How to Find Your Irish Ancestors

Episode 18 Video and Show Notes

Live show air date: July 23, 2020
Join me for Elevenses with Lisa, the online video series where we take a break, visit and learn about genealogy and family history.

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An Irish Genealogy Brick Wall

This week I’m taking you on a bit of my own genealogical journey. It’s that one line of my family that crosses the pond to Ireland with my 2X great grandparents. I first learned about Michael Lynch and Margaret Scully as a child from my maternal grandmother. They were her husband’s (my grandfather’s) grandparents. She didn’t know much about them.

Margaret Scully of Limerick Ireland

Margaret Scully born in Limerick Ireland 1840

 

Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch born in Ireland in 1818

In 2000 I got an opportunity to sit down with my grandfather’s sister – the historian of that generation of the family – and ask her about them. She was nearly 90 years old at the time, and she told me the family lore that Margaret was supposedly from a more well-to-do family, and Michael was not.

Aunt Bea in 1937

Aunt Bea in 1937

“He was a groom. And they eloped. I don’t know where they came in. I don’t know which port, but I think it was Canada.”

A few years later after Aunt Bea’s passing I got in touch with some distant Lynch cousins through a bit of online genealogical research. They were descended from Ellen’s siblings who had stayed in the area where the Lynch family had lived (Western Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota).

These distant cousins supplied with a few more pieces of the puzzle.

  • They mentioned Kildysart, though my notes are unclear whether that was the possible location for Michael or Margaret.
  • There had some sketchy parents’ names through family lore and Margaret’s death certificate.
  • Margaret’s parents were supposedly James Lynch and Bridget Madigan.
  • Michael’s were possibly Michael Lynch and Johanna Healy but no evidence was provided.

I searched extensively several years ago but was unable to find a passenger list record. I did find the family in East Farmington, Wisconsin. where Michael purchased land and ran a dairy farm.

East Farmington Wisconsin History postcard

East Farmington Wisconsin postcard

My research questions were:
Who were the parents of Margaret Scully born in Limerick Ireland on approximately July 9, 1840? Where in Ireland was she born?

My Aunt Bea said Margaret was from county Cork. This was based on her conversations with her mother Ellen. However, Ellen left Wisconsin as a young woman and lived her adult live in California, far from her family.

The Wisconsin cousins were sure Margaret was from Limerick. They believed Michael was from Cork. Considering that their parents had known Margaret well, I put more stock in their information.

Then the cousins produced Margaret’s obituary from Fargo ND where she died a widow living with her son John in 1929. I clearly stated she was born in Limerick. I became even more confident that Limerick was the place to focus.

A secondary question which would be a bonus was ‘where were Michael and Margaret married?’ Was it true that they had eloped in Ireland and came to America via Canada as my aunt had said? And did any of her brothers and sisters come to America as well?

I’m not an expert in Irish genealogy. I have interviewed a few experts over the years, so you might think I would have jumped right into this Irish research. Instead, I found it a bit daunting.

So, earlier this month, I sat down for a 45 minute consultation with Kate Eakman. She’s a professional genealogist with Legacy Tree Genealogists specializing in Irish research among other areas.

Kate Eakman, professional genealogist

My consultant: Professional Genealogists Kate Eakman

These 45-minute consultations are designed to evaluate what you have, and kick start or restart your research.

As a seasoned genealogist, I want to do the research myself. This short focused consultation was perfect for helping me move forward with confidence.

Before we discuss the path we followed in the consultation, let’s talk a moment about how to prepare for a genealogical consultation.

Preparing for a Consultation with a Professional Genealogist

There are three things you can do ahead of time to help a professional genealogist help you.

1. Be clear what you want to accomplish.

It’s only 45 minutes, so one clearly defined research question is best. Avoid “I just want to find whatever is available”. It needs to be a specific question.

I wanted to specifically find out who Margaret’s parents were which I expected would also tell me where she was born.

2. Gather what you already have in advance.

I didn’t have much, but I made every effort to distill the known facts down in a list. I then added all source information I had for those items.

To get the most from a consultation it is important to not only share what you have but the strength of the source. Many of my sources were family lore. These rank low on reliability. The death certificate my cousin sent me ranked higher.

Remember time is limited and costs money, so don’t bog the genealogist down with EVERYTHING you have. Focus on the items that a relevant to the question.  

3. Briefly jot down what you’ve done so far.

You may have tried research avenues that were fruitless in the past. You definitely don’t want to spend precious time in the consultation going back over those. Making a list of what you did, and the outcome clears the way for your consultation time to be spent on new strategies.

A Consultation with a Professional Genealogist

My consultation in this episode of Elevenses with Lisa is focused on Irish research. You will see us using many of the most valuable online resources available.

But if you don’t have Irish ancestors, I encourage you to listen carefully to the process. The questions she asks, and her approach to finding answers. You may be pleasantly surprised to hear some things that can translate to your research process.

Irish Genealogy Websites

Searching at RootsIreland.ie ($)
https://www.rootsireland.ie

They have:

  • Baptisms
  • Marriage
  • Burial / Death
  • Census
  • Gravestone Inscriptions
  • Griffith’s Valuation
  • Irish Ship Passenger Lists
  • Census Substitutes

Strategies:

  • Search by name and birth year (+/- 5 years)
  • Narrow by county
  • The records will list the parents.

