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Celebrating the historian who opened up the past for the public

The Ulster Historical Foundation has celebrated the life's work of its former director Dr Brian Trainor at the Public Records office in Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Paul Ainsworth

The work of a historian who helped countless people discover their Irish roots has been celebrated in Belfast.

Dr Brian Trainor is a former director of the Public Records Office NI (PRONI) and the Ulster Historical Foundation, and since the 1950s has helped open up archives and records to the general public.

An event celebrating his life's work was held yesterday at PRONI's headquarters, and saw a range of speakers discuss how the 89-year-old's tireless work at home and abroad helped shed light on the family trees of countless people from all corners of the globe.

Current executive director of the Ulster Historical Foundation, Fintan Mullan, said Dr Trainor also helped boost the North's fledgling tourist industry at the tail end of the Troubles by inspiring people to visit and learn more about their own heritage.

“He is a historian whose work spans 70 years and whose enthusiasm for making records available to the public is known far and wide,” Mr Mullan said.

“Many have arrived here to search their family trees thanks to him promoting NI's records overseas, and he visited places such as the US and Australia annually for decades.”

Originally from Coleraine, Dr Trainor also worked with the Republic's National Archives and the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

“He wanted archives from Cork to Derry to be open and available for anyone to rediscover their roots,” Mr Mullan added.

“He is a truly remarkable man whose work will leave a lasting legacy.”

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