TRACING YOUR IRISH FAMILY HISTORY
Researched by Sheila Crowell
Note 1: All sites listed on these pages are free unless noted with a Dollar Sign.
Note 2: Information about these websites was obtained or adapted from either the website itself, Family Tree Magazine, or from Wikipedia. Please also note that this list is not inclusive…there are many other sites you may explore on the ever growing availability of digital records!
·WHERE TO START - Most, if not all, of the guides to starting a family tree or researching your genealogy advocate that you start with yourself and work backwards. Work back to your immigrant ancestor and trace them back to their arrival and death and burial records. Also, take a look at their siblings, any and all extended family as these may also give important clues as to origins in Ireland. There are many websites and books available to guide you to next steps. Don’t be disheartened when you hear that “all the Irish records were destroyed in the early 20th century”. While many of the records stored at the Four Courts were lost, there are many alternative resources available, as the following lists of websites, books, etc., will show.
http://www.ancestry.com (with some free versions and databases as well) –Ancestry is the largest for profit provider in the world of family history and personal DNA testing, harnessing the information found in family tree, historical records, genetics and health history. While access is available via several paid subscription levels, Ancestry has hundreds of free databases if you register for a guest account. However, be aware that most of its information is only available with a paid subscription. Also, if you sign up for the trial edition and do not cancel within the 30 day trial period, your credit card will be billed for a yearly fee and it is sometimes difficult to obtain a refund. Another free and more complete (although still missing a number of databases) version is available if you have a library card for the Tampa-Hillsborough Library System. You will need to use a library computer, for instance, at the South Shore Regional Library here in Sun City Center.
https://familysearch.org/ – Family Search now offers new ways to view your family tree, family story booklets, updated mobile apps, record hints for your ancestor profiles, an upgraded wiki and a new search box to help find specific historical records collections. These add to the appeal of an ever-longer roster of online records at this essential—and free—site.
http://www.cyndislist.com/ - Cyndi’s List, the largest list of categorized genealogy resources and links on the Internet, has been a trusted genealogy research site for more than 20 years. Best of all, Cyndi's List is free.
http://www.usgenweb.org/ - The USGenWeb Project is a group of volunteers working together to provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. Organization is by county and state, and this website provides you with links to all the state genealogy websites which, in turn, provide gateways to the counties.
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com- RootsWeb is a free genealogy community that uses online forums, mailing lists, and other resources to help people research their family history. It is the oldest free online community genealogy research website. Users can upload GEDCOM files of their information for others to search at the WorldConnect portion of the site. Trees uploaded to WorldConnect are searchable at both the RootsWeb and Ancestry websites. Although RootsWeb was acquired by Ancestry.com in June 2000, it remains a free resource.
http://www.irelandxo.com/ – is a free online resource seeking to connect the Irish Diaspora with their parishes of origin. From their mission statement: Of the estimated 70 million people of Irish descent living outside of Ireland today, many are unsure of where in Ireland they originate from, or if there are any living relatives still there.
https://www.myheritage.com - My Heritage.com is no longer just for building your online family tree. Thanks to acquisitions and partnerships, MyHeritage now offers a wealth of searchable databases as well—6 billion historical records in all. There are separate prices for hosting your family tree and for data membership.
Tracing Your Irish Ancestors – The Complete Guide, Fourth Edition by John Grenham, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012. This book is considered one of the primary resources for beginning genealogists.
Discovering Your Irish Ancestors – by Dwight A. Radford and Kyle J. Betts, Betterway Books, 2005. This is another great resource for beginning your search.
http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/ - The Ellis Island website offers an extensive free listing of manifests for ships that arrived in New York between 1892 and 1924-the years during which Ellis Island was America's primary immigrant processing center and where 12 million immigrants were processed. As of 2016, it lists 51 million records in its database and has added passenger records from the years 1925 through 1957. It is free although you have to register as a guest user to see the manifests and if you want a copy, that requires payment.
http://castlegarden.org/ - Castle Garden, today known as Castle Clinton National Monument, is the major landmark within The Battery, the 25 acre waterfront park at the tip of Manhattan. From 1855 to 1890, the Castle was America's first official immigration center, a pioneering collaboration of New York State and New York City. This free site offers access to an extraordinary database of information on 11 million immigrants from 1820 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened.
http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/index.shtml - Olive Tree Genealogy has more than 1,500 free ships passenger lists. Search for immigrant passengers on ships list by country of arrival, by state of arrival, or by ethnic group and find your family tree.
http://www.theshipslist.com/ - The Ships List website has immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more, as well as hundreds of passenger lists to Canada, USA, Australia and even some for South Africa. It offers over 3,500 totally free access web-pages with new databases added regularly.
http://archives.gov/research/immigration/passenger-arrival.html - This Archives government website has immigration records for arrivals to the United States from foreign ports between approximately 1820 and 1982. The records are arranged by Port of Arrival. They do not have passenger lists available online; however, they do have a list of the microfilm available for each port.
https://aad.archives.gov/aad/ - This government database identifies 604,596 persons who arrived in the Port of New York, from 1846-1851. In AAD, under Browse by Category, choose Genealogy/Personal History, then select the database: Records for Passengers Who Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine, created, 1977 - 1989, documenting the period 1/12/1846 - 12/31/1851. Despite the name of the records, approximately 30 percent of the passengers list their native country as other than Ireland.
DEATH AND CEMETERY RECORDS
http://www.Interment.net - – Free online archive of transcriptions of cemeteries in the U.S.A. and across the world, including some cemeteries that no longer exist.
http://gravelocator.cen.va.gov - This stateside counterpart to the American Battle Monuments Commission, updated daily, searches US burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA national cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries and more.
http://www.findagrave.com/ - This website contains listings of cemeteries and graves from America and around the world.
U.S. WEBSITES FOCUSED ON IRISH RECORDS
http://infowanted.bc.edu/ – This site from the Boston College Center for Irish Studies provides online access to an extraordinary database collection of 41,249 records compiled from the Boston Pilot newspaper. That newspaper, from October 1831 through October 1921, printed a “Missing Friends” column with advertisements from people looking for “lost” friends and relatives who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States.
https://www.qu.edu/institutes-and-centers/irelands-great-hunger-institute/ - Although it’s not an online database to search, a visit to this resource on An Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger, is worth a look. The Institute itself offers lectures, conferences, courses and publications focused on development of a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of The Great Hunger, and in addition, it is home to the Great Hunger Museum, which houses Irish and Irish American art from the 19th century through present day.
http://www.thecore.com/seanruad/ - This website is now home to the old “sean ruad” Townlands Database, a fantastic resource for those seeking to learn more about where their ancestors came from. Once you know the County, Poor Law Union, Province, Barony, or Civil Parish, enter it here and it will give you listings on all the Townlands contained within it.
http://www.americanancestors.org/Irish-Research – $$-Pay site sponsored by the New England Genealogical and Historical Society, although it does have some free databases. It has a number of databases devoted to Irish genealogy. Watch for free periods of access which just require registering as a Guest User.
NEWS, BOOKS and MAGAZINES
Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, by John Grenham. See previous listing under General Resources.
Surnames of Ireland by Edward MacLysyacht lists more than 4,000 Gaelic, Norman and Anglo-Irish surnames, revealing their origins and the areas of the country most commonly associated with the name. Tracing your [County] Ancestors series, by various authors, published by Flyleaf Press. How-to guides provide detail about your family’s Irish county of origin. Not all counties have been completed yet. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland by Brian Mitchell. Addresses issue of Irish place names, parishes, town lands, baronies and registration district. Contains detailed maps and may narrow down the possible locations in Ireland your ancestors came from.
http://www.Irishlivesremembered.ie – This site provides access to Irish Lives Remembered, an online magazine available to download and read for free at this website.
http://www.irishcentral.com/ - Irish Central is a free online resource providing daily installments of Irish or Irish American news or articles.
http://www.nationalarchives.ie/ - The National Archives of Ireland website provides information on the records held there which include Church of Ireland parish records, gravestone inscriptions probate records, deeds, Tithe Applotment books rebellion and outrage papers, convict reference files and other genealogical and historic resources. Importantly, here is where you may obtain free access to the online census returns for the 19th and early 20th century.
http://www.nli.ie/ - The NLI or National Library of Ireland has now made available online copies of all its holdings for Irish Catholic parish registers. Their other main record sources include property registers such as estate papers and maps, newspapers, directories and heraldic records.
https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni - PRONI stands for the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. PRONI is the main archive for Northern Ireland and holds millions of documents, covering a period from 1600 to the present day. PRONI is the main venue for researching family and local history or for discovering the economic, social and political history of Northern Ireland.
Census Records – You can now find the remaining Irish census records on Ancestry (indexed), Family Search, Find My Past (indexed) and the Ireland National Archives sites. Due to transcription errors, it is worth taking a look at all sites for the names you are researching.
Find My Past is a not-just-for-English-research-anymore subscription site ($19.95 a month for world access) that has now integrated the popular Mocavo genealogy search site that it purchased. The site also includes a new searchable database of 10 million Irish parish registers and many Irish Petty Sessions court records. (The index to the parish registers is available to search for free.) While the initial search for most databases is free, to view the records you will need to purchase credits, either by buying PayAsYouGo credits or a subscription option. However, watch for their announcements of free access to some or all of their databases for short periods of time. A recent list of the Irish records that they hold is located at:
Court and Prison records
At the present time, the Irish Prison Registers may only be found on the Find My Past site.However, they way be searched via microfilm at your local LDS Family History Center.
