Irish Ancestry Research Methods

When the National Archives of Ireland launched its genealogy portal in 2007, it marked a turning point for Irish research. The site provides free access to every surviving fragment of the 1901 and 1911 censuses, …

Irish Ancestry Research Methods

When the National Archives of Ireland launched its genealogy portal in 2007, it marked a turning point for Irish research. The site provides free access to every surviving fragment of the 1901 and 1911 censuses, substitute sources such as tithe applotment books, and diocesan and prerogative marriage license bonds. In addition to these free online tools, DNA and other new ways of tracing ancestry make connecting with your Irish roots easier.

Church Records

Irish Catholic church records provide vital family history information from the beginning of recorded baptisms, marriages and deaths. Before civil registration began in Ireland, these records were the only source of such data. Depending on your ancestors’ denomination, they may reveal more about their lives than other record sets.

In addition to church records, many families kept detailed genealogies and other written materials. Whether in the form of family Bibles or scrapbooks, these can provide clues to the location and origins of your ancestors. Look for records from the county where your ancestors lived and their hometown and village in Ireland.

It’s important to remember that much of Ireland’s history was turbulent, and records were lost through fire, war, natural disaster, poor care and destruction during religious conflicts. Fortunately, there are still plenty of resources to help you find your Irish family history foundation.

Whether online or at brick-and-mortar libraries, these sites contain helpful information to guide your research. Once you’ve uncovered the likely homeland of your Irish ancestors, consider taking the next step and visiting the area.

Connecting with possible cousins and seeing the land your ancestors once walked can give you a sense of connection that no amount of records can match. If a trip is outside your budget or time, consider looking into genealogy services that can speed up your search and guide you to Irish records you may have yet to be aware of.

National Library of Ireland

There is no better place to research your Irish roots than at Ireland’s National Library, a horseshoe-shaped cathedral of culture that welcomes thousands of bookworms annually.  You’ll find plenty of genealogy resources here, including the digitized parish registers on the website Irish Genealogy, which enables you to browse church records online for free.

To use this site productively, however, you’ll need to know which church your ancestors attended. This information can be gleaned from family sources or by consulting the church records indexes on Findmypast or Ancestry. Another great resource is Griffith’s Valuation, a census of properties and inhabitants compiled between 1848 and 1864.

It is the closest thing to a complete Irish census and can tell you so much about your Irish ancestors’ lives: the houses they lived in; the names of their neighbors; what work they did; even the ages of their children. If you’re lucky enough to have relatives in Northern Ireland, check out PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland). Its digitized collections include church and civil marriage and death records, censuses, maps, and business and school records.

Irish Genealogy

One of the most important clues to finding your Irish ancestor is in old newspaper articles. These newspaper clippings can be found online or in libraries. Another great place to look for clues is in Irish-American newspapers.

These often list Irish immigrants to the United States and may give you a name or location to search for records. It also offers a searchable index of civil marriages and deaths, tithe applotment books, shipping agreements and crew lists, diocesan and prerogative marriage license bonds and more. The site is easy to use and includes detailed county maps.

National Archives of Ireland

Tracing your Irish ancestry can be challenging. However, even just a name and a birth year can be enough to get you started. Fortunately, several online resources are available to help you find your ancestors. The National Archives of Ireland, for example, holds a variety of important sources relevant to Irish genealogy.

Their website contains free access to surviving census fragments and substitute sources like soldiers’ wills, diocesan marriage license bonds, tithe applotment books for tracing land ownership, and shipping agreements and crew lists. Civil records are another important source to explore when tracing your Irish roots.

These records can provide details of births, marriages, and deaths. However, many of these records were lost in a fire in 1922, so it is important to consult other online sources to find what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve traced your ancestors, consider visiting where they lived. It can be a great way to connect with your ancestors and gain a better understanding of the culture that they lived in. For instance, you could visit the church where they were baptized or the house that they used to live in. Alternatively, you could travel to Ireland to experience the country your ancestors once called home. It can be a truly moving and rewarding experience.

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