Online Research Tip: Right-click on each results to open in a new tab.

More Strategies:

  • If no results, revise your search to go broader.
  • Look at sponsor names as well.
  • Use maps to see where places are located and their relationship to each other.

Griffith’s Valuation at Ask About Ireland
http://www.askaboutireland.ie

(Free)

Click Griffith’s Valuation or go directly to http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/

From the website: “The Primary Valuation was the first full-scale valuation of property in Ireland. It was overseen by Richard Griffith and published between 1847 and 1864. It is one of the most important surviving 19th century genealogical sources.”

The value of family stories

“These family stories always have some kernel of truth to them, even if they seem outlandish. There’s something that’s true. Her parents were wealthy, or he was a groom, even if it wasn’t this falling in love with a groom and running away and getting married.” – Kate Eakman

More Strategies

  1. Spend some time looking for children of the suspected parents (James Scully and Bridget Madigan)
  2. Children may have been baptized as “girl” or “infant.” Look for these while searching.

National Library of Ireland (NLI) Parish Registers
https://registers.nli.ie
(Free)

After finding the parents James Scully and Bridget Madigan, the next step was to look for parish registers at the National Library of Ireland.  Search parish registers by clicking on Family History Research > Visit Catholic Parish Records. They are not indexed by name. You have to know who you’re looking for and where. But if you have an idea of the parish, you can enter that. Choose Baptism and the year and month in known. 

If you are not sure about the name of the location, search for it at the NLI to see if their system recognizes it or suggests a slightly different spelling.

We then headed back to RootsIreland.ie to look for marriage records. 

IrishGenealogy.ie
https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/

(Free)

Click Civil Records

From the website: “All civil marriage records from 1845 to 1944 are now available online to members of the public, along with the release online of birth register records for 1919 and death register records for 1969.  Over 15.5 million register records are now available to the public to view and research online on the www.irishgenealogy.ie website. The records now available online include:  Birth register records – 1864 to 1919; Marriage register records – 1845 to 1944 &  Death register records – 1878 to 1969.”

  • Kate likes to sort results by date.
  • First and last name won’t always be together in the results.

Searching for Records in North America

Kate and I dug for and discussed U.S. records that might lend more information that could help with the search in Ireland such as:

  • Marriage Records
  • Passenger Lists
  • Military Records
  • Documents relating to his work as a civil servant

Researching forward (known as Reverse Genealogy) could lead to collaboration with more cousins and the discover of letters or other helpful items.

Canadian Passenger Lists at the Library and Archives Canada

Action Items for My Irish Genealogy Research

My consultation with a professional genealogist specializing in Irish research left me newly found records and the confidence to continue exploring Irish records. I also had in hand a list of steps I could take to move forward:

  • Compile a list of all of James and Bridget Scully’s children.
  • Find birth, marriages and deaths for the children.
  • Look for siblings in America (start with Farmington, Wisconsin area)
  • Research the sponsors of the baptisms
  • Conduct a browsing search of the Parish Records for a baptism that lines up with Margaret Scully’s known birth.

More Irish Genealogy Websites

Irish Ancestors by John Grenham
https://www.johngrenham.com
(Free)

Check this web site to confirm what’s available before you start searching more in Ireland. I searched for Kildysart and found it here!

Our Finds During this Genealogy Consultation

I was very satisfied with the progress we made in just 45 minutes!

  • A good candidate for James Scully in Griffith’s Valuation
  • James and Bridget Scully’s marriage record at Roots Ireland
  • James and Bridget Scully’s original marriage record at the National Library of Ireland
  • Baptisms for seven of the couple’s children.
  • A large gap where Margaret’s birth would have been.
  • We found Kildysart in county Clare. (I’m still not sure where that fits in by I now suspect the place is associated with Michael Lynch and not Margaret Scully.)

Postscript to My Consultation with a Professional Genealogist

I was so encouraged by our research session, that I combed back through the papers I had collected over decades in my Lynch binder. There I found a death date for Michael Lynch given to me by one of the distant cousins. The place of death was Stillwater, Minnesota.

A quick look at a map revealed that Stillwater, Minnesota was just 21 miles down and west across the Saint Croix River from East Farmington, Wisconsin.

On a hunch I did some digging and I discovered that Michael and Margaret were married at St Michael’s church in Stillwater, MN!

Marriage Certificate

Marriage Question Solved!

Book a 45-Minute Consultation with a Professional Genealogist

Thank you to Kate Eakman of Legacy Tree Genealogists for sharing her expertise and helping me make significant progress on my genealogical brick wall!

Legacy Tree Genealogists Consultation 45-minute

Click here to learn more about 45-minute genealogy consultations.

A 45-minute consultation with a professional genealogist is just $100. If you decide to book please go to www.LegacyTreeGenealogists.com/GenealogyGems
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Resources

Live Chat PDF– Click here to download the live Chat from episode. Includes answers to your questions about using the Adobe Spark Video app to make a video. 
Show Notes PDF – Genealogy Gems Premium Members can click here to download the show notes PDF for this episode. (Log in required.) Become a Premium Member here

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