Finding Your Irish Ancestors
Due to Ireland’s tumultuous history, many vital historical records have been destroyed. Although researching your Irish heritage may prove to be very difficult, take heart in that it’s not as hopeless as you might think. Here are a few general tips on how to get started in your research:
Begin your research with your close family members and work your way back generation by generation. A large number of Irish immigrants have settled throughout the world. Conduct interviews, gather pictures and documents that might help you paint a picture of your ancestors’ lives after immigrating.
Once you’ve gathered information from your relatives, track down documents about your ancestors in the country they immigrated first. Documents such as death certificates, obituaries, fraternal records, church records, naturalization records and passenger lists may provide you with vital information about your ancestor. Fraternal and church records may help point you to where your ancestors originated, and possibly provide you with important information about other family members.
Naturalization records and passenger lists may likely provide you with the birth place of your ancestor, possibly the townland or county, as well as the port and date in which you ancestor sailed out of the country. Knowing where in Ireland your ancestors hailed from is important to further your research. The dates in which your ancestor set sail establishes a timeline for when your family left Ireland and may help you discover records in Ireland about your ancestors.
Use online resources
Once you have an idea of where in Ireland your ancestors came from, you may still find it very difficult to locate Irish records about your ancestors. There are several online resources you may try, such as RootsIreland.ie which holds millions of Irish records online. Run by the Irish Family History Foundation, these records include marriages, births, baptisms, deaths, census records and gravestone inscriptions. You can also find Griffith’s Valuation records, which was a survey of property occupiers in Ireland between 1848 – 1864. If you’re in the U.S., check out the Family History Library, which holds one of the largest collections of Irish records outside of Ireland.