Volunteering with Ireland Reaching Out means that you make a difference as every one of our volunteers brings something special to the Programme. Here you can find out more about the various volunteer roles available.  We have a role for everyone, so please get in contact if you would like to help.

Many of our volunteers have a knowledge of local resources and local history and they know their own parish communities better than anyone. So, why not become a part of Ireland Reaching Out by volunteering with us; you will be investing in your community and promoting its growth in a visible way bringing people together, making new friends and supporting those in the search for their Irish ancestors.

Click here to register with the Ireland Reaching Out volunteer network.

Ireland Reaching Out Volunteer Policy 2019

The following Volunteer Policy has been developed in line with Volunteer Ireland Guidelines

1. About Ireland Reaching Out 

2. The Ireland Reaching Out Volunteer Programme

3. Volunteer Roles and Recruitment 

4. Volunteer Management 

5. Volunteer training and development

6. Volunteer Supervision and Evaluation

Volunteer Statement

1. About Ireland Reaching Out 

Ireland Reaching Out (IrelandXO) is a volunteer and community-based, non-profit initiative, building vibrant lasting links between the global Irish Diaspora and their parishes of origin in Ireland. 

This unique programme enables individual Irish communities to identify, connect and engage with those descended from their local area, living around the world today. Founded in East Galway in 2009, Ireland Reaching Out has grown to be a vibrant organisation and community of volunteers, with over 60,000 people visiting the IrelandXO.com website every month.

In recognition of the importance of “a sense of place” for the Irish Diaspora, and the need for local community engagement, Ireland Reaching Out plays a key role in the Government's policy for the Diaspora.  This non-profit programme has been financially supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since 2010 as part of its Emigrant Support Programme.

Ireland Reaching Out also receives funding through The Heritage Council and values its relationship with heritage organisations all over Ireland and the critical role they play in supporting our local Ireland Reaching Out volunteer network.

Mission

Our mission is to establish, maintain and develop relationships with those seeking to connect with their parish and county of origin in Ireland. We aim to achieve this through an online platform that enables local Irish communities to engage directly with people descended from their area. 

How does it work?

Ireland Reaching Out enables descendants of Irish communities, living all over the world today, to connect directly with their place of origin in Ireland in the following ways:

  • By providing an online platform where Diaspora can engage directly with the local community and get advice and guidance about their local Irish family history
  • By providing an opportunity for online communities to be created based on a person’s ancestral Irish origins
  • By creating a forum in the XO Chronicles, where descendants and local communities can openly share information about their family history, the places their ancestors lived and the events that shaped their lives. This in turn creates the basis for other descendants to connect to the same community.
  • By offering to meet, when possible, any Diaspora who plan a return visit to their ancestors’ place of origin in Ireland. 

www.IrelandXO.com

In 2015 Ireland Reaching Out launched it’s unique interactive online platform - IrelandXO.com. Based on the success of its previous platform, the current website uses interactive technology to give every Civil Parish in Ireland the opportunity to develop and manage its own global diaspora network. 

Divided into Counties, and then further into Civil Parish divisions, every local community has the opportunity to engage directly with those connected to it through the following online features, specific to each individual Civil Parish:

  • Message board: where Diaspora can post queries
  • News and Events Bulletins: Parish Liaisons can publicise local happenings
  • Local Guide: business, tourist, heritage information resources
  • XO Chronicles: an opportunity for the Ireland XO community, at home and abroad, to document the people, places and historical events of every locality in Ireland.

Ireland XO members are invited to “Join” Civil Parishes that they are descended from, and in doing so opt to receive email updates every time new content is added to those Civil Parishes’ Ireland XO pages.

2. The Ireland Reaching Out Volunteer Programme

With the support of our volunteer network, Ireland Reaching Out offers free advice and guidance to anyone who is interested in connecting with the local community. 

In the spirit of friendship and community, Volunteers are invited to interact with Ireland XO members from all over the world on the IrelandXO website, answering questions and giving general information about their local area.

