Irish genealogy and family history can be a rewarding and fascinating pursuit, but it can also be a complex and challenging field.  If you are interested in learning about your Irish ancestors, there are a number of online resources that can be helpful, including websites such as Irish Genealogy and the National Archives of Ireland.

This Guide introduces some of the main resources but there are many more available that focus on specific areas or niche topics.  The sites below offer access to a range of records, including census records, civil registration records, and military records, which can provide valuable information about your ancestors.

How should I begin to search for my Irish ancestry?

Tracing your Irish ancestry can be a rewarding and interesting endeavor. Here are some steps you can take to begin your search:

Gather as much information as you can about your family tree. This may include talking to older relatives, collecting family photos and documents, and creating a family tree.

Research Irish records online. There are a number of online resources available for researching Irish ancestry, such as the Irish Genealogy website, the National Archives of Ireland, and the General Register Office. These sites offer access to a range of records, including census records, church records, and civil registration records.

Consider hiring a professional genealogist. If you are having difficulty finding information on your own, you may want to consider hiring a professional genealogist who has experience researching Irish ancestry.

Visit Ireland. If you are able to travel to Ireland, consider visiting the places where your ancestors lived. This can be a great way to learn more about your family history and gain a better understanding of your Irish heritage.

Join a genealogy group or society. There are many genealogy groups and societies dedicated to researching Irish ancestry. These groups can be a great resource for information and support as you trace your family tree.

 

Are there any unusual factors in Irish genealogy?

There are a few factors that may be considered unusual when researching Irish genealogy. These include:

  • The Great Famine: The Great Famine, also known as the Irish Potato Famine, occurred between 1845 and 1852. It had a significant impact on the population of Ireland, leading to widespread emigration and a significant decrease in the population. This can make it difficult to trace family history back further than the mid-19th century.
  • Limited historical records: Many historical records from Ireland, including census records and church records, were destroyed during the 1922 Irish Civil War. This can make it difficult to find information about ancestors who lived in Ireland before the early 20th century.
  • Variations in spelling: Irish names, particularly Gaelic names, can be difficult to spell because there are often multiple acceptable variations. For example, the name “Ó Briain” could also be spelled “O’Brien,” “O’Bryan,” or “O Bryan.” This can make it challenging to find ancestors in records if you are not familiar with all of the possible variations.
  • Adoption: Adoption was more common in Ireland than in many other countries, particularly in the 20th century. This can make it difficult to trace family history if an ancestor was adopted.
  • Lack of surname consistency: In the past, it was common for Irish people to use their father’s first name as their surname. For example, if a man’s name was Patrick and his father’s name was John, his surname would be “Patrick John.” This can make it difficult to trace family history because it is not always clear who is related to whom.
  • Catholic church records: Many Irish people were Catholic, and the Catholic Church kept records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths. These records can be a valuable resource for Irish genealogy, but they are not always easy to access.

 

What are the best online sources of information on Irish ancestors for genealogy research?

Here are some online resources that may be helpful for researching Irish ancestry:

Irish Genealogy (https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/): This is a government-run website that offers access to a range of Irish records, including census records, civil registration records, and church records.

National Archives of Ireland (https://www.nationalarchives.ie/): The National Archives of Ireland holds a wide range of Irish records, including census records, military records, and land records.

General Register Office (https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/af7893-general-register-office/): The General Register Office is the official government agency responsible for the registration of births, deaths, and marriages in Ireland. Their website offers access to a range of Irish civil registration records.

RootsIreland (https://www.rootsireland.ie/): This is a subscription-based website that offers access to Irish church records, including baptism, marriage, and burial records.

Irish Times Archives (https://www.irishtimes.com/archive): The Irish Times newspaper has been published since 1859, and their website offers access to a searchable archive of articles dating back to 1859. This can be a useful resource for finding information about historical events and individuals in Ireland.

It’s worth noting that many of these resources may require a subscription or fee for access to certain records. It’s also worth keeping in mind that not all Irish records are available online, so it may be necessary to access physical copies of records at a local library or archives.

 

What about sources for ancestors from Ulster or Northern Ireland?

Here are some online resources that may be helpful for researching ancestry from Ulster or Northern Ireland:

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/public-record-office-northern-ireland-proni): PRONI is the official archive for Northern Ireland, and their website offers access to a range of records, including census records, wills, deeds, and other legal documents.

Irish Genealogy (https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/): As mentioned above, the Irish Genealogy website offers access to a range of Irish records, including census records and civil registration records. While the website is run by the Irish government, it also includes records for Northern Ireland.