Church Records, Land and Property records.
http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/ - The National Library of Ireland has copies of the existing parish registers which are available to search in person via microfilm . Alternatively, visit this website they have established which also includes indexes to the Civil records for Births, Marriages and Deaths. Also see Ancestry, FindMyPast and Family Search. The Irish Genealogy.ie site also has information and links for existing Irish Land and property records including Griffith’s Valuation, the Valuation Office and the Registry of Deeds.The Irish Goverment has officially launched the release of over 2,500,000 historic records of Births over 100 years ago, Marriages over 75 years ago, and Deaths over 50 years ago. These images are now available and free to search on the irishgenealogy.ie website. Also, sometime in January, 2017, they will be inaugurating a new website which will be dedicated to assisting those searching for their irish ancestors.
http://www.askaboutireland.ie/ - This Ask About Ireland website provides much interesting and useful information, not the least of which are the Griffith’s Valuation records. Griffith’s Valuation was the first full-scale valuation of Irish property and was led by Richard Griffith. It was conducted between 1847 and 1864.
Wills and Probate
– Information on this topic as well as Indexes to existing wills are available at the Irish National Archives website, Ancestry, Family Search and FindMyPast.
http://www.irishorigenes.com/--Use Your DNA to Rediscover Your Irish Heritage
https://www.irishnewsarchive.com/ - $$-Irish Newspaper Archives is the largest Digital Archive of Irish Newspapers in the world, with over 40 titles from all over the country, providing access to millions of newspaper articles spanning over 300 years of Irish history.
http://www.irelandoldnews.com - This site provides FREE links to articles which are updated frequently and organized by county of publication, year and month.
http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk - $$-This site is a partnership between the British Library and the owners of FindMyPast with plans to digitize the vast collection in the British Library. Since so many Irish emigrated and settled in England, you may find information on Irish relatives here . Right now, this online collection includes 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles. However, it also includes 119 Irish newspaper titles, national and regional.
Irish Maps and Timelines
http://www.osi.ie/about/ - The Ordnance Survey Office of Ireland has 19th century, historic black-and-white and color ordnance survey maps and the corresponding 2005 satellite images. Click on the products tab to see the listings for their Discovery series maps. You may also explore maps using their public viewer.
http://m.megalithic.co.uk/asb_mapsquare.php - This map of Britain and Ireland shows locations of prehistoric stone circles and stone rows. Many of the pages have images and links to information elsewhere on the web.
http://www.irishhistorian.com/IrishHistoryTimeline.html - This timeline has many notations regarding ancient Irish history.
http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/ireland/ietimeln.htm - This site from World Atlas has geographical information about Ireland as well as a historical timeline.
http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/Irish_History_Timeline.html - This timeline has links to more complete information about important historical dates. Irish Surnames, Clans and Coats of Arms - If you browse this topic on any search engine, you will find multitudes of commercial websites offering you products with coats of arms, mottos, etc. The following sites offer more general historical information on the topic.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Ireland - This website offers information on the meaning behind Ireland’s Coat of Arms.
https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Ireland_ Heraldry -This heraldry page from Family Search gives information and offers links to other websites on this topic.
http://www.leitrim-roscommon.com/heraldry/- This page from the wonderful Leitrim-Roscommon website offers historical information on heraldry and coats of arms.
·"AN GORTA MOR " – THE GREAT HUNGER If you google this topic, you will find a huge and ever growing list of resources on this topic, some of it controversial “revisionist” history but most of it evenhanded discussion of the topic. There is also an effort to refer to the period as The Great Hunger, rather than The Great Famine, since there actually was food available; it was just imported out of the country and not available to the majority of the population. The Quinnipiac University site was listed earlier. You could also start with the Wikipedia site below. The books listed are just a small sampling of what is available. The book by Cecil Woodham-Smith was one of the earliest and most popular histories. The more recent book, The Graves Are Walking, is an excellent read as well.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_(Ireland) --The Great Hunger, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, Penguin Books, 1962
The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People by John Kelly, Henry Holt and Co., 2013
Atlas of the Great Irish Famine – Edited by John Crowley, William J. Smyth, Mike Murphy, University College Cork, 2012
Paddy’s Lament, Ireland 1846-1847: Prelude to Hatred, by Thomas Gallagher, Mariner Books, 1987.
http://www.yourirish.com/history/ancient/ - Great site with timelines for various periods.
http://www.ancient.eu/ireland/ - Another good site to read.
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlkik/ihm/ancient.htm - This site from Rootsweb offers ancient Irish history from a variety of perspectives: “Archaelogy, Geology and Other Scientific Endeavor”.
http://googlen.com So much has been written about the course of Irish history in the last few centuries, particularly from the 1700s on through the 20th century, especially regarding the 19th century Land Wars and then the Rising of 1916, that only a few sources are listed here. A Google search or Amazon book search will refer you to many more.
http://www.irishhistoryonline.ie/ - This is a wonderful bibliographic resource. While not strictly focused on modern history, it can still provide links to the later periods.
The Princeton History of Modern Ireland, edited by Richard Bourke & Ian McBride, the Princeton Press, 2016.
The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish History, ed. Alvin Jackson, Oxford University Press, 1914
· General information
· WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR INFORMATION
Family History Software
Family Tree Storage Sites
Writing Your Family History
https://www.lifeposts.com/ is a new free site which allows you to commemorate events in your family’s life. It is expected that a fee structure may be added in the future.
The website FutureLearn.com offers free online courses on a variety of subjects, sometimes one such as “Researching Your Family Tree” from the University of Strathclyde”.