When possible, Volunteers can meet with Diaspora that visit their local area, giving guidance on the local available resources that may further their family history research, and helping them get to know the area better. This is of huge importance to our returning Diaspora, who often feel they do not have any living connection with the area and therefore do not stop to look around or investigate further.  Having a point of contact with someone local can make them feel welcome and reaffirms their links with the local area.

The Ireland Reaching Out Volunteer Network is the heart of our programme and we value the contribution that individual Volunteers make both to our unique diaspora initiative and to their own local community’s global diaspora network. 

3. Volunteer Roles and Recruitment 

Volunteers are invited from all 32 counties on the island of Ireland.  Ireland Reaching Out uses Civil Parish geographical boundaries to define the local communities in every County. There are more than 2400 individual local communities on our IrelandXO.com website, all identified by their Civil Parish + County name. 

To volunteer with Ireland Reaching Out, we ask that you have an interest in connecting Diaspora to your local community, in line with our programme’s Mission. A genuine desire to engage with new people and to give advice on your own locality is the main requirement. 

Ireland Reaching Out recruits volunteers interested and knowledgeable in family and local history. Through this network, assistance can be given to people seeking information about ancestors in individual parishes and counties. Often our Volunteers are also members of local historical or cultural societies, enabling better access to information and resources.

There are a number of volunteer roles available in IrelandXO. Some of these are online roles that involve managing the content of your local community’s Ireland XO pages. Other roles involve being available to meet with visiting Diaspora face-to-face. 

Our roles include:

  • Diaspora Connector
  • Meet and Greet
  • Researcher

Role Description: Diaspora Connector

You will be the first point of contact for those looking for information about their ancestors. As part of the IrelandXO network for your local Civil Parish, you will be responsible for ensuring that any local messages are dealt with in a timely manner. You will source and/or create content for the XO Chronicles and Local Guide, inviting local contributions and promoting the programme within your community. You will also interact with other volunteers at a parish and national level and engage in parish projects where possible.

Responsibilities:

  • Responding to queries left on message boards - posting an acknowledgement & offering advice 
  • Developing your Civil Parish Chronicles - Timelines, People and Building Database - by regularly adding relevant information
  • Interacting regularly with the Ireland Reaching Out community and IrelandXO staff
  • Communicating any related events in your area to the IrelandXO Services Coordinator, which can then be added as events on the website.
  • Participating in IrelandXO activities and projects for the area 
  • Assisting with the promotion of the IrelandXO programme and the recruitment/training of additional volunteers 

It may be the case that you do not have the technical skills or resources to create online content for your Ireland XO pages and if so, you are invited to find local people who may be interested in doing this. Alternatively if you would like to learn how to create online content for your IrelandXO pages, tools and assistance are available from IrelandXO staff.

Role Description: Meet & Greet

An important part of the Ireland XO volunteer network, the Meet & Greet element is central to the offering we make to our Diaspora. You take the time to welcome members of the Diaspora to their ancestors’ parish of origin. 

According to your availability, you will welcome visiting Diaspora to your local community. You will spend between one and three hours with the visitors - helping them to understand more about the local community and its heritage. On a typical Meet & Greet the following may happen:

  • A meeting in a local library, tourist office, post office or heritage building.
  • A review/conversation about the visitors’ connections to the area and any particular queries they may have.
  • A visit to a local Graveyard to find family headstones
  • A visit to the local parish office to enquire after baptismal and/or marriage records.
  • A meeting with any living relatives still in the community

Meet & Greeters donate their time and expertise to welcome returning Diaspora and make them feel as if they belong. No costs incurred by visitors are expected to be paid by anyone volunteering for Ireland Reaching Out. (For example, you are not expected to pay for any refreshments taken or taxis ordered by the visitors).

In some instances, some research may be  carried out in advance of a visit by connecting with the visitors directly on the message board, or with an introduction from our Volunteer Coordinator.

