Irish Genealogical Research, Family History, The Gathering 2013, Family records, Irish Census, Irish Family names
BEFORE YOU GO NEAR A RECORD
Talk to your family. It makes no sense to spend days trawling through databases to find out your great-grandmother’s surname if someone in the family already knows it. So first, talk to parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents etc., and find out what they know. Most families have at least one individual who keeps track of the extended network of relatives, and if you can trace her (it usually is a woman), you’re off to a good start.
SURNAMES AND NAMING
You can’t place any importance on the precise spelling of any of the surnames you’re dealing with. Although the spelling matters to us now, before the 20th century extraordinary variations regularly occur in different records – illiteracy was widespread and large numbers spoke Irish as their native language. Most people simply had more important things on their minds than how their name might be spelt in a record in a foreign language.
Reported ages are almost never accurate. Before 1900, only a few very privileged children celebrated birthdays and without a celebration, why would you need to know a precise date? In addition, hardly any unfortunate souls over the age of 40 feel as old as they actually are. Put the two together and you have the prefect recipe for unlikely numbers of people reporting their ages as 30, 40, and 50. The moral is simple. Be sceptical. Be very sceptical.
The amount of information you’re dealing with can grow very quickly, especially in the early stages, so it’s a good idea to decide at the outset on a way of storing information that makes it easy for you to find things quickly. Most people pick up and put down family history research episodically, and the less time you waste hunting for something you just know you wrote down on the back of something somewhere, the easier the research will be. A shoebox with alphabetical index cards for each individual is perfectly fine. So is a loose-leaf binder. There are also some inexpensive software packages and websites that allow you easily to store and retrieve complex family information.
START FROM - The 1901 and 1911 census site –www.census.nationalarchives.ie – is by far the best place to dip a toe in the water: it’s free, intuitive and has images of all the original census forms. Find your great-grandparents here, and you’re hooked.
ONE RULE TO BIND THEM ALL
As far as research is concerned, the only cast-iron rule is that you start from what you know and use it to find out more. It is almost impossible to take a historical family and try to uncover what your connection might be. Instead, think of yourself as a detective, taking each item of information as potential evidence and using it to track down more information that in turn becomes evidence for further research.
WHAT CHURCH RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE?
On this site:
1. Transcripts of the baptism and marriage records of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kerry to c. 1900 - this diocese include parishes in western and north-western areas of Co. Cork.
2. Transcripts with record-images for all surviving nineteenth-century Church of Ireland marriage, baptism and burial records in Co. Kerry.
3. All Roman Catholic baptism, marriage and burial registers for Dublin City, some parishes in transcript only (to c. 1900), some transcripts with record-image (to c. 1880). The records of St. Paul's, Arran Quay, are not included. A transcript of its records can be found at dublinnorth.rootsireland.ie.
4. All surviving Church of Ireland baptism, marriage and burial registers for Dublin City, most of them transcripts with record-images to c. 1900.
5. All surviving Church of Ireland baptism, marriage and burial registers for Co. Carlow, transcripts with record-images to c. 1900.
6. All Roman Catholic baptism, marriage and burial register (transcripts with record-images to c.1880) for the diocese of Cork and Ross, which covers the south and west of the county and Cork city. Some of the records of Cork city (for the parishes of St. Mary & St. Anne, St, Patrick's and Blackrock) are not online.
7. A small number of Presbyterian records relating to a congregation in Lucan, Co. Dublin (transcript only).
Work is progressing on the completion of the Co. Monaghan Roman Catholic records (Diocese of Clogher). Please refer to the update of progress section in this website for news of upcoming releases.
1. www.rootsireland.ie: This paying site has transcripts (without record-images) of most of the Roman Catholic records on the island of Ireland for areas other than those listed above. The major exceptions, where only small proportions of the records are transcribed, are counties Donegal, Monaghan and Wexford. None of the transcribed records for Clare are online. Each geographical area on the site has a "sources list" and it is essential to consult this in order to ascertain precisely what records are being searched. The site also includes transcripts of Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian registers, complete for some counties, completely absent for others.
2. familysearch.org: This free site run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has transcripts, without record-images, of approximately thirty Roman Catholic parishes, mostly in counties Kerry, Cork and Roscommon.
3. www.ancestry.co.uk: This subscription site has transcripts, without record-images, of the registers of the diocese of Meath up to 1880, approximately forty parishes, as well as a copy of the LDS transcripts.
4. Others: a significant number of local historical and family history societies have made transcripts of their church records available online. A guide to the Roman Catholic records is at www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/counties/rcmaps/ .
