A tutor to Irish Research, in Co Clare

A Sample of Searching in Ireland

Our topic is - Locating and using vital records--what type of records you'll find, where to look for them, how to use them, how to cite the sources.

I began at the point where all the seeker knows is: "My ancestor is from Ireland".

Example e-mail.
Subject: Garvey Gen.
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 21:54:37 -0500 (EST)
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]

Wondered if I might ask some advice. My mother's grandparents were Thomas and Mary Garvey. According to US census came to Ohio in 1860 from Ireland. That's all we know. Death certificates don't mention birthplaces, parents, anything. Any advice on where to start? Did most Garveys come from County Clare? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.
Bob Fleitz
Woodbridge, VA

Example 2:
Subject: Irish ancestor search
Date: 24 Nov 1997 16:05:25 -0800
From: [email protected] (P Dominie)
To: [email protected]

A novice genealogist is looking for guidance in starting a search for Irish ancestors. All I know at this point is the my great-great grandparents , Daniel and Margaret Toomey (b. 1816 and 1821) came to upper New York State from Ireland, arriving here in 1878. I've been watching postings, and get the feeling it is going to be next to impossible to track them without better dates. Any help to steer me in the right direction would be appreciated.

My opening advice: Do not begin in Ireland.

Step 1

  1. Start with what you know or can find out where you are located. You need a county of origin at least to start in Ireland.

  2. Collect all certificates - marriage & death of migrants, birth certificates of children in new country. Read them carefully for all information. Note order of first names of children if looking at 19c families.

    The Irish named their children according to this pattern. It can be a guide when working out a possible father and mother.

    The 1st son was usually named after the father's father
    The 2nd son was usually named after the mother's father
    The 3rd son was usually named after the father
    The 4th son was usually named after the father's eldest brother
    The 5th son was usually named after the mother's eldest brother
    The 1st daughter was usually named after the mother's mother
    The 2nd daughter was usually named after the father's mohter
    The 3rd daughter was usually named after the mother
    The 4th daughter was usually named after the mother's eldest sister
    The 5th daughter was usually named after the father's eldest sister

  3. Seek shipping records for date of arrival and any other details listed - age, place of birth, other family members on board. As well as records in your national archives For those who do not know about it, there is a separate list group for finding ship passenger lists, called TheShipsList.

    To subscribe, send message to
    [email protected]
    In the message area , put the word SUBSCRIBE
    Leave the Subject area blank

  4. Look for land records - grants, titles in new country.

  5. Directories can be useful.

  6. Parish registers in new country if official records fail.

    With luck you will turn up at least a county of origin, at best a parish or townland in the county of origin.

    If this still yields no information on the origin of your family all is not lost.

Step 2

  1. Work out a likely date of emigration from Ireland and likely date of birth for your family migrants.

  2. Look for lists of names which will show you the distribution of your surname in Ireland. The "Genealogical Research Directory" which apears annually will show you who else is researching your surname and where. Then you can follow up your name in the most likely counties. You can start with current phone books, but old ones might be better. Or an index to 1901 census of Ireland.

    You can look for lists of names at the time of the migration of your family. For example, if they migrated around 1857 you could try your likely counties in the Griffiths Valuation. If earlier you could try the Tithe Appointment Books for likely counties. Both these sources have been microflmed by the Church of the Latter Day Saints and may be requested for reading at one of their Family History Centres world-wide. There are other places to look, depending on the era.

  3. Start with books and articles written for the absolute beginner in Irish research:
    The Church of the Latter Day Saints has published a booklet: "Ireland, Research Outline". Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1993. It can be obtained by writing to the Publications Department, Family History, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150.

    Another useful publication is by an Australian genealogist: Janet Reakes, "Help! My Ancestor�s Irish and I�m Stuck!!!!" , 1997. Australia�s Immigration and Family History Centre, P.O. Box 937, Hervey Bay, Queensland 4655, Australia. At the time of writing the cost was AUS$18.00 p&p.

    or Tony McCarthy, "The Needle in the Haystack", in Issue Number 2 of 1995, page 17 of Irish Roots magazine (Belgrave Publications, Cork, editor: Tony McCarthy).

    The same magazine has a series of eight articles by Sean Murphy in 1995-6, called "A Primer in Irish Genealogy" which deals in great details with first steps and followups.

  4. Collect websites, join mailing lists and newsgroups and absorb all you can about Irish genealogy. E-mail groups: GENIRE, IRELAND, FIANNA. To join send an e-mail to:
    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Just write the word subscribe in the message. No subject or signature. You will receive a response with how to proceed from that point.

Step 3

You have found the county and have a townland or two where your surname occurs. Depending on the date you can check the following for the name of your ancestor:

Census records for 1901 & 1911.
Civil registration after After 1 April 1845 for non-Catholics and after 1 January 1864 for Catholics.
Griffith�s Primary Valuation between 1848 and 1864;
Tithe Appointment Books between 1823 and 1837.
Parish registers pre-civil registration.

