March and St. Patrick’s Day trigger a flurry of Irish genealogical activity every year. It’s a great time to focus on those lines that have Irish ancestry!
MyHeritage.com is offering free access to part of their Irish records collection this weekend (through 17 March2014). Ancestry.com has some information about new additions to their Irish collections as well as a discussion about Irish DNA. If you’ve already begun writing your Irish story, FamilySearch.org has a great place to add your photos and memories.
Below you’ll find an article that was originally written as part of our Resources series available on our website. The sites listed below are a few of the options available today as companies are constantly adding records to their online databases and Irish records are no exception!
Getting Your Irish Ancestor Across the Ocean
Finding an Irish immigrant’s area of origin can be challenging, but there are several Irish, U.S., and Canadian records that may give you this information. This article will discuss civil registration, immigration, church, vital, and cemetery records and how these records can assist you in finding your ancestor’s place of origin.
If your ancestor was born or married in Ireland after the mid-1800s, you may be able to locate him or her in Irish Civil Registration indexes. Civil Registration (governmental registration of births, marriages, and deaths) began in Ireland in 1845 for non-Catholic marriages and in 1864 for all births, marriages, and deaths.
Finding an ancestor in a civil registration index will give you his or her area of origin. Original records can then be requested from the General Register Office in Dublin by mail or fax: General Register Office, Joyce House, 8/11 Lombard Street, Dublin 2, Ireland; fax: +353-1-6354527.
Events recorded after 1922 in Northern Ireland must be requested from the General Register Office in Belfast. Their website is www.groni.gov.uk/index.htm.
Pre-1870 marriages and pre-1880 births are likely in the International Genealogical Index and can be searched at www.familysearch.org.
Beginning with the 1900 census, you can find an ancestor’s year of immigration and naturalization in U.S. census records. To find a date and port of arrival of your ancestor, we recommend checking the following indexes:
1) Filby, P. William and Mary K. Meyer, eds. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. 3 vols plus supps. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981-. Each volume and supplement contains different persons, so all must be searched. Parts of this index are also available on ancestry.com.
2) Glazier, Ira A., ed. The Famine Emigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-51. 7 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983-86.
Passenger lists (which list names and information of those coming to the U.S.) can give you names of others (possible relatives) who came across at the same time. They include details of last residence from 1883, and many are indexed. Naturalization records will give a person’s birthplace.
Many Irish persons were Catholic. If your ancestor was married after immigrating to the U.S., a Catholic marriage record may give his or her Irish place of origin. Baptismal records will list a child’s sponsors, which were often relatives, and will also usually give the mother’s maiden names. These things are important clues to identifying your ancestor in records in Ireland.
A death certificate will give the decedent’s parentage and birthplace, which often includes more than just “Ireland.” If death certificates began too late in a state your ancestor died in, try checking for death certificates on a county level, which often began much earlier.
Cemetery records sometimes include an Irish immigrant’s county of origin.
Other records that may be helpful are Irish marriage indexes, probate indexes, indexes to Griffith’s Valuation, and Tithe Applotment records. These can help you locate your surname in certain areas of Ireland.
Although Irish research can be challenging, searching the records discussed in this article should help you locate your ancestor’s area of origin. We wish you luck as you seek to discover more about your Irish roots!
Legacy Tree Genealogists, Inc. is a professional family history research company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah – near the famous Family History Library. We’re headed by Jessica Taylor, a BYU family history grad, genealogy guru, and mom of three (all girls). Our posts are written by Jessica or one of the fabulous Project Managers or Researchers on our TEAM (these people know their stuff!). We hope our posts are helpful to you. Feel free to CONTACT US with questions!