There are many of us who would love a chance to reconnect with our Irish roots, but don't know where and how to start.
I would love to share my favourite family research strategy (plus some additional tips) with you all here, in the hopes that it will be helpful to your own journeys of discovery!
The best place to start isn't in a dusty library, but rather with yourself! After all, we're looking for the history that led to us, so it's only logical to start with ourselves. Start by gathering as many documents as you can from your local registry office and archives, starting with your own birth certificate and then adding those of your parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents etc. until you come across your first ancestors who were not born in the same country as you, but rather, in Ireland.
Once you have achieved that, it's time to reach out to the appropriate records office in Ireland, and this is how you know where to turn:
Before 1864 records were kept in the form of church and parish records; while some of these have regrettably been lost over the years, all the surviving records have been sorted into county-based genealogical centres
. (Which is why it's so important to know what county your ancestor was born in.)
In 1864 civil registration was introduced in Ireland, which is when we started seeing the formal registration of births, marriages, adoptions and deaths. These records have been kept at the General Register Office of Ireland
(GRO), to this day.
Once Northern Ireland was created in 1921, we saw the creation of GRONI, the General Register Office of Northern Ireland
. This is important because anyone who lived in one of the 6 counties that would later become part of Northern Ireland between 1864 and 1921 would have had their records stored with GRO
, but if they were born or lived in Northern Ireland after 1921, then their records would be with GRONI
To summarise; if your ancestor:
- lived on the island of Ireland before 1864
, you contact: the Genealogical Centres
- lived on the island of Ireland after 1864 and before 1921
, you contact: GRO
- lived in the Republic of Ireland after 1921
, you contact: GRO
- lived in Northern Ireland after 1921
, you contact: GRONI
Here are some other great websites, that can offer insights and additional information for your research:
When you already know where and when your ancestor lived on the Emerald Isle, or if you simply want to browse through the archives, you can do so in the Church records
and Civil records
on the Irish Genealogy website (free of charge). It doesn't have everything, but it does have a lot! Don't feel disheartened if you can't find your ancestors via this page, it is possible their records simply haven't been added yet. :)House of Names
is the place to go to discover the general history of a family name
, while the Irish ancestors Map
provided by the Irish Times, based on the Griffith's Primary Property valuation survey, provides great insight into the prevalence and spread of each name in the mid 19th century.
There is also an advisory Facebook Page ran by our friends Ireland Family History
who love to give research tips, as well as an organization called Ireland Reaching Out
, where great volunteers attempt to connect Irish descendants to their roots, through reverse genealogical research. While there are even more amazing resources out there, that we can work with, these are the essential basics to begin any good Irish genealogical adventure.
I hope this was helpful, and wish you the best of luck! Did you use any other helpful resources, archives or pages? Feel free to share your own findings, experiences, tips and everything else with us here, or on the Genealogy - I found my ancestors in Ireland!