Struggling in your Irish genealogy research? Finding Irish ancestors is challenging, but possible. Strategies to find your Irish roots.
Researching an Irish ancestor can be difficult. No genealogy researcher is likely to deny that. Why?
Unfortunately, the Irish have suffered significant record losses.
I hear you asking, “Is it even possible to research my Irish ancestor?”
Yes. Yes, it is!
Before we get into the records, let me share with you a few of Jen’s words of wisdom on genealogy research. Regardless of where your UK genealogy research is centered, remember:
- Think like a Brit. When it comes to researching British ancestors in British records, researchers must think like a Brit and consider what records were created there and why.
- There are no brickwalls, only opportunities to learn more. I love this! Turn that negative brick wall thinking into positive “move your research forward” thinking. Your mindset is important!
- If you don’t know where your ancestor bought his shoes, keep researching. If you know where your ancestor shopped or what they ate, you’ve done an exhaustive search on that ancestor.
Irish Census Records
As mentioned above, the Irish census records suffered a heavy loss. However, a few fragments of the early censuses did survive.
- 1821 – Parts of Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, King’s (Offaly) and Meath – Available online for free
- 1831 – Parts of Londonderry (Derry) – Available for free
- 1841 – Killeshandra, County Cavan – Available for free
- 1851 – Parts of County Antrim – Available for free
- 1861 – Completely destroyed
- 1871 – Completely destroyed
- 1881 – Completely destroyed
- 1891 – Completely destroyed
- 1901 – Available in full with free access at FindMyPast
- 1911 – Available in full with free access at FindMyPast
- 1921 – Not taken due to the civil war
If you have ancestors in any of the counties with census fragments surviving, make sure you check these records.
Pro Genealogy Tip: Never assume a destroyed record collection was completely destroyed without checking. Fragments may exist.
Irish Genealogy Research Starts at Home
North American researchers tracing Irish roots need to start your search at home! Successful research in Irish resources is dependent on determining what county an Irish immigrant lived before immigrating. Determining that county is usually found in their North American records.
Include in your North American record search:
- Home resources such as letters, Bibles, etc
- Look at the immigrant’s FAN (friends, associates and neighbors)
- Research the immigrant’s children, siblings, and other relatives.
- Reach out to the genealogy community! Think of this as “genealogy networking”.
Must-See Collections for Irish Genealogy Research at FindMyPast
- British & Irish Roots Collection – A fantastic place to start.
- Ireland Dog Licence Registers – These are just plain fun! Oh yes, and informative! Bonus: You might learn the name of your ancestor’s dog. 🐕
- Landed Estates Court Rentals 1850-1885 – You will find over 500,00o tennants on over 8,000 estates across Ireland.
- Irish Prison Registers 1790-1924 – According to Jen, the Irish liked to air their grievances in court. Maybe that wasn’t good for them, but all those court records and prison records are good for genealogy researchers.
- The Catholic Parish Records – (FREE at FindMyPast) Excellent source for genealogical information.
- Belfast & Ulster Directories – (I love directories!) As you research this collection, keep in mind the history of Northern Ireland.
Searching for Irish Ancestors
I encourage you to watch the replay of the Facebook/Youtube Live with FindMyPast and myself. Jen Baldwin provides strategies, resources and hope (!) for researchers tracing Irish heritage.