5. A large collection of Jewish records are online at the paying site www.irishjewishroots.com. More information on Judaism in Ireland is at jewishireland.org
WHAT CHURCH RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR RE
1. The National Library of Ireland has microfilm copies of almost all pre-1880 Roman Catholic parish registers on the island of Ireland. Access is free and print-outs of the records are allowed. See www.nli.ie.
2. The LDS Family History Library has microfilm copies of c. 40% of Irish Roman Catholic parish registers, some copies of National Library of Ireland films, others filmed by the LDS themselves. See familysearch.org/catalog-search. These films can be ordered via the Family History Centres attached to most Mormon temples.
3. Most local Roman Catholic parishes do not permit research on their original records. Callers will normally be referred to the heritage centres whose records are now almost all on www.rootsireland.ie. If necessary, contact details for local parishes can be found via catholicireland.net .
4. The Representative Church Body Library is the official archive of record for Church of Ireland records that survived the burning of the Public Record Office in 1922. A full list of its holdings is at ireland.anglican.org. All are freely searchable if they are not too fragile to be handled.
5. The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (www.proni.gov.uk) has freely available microfilm copies of almost all surviving records of all denominations for areas now in Northern Ireland, as well as a good number for areas in the border counties of Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim, Monaghan and Louth. A full list is at http://www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/online_indexes/church_of_ireland_index.htm.
6. Quaker records are very comprehensive back to the 17th century, with microfilm copies in NLI and PRONI. See www.quakers-in-ireland.ie.
7. Some Presbyterian records are only available locally or in the Presbyterian Historical Society. See presbyterianhistoryireland.com.
WHERE ELSE ARE THERE ONLINE TRANSCRIPTS OF THE 1901, 1911 AND EARLIER CENSUSES?
1. The 1911 census is not transcribed anywhere else online.
2. rootsireland.ie: Many (but not all) of the heritage centres behind the site have transcripts of the 1901 census for their area.
3. leitrim-roscommon.com has excellent transcripts from 1901 for five counties in the West.
4. irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/links/ provides links to online transcripts and fragments county-by-county.
General Register Office Records
WHAT GENERAL REGISTER OFFICE RECORDS ARE ONLINE?
The General Register Office (GRO) holds all official records of Irish births, deaths and marriages from 1864 and of non-Catholic marriages from 1845. The only fully-sanctioned research access to these records is via the research rooms in Dublin and Belfast. A number of non-sanctioned access routes exist:
1. familysearch.org: This free site run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has transcripts of all the central indexes to the birth, marriage and death from 1845/1864 to 1922 for the entire island of Ireland and to 1958 for areas now in the Republic of Ireland. It also has transcripts (without record-images) of the central birth registers from 1864 to the first quarter of 1881 and of the marriage registers from 1864 to 1870.
2. rootsireland.ie: This paying site has transcripts of some of the local registration books which were transcribed to create the central GRO records. Four counties (Donegal, Mayo, Roscommon and Tipperary) have transcriptions of all the registration books and another five (Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford) have transcriptions of a significant proportion of the books.
3. groni.gov.uk: The official site of the Northern Ireland General Register Office plans to allow paying access to full database transcripts of their records (from 1845/1864 for areas now in Northern Ireland) by the end of 2013.
4. waterfordcountylibrary.ie has a transcript of the local registration books for Co. Waterford deaths.
WHAT GENERAL REGISTER OFFICE RECORDS ARE ONLY OFFLINE?
WHAT PROPERTY RECORDS ARE ONLINE?
1. Griffith's Valuation (1847-1864) was a very comprehensive property tax survey published in different years for each county. Transcripts and record images are online free at askaboutirleand.ie. Transcripts and record images are also at the paying sites www.findmypast.ie and origins.net. Detailed maps accompanied the Valuation. Images of these, contemporary to the publication, appear on origins.net, but only for the 26 counties now in the Republic. Maps are available for all 32 counties on askaboutirleand.ie, but date from several decades after publication.
2. The Tithe Applotment Books (c. 1823-1838) record the names of those liable to pay tithes to local Church of Ireland clergymen. The tithes were payable by members of all denominations, not just members of the Church of Ireland, since the Church was an arm of the state. But it was only payable on some types of agricultural land, so the Books are much less comprehensive than Griffith's. The Tithe Books for the 26 counties of the Republic are free to search (transcripts with record images) at titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie.
3. The Landed Estate Court took on the process of selling estates that were effectively bankrupt and operated between 1850 and 1885. Its records are online at the subscription site findmypast.ie.
