Irish Search Strategies

STEP ONE.  Identify what you know about your family. 

Begin your research with family and home sources.  Look for names, dates, and places in certificates, family Bibles, letters, obituaries, diaries, tombstones, and similar sources.  Ask your relatives for information they may have.  It is possible that your second cousin, great-aunt, or other relative already has some family information.  Organize the information you find and record it on pedigree charts and family group record forms.

STEP TWO.  Decide what you want to learn.

Select a specific relative or ancestor born in Ireland for whom you know at least a name, the town or parish where he or she lived in Ireland, and an approximate date when he or she lived there.  Additional information, such as your ancestor’s religion and the names of other family members, will also be helpful.

If you do not have enough information on your Irish ancestor, review the sources mentioned in step one that may give your ancestor’s birth date and birthplace or date and place of residence. 

Next, decide what you want to learn about your ancestor, such as parents’ names or marriage date and place.  You may want to ask an experienced researcher or a librarian to help you select a goal that you can achieve.

STEP THREE.  Select a record to search.

Learning about the geography and history of Ireland will save you time and effort by helping you understand the circumstances that influenced both the lives of your ancestors and the records written about them.  There was a civil war in Ireland in 1921 and 1922 that caused the creation of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Learn about parishes or townlands of your ancestor’s residence.  Examine maps, particularly townland indexes and other place finding aids to learn as much as you can about each of the places where they lived.  List nearby parishes, cities and counties.  Look for clues about the people, places, religions, and events that may have affected your ancestor and his or her records.  You’ll need to search original documents, such as:  civil registration, church records, land records, probate records.

STEP FOUR.  Find and search the records.

You may be able to obtain records needed through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Copies of most of their microfilm records can be loaned to more 3,700 Family History Centers worldwide. 

STEP FIVE.  Use the information.

Carefully evaluate whether the information you find is complete and accurate.  Did the person who provided the information witness the event?  Was the information recorded near the time of the event?  Is the information logical and consistent with the information in other sources?  If the answer to these questions is no, be cautious in accepting the information’s accuracy.  You may want to verify the information by doing further research.

Copy the information you find and keep detailed notes about each record you search.