Role Description: Researcher

You will have basic IT skills and a knowledge of primary family history research documents. You will also possess the communication skills to engage with the local community to retrieve details about the origins and history of family members, at home and abroad. You may also have an interest and general knowledge of the local archaeology, folklore and geography of your area. 

You will use all of your skills and knowledge to assist with queries on the Ireland XO Message Board. While Researchers are expected to lend assistance to members who have an interest in the area local to the Researcher, they may also be called upon to assist members outside of their immediate locality.

4. Volunteer Management

Ireland Reaching Out have a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator who is  responsible for all Volunteer recruitment and management activities to include all meet and greets, visitor queries and other activities that a Volunteer may undertake under the mission and remit of the Ireland Reaching Out programme.    The Heritage Resource Manager reports to the Programme Manager, and also to the Board of Directors.

Potential Volunteers can be approached by the Volunteer Coordinator when a specific need arises in a community and often the first point of contact is made through a local heritage, or community development, organisation. Volunteers are also invited to apply directly through our website IrelandXO.com

What resources are allocated to volunteers?

Ireland XO provides a number of resources to enable the work of volunteers. 

  • All registered volunteers are covered by the IrelandXO Public Liability insurance.
  • The IrelandXO social media platform is also available to volunteers through our Programme Manager who will advertise and promote your Ireland XO parish event.
  • All volunteers are to be registered as a member of IrelandXO.com

Volunteer confidentiality

IrelandXO maintains a database of volunteer information – name, address, contact details, date of registration, volunteer role. This information is confidential and is never shared with third parties. Volunteer information is accorded the same security as personnel files. 

Personal volunteer information is not shared with Ireland XO members, unless permission is expressly given by volunteers.

Relationship with Ireland XO Staff

The Heritage Resource Manager (HRM) is your first point of contact and alongside the Programme Manager is responsible for keeping you up to date with all Ireland XO activity. If you have a query or a complaint please contact the HRM immediately by email and your question will be given full attention. Social Media is not an appropriate avenue for discussing issues that arise. 

Volunteers must seek prior approval from the Heritage Resource Manager before undertaking anything that might affect the organisation. This includes, but is not limited to, statements to the press, joint initiatives with other bodies, and agreements involving contractual or financial obligations.

Relationship with IrelandXO members

Volunteers are expected to work within the policies and procedures of IrelandXO and adhere to its ethos. As representatives of the organisation, they are responsible for presenting a positive image of IrelandXO. IrelandXO respects the volunteer’s right to privacy and confidentiality. In turn, volunteers are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all privileged information to which they are exposed while volunteering with IrelandXO.

Volunteers give their time for free and IrelandXO appreciates this dedication. All services provided including message board research, meet and greet activities etc are unpaid and no fee will be charged by the volunteer for services rendered.

In addition, volunteers are not to keep separate lists of visitor information other than visitor lists which must be available at all times to HQ for insurance and organisational purposes.  

5. Volunteer training and development

Ireland Reaching Out provides training and development online, and on a one to one basis, depending on a volunteer’s location and availability.  

We have developed several guides to enable volunteers to carry out their online duties and to use the Ireland XO website effectively. These include: 

Volunteer Meet-ups

Group meetings are held in various locations around Ireland at different times during the year.  Volunteers are notified in advance of these meetings and invited to attend. Volunteers are expected to make their own way to these meetings and expenses incurred can be reimbursed.  Refreshments are always served.

IrelandXO aims to give all volunteers the opportunity to attend at least one meet-up every two years.

6. Volunteer Supervision and Evaluation

Volunteers are expected to carry out their duties for Ireland XO largely in autonomy.  There is no minimum time allocation required to be a volunteer, as this largely depends on the level of activity on the local community’s message board and XO Chronicles.

