Tracing your Irish Ancestors: A Three-step Guide

Tracing your Irish Ancestors: A Three-step Guide

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Posted Fri 22 Mar 2019 1:51 PM
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Derry~Londonderry
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Hi Mollie

Welcome to the fascination and frustration of the world of Irish family history research! 

If you can find no potential ‘matches’ in the ‘big’ Irish or Scottish family history websites and you hold no clues as to county/parish of origins of your ancestors within Ireland or Scotland, I believe you then have to take a step backwards and attempt to reach out to wider family history community in the hope that you can make contact with someone with knowledge/oral traditions, which may not be found in any historical documents, that shed new light on the origins of your ancestors. 

A growing number of people are purchasing DNA tests in the hope that they can make contact with ‘genetic cousins’, whose DNA test results ‘match’, and who may hold more information about the family tree than you currently hold, either in the form of historical documentation or oral tradition as to the origins of a family.  

In Ireland, Maurice Gleeson has a growing reputation both for his knowledge about DNA testing and genetic genealogy and as an advocate' for using DNA as a genealogical tool to help you break through those frustrating family-tree brick walls'. Maurice can be contacted at             mauricegleeson@doctors.org.uk  

Regarding DNA testing in Northern Ireland the person to get in touch with is Martin McDowell, Education and Development Officer with the North of Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS). Martin is an enthusiast about the benefits of DNA testing and, as one of the administrators of the North of Ireland DNA Project with FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), he is keen to promote DNA testing across Northern Ireland (contact and further details at https://www.nifhs.org/dna).  

I would also recommend that you explore The Ireland Reaching Out website (www.irelandxo.com) as their aim is to assist anyone with Irish heritage reconnect with their roots. They may be able to connect you with your ‘community’. 

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Posted Sat 1 Jun 2019 11:44 AM
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Hi I am hoping you can help me as I am at wits end.  I have tried your 3 step and every other step to break a wall that won't break. Here is my story:
I am trying to break the wall on my father's side which is Conroy.  My father always said his great or great grandfather was a Mayor in Ireland he thought in Mayo. My family names on my grandfather's side are Conroy and Mellett. Darcy (according to Darcy tombstone her parents were from Killkenny) and Gannon are my grandmother's side. So my dad always said he thought his grandfather was from Mayo but his brother thought they were from Roscommon. Below is all I know as no one ever really spoke about the past and are now all deceased.  I did do my DNA and it says my roots are from the Connacht area of Ireland. I did match one person who was from The Neal in Mayo but wasn’t much help and the others I matched couldn’t or didn’t care to answer any of my emails. My grandfather Martin Conroy was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Michael and Winnifred (Mellett) Conroy. Michael Conroy was born abt 1860 in Ireland to Patrick and Catherine Conroy (this information came off of his death certificate) and came to the US abt 1878. What port or part of Ireland I am not sure?  He married a woman by the name of Winnifred Mellett whom also came from Ireland. She was born abt 1860 as well and her parents were Martin and Winnifred Mellett (from her death certificate) she came to the US abt 1880. I find them first in Pittsburgh where my grandfather was born in 1883 and after his birth they moved to Brooklyn, NY. My grandfather had numerous siblings (John, Anne and Mary) but they all died before the age of 5 except one sister and that was Catherine (born in Brooklyn, NY). Michael died in 1900 in Brooklyn, NY and Winifred died in 1905 as well in Brooklyn, NY. My grandfather Martin married Florence Darcy and they had 4 children, Martin, Francis, Mary and Florence. My grandfather died when my Dad (Francis) was only 11yrs old in 1937. He said after his Dad passed his Mom only kept in touch with her family and he didn't remember much about his Dad's side.They were all Roman Catholic as all the children were baptized Catholic. There is a Bridget Conroy as one of the witnesses on the baptismal for one child. I am not sure if she was Michael's sister or cousin.Then on another there was an Ellen Mellett. they are all buried in the Catholic Cemetery here in NY.  I have tried so many sites and come up blank I can not even find a marriage license for Michael and Winifred so I am not sure if those are even their birth names.  I am at such a loss
My son is taking me to Ireland for my 60th birthday to see Ireland and to hopefully find where my Conroy/Mellett family originated.  I was hoping you can help make it easier as I am having no luck on this end.
Sincerely,Patricia

