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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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!
I’ll be streaming live this weekend at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree!
This Saturday from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm PDT, my class “Master Using Google for Common Surname Searches” will be among those featured in the JamboSTREAM, a live webcast of selected Jamboree presentations.
Google searches can power up our genealogy research, but only if use them productively. In this class, you’ll learn strategies for searching for common surnames and surnames that double as common words. You’ll discover how to weed out irrelevant search results, then automate your searches to run for you. This is a perfect class for beginners and a great brush-up for more experienced online researchers.
Register for this free class by clicking on the link above. You’ll just be asked for your name and email address, state and country and how you heard about the session. Please tell them that Genealogy Gems sent you! After you register, you will receive a confirmation notice with the security credentials (username and password). You must be registered to view a session.
Along with my session, you can also register to hear several more fantastic presenters and topics. Click on the links below to register for each one individually.
Friday, June 7
1:30 PM to 2:30 PM, FR001: http://www.mindanews.com/buy-inderal/ Basic Military Research, Craig Roberts Scott MA, CG
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, FR016: The Ethical Genealogist, Judy G. Russell JD, CG (here’s the handout)
4:30 PM to 6:00 PM, FR022: DNA Panel Discussion – Hear it from the Experts. CeCe Moore; Alice Fairhurst; Ken Chahine PhD; Joanna Mountain PhD; Bennett Greenspan. (Co-Sponsored by International Society of Genetic Genealogy.)
Saturday, June 8
8:30 AM to 9:30 AM, SA004: Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestor, Craig Roberts Scott MA,CG
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, SA018: Genealogical Periodicals: Where the Answers Are, Kory L. Meyerink MLS, AG, FUGA
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM, SA032: Turning Genealogy into Family History: Creating Stories from Stats by Jean Wilcox Hibben PhD, MA, CG
3:30 PM to 4:30 PM, SA041: Finding Your Family in the French and Indian Wars, Leland Meitzler
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM, SA048: Staying Safe Online, Thomas MacEntee
Sunday, June 9
8:30 AM to 9:30 AM, SU003: A Guided Tour of Cyndi’s List 2.0, Cyndi Ingle Howells
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM, SU017: Scanning and Photo Retouching for Beginners: Foundations and Fundamentals, Tom Underhill
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, SU020: Strange and Unusual Sources for Irish Family History, James Ryan, PhD
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM, SU029: Lessons from the Archive, Denise Levenick
New and updated genealogy collections from all around the world are just a click away! Sail your way from Norway across the Atlantic to the U.S. state of Michigan, then head across the Pacific to Korea and end your virtual voyage in Australia with the Victoria Passenger lists.
Norway Genealogy Records – Probate
FamilySearch has a new collection this week titled Norway, Probate Index Cards, 1640-1903. Only a small number (194,981) have been indexed. These are not digital images, but like the title says, it is an index.
These index cards were created by the regional archives in Norway. Not all regional archives created an index so, the collection does not cover all of Norway. FamilySearch has indexes for the following counties:
Each index card may include the following:
- Probate district
- Volume (inclusive dates) and page number
- Farm name
- Date of probate
- Name of the deceased & spouse
- Name of children/heirs
- Decision of the court
United States – Michigan – Oral Histories
The Ypsilanti Library has just launched their African American Oral History Archive. It’s been 40 years, but dozens of leaders of the Ypsilanti African American community were interviewed about their personal experiences during the Great Depression, WWII, and the Civil Rights movement. Now, these interviews are being digitized and will be made available online.
Although only one interview is available at this time, over the next 9 months, historians will be putting more of their stories online at the A.P. Marshall African American Oral History Archive website. You can enjoy the first interview with Eugene Beatty, a track athlete who nearly made the U.S. Olympic team in 1932, now.
In addition to interview recordings, the online archive will include a transcript with photographs of the subjects.
Korea – Civil Service Records and Genealogies
Wow! It has been a long time coming, but finally, we have two new database collections for Korea. FamilySearch.org has digitized over 2 million records for these collections. The Korea Collection of Genealogies, 1200-2014 was added this week and boasts family biographies, genealogies, and histories. The records are in Korean and Chinese, but for translation tools, see the section titled For Help Reading These Records.
These genealogies are not yet indexed, so you will need to use the browse feature we shared with you last month. You can read that article here.
The second collection for Korea is titled Korea Civil Service Examinations and Records of Officials and Employees, 1390-1900. This is a rather small collection of just over 4,000 records.
This collection will include records from Jeollabuk-do and Jeonju-si, South Korea. The records are in Korean and Chinese, dated from 1392 to 1910, and include Korean civil service examinations from the Joseon Dynasty.
The civil service examinations under the Joseon dynasty were known as the gwageo. These were very difficult tests and central to education during the Joseon dynasty. The test assessed the applicant’s knowledge of Chinese classics and, occasionally, technical skills. Passing the test qualified the individual to enter into the higher governmental or aristocratic positions.
The civil service examination may contain some valuable information, such as:
- Name of Employee
- Date and Place of Birth
- Names of Parents
- Name of Spouse
Australia – Victoria – Passenger Lists
New from Findmypast, Victoria Coastal Passenger Lists 1852-1924 is the largest release of Australian records to date! These passenger lists cover the great Gold Rush and contains 3.3 million records. Both transcripts and digital images of the lists are found in the collection. Generally speaking, you will find the following information:
- First and last name(s)
- Sex, age, and birth year
- Marital status
- Year of arrival
- Ship name
- Departure port and date
- Arrival port and date
The early 1850s marked great gold discoveries in Australia. People immigrated to the area in masses to stake their claims. The population exploded and by 1871, 1.7 million people had immigrated to Victoria. Perhaps you always wondered what brought your family to Australia. This collection may finally provide the answer!
More Gems on New and Updated Genealogical Records
WorldCat Gets a Major Addition: New Genealogy Records Online this Week
England Emigrants and More: New Genealogy Records Online
We are digging deep into these new and updated genealogical records this week. We begin with several genealogical records for Ireland and Scotland, then new additions in Argentina. To end our list, a couple of fun finds in Minnesota and the state of Washington!
Ireland – Valuation Office Books
New collections have been added to Findmypast and the first is titled Ireland Valuation Office Books. With just under 2 million records, this collection contains several types of manuscript records including field books, house books, quarto books, rent books, survey books, and more.
Each record includes both a transcript and an image of the original document. The amount and type of information will vary depending on the date and nature of the document. Some book types, such as tenure books, include notations about the property as well as notes on the cost of rent and additional observations. House books include descriptions of the property. Quarto books include observations about the tenement.
Ireland – Will Registers
Also new at Findmypast, Ireland, Original Will Registers, 1858-1920 is a collection with over 181,000 records. These records are derived from district courts and held by the National Archives of Ireland. Wills from Northern Ireland are included, up until 1917. Each of the records contain a transcript and an image of the original source document.
Each transcript will provide you with a name, whether the person is heir, executor, or deceased, name of the deceased, and whether the document is a will, grant of probate, or an administration. From the images, you can determine dates, address of the parish, names of other heirs, and other various details.
The images provide much more detail about your ancestor’s will. Most entries have your ancestor’s death date, death place and who inherited the deceased person’s property, and processions. The will can provide the names of many other relations and explain their family connections.
Some wills are more than one page, so you will need to use the arrow on the right side of the image to continue reading the document.
Ireland – Church Records
Lastly, Findmypast has added the new collection titled Ireland, Catholic Qualification and Convert Rolls, 1701-1845. You can search lists of over 50,000 Irish Catholics who swore loyalty to the crown or converted to Protestantism. As a note of interest, Catholics were restricted from owning property or having businesses during the Penal Laws of the 18th century. Because of this, many chose to either convert to the Church of Ireland or swear loyalty to the crown so they qualified for certain rights.
Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original entry. The amount of information varies, but you should be able to find a name, an address, occupation, date of conversion or qualification, date of enrollment or court hearing, and the court.
Glasgow – Electoral Registers
Ancestry has made available over 100 years of electoral registers from the Mithcell Library’s family history collection. These voter rolls have been digitized and can be found in the collection titled Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Electoral Registers, 1857-1962.
Electoral registers may provide a name and place of residence, a description of property, and qualifications to vote. Registers were compiled at a local level, with names appearing alphabetically within the wards or districts. Many of the registers in this database have been indexed electronically, which allows you to search them by name, but if you’re searching for a somewhat common name it will be helpful to know the area in which your ancestor lived to narrow your results.
Remember: Parliamentary Division boundaries may have changed over time. If you are looking for a particular parish or place, try searching using the key word field rather than browsing the image sets listed by Division.
Korea – Various Records
Though these two new Korean database collections hold few records in number and they are browse-only at this time at FamilySearch, they are a wonderful step in the right direction. Korean records of genealogical value are not always easily found online. These new Korean collections include:
Korea, Local History, 655-1935 – A small collection of local histories and town records from Korea. The records are written in Korean using Chinese hanja characters. This collection will be published as images become available, so check back from time to time to see what’s new.
Korea, School Records, 1958 – Only 149 images are digitized at this time. We will be watching this closely and update you as new records become available.
In the meantime, see what other collections FamilySearch has for Korea by clicking here.
Argentina – Cordoba – Church Records
FamilySearch has also expanded their Argentina Catholic Church Records in their collection titled Argentina, Cordoba, Catholic Church Records, 1557-1974. This collection nearly doubled with newly digitized and indexed records.
These records are in Spanish. This collection of church records includes baptism, confirmation, marriage, divorce, and death records for parishes in the Córdoba Province.
Catholic Church parish registers are a major record available to identify individuals, parents, and spouses before 1930. After this date, civil authorities began registering vital statistics, which by law included people of all religions.
United States – Washington – Marriage Records
Updated at Ancestry, Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013 contains both images and indexes extracted from various records of marriages in Washington.
Marriage records offer the basic facts such as bride, groom, date, and place. These images of marriage certificates may also include additional information such as:
- marital status (single, divorced)
- whether a first marriage
- fathers’ names and birthplaces
- mothers’ names, maiden names, and birthplaces
This database does not contain an image for every document included in the index.
United States – Washington – Naturalizations
Washington, Naturalizations, 1853-1980 database has been updated at Ancestry and contains records created as aliens applied for U.S. citizenship in the state of Washington. It includes both original records and an index extracted from naturalization documents. You will find:
- Certificates of Arrival
- Declarations on Intent
- Petitions for Naturalization
- Oaths of Allegiance
- Certificates of Naturalization
This database does not contain an image for every document included in the index.
Details contained on naturalization records varies based on the year. However, you may be able to find the following valuable information:
- birth date
- country of origin
- arrival date
- place of arrival
- document type
United States – Minnesota – Obituaries
FamilySearch expanded two large collections this week and one of those is the Minnesota, Obituaries, 1865-2006. Even though only about 73,000 records have been indexed, there are over 132,000 digital images in the browse-only section.
These obituaries include an index and images of newspaper obituary files filmed by FamilySearch at the historical societies in Minnesota. Indexed records and additional images will be added to this collection as they become available, so be sure to check back frequently.
Many of these digitized records are referred to as obituary cards, which means that the information has been abstracted from the original source. These cards usually contain the following information:
- Name of the deceased
- Death date
- Names of parents, spouse, children, siblings or other relatives
- Name of newspaper, date and place of publication
- Birth date and place
- Other details such as military service
We hope you enjoy the many new and updated genealogical record collections this week and that you make some new discoveries for your family tree. Don’t forget to share this post with your genealogy friends and help them in their research journey as well!