If Ireland Reaching Out are notified of an upcoming visit to an area, they will contact the local volunteer to arrange a meet & greet for the returning Diaspora.  If a meet & greet is organised directly on the Ireland XO message board, or through a volunteer’s Ireland XO email address, the volunteer is expected to notify Ireland XO staff so that they may record the visit and follow up with the returning Diaspora.  

Ireland Reaching Out volunteers are asked to contribute connection stories, photographs and any other information concerning meet & greets, so that they might be publicised on the Ireland XO website. 

All volunteers are obliged to only communicate via email by using their @IrelandXO.com email address. It is not permitted to use a personal email address to engage in Parish Liaison activities and if this should happen, the @IrelandXO.com email shall be assigned to another volunteer in that Civil Parish.  NEEDS TO BE AMENDED.  

Volunteers are not allowed to accept payment of any kind for the services that they offer to other Ireland XO members.  

Where there is already an established group of local volunteers in any community, any new volunteer is required to interact and work with this group as a matter of courtesy and protocol within the organisation  This includes any volunteer activities such as research, meet and greets and connecting with diaspora through the IrelandXO website.

Guidelines when conducting Family history research on behalf of Ireland Reaching Out

One of the key aspects of the Ireland Reaching Out programme involves offering free advice to anyone looking for information about their Irish family history. This is in line with the core objective of the Ireland Reaching Out programme which aims to connect all people of Irish descent with their ancestors’ place of origin. These guidelines are designed to help volunteers understand the scope of the free genealogy advice that can be offered. They include some basic rules designed to the privacy of our members and volunteers alike. These guidelines are available to all Ireland XO members, so that they understand the objectives and limitations of the family history advice given on the Ireland XO message board.

The time that volunteers can contribute will vary from individual to individual and throughout the year.  Most of our volunteers have a deep interest and enjoyment of genealogy and the Ireland Reaching Out message board is one forum which provides an opportunity to engage in this.

We can offer this free service thanks to our Volunteers, who are available to investigate individual queries on the Message Board by conducting some research, either locally or online.

We ask that all volunteers read and observe the following Dos and Don’ts, to ensure transparency  always and to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

DOS

  • For a simple query as to a particular date of birth/baptism or marriage, do reply with the information and the source.  Be sure to tell the poster whether or not the source used is free or from a subscription site that the volunteer has personal access to. 
  • If a poster continues to reply looking for further information, do give lists of free sources or direct them to our Genealogy News items page: https://www.irelandxo.com/ireland-xo/news?county=All&parish_name=&category_id=8113
  • For those queries that continue to look for information or appear to be looking to commission research, do direct them to the list of researchers available through the National Library of Ireland website at:  https://www.nli.ie/en/services-commissioning-research.aspx

DON’TS

  • Don’t conduct extensive research for any single member.  Ireland Reaching Out is a volunteer-driven programme that assists anyone with re-connecting with their local or ancestral parish.  It is not a professional genealogy service.  While some of our volunteers are professional and accredited genealogists, it is not a requirement to be so.   For those volunteers who choose to undertake specific, commissioned research, any expenses incurred will have to be covered by themselves, as individual commissioned research is not what Ireland Reaching Out offers.
  • Don’t feel under pressure to conduct any research that you feel uncomfortable about or that requires you to make enquiries that you would rather not. 
  • Don’t divulge personal information about anyone either alive or born within the last 100 years on the message board or onsite through any of the features.  This is due to Data Protection and Privacy laws. 
  • Don’t encourage a poster to phone potential relations for information.  This is due to the large number of phone scams and reluctance of many people to give information over the phone. 
  • Don’t give false or inaccurate information.  If you don’t know, state that.  Find someone or ask someone who may have more information to assist.

And remember, if you have any doubts on how to respond you can always contact the Heritage Resource Manager for immediate guidance.

POLICY END

This Volunteer policy has been developed to define the importance the role of volunteering plays in our diaspora engagement programme, and to give information to current and potential volunteers on their duties and responsibilities.  

If you have any suggestions regarding this policy, please send an email to info@irelandxo.com.

