Travel experts anticipate that 2022 will be one of the biggest years for traveling than we have seen in years. If you are thinking about traveling out of the country, consider doing a little research to set up a heritage travel tour. A travel tour utilizes an itinerary based on where your ancestors were born and traveled during their lifetimes. Here is some helpful information about preparing for a heritage tour from one of our onsite researchers.
The Irish diaspora sent approximately 10 million Irish-born people to new homes around the world – with final destinations ranging from nearby England to Canada and the United States, as well as to Australia and New Zealand. Today, many people with Irish ethnicity and ancestors wish to travel back to Ireland to see the places their ancestors once lived. If you are dreaming of doing the same, here are some tips to help make your visit more useful and enjoyable.
What Do You Want to See?
Knowing what you want out of your trip will help you determine how best to prepare for it.
Are you primarily interested in touring the country to see the popular sites and be able to experience all of Ireland, regardless of where your ancestors lived? If your goal is to visit and soak up the atmosphere, there isn’t a lot of advance preparation needed. Read some travel books to find the places of greatest interest, and then skip down to Plan Your Trip for some additional travel advice.
Or do you want to focus your time in Ireland on the places where your ancestors lived and worked, possibly even seeing the actual farm or house in which they lived? If you want to walk where your ancestors once walked, read on.
Learn More About the Lives of Your Ancestors
If your goal is to go to the specific county, or even townland, where your ancestors lived, you will need to do some research before you go. Below are some tips for identifying the places your ancestors lived and worked. And of course, Legacy Tree Genealogists is ready to help you with this part of your planning. We have a team of expert Irish researchers who can trace your family back to Ireland, locating the townland and sometimes even the farm where your family once lived and worked.
FamilySearch is a free database that offers digitized copies of many parish records, Griffith’s Valuation, census records, and more. Some records are only available online if you are working from a Family History Center or another affiliated library, and others are only available with an in-person visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Roots Ireland is a subscription database with transcriptions of vital records, some passenger lists, and census reports. In addition, it will often direct you to parish records available in digitized format online from the National Library of Ireland (NLI).
Griffith’s Valuation was an enumeration of land and landholders from 1847 to 1864 for taxation purposes. It is useful today for locating exactly where a family lived and worked in Ireland during that time. You can find out more about Griffith’s Valuation here. Be sure to look at the digital maps.
For those with roots in the Republic of Ireland, you might want to visit the website created by the government to assist you with your research. IrishGenealogy is funded by the Irish government and includes both church and civil records. The church record section covers Dublin, the Diocese of Cork and Ross, Kerry, and Carlow for all faiths. The civil records for non-Catholic marriages starting in 1845 are also in this section. Civil registration commenced in 1864 and includes records of all births, marriages, and deaths for all denominations.
If your ancestors were from Northern Ireland, you will want to seek information from the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), the official archives for Northern Ireland (NI). PRONI has documents online going back to the 1600s including freeholders’ records, Londonderry Corporation records, historical maps, street directories, Valuation Revision Books (part of Griffith’s Valuation), will calendars, and Ulster Covenant records. You can also do a name search online at PRONI.
In addition, the official site of the Northern Ireland Genealogy Office contains all vital records (birth, marriage, and death) from 1920 as the six counties became an entity on their own.
Plan Your Trip
Once you have determined where you are going and how long you plan to stay in Ireland, it is time to plan your trip. Be sure to check the local travel advisories and restrictions from both the Irish government and your local government. Travel insurance is a wise investment in uncertain times.
Simply going to a place to see the sites is nice, but having some background helps you to better understand what happened. IrishCentral is a good place to go to learn some Irish culture and history to help place your family in a historical context. Then go to the Heritage Council’s listing of county museums or search “History Museums” for local museums to visit.
Check out bed and breakfast and local rental sites to see if your family home is available for an overnight stay.
One final recommendation is to visit the Ireland Reaching Out website where you can network with volunteers in your ancestral county and townland to learn more about the area, places to visit, and possibly even meet some long-lost relatives!
Traveling to Ireland is relatively easy and pairing a vacation with a visit to the places from which your family originated can be incredibly rewarding.
To get the most out of your heritage tour, it’s important to plan based on solid family research. If you get stuck along the way, contact us for a free estimate on research and we can also create your customized Heritage Travel Plan. We have professional genealogists in Ireland and all over the world, with access to archives and repositories in more than 150 countries. Our genealogists have the skills and expertise necessary to discover the details of your ancestors’ story and help you plan your heritage tour.