Trace Your Irish Ancestors with Four Historical and Geographical Tips

Let’s trace your Irish ancestors! Irish research tips are a must-have for this historically violent little island. Senior Researcher at Legacy Tree Genealogists, Kate Eakman, shares with you four historical and geographical tips to get you off to the right start.

trace Irish ancestors tips

By Jonto at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kate Eakman is a Senior Researcher for Legacy Tree Genealogists, a worldwide genealogy research firm with extensive expertise in breaking through genealogy brick walls. To learn more about Legacy Tree services and its research team, visit the Legacy Tree Genealogists website.

Trace Your Irish Ancestors: 4 Tips

Kate Eakman from Legacy Family Tree Genealogists

Irish research can be difficult. Although the island is small–about the same size as the state of Indiana–its violent history and many divisions makes research complicated. In addition, many United States records simply report our ancestors were from Ireland with no indication of the county of their birth. However, knowing a little bit about the history and geography can provide the necessary clues. Here are four tips that can help you trace your Irish ancestors from the United States back to Ireland.

Tip 1: Understand the Island of Ireland Today

There are two distinct political entities on the island of Ireland: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The dividing line was drawn by England in 1922. This is an important date to keep in mind when searching for more recent Irish ancestors.

The Republic of Ireland, or Eire, is an independent nation made up of the southern 26 counties of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is predominantly Catholic, with about 3% of the population identifying itself as Protestant. Indices and links to copies of the civil birth records for the years 1864 to 1915, marriages between 1882 and 1940, and death records between 1891 and 1965 are available for free from the IrishGenealogy website. (These records include those of the Northern Irish counties up to 1922.) Official copies can be ordered from the General Records Office in Dublin.

Map of the counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Photo courtesy https://commons.wikimedia.org.

Northern Ireland, also known as Ulster, is a part of the United Kingdom–although it is self-governing like Canada or Australia. Although the counties of Northern Ireland are not officially used today, it is comprised of the traditional counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Londonderry (also known by the more traditional name of Derry). Although most Americans believe that Northern Ireland is a Protestant nation, the reality is that today there are almost an equal number of Catholics as there are Protestants in Northern Ireland. Civil birth, marriage, and death records can be ordered from GRONI (General Records Office Northern Ireland).

Tip 2: Turn to U.S. Census Records

From the 1880 U.S. Census through the 1920 U.S. Census, Irish ancestors who immigrated to the United States, or whose parents were natives of Ireland, simply reported they were natives of Ireland. However, since the 1930 U.S. Census was taken after the creation of the Republic of Ireland in 1922, it often noted the specific country from which ancestors originated.

In this sample (below) from the 1930 U.S. census, we can see John O’Reilly was born in “North. Ireland,” as were his mother and her parents. His father, however, was from the Irish Free State, or the Republic of Ireland. This information tells us where to search for John’s birth: in one of the six counties of Northern Ireland. His mother’s birth record will also be from Northern Ireland, and probably his parents’ marriage record also, since it is more traditional to marry in the bride’s hometown than the groom’s.

There is the potential that a much larger search will be necessary for John’s father’s birth record unless the marriage record can be found and it specifies in which of the 26 Republic of Ireland counties he was born.

John J. O’Reilly and his mother in the 1930 U.S. Census report. The detail shows where John was born, then his father’s place of birth, followed by his mother’s place of birth. The second line was the same information for John’s mother. Images courtesy http://ancestry.com.

If your Irish ancestor, or the child of that ancestor, is listed in the 1930 U.S. census, pay close attention to where they reported they and their parents were born. You might find a very helpful clue in that census report.

Tip 3: Look to Religion for Clues

While many people associate Roman Catholicism with Ireland, there are many Protestants living in Northern Ireland and fewer in the Republic of Ireland. Knowing your family’s historical religious preference can provide a small hint. If your family has always been Catholic it is likely they were Catholics in Ireland. However, as we have already noted, with almost all of the Republic of Ireland expressing a preference for Catholicism and about 45% of the citizens of Northern Ireland claiming allegiance to the Catholic faith, you can see a Catholic religious heritage is not particularly unique.

However, if your family history includes the Episcopal faith, or there is something that references “the Church of Ireland” in your family’s records, then your family was most likely Protestant when they lived in Ireland. You are also more likely to find your Protestant ancestors in Northern Ireland (with the understanding that there are Protestants throughout the Republic of Ireland).

If your family is or has been Presbyterian, there is a very strong likelihood your family is actually Scots-Irish with your ancestors immigrating to Ireland from Scotland, bringing their Scottish religion with them. You will find most of these ancestors in Northern Ireland.

Tip 4: Move on to Military Records

World War I (1914-1918) was particularly brutal to the Irish. More than 30,000 of the 200,000 men who enlisted were killed in this war. Songs such as “Gallipoli” and “The Foggy Dew” mourned the loss of so many young Irish men in foreign wars, especially since the 1922 Irish War of Independence followed closely on the heels of World War I.

If one of your Irish ancestors fought and died in World War I, you can find his name and more at the website Ireland’s Memorial Records. Many (but not all) of the memorials include the county in which the soldier was born, as seen below:

trace Irish ancestors in military memorials

Memorial for John James of County Wexford. Courtesy Ireland’s Memorial Records.

Another website, Ireland’s World War I Veterans 1914-1918, has created a PDF list, updated every three months, which contains over 35,000 names of Irishmen who fought in World War I. If you know or suspect your Irish ancestor may have served in World War I and survived the experience, this is an excellent place to find a clue about his origins.

Trace Irish ancestors in veteran list

A sample of the list of those who served as created by Ireland’s World War I Veterans 1914-1918.

Although it can be difficult to find the correct place in Ireland for your family’s origins, there are some important clues, both historical and geographical, that can help you pinpoint a place to begin your search in Ireland.

Trace Your Irish Ancestors: In Conclusion

The 1930 U.S. census can provide an important clue to trace your Irish ancestors, as can your family’s religious heritage. If an Irish ancestor served in World War I, you may be able to determine the county in which he was born. A knowledge of the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as their location and the counties within those two countries, can help you contact the proper vital records office for those all-important vital records. So, go n-éirí leat! Good luck!

The team of expert genealogists at Legacy Tree Genealogists can help bust through your brick walls. They do the research and you enjoy the discoveries!

Snagit Part 2 – Advanced Clipping Techniques

Even if you don’t use Snagit, or if you’re a newbie or still deciding whether you want to use it, this video will give you tangible examples of what it can do for you. If you are already using Snagit, this session will definitely take your skills to the next level.

snagit part 2

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Use coupon code GENE15 to get 15% off.  Thank you for using my link for purchasing your copy of Snagit. (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.) Don’t worry if it initially shows as Euros in the cart. When you enter your address including country, it will convert the currency appropriately.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode

In Elevenses with Lisa episode 66 Lisa Louise Cooke will discuss how to use Snagit:

  • for problem-solving, such as errors in your Ancestry family tree
  • capturing unique records
  • creating family history videos
  • PLUS: answers to your Snagit questions

You can also watch at the  Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. 

Episode 66 Show Notes 

Elevenses with Lisa episode 61 was a tutorial for beginners on how to use Snagit, and specifically how I use it for genealogy. I think it really resonated with genealogists because accurately and completely capturing the family information that we’re finding is absolutely essential for good source documentation. It’s one of the most important things we do as genealogists.

So, this video is sort of a “Part 2” session where we dig into more ways to use this amazing screen capture tool and I answer some of your most pressing questions.

Save 15% on Snagit with Code GENEALOGY15

Even if you use a different snipping tool, I’m going to give you tangible examples of how you can clip more effectively.

I received the following email from Anne W.: “I very much enjoyed your recent Elevenses with Lisa episode on how to use Snagit. I love the screen clipper on my Mac but this does so much more.  I used your link to purchase Snagit and I have found the tutorials very helpful as I figure out how to use it on my Mac with my files.  The first thing I did was go back to several newspaper pages I clipped recently in chunks and used Snagit to capture the whole page.  It worked like magic!  I would love to see another episode about the features of Snagit. Thank you for your regular and premium podcasts.  I listen to both regularly.  I have learned so much that I can apply to my genealogy research.”

Oh I love hearing how you’re using what we talk about here at Genealogy Gems! And yes, Snagit is fantastic for clipping those squirrely newspaper pages, and so much more!

Let’s get started –  I’m excited to show you 5 more problem-solving screen capture projects that you can do with Snagit, and then we’ll wrap up with answers to your Snagit questions.

 Using Snagit for Problem Solving

Bill in San Antonio, TX wrote me last week and told me about a problem that he was having with his online family tree at Ancestry  It turns out that some ancestors had duplicate profiles. He didn’t put them there. He asked Ancestry about it but was getting what he called “boiler plate” answers that didn’t solve the problem.

In situations where you’re trying to communicate a complicated problem to someone else, or you’re just trying to work through it yourself, it can really help to visualize the problem, and Snagit can help you do that very effectively.

Bill says: “I am seeing duplicate FACTS in profiles of siblings, parents, and children of a person and cannot figure out where they originate. I go to the profile which seems to be generating duplicate information, but it is not there.”

As I read through all the details that he wrote up about the problem, I found myself getting confused. I asked his for access to his family tree so I could take a look and he wrote back

Bill went on to say, “The duplications I see are all in my tree. I have reviewed each of them to be certain that the data is not coming from a profile, even though it appears in duplicated form elsewhere. 

Here is a screenshot of one such issue, showing two siblings with repeated data. Note that in each case, the birth location is slightly different, as in “Texas” vs. “Concho County, Texas”.

ancestry tree problem of duplication

Ancestry Profile –  problem of duplication

Bill had annotated his screen clipping to help me zero in on the problem. “(I used SnagIt for the screenshot — thanks for suggesting it!) I see this issue in other profiles, so your suggestions for solving it will be useful in other parts of the tree.”

Here are just three examples of ways you can highlight or call out an item in an image:

  • Lines
  • Highlighter
  • Shape (set to transparent center, red outline)

Styles

After you select and customization a style (such as a red outline shape) you will see that Snagit provides a “ghost” version of it in your list. It’s greyed out and ready to add. Simply click the plus sign to add the style to a theme. There are several themes available and you can create new themes.

Favorites

I like to make it even faster to find the styles I use the most by adding them to my Favorites. It’s super easy to do. Just click the star on the style. You’ll find your Favorites in the star menu at the top of the screen. 

As a side note, I  do think this is a bug in Ancestry’s system. I recommended that he do the following to zero in on the problem: 

  1. Search the tree – is the person duplicated in the pedigree view somewhere. Answer: No.
  2. Check the URLs – Are the tree and person numbers in the URLs the same for each “Fact”? Answer: Yes.

Again, you can use Snagit to help work through things like this. Here’s how to see if you’re indeed looking at the same person: Right-click on each ancestor profile to open it in a new tab so you can compare and capture them. In this case it was Willie (the ancestor) and James and the duplicate of James. Each will have a URL address in your browser bar that will end in person/420009496764/facts. The number in red is the unique number for that person.

Had the tree number or person numbers been different, that would be the likely source of the problem. However, in Bill’s case, they are the same, so that’s more evidence that it’s a bug in Ancestry’s displaying of the information. 

After screen capturing each profile they can be combined into one step-by-step document that can then be shared.

How to Combine Captured Images with Snagit

  1. Click on the first image in the tray at the bottom of the page.
  2. Hold down your shift key and click the last image. (If you need to pick from the tray, hold down the Control key on your keyboard and click each desired image.)
  3. Right-click on the selected images and click Combine in Template – or – at the top of the screen click Create and select Image from Template – or – Press Control + Alt + Con your keyboard.
  1. Select the desired page layout. Custom Steps or Steps Portrait.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Give your document a title, captions, etc.
  4. Click the Combine button.
  5. Remove steps if desired, add annotations, etc. as desired.
  6. The combined image can then be saved to your computer and shared such as by email.

My guess is that at some point Bill viewed someone else’s tree or a hint that included this conflicting information, or he may have attached a record that had conflicting information, or rejected information from a record. In any case, some sort of action may have gotten “stuck” in the virtual stratosphere. The system has hung on to something it should not have. Bill says he’s finding more instances of this happening in the same tree, so it definitely needs to be addressed. It would be a shame to keep adding to the tree only to have that glitch continue to duplicate itself in other profiles. 

I suggested looking through the records he has attached to James Kalloup Sparks to see if any of the attached records mention Concho, TX as his birthplace. I doubt there is one, but if there is, it is likely somehow linked to the problem.

It’s very odd that on Willie’s profile it shows James Kalloup Sparks’ birthplace as Concho in the duplication, but when you click that profile it doesn’t say Concho. It’s must surely be an Ancestry glitch.

If it were me, I would try downloading your tree and then creating a second tree by uploading it and seeing if the error still occurs. Here’s the Ancestry Help page

Also, if by chance Bill was syncing his Ancestry online tree with genealogy software on his computer, there’s a possibility that could cause the problem. 

Annotations

Questions from Kelly: “Hi Lisa!, I would LOVE for you to create a very simple tutorial for adding in arrows and any text in “bubbles or boxes”. I have tried to do this and am missing something – I just LOVE Snagit but I am so technically challenged and would love to not become so annoyed when I am missing the simplest of steps.”

The most important thing to remember as you use annotations like text bubbles, shapes and text is you must select what you are working on. The font, color, sizing and other formatting features can be applied to every kind of annotation. You must select the item before applying the formatting.

If you’re ever confused about what “mode” you’re in, look at the top of the screen and note which tab is selected. In the example below, we are in “Shape” mode.

And if you try and try to make a change to an annotation and nothing seems to happen, you probably haven’t selected it. Click on the item to select it before attempting to make any changes.

If you want to move a item such as a shape or a selection of text, again you will need to click it to select it. You should see the “Move” selector handle that looks like this:

If you don’t or you’re having trouble, click “Move” in the toolbar at the top of the screen and then click on the item.

Most of the time if working with annotations or formatting them is presenting a challenge, it’s because the item hasn’t been properly selected before you begin.

Using Snagit to Capture Unique Sources

Many of the most popular genealogy records websites offer a hinting feature that suggests records to you based on the information in your online family tree. Many of those “records” are quite unique. I recently came across a Photo Hint at Ancestry that was a screen capture of a story in a public Facebook group of the descendants of a particular couple. It was interesting information but I didn’t really want everything that was captured in the image. I used Snagit to capture and then edit the image the way I wanted it so I could then save it to my computer. This included erasing or removing unwanted areas. The following Snagit features can help you accomplish this easily:

  • Select and delete
  • Shapes recolored to match the background
  • The Eraser tool under the More menu in the toolbar

 Answers to Your Questions about Snagit

Answers to your questions from episode 61 which was my beginning tutorial on Snagit. If you haven’t used it before stick with us in this video to see all the cool things it can do and then go back and watch that episode which is perfect for beginners.

Pat M.: ​Will OCR work for non-English newspapers?
Answer: Snagit doesn’t translate, but the OCR will Grab non-English text. Learn more here. You can then copy and paste it into Google Translate.

SHB:​ Don’t see Evernote on the list, how easy is it to save to EN?
Answer: If you have Evernote installed on your computer you should see it in the Share list. You can also download Evernote to add it as a Share destination. In fact, there are loads of programs you can download.

Cyndy B.: ​Are all these features in older versions?
Answer: No, like all software, each version introduces additional features.

SHB: Curious about printing… if you print a long article, will it print out readable?
Answer: Yes! You can set the resolution. And use Print Preview to make adjustments so it prints exactly the way you want it.

CA Sanders​: if I bring a photo into Snagit and work with it will save IN Snagit, not in my original placement…so I would have to “save” or “move” to the folder it was in to begin with my changes.
Answer: After making your edits, use File > Save As to save it in the desired format to the desired location on your computer hard drive. You can also save it to replace the original if that’s your goal.

B Latham​: How do we keep the SnagIt program up to date? It sounds as if other viewers here are saying they purchased the program a few years ago and may be outdated. Isn’t there a way to keep it up to date?
Answer:  Yes, you can buy a maintenance plant that will include future updates at a reduced fee. Use our link and discount code, and the option will be available at checkout.

Barbara C.​: For 2 different laptops, would we need to purchase Snagit twice?
Answer: TechSmith software is licensed per user, so how many computers can I install it on?
Each user may install and use one copy of the software product on up to two computers for their sole use, provided only one computer is in use at any given time. This includes home and work, or a laptop and desktop.

Use Our Exclusive Code to Save 15%!

Here’s our link for purchasing your copy of Snagit (screen clipping tool) Thank you for using our link.  Use coupon code: GENE15 (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.)

Resources

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.  Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

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