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Beginning Your Irish Research on the Right Foot

Mention Irish research and many genealogists groan. That's because on 13 April, 1922, a disastrous fire in the Four Courts building (the Public Record Office) in Dublin, Ireland, destroyed virtually all pre-1901 Irish census records, wills, and Church of Ireland parish registers. The result is that Irish genealogical research is more difficult than research in the rest of the British Isles -- More difficult, but not entirely impossible in many instances.

Because the loss of many Irish records, it is highly important that you start your Irish genealogical research in the country of immigration (for example, the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand). Make a comprehensive search of available records in the country of immigration. Search out family traditions; birth, marriage and death records; obituaries; cemetery records; wills; Bibles; census records; plus immigration and naturalization records. Look for the full names of your immigrant ancestors; their dates of birth and/or marriage in Ireland; their place of residence in Ireland; their religion, occupation; dates of emigration, etc. This preliminary research will greatly increase the probability of actually locating Irish records. To have the best chance of success, it is necessary to know at least four things:

· The name of the family
· The parish or townland in which they lived
· The approximate date
· Religious affiliation

A few records were saved from the conflagration and many records can be located at local levels. Reconstructing lost records has been the quest of both historians and genealogists, who have compiled substitute records, plus made available various indices, abstracts, and transcriptions of records that were created before the fire. Despite these gallant efforts, serious gaps in Irish records remain.

In addition, the highly important registers of births, deaths and marriages, which are indexed by quarters, were not housed in the Four Courts building and so did not burn. Most of these vital records date from 1864. Records for births, deaths and Catholic marriages commenced in 1864. Records for non-Catholic marriages date from 1845. The quarterly indices are available on microfilm through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Once a record has been located in an index, it can be ordered from either the General Register Office of Ireland (Dublin) or the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (Belfast).

In addition, there is information available on the Internet. As with other research, you should know the surname, place or residence and approximate date so that you can effectively focus your search on pertinent Web sites.

Here are a few Irish genealogy Internet links to get you started:

· Cyndi's List - Ireland and Northern Ireland. Find useful links to 'How To' articles, county Heritage Centres, maps, gazetteers, censuses, cemeteries and more: http://www.cyndislist.com/ireland.htm

· FamilySearch - Family History Library Catalog. Search the catalog by a specific place in Ireland to learn what records are available in Salt Lake City or that can be ordered through local Family History Centers. Search by surname to find compiled genealogies of your Irish ancestors: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp

· The General Register Office of Ireland: http://www.groireland.ie/

· The National Archives of Ireland. Learn how to research your family history and use the records held in the National Archives: http://www.nationalarchives.ie/index.html

· The National Library of Ireland. Library material much used by family history researchers includes the microfilms of Catholic parish registers, copies of the important nineteenth century land valuations (the Tithe Applotment Books and Griffith's Valuation), trade and social directories, estate records and newspapers: http://www.nli.ie/default.asp

· The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). PRONI hold millions of documents which relate chiefly, but by no means exclusively, to present-day Northern Ireland. The earliest record dates from 1219, with the main concentration of records covering the period 1600 to the present: http://www.proni.gov.uk/

· The General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI): http://www.groni.gov.uk/index.htm

· IrishGenealogy.com. Over 200 MB of useful information and databases for Irish researchers: http://www.irishgenealogy.com

· GENUKI: UK and Ireland Genealogy. A large collection of genealogical information England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/irl/

· Genealogical Society of Ireland. Articles and publications for Irish researchers: http://www.dun-laoghaire.com/genealogy

· North of Ireland Family History Society. Geared to families with roots in Northern Ireland: http://www.nifhs.org

· Ulster Historical Foundation. Research services and databases (for members): http://www.uhf.org.uk

· The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA). Searchable databases: http://tiara.ie

· Irish Freeholders' Records DatabaseFreeholders' records are lists of people entitled to vote, or of people who voted, at elections. A freeholder was a man who owned his land outright (in fee) or who held it by lease:  http://www.proni.gov.uk/freeholders/ . 

· The Church of Ireland Genealogy and Family History

The archives of the Church of Ireland, and particularly parochial registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials, are a primary source for genealogists and family historians. Although many registers were destroyed in the fire in the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922, many others have survived and are available to researchers: http://www.ireland.anglican.org/library/libroots.html


· Resources pertaining to all of Ireland
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cgaunt/irish.html


· World-Wide Genealogy Resources: Ireland, Island of
http://www.genhomepage.com/world.html


· Familia: The UK and Ireland's guide to genealogical resources in public libraries: http://www.familia.org.uk/textindex.html

Originally published 25 Feb 2005 in the Legacy Family Tree newsletter.

Comments

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I am researching "Wisely"s in both County Derry, Northern Ireland, as well as in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Is there anyone else out there looking for the same surname?


Researching the Daley, Farrell, Goodman families from Carreckmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland.

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