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Posted Sat 1 Jun 2019 9:49 PM
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Hi Brian! Just an update to let you know that I found my grandfather thanks to you. Also, I because an Irish citizen as well. However, I found out after the fact that my wife and children cannot be Irish citizens because I was not an Irish citizen at the time I got married and had children. Do you know anyway I can get them to be Irish citizens other than living in Ireland for 5 years straight? Thanks, Greg
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Posted Sun 2 Jun 2019 10:59 AM
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Derry~Londonderry
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Hi Patricia

In the ideal world, knowledge held within your family or contact with a DNA 'match' would point you to the parish of origin of your Conroy and Mellett ancestors. In the absence of this your best bet is a thorough search of RootsIreland.ie dababase as not only does it include transcripts of pre-1900 RC registers for province of Connacht, it also includes a powerful index facility which enables you to conduct a variety of filtered searches.

I presume you have checked RootsIreland for birth of Michael to Patrick and Catherine Conroy c. 1860 and for birth of Winnifred to Martin and Winnifred Mellett c. 1860, but, if you have not already done so, also check RootsIreland database for any births of children to these parents; i.e. search the database by entering parents names only. If you can find the potential birth of one sibling you then know which parish to concentrate your research effort.

Until new evidence comes to light there would be no harm to make an assumption that the Conroys and Melletts were Mayo people. At time of mid-19th century Griffith's Valuation it would be reasonable to assume that both Michael's father, i.e.Patrick Conroy, and Winnifred's father, i.e.Martin Mellett, will be recorded as heads of household in this source. Free to view index to Griffith's Valuation in Rootsireland reveals 5 Mellett households (including variant spelling) in Ireland, of which 4 resided in Mayo; 2 in Kilmolara parish, 1 in Ballinrobe parish and 1 in Kilcommon parish; and 149 Patrick Conroy households! 14 of Patrick Conroy households resided in Mayo, including 1 in Ballinrobe parish and 1 in KIlcommon.parish.
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Posted Sun 2 Jun 2019 11:03 AM
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Derry~Londonderry
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Hi Greg

I suspect you may already know this; the rules for becoming an Irish citizen through marriage are listed on Citizens Information website at 
https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/irish_citizenship/becoming_an_irish_citizen_through_marriage.html   

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Posted Sun 2 Jun 2019 11:05 AM
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Hi Greg,

Many thanks for letting us know how you got on and that you managed to trace your grandfather and become an Irish citizen through descent!

Citizens Information has a page on citizenship which has all the information on becoming an Irish citizen, please have a look and confirm the requirements there.

Will you all be visiting the island of Ireland in the future?

Martin
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Posted Sun 2 Jun 2019 11:14 AM
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Hi Patricia,

Many thanks for taking the time to join us here and ask your question!

As always, thanks also to Brian for his in-depth knowledge on where to try and source more information.

Hopefully, you can find some additional answers before your trip over to see us, will you be visiting Mayo and Roscommon as part of your existing itinerary and any other places too?

Speak soon,

Martin
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Posted Sun 2 Jun 2019 11:38 AM
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Martin

Yes we are starting in West Dublin then on to Athlone where we stay 2 nights then Galway 2 nights. My son assures me we will hit both Mayo and Roscommon.  Our final destination will be Killarney.  Do you have any suggestions for me.  I am very excited as this will be my first time in Ireland. Also, can you tell me what the weather will be like? I will be arriving on July 31st.

Regards,
Patricia
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Posted Sun 2 Jun 2019 3:53 PM
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Yes, we plan to visit Ireland soon. Thanks for all of your help! Regards, Greg
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Posted Mon 3 Jun 2019 9:00 AM
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Hi Patricia,

Staying in Athlone and Galway will give you the perfect bases for visiting the surrounding areas including Counties Mayo and Roscommon!

Killarney is another super area with the Killarney National Park offering plenty of things to see and do with a tour around the Ring of Kerry or Beara Peninsula also popular choices. How long will you have in Killarney?

From a weather perspective, July/August is our summer going into autumn when are temperatures are our highest, at 68° F. We always recommend layers as we often get four seasons in one day, please have a look at our article on our weather for some more details.

I hope this helps with your itinerary plans and also your packing needs!

Martin

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