• by Dave Miller

In memory of Dr. Brian Trainor

It is with sympathy that we mention the passing of Dr. Brian Trainor who died on 22 August at his home near Belfast, Northern Ireland. Dr. Trainor was 91 years old.

Dr. Trainor joined The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in 1956 and served as Director and Deputy Keeper. He later joined the Ulster Historical Foundation where he served as Research Director and later was named Emeritus Research Director. His funeral is being held on Tuesday 28 August.

Although I knew of Dr. Trainor's reputation and his work for many years, it wasn't until five years ago when I had the opportunity to finally meet him during one of the Family History Conferences in Belfast. Part of the conference involves some research time at PRONI. During one of my visits at PRONI on this trip, I discovered that one of the land records I had been searching for was closed to the public. Dr. Trainor must had seen my look of frustration as I tried to determine my next option to research. So he approached my table and asked what was wrong. I explained that the records and microfilm I was trying to research was closed to the public, so I was sitting thinking about other records to research that might be close to those records. He looked at me and said "that shouldn't be!" and walked away. Five minutes later, a roll of microfilm from the land records I initially wanted to research was placed on the desk. I was absolutely astonished to see the microfilm sitting right in front of me. So, I turned around to thank Dr. Trainor. I'm not sure what magic he performed but I sure was grateful that he was able to produce this roll of microfilm for me. He then explained that he had personally transported those records for research at PRONI. He even mentioned the year that he had brought those records over from England. I don't remember the exact year he indicated other than "it was a long long time ago!" So as I thanked him again I started to turn, began to laugh and said, "Don't go very far." Dr. Trainor grinned and said, "Don't worry I won't!"

That was my very first meeting with Dr. Trainor. I had an opportunity to meet him again on another trip to Belfast. I always considered him the expert's expert when it came to Ulster research. I have been told he was involved in starting up the March Lecture Tours in North America for the Ulster Historical Foundation. We would like to extend our sympathy to his family. He will be missed by his family, friends, associates at both PRONI and the Ulster Historical Foundation and by the genealogy community as a whole.


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