National Archives of Ireland (https://www.nationalarchives.ie/): The National Archives of Ireland holds a wide range of Irish records, including census records, military records, and land records. While the focus of the National Archives is primarily on the Republic of Ireland, it does hold some records for Northern Ireland as well.

General Register Office (https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/af7893-general-register-office/):: The General Register Office is the official government agency responsible for the registration of births, deaths, and marriages in Ireland. Their website offers access to a range of Irish civil registration records, including those for Northern Ireland.

RootsIreland (https://www.rootsireland.ie/): This is a subscription-based website that offers access to Irish church records, including baptism, marriage, and burial records. The website includes records for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

 

What if my ancestors were Irish nobility? Where can I find out about them?

If your ancestors were members of the Irish nobility, there are a few online resources that may be helpful in your research:

  • Peerage of Ireland (https://www.thepeerage.com/): This website provides information on the peerage and includes families from Ireland, including information on Irish noble families and Members of Parliament.
  • Burke’s Peerage & Baronetage (http://www.burkespeerage.com/): Burke’s Peerage is a well-known reference work on the British nobility, and it includes information on Irish noble families as well. The website offers a searchable database of information on the peerage, including genealogical information.
  • National Archives of Ireland (https://www.nationalarchives.ie/): The National Archives of Ireland holds a wide range of Irish records, including census records, military records, and land records. The archives may have records related to Irish noble families, such as deeds, wills, and other legal documents.

It’s worth noting that information on Irish noble families may be limited, and it may be difficult to find detailed information about individual ancestors. In these cases, it may be necessary to consult other sources, such as local historical societies or libraries, or to hire a professional genealogist to assist with your research.

 

What are the main countries where the Irish have emigrated to?

The Irish have a long history of emigration, with many Irish people leaving Ireland for other countries over the centuries. Some of the main countries where the Irish have emigrated to include:

  • United States: The United States has a large Irish-American population, with millions of people of Irish descent living in the country. Many Irish people emigrated to the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly during the Great Famine of the 1840s.
  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom, particularly England, has a long history of Irish immigration. Many Irish people emigrated to the UK in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and there is a large Irish-British population in the country.
  • Australia: Australia has a significant Irish-Australian population, with many Irish people emigrating to the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Canada: Canada has a large Irish-Canadian population, with many Irish people emigrating to the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • New Zealand: New Zealand has a significant Irish-New Zealand population, with many Irish people emigrating to the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Other countries where Irish people have emigrated to in significant numbers include Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa.

 

Are their records on the irish emigrants to the countries you just mentioned? Where could I find them online?

There are a number of online resources that may be helpful for researching Irish ancestors who emigrated to other countries. Here are a few options to consider, organized by country:

United States:

  • Ellis Island (https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/): Ellis Island was a major point of entry for immigrants to the United States, and the website for the Liberty Ellis Foundation offers a searchable database of passenger records for those who arrived at Ellis Island. This can be a useful resource for finding information about Irish ancestors who emigrated to the United States.
  • National Archives and Records Administration (https://www.archives.gov/): The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for U.S. government records, and their website offers access to a range of records related to immigration and naturalization. This can include passenger lists, naturalization records, and other documents that may contain information about Irish ancestors who emigrated to the United States.

United Kingdom:

  • National Archives (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/): The National Archives of the United Kingdom holds a wide range of records related to immigration and naturalization, including passenger lists and other documents that may contain information about Irish ancestors who emigrated to the UK.
  • Findmypast (https://www.findmypast.com/): Findmypast is a subscription-based website that offers access to a range of genealogy and historical records, including immigration and naturalization records for the UK.

Australia:

  • National Archives of Australia (https://www.naa.gov.au/): The National Archives of Australia holds a wide range of records related to immigration and naturalization, including passenger lists and other documents that may contain information about Irish ancestors who emigrated to Australia.
  • Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/): Ancestry is a subscription-based website that offers access to a range of genealogy and historical records, including immigration and naturalization records for Australia.

Canada:

Library and Archives Canada (https://library-archives.canada.ca/eng): Library and Archives Canada holds a wide range of records related to immigration and naturalization, including passenger lists and other documents that may contain information about Irish ancestors who emigrated to Canada.

Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/): Ancestry is a subscription-based website that offers access to a range of genealogy and historical records, including immigration and naturalization records for Canada.

New Zealand:

National Archives of New Zealand (https://www.archives.govt.nz/): The National Archives of New Zealand holds a wide range of records related to immigration and naturalization, including passenger lists and other documents that may contain information about Irish ancestors who emigrated to New Zealand.

Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/): Ancestry is a subscription-based website that offers access to a range of genealogy and historical records, including immigration and naturalization records for New Zealand.

It’s worth noting that many of these resources may require a subscription or fee for access to certain records. It’s also worth keeping in mind that not all immigration and naturalization records are available online, so it may be necessary to access physical copies of records at a local library or archives.