WHAT PROPERTY RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE OFFLINE?
1. The Valuation Office (valoff.ie) has revision books showing all changes in the status of every piece of property recorded in Griffith's, most coming down to the 1960s and 1970s, when the property tax was abolished for private householders.
2. The Land Registry (landregistry.ie) was established in 1892 and records almost all property transactions after that date. Its records of legal title can be searched at mypropertytitle.ie.
3. The Registry of Deeds (see also landregistry.ie) was established in 1707 to help give legal standing to the massive confiscations of land from the native Irish over the course of the preceding century. Its records can be very useful indeed for Anglo-Irish landed families between c.1740 and 1840. A volunteer transcription project is at freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~registryofdeeds/.
4. For almost two centuries between 1700 and 1900, the vast majority of Irish people lived as tenants on large estates. The records of these estates, which include many rent books and tenants' lists, are scattered, with the largest holdings in the National Library of Ireland and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Their online catalogues give some detail. The site www.landedestates.ie gives details of estates and their surviving records for the provinces of Munster and Connacht.
WHAT MIGRATION RECORDS ARE ONLINE?
1. The US and Canada: Almost all passenger lists were kept in the port of arrival and many have been published or digitised. The best guide is at genealogybranches.com/irishpassengerlists. An excellent composite search site for all North American records is stevemorse.org.
2. Australia and New Zealand: The biggest single collection of Australian passenger lists is at the subscription site ancestry.com.au/immigration. The National Archives of Australia has a collection of finding aids at recordsearch.naa.gov.au/. A good overall guide is at www.coraweb.com.au. A collection of New Zealand Immigrant Passenger Lists can be found at www.familysearch.org
3. Britain: for most of the period of interest to genealogy, Ireland and Britain were part of the same country and no official migration records exist.
WHAT GRAVEYARD RECORDS ARE ONLINE?
Two types of graveyard records exist, cemetery burial records and headstone transcripts.
1. Cemetery records: By far the biggest online collection comprises the records of Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin, about 1.5 million records dating from 1828 available at the pay-per-view site glasnevintrust.ie. Burial registers for Co. Kerry are free at www.kerrylaburials.ie. Limerick city burial records (for Mount St. Lawrence) are free at limerickcity.ie/Archives/. For areas in and around Cork city, see corkarchives.ie. For Belfast, see belfastcity.gov.uk/burialrecords.
2. Headstones: These have been transcribed, published and digitised in many places. For a guide to Dublin city and county transcripts see dublinheritage.ie. For the 6 counties of Northern Ireland, the pay-per-view site historyfromheadstones has an almost complete set, without images. For other areas, the main resources are:
Military And Police Records
WHAT MILITARY AND POLICE RECORDS ARE ONLINE?
2. The British Army: The original records are all in the British National Archives in London (nationalarchives.gov.uk). Their Medal Card records are very useful for First World Ward servicemen. Surviving service records of the First World War are transcribed at www.ancestry.co.uk. Pre-1914 service and pension records are at findmypast.co.uk.
3. The Royal Irish Constabulary: a part-index to the LDS microfilm copy of the original RIC register is at ancestry.co.uk.
The Irish Abroad
WHAT OVERSEAS RECORDS RELATING TO THE IRISH ARE ONLINE?
Records of the Irish overseas, especially records of first-generation migrants, can sometimes record more details than the surviving records back in Ireland. The most important of these are:
1. Australian death records. These record the names and addresses of both parents of the deceased. For many Irish immigrants, this may be the only place such information is recorded. Different states began registration in different years. A good overview is at coraweb.com.au.
2. Scottish death records. These start in 1855 and record the full names and addresses of spouses and both parents. Many, many Irish emigrants are recorded. Marriages and births are also recorded from 1855. See scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
3. U.S. marriage records. These start in a different year in each state and the information collected varies, but can be very useful. Massachusetts marriage records (familysearch.org), for example, record the names of the mother and father of both parties.
4. England and Wales General Register Office records start in 1837. None of the registers are online, but almost all the indexes are freely searchable at freebmd.org.uk.
WHAT ONLINE RECORDS HELP TO IDENTIFY IRISH PLACE NAMES?
Database transcripts of the 1851 Townlands Index are available at:
Other useful sites include:
• logainm.ie, primarily concerned with the original Irish versions of place-names, but also including many historical maps
• maps.osi.ie, the website of Ordnance Survey Ireland, which includes fully searchable free copies of the six-inch and 25-inch to the mile 19th century surveys of Ireland.
A number of sites give advice on how to start research and what resources you will need: