Irish Family Research

You know the names of your grandparents, their dates of birth, marriage, and death. You've conducted Irish family research using their stories and have information about their sisters and brothers; you know their addresses and occupations and you have even collected old family letters. This would be the ideal situation. Unfortunately, for many of us, it doesn't quite happen that way.

You'll need to know the Irish county of your ancestors. If you have no knowledge of this, write to the General Record Office in County Roscommon and explain what you are seeking. I've listed their address along with the forms you will need in my Supplement, How to Find Your Irish, available for purchase on this website. It is possible for the clerks in Ireland to check the general record of births, marriages, and deaths without knowing the county, but it helps to send them all available information pertinent to your Irish family research.

It may be necessary to travel to Ireland in order to conduct an independent search. I had the experience of receiving a birth certificate through the mail and found it to be the wrong document, but only after I traveled to Ireland to visit the cousins of the woman who was not my grandmother. You'll have to be careful, as one incorrect document will cost you in terms of time and money. While in Ireland, I was able to visit a nursing home in the town of my grandparents while doing Irish family research, and I was able to talk with the people who knew of them. You will want to talk to the town undertaker, visit the neighborhood pubs, and engage in conversations with the old people at the parish church.

If you can arrange a trip to Dublin, Ireland-do it! Give yourself enough time to spend in each of the Irish family research centers. You'll be able to search the records yourself, thus, cutting down on errors and time.

The earliest surviving comprehensive Irish census is for 1901 and 1911. The originals can be consulted at the National Archives in Dublin. The returns for the year 1901 have been bound into large volumes, while those for 1911 are still loose and in boxes. All the returns for a townland or street are grouped together and preceded by an enumerator's abstract, which gives the details of the houses and lists the names of the heads of households. This is an excellent way to begin your Irish family research. A full microfilm copy of the 1901 Census is available at the LDS Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Primary Valuation (Griffith's Valuation) was published between 1847 and 1864. There is a printed valuation for each barony or poor law union, showing the names of occupiers of land and buildings, the names of those from whom these were leased, and the amount and value of the property held. These documents relating to Irish family research can be located at the National Archives on Bishop Street in Dublin.

It's important to know that all births, marriages, and deaths occurring since 1864 (and non-Roman Catholic marriages since April 1, 1845) are available to the public. The majority of records prior to 1864 were destroyed in the 1922 Civil War.

If you are seeking church records in County Kerry, Counties Cashel and Emly, you will need a letter of approval from the Bishop. This information is provided in my Supplement, which is available for purchase on this website.

Once you've located the villages and townlands of your ancestors, you'll want to look up the land deeds. The Valuations Office in Dublin is open to the public and you can conduct an independent search. Their clerks will copy whatever you need.

Most importantly, don't get discouraged. Spend the time it takes to conduct research in Dublin, the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, the National Archives in Washington D.C. (they have branches in most major cities), and the local libraries. Those documents will aid you tremendously in your Irish family research.

You will find the Supplement that is offered on this website valuable when you begin your Irish family research. In this Supplement, I have listed what you will need to find, where to find it, what to watch out for, and the forms necessary when seeking documents from Ireland. It is a comprehensive guide to help you with your Irish family research. Misleading information put me in many different directions, and if I had had this booklet in my possession before beginning my Irish family research, I could have avoided many pitfalls, and I would have saved money on documents unrelated to my family.

Additional Sources
    Table of Contents
  Irish Genealogy
  Immigrant Experience
  - Castle Gardens, New York
  - Ellis Island, New York
  Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland
  Valentia, County Kerry, Ireland
  Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland
  Irish Potato Famine
  Murphy Family
  Shea Family
  Healy Family
  Beirne Family
  Irish Family Research - Supplement
  Emigration - Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland
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