 

Can you list any Irish Family History Societies or Genealogy Societies that are based in the countries above?

Here are some Irish family history societies or genealogy societies that are based in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand:

United States:

  • Irish Genealogical Society International (https://www.irishgenealogical.org/): This society is based in the United States and promotes the study of Irish genealogy and family history.
  • Irish Ancestral Research Association (https://tiara.ie/): This association is based in the United States and promotes the study of Irish genealogy and family history.

United Kingdom:

Australia:

Canada:

New Zealand:

It’s worth noting that these are just a few examples of the many Irish family history societies and genealogy societies that are available. There may be other societies or groups in these countries that are focused on Irish genealogy and family history, so it may be worth doing some additional research to see what is available in your area.

 

My ancestors served in the Irish Armed Forces – where can I find records on their service?

There are a few online resources that may be helpful for researching ancestors who served in the Irish Armed Forces:

  • Irish Military Archives (https://www.militaryarchives.ie/): The Irish Military Archives is the official repository for Irish military records, and their website offers access to a range of records related to the Irish Armed Forces. This can include service records, regimental histories, and other documents that may contain information about ancestors who served in the Irish Armed Forces.
  • National Archives of Ireland (https://www.nationalarchives.ie/): The National Archives of Ireland holds a wide range of Irish records, including military records. Their website offers access to a range of military records, including service records and other documents that may contain information about ancestors who served in the Irish Armed Forces.
  • Irish Genealogy (https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/): The Irish Genealogy website offers access to a range of Irish records, including census records and civil registration records. While these records may not contain information specifically about military service, they may contain other information about ancestors who served in the Irish Armed Forces, such as their dates of birth and death.

It’s worth keeping in mind that not all Irish military records are available online, so it may be necessary to access physical copies of records at a local library or archives.

 

Are there records for Irish regiments in British archives?

Yes, there are records for Irish regiments in the British archives. Here are a few online resources that may be helpful for researching Irish regiments in the British military:

  • The National Archives (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/): The National Archives of the United Kingdom holds a wide range of military records, including records for Irish regiments in the British military. Their website offers access to a range of records, including service records, regimental histories, and other documents that may contain information about Irish regiments in the British military.
  • The British Library (https://www.bl.uk/): The British Library holds a wide range of military records, including records for Irish regiments in the British military. Their website offers access to a range of records, including service records, regimental histories, and other documents that may contain information about Irish regiments in the British military.
  • Findmypast (https://www.findmypast.com/): Findmypast is a subscription-based website that offers access to a range of genealogy and historical records, including military records for the UK. The website includes a range of records for Irish regiments in the British military, including service records and regimental histories.

 

Are their clans in Ireland similar to the Scottish Clans?  What are the main clan names?

The concept of clans in Ireland is somewhat different from the Scottish clan system. In Scotland, clans were large, extended families that were led by a chief and were often associated with a specific territory. In Ireland, the term “clan” is often used to refer to a group of people who share a common surname and are believed to be descended from a common ancestor.

There are many Irish clans, or septs, with a variety of different surnames. Some of the main Irish clan names, with their names in Irish and English, include:

  • O’Neill (Ó Néill): This is one of the most famous Irish clans, with a long and illustrious history.
  • O’Connor (Ó Conchúir): This is another well-known Irish clan, with a strong presence in the west of Ireland.
  • O’Brien (Ó Briain): This is a well-known Irish clan with a strong presence in the west and south of Ireland.
  • O’Donnell (Ó Domhnaill): This is a prominent Irish clan with a strong presence in the northwest of Ireland.
  • O’Kelly (Ó Ceallaigh): This is a well-known Irish clan with a strong presence in the west and south of Ireland.
  • O’Sullvan (Ó Súilleabháin): This is a well-known Irish clan with a strong presence in the southwest of Ireland.

 

Can you list clan or sept societies for the examples above?

Here are some clan societies or organizations that are associated with the Irish clans or septs listed above:

These are just a few examples of the many Irish clan societies and organizations that are available. There may be other societies or groups that are associated with other Irish clans or septs, so it may be worth doing some additional research to see what is available.

 

In conclusion, researching your Irish ancestors can be a rewarding and fascinating pursuit, but it can also be complex and challenging. By using online resources such as Irish Genealogy and the National Archives of Ireland, as well as consulting with professional genealogists and joining Irish family history societies or genealogy societies, you can increase your chances of finding valuable information about your ancestors. Remember to be patient and persistent, as it may take time and effort to locate records and piece together your family history. With the right approach and resources, you can make significant progress in your search for your Irish ancestors.

 

 

 

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