Volunteer Statement

Purpose of Volunteer Statement

The purpose of this statement is to provide an outline of volunteer responsibilities. It does not constitute a binding contract. It supplements other IrelandXO policies and procedures, as well as our mission statement. These responsibilities apply to all volunteers who undertake tasks on behalf of and at the direction of IrelandXO.

Responsibility

The IrelandXO Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that the guidelines in the Volunteer Policy (above) are communicated and implemented efficiently and effectively. 

Eligibility

IrelandXO will consider involving anyone as a volunteer. Individuals must, however, be able to commit to the aims of the organisation and have a knowledge or interest in local history and genealogy. 

Representation of IrelandXO

Volunteers must seek prior approval from the Volunteer Coordinator before undertaking anything that might affect the organisation. This includes, but is not limited to, statements to the press, joint initiatives with other bodies, and agreements involving contractual or financial obligations.

Appropriate behaviour

Volunteers are expected to work within the policies and procedures of IrelandXO and adhere to its ethos. As representatives of the organisation, they are responsible for presenting a positive image of the IrelandXO. IrelandXO respects the volunteer’s right to privacy and confidentiality. In turn, volunteers are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all privileged information to which they are exposed while volunteering with IrelandXO.

Volunteers give their time for free and IrelandXO appreciates this dedication. All services provided including message board research, meet and greet activities etc are unpaid and no fee will be charged by the volunteer for services rendered. 

Service at the discretion of the IrelandXO.

Any voluntary service is at the discretion of the IrelandXO. IrelandXO may, at any time, and for whatever reason, decide to terminate any volunteer’s relationship with the organisation. Similarly, volunteers may at any time, and for whatever reason, decide to terminate their relationships with IrelandXO. Notice of such decisions should be communicated at the earliest opportunity, preferably by email.

Please contact the Volunteer Coordinator for clarification on any of the above: 

info@irelandxo.com


Click here to register  or send an email to info@irelandxo.com for more information.

For a taste of what it is like to be an Ireland Reaching Out Volunteer, why not read the stories below from Parish Liaisons Jane Halloran Ryan and Roger McDonnell

Roger Mc Donnell (Volunteer of the Year 2014)

Many of the folks who post information are not familiar with Tithe Applotment listings, Griffiths Valuation survey and even the 1901 and 1911 Census records. I try to find the records for them and/or provide sites that may aid them in their research. Although there are many parish liaisons working with Ireland XO, there are only about four volunteers who provide daily coverage of the message board in addition to the Ireland XO HQ staff in Loughrea. It is very rewarding to be able to provide information that helps a researcher find where their family originated in Ireland and possibly connect with relatives in Ireland.

Although I was somewhat apprehensive about being a parish liaison living in the States, it has not been a problem. I would encourage anyone outside Ireland who may be on the fence to give it a try.”

Jane Halloran Ryan (Volunteer of the Year 2013)

Jane became involved in the Ireland XO project in 2011 and is the current Parish Liaison for Tulla in Clare.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Jane is of Irish descent with ancestral connections from Cork, Sligo, Clare and Antrim. She graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in accounting and came to Ireland to study law with the Law Society of Ireland. She qualified as a Solicitor in 1997 and practiced in Clare and Limerick for several years before staying home to raise her five children full-time.

Jane has always had a keen interest in genealogy and family history, a love inherited from her mother, Paula McDonough Halloran and her paternal grandmother, Helen Barry Halloran, who gave her invaluable assistance in getting started in genealogy and was a great source of information having lived until she was 101. Jane has traced her connections back to the 1760s on one side and the 1800’s on the other. Her family connections to her ancestral parish of Tulla have kept her in Ireland where she met and married her husband, Michael, a farmer and native of Tulla.

Jane was presented with her award by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Ireland Reaching Out Founder Mike Feerick. Speaking at the presentation Mike explained that Jane was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year as she had been a firm supporter of the Ireland XO programme since its inception.