It is all in the Location

Have you been researching your Irish ancestors? Feel stuck? Welcome to the club! For me, my Irish ancestors were the one line that I wanted information on and the only line that took over 12 years to break down the brick wall (and build another one). I have one piece of advice for you (well I have more, but for today we will focus on this one piece). It is all in the location!

Do you know where in Ireland your family came from? No? Well then I would suggest you stop focusing on the Ireland portion of the puzzle and work closer to home. For me, that is the US. Take the time to collect all the records that pertain to your ancestors in the place they emigrated too. Also, do not just research your direct ancestor’s line. You need to look at the lines of all your ancestors siblings as well. Collateral research is very important to the whole puzzle. If you are missing the family in the census, it could be because they are living with a married daughter, or a new wife that you knew nothing about. You have to exhaust all of those issues beforehand.

The information you are looking for, the location, can be anywhere! Tombstones, Town histories, vital records, ship records, naturalization records. The biggest problem in finding all of these records is the redundancy of the names. For me, I do not have a ship record or naturalization record, yet. I am not giving up hope that one day I will find those. It’s just not today.

Moving on, once you locate the location of your Irish ancestor back on the ole’ sod, it will become easier for you research your family. You are not only looking for the county, but you are also looking for the barony, the poor-law union, the civil parish and the townland. Seems like a lot, right? It is. But if you find the town land, you can find the rest of the information in books, or even google.

For example, I know that my great-grandfather, John O’Connell was born in the Barony of Duhallow. Using wikipedia I scroll down to the townland I know he is from, Garraveasoge.

Kanturk is the poor law union and Dromtarriff is the civil parish.

Why does all this information matter? Well, once you start looking at the Griffith Valuation, it will help you decipher out which family is yours.




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  1. You are very right about needing to do a lot of research where the family emigrated in the U.S. One other thing I mention to people is the clustering of families. Just as you should examine naturalization records of everyone with the same surname, the sponsors of the applicant may also have been from the same area in Ireland, and they may have mentioned where they were from in Ireland in their naturalization records.

    Excellent blog, Terry!

    1. Thanks, Kevin! One day I am going to go through the Naturalization records. Unfortunately with such a common name it will take forever!

  2. Did the Irish have to be naturalised in the US? Interesting because they didn’t in Australia so useful when looking for rellies who may have gone your way.

    1. Pauleen, They did not have to but it would be worth it for you to look for the records to make sure. Also, if you can find them in the US Census there should be a notation as to their naturalization status.

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