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Searching for Irish Ancestors with Genealogy Clues

It is essential to always collect as much information as you possibly can about the family or person you are trying to research before drawing any conclusions. Start with what you know, and work back in time. Have an approximate date and place for birth, marriage or death as a starting point.

Only Partial Census Records have Survived

Only partial census documentation exists today for 1821 – 1891 censuses. The 1901 and 1911 are the only surviving complete sets that are available for family research. Other census documents have been destroyed. You can find them available online through the National Archives of Dublin.

Genealogy Found through Parish Records

Because of parish records you can search for birth, marriage, and death documents that have been kept for all of Ireland, which have existed before 1864, when Civil Records were started. In order to be successful with parish documents, you need to figure out the county and townland first. This is an important step as the Dublin Castle has had fires that have wiped out almost all civil documentation. Irish genealogy research relies mostly on parish and townland archives.

Pinpoint the County of Interest

Use maps to pinpoint where your ancestors were living. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, by Brian Mitchell is a great publication in finding and identifying church documentation pre-1864 and also locating government annals after 1864. The book provides clues that help make tracing your heritage easier. Anywhere from five to thirty townlands comprise one civil parish. Knowing the townland where your ancestors lived may prove significant in setting a family apart from others of the same surname. See the townland Database link to the right for more information.

Civil Records for Birth, Marriage or Death may not Provide Genealogy Clues

It wasn’t until 1864 when births started to be recorded, but it wasn’t followed strictly until the 1880’s. Couple that with the fact many of the records have been destroyed makes it difficult to use Irish civil records to find your ancestors, but you might be lucky. If you are looking to search an indexed collection containing birth information from 1864 to 1921, or birth from 1922 to 1958 (covering only 26 counties of the Republic), See the link Civil Registration Index.

Registering births and deaths was not followed strictly when first introduced. However, Irish marriage registries are the most complete genealogy source because priests, ministers and government officials nearly always submitted the marriage certificate direct to the local Registrar on the behalf of the bride and groom.

On receipt of the certificate, the local Registrar filed and recorded details of the marriage in the local district index. This index was passed on to General Register Office in Dublin where all the local indices were combined to make one national index of all marriages.

Death certificates provide the least amount of genealogy information. Unfortunately, it was not until 2005 that the authorities decided to start adding important details such as parents' names to ensure the deceased could be identified from another with the same name. Prior to this, certificates showed no date of birth for the deceased and no familial connections unless the person who reported the death was a relative.

tax payments can help with your Irish genealogy

Griffith’s Valuation can Provide Genealogy Information

Between 1848 and 1864; property was assessed to set the annual tax payment to the tax collector, which financed the Irish Poor Laws. The valuation was based on the need for a “modern” basis for determining equitable taxation to free property owners from having to pay the Tithe Tax to the Church of Ireland. You might find your ancestors in these records.

Irish Genealogy & Emigration

People left their homes and immigrated to new countries to have better lives. People traveled with family and also by religious affiliation. When people were free to worship in a place, they attracted others with the same beliefs. When they were not welcome and discriminated due to their connection, people left for freedom and happiness. Tracing migration routes can be the key to discovering your family history.