tait
Secretary, NIFHS@40 Anniversary Committee
30 June 2019

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