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Beginning your search

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When beginning your search you need to gather together as much information as you can about your family. Talk to parents, aunts, uncles. Grandparents, if still alive, may be able to recount stories going back another two generations. So for example someone aged 80, born in 1920, would have grandparents living in Ireland at the time of the famine! Talk to older people from the locality of interest to you. They can be an invaluable source of information. Out of all this information what you are  hoping to find are names, places and dates.


If your lucky a name may be sufficiently unusual within a parish or town land you are searching to make your task a little easier. If it turns out to be a little more common, then rather than having just one name, say a great grandfather, it would be better to know his wife or children's names if possible, to help identify beyond doubt that it's the person you are looking for.


The more specific you can be about location the better, as it makes your search a little easier. In Ireland, the division is into Counties, 32 in total, then parish, and finally town land (which can be extremely small), can make your search a lot easier.


Any type of date is useful as you start to search records, parish records, civil or otherwise. The date will probably relate to a birth, marriage or death. Or perhaps date of immigration. Do not rely on the exact date given, as the further back you go the less reliable it becomes. Be particularly suspicious of dates ending in zero, as there was a habit of rounding up to the nearest 10, when estimating someone's age at a point in time!

Don't discount any piece of information no matter how small. An occupation if known can lead to some excellent records. For example a soldier or policeman will be recorded with a serial number, where he was stationed and track his career. If a family fell on hard times, they made have ended up in a local workhouse. There are lists of those in workhouses available.

The slightly less illustrious career of convict, can still lead to a rich array of records in the library. There are letters of clemency. If the sentence was transportation then further lists give the name, age, crime and sometime the  ship on which the person was to be transported. See  Deportation & Convict Ships   for more information.

The links below represent some of the key start points for any research of your Ancestors in Ireland.

Civil Records   

Consisting of Births, Marriages and Deaths from the mid 1800's.

Church Records       

Records of births, marriages and sometimes deaths in a given parish.


Details of state Census every 10 years from 1821, and others pre-dating this to the 1600's.

Land Records   

Two of the most valuable genealogy sources in Ireland, Griffith's Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Books.

Research locations in Dublin   

An interactive map of Dublin city showing the key locations worth visiting as part of your research if possible.

Other sources   including Wills, Emigration, School records, Deportation, Graveyards and the New York Emigrant Savings Bank.


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