Some of these have been filmed by the Church of the Latter Day sSaints and are catalogued in their Family History Libraries world-wide. Where the index or record has been filmed, one can order it to be read at the Centre. Here are film numbers for the indexes:

Civil Registration:1865-1921 LDS Films 101 041-101 079
Northern Ireland:1921-958 LDS Films 231 962 - 231 969
Southern Ireland:1921-1958 LDS Films 101 229 - 101 240
The Foreign Register of births, deaths, and marriages 1864-1923 LDS Film 101 764

Step 4

You may have to write for certificates of photocopies or further information from Ireland.

Addresses can be found on The addresses page or check the page for each county.

Step 5

You may need to look at a map to find the places you have located. This is a website with links:
Or the IreAtlas site will give you information on townlands and parishes:

Step 6

It is likely that none of the records mentioned so far will have the information you seek. There are still records to check:

Estate records, military records, deeds and tax records, probate records, compiled family histories, pedigrees and biographies.

The LDS Family History Centre catalogs will help you locate these. Also look at "Irish Roots Magazine" who runs regular columns on lesser used sources in Ireland such as records of evicted tenants, tithe defaulters and so on.

The estate records in the two major Dublin repositories, The National Archives and The National Library, are not catalogued in detail. The only comprehensive guide is given in Richard Hayes' "Manuscript Sources for the Study of Irish Civilization" and its supplements, copies of which can be found in the National Library and National Archives. Detailed maps were made of many estates in Ireland. Most of these maps are among the thousands of items listed in "Manuscript Sources for the Study of Irish Civilization" by Richard Hayes. "Manuscript Sources..." (aka Hayes index) has about 15 volumes and was an expensive series of books to buy. You will only find them in a large library. Many of the items indexed have never been microfilmed and are only available in Dublin in the National Archives, National Library Manuscripts Department, etc.

Two publications: O.H. Hussey de Burgh's "The Landowners of Ireland" provides a guide to the major landowners, the size of their holdings, and where in the country they were situated. "Landowners in Ireland: Return of owners of land of one acre and upwards ...," (London: 1876)

Step 7

Once you have a county, then you need to find a townland, parish etc. Once you know the county you can also go straight to a heritage centre and pay a lot of money for them to do the work.

This site tells you this and more

Most of your Irish research must be done offline, but some useful online sites include:

Sites like Cyndi Howe's on the internet
http://www.oz.net/~cyndihow/ireland.htm will tell you how.

You need to be prepared that it will be slow, but you will learn a lot - and must - along the way because research in Ireland is very different.

Other Online sources:

http://www.bess.tcd.ie/irlgen/clare.htm & similar for each county

The following links start up telnet sessions from your computer If your browser is properly configured to start a telnet session. If you do not have telnet, there is a connection to a public access Hytelnet software at http://www.cc.ukans.edu/hytelnet_html/START.TXT.html

Note: some Library servers have limited or restricted hours of access.

telnet://darcy.ucg.ieUniversity College Galway
telnet://library.tcd.ieTrinity College, Dublin
telnet://library.ucd.ieUniversity College Dublin
telnet://library.ucc.ieUniversity College Cork
telnet://library.dcu.ieDublin City University
telnet://library.ul.ieUniversity of Limerick
telnet://library.may.ieSt.Patrick's College Maynooth
telnet:// Linen Hall Library, Belfast
telnet://lib.qub.ac.ukThe Queen's University Belfast
telnet://library.ulst.ac.ukUniversity of Ulster

Unfortunately there are as yet very few resources actually searchable online. Find links to these at:
  Ireland, Antrim Co. 1851 Census
   Ireland, Limerick, Collectors of Poll Tax, 1660-61
  Ireland, Limerick, Directory -- 1769, 1788
  Ireland, Ship Passenger Lists, 1803 -- another list found here
  Ireland, Ship Passenger Lists to Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
  Ireland, Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild, Subscribers' Interest   Database
  Beagh Co. Galway Assorted cemetary/parish records
  Australian Transportation Records database Easier to use on-line than in the National Archives.
   Griffith's Valuation for Brosna & Castleisland, Co. Kerry, 1852
  Passenger list of the 'Abysssinia' from Liverpool, 1872
  Compilation of pre-1845 Irish immigrants to North America
  Contents lists for Albert Casey's O'Kief, Coshe Nang Records for   Sliabh Luachra
  The Irish in 19th-century Portsmouth, NH
  Irish Emigrants (Andrew Morris) A very large listing
  Irish Genealogical Society, Minnesota Assorted resources
  Leitrim-Roscommon townland database

The National Archives of Ireland Genealogy Page is at:

GRENHAM'S Irish Recordfinder
http://indigo.ie/~rfinder/ or
GRENHAM'S Irish Recordfinder is an expert system for genealogical research on Irish records. It is designed to allow someone with no knowledge of genealogical records to obtain a detailed custom-made analysis of all Irish records relevant in researching a particular ancestor.

A useful site for Irish research: http://genealogy.org/~ajmorris/ireland/

When all else fails:
If you are looking for a professional researcher to help you, then the correct place to look is in the soc.genealogy.marketplace newsgroup. You might also try sending the following message:

To: [email protected]:
Subject: *Leave Blank*
get adverts

Submitted by M.M.Brandl

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