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Research Your Irish Ancestry: Where Should You Begin

Investigating Irish roots can seem intimidating at first, but don’t be intimidated. Genealogy really isn’t as challenging as some might make out; just ask any Irish family.

No matter what information sources have been presented to you in the past, more resources exist than what might have been suggested.

While much was lost in the 1922 fire at Dublin’s Public Records Office, many priceless records still survived and can be found elsewhere.

Finding your Irish roots may not be straightforward, but most people should be able to uncover at least some details when they begin researching.

So where to begin?
Start from yourself and work backwards Gather as much information you already know about yourself, your parents, grandparents and their parents from which you have already obtained. Verify all sources as you go. As you make notes you’ll quickly become aware of any gaps in your knowledge. These free blank genealogy forms will enable you to start recording your Irish ancestry today!

Talk to Your Relatives
Begin by interviewing your oldest relatives to gain their memories of growing up with your Irish roots, followed by younger relatives who might recall stories or details. Ask clear-cut questions but allow for any reminiscence; you might discover some gems along the way! Learn more about uncovering family history stories through your relatives’ memories: Interview preparation; Etiquette; Questions.

Finding Your Ancestor’s Place of Origin in Ireland

A key challenge of family genealogy research can be finding out the origins of one’s Irish ancestry is finding out where their ancestors came from – this may even include townlands (small Irish land divisions) where your ancestors lived before leaving Ireland, but even knowing only generalities like “They came from Ireland or a particular county will require further work before pinpointing this critical location can be established.

Family legends may provide guidance, but are rarely 100% accurate. A chartered accountant could have actually been just an accounts office clerk; an ancestral farm could have been little more than a simple hovel with a potato patch outside; stirring tales of daring-do and selflessness have likely been greatly exaggerated over time, so don’t become attached to them too tightly! While these stories often contain some truth, they shouldn’t determine your research into Irish ancestry.

Create Your Irish Roots Research Plan
Consider Which Lines To Follow mes With two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents and more you have several choices of where you should follow; two lines may not suffice! Select which branch of Irish roots you will study (it’s often best to follow both male lines from father and female lines from mother) but ultimately its your decision; once started just pick one line at first before returning later for more research!

Record Your Data

Over time, you’re going to gather an immense amount of data from different sources; your mind simply won’t be able to hold onto all this knowledge alone. Make a habit out of documenting every new piece of information as you discover it; later on in life, you will thank yourself that you did this. These free family history forms will get you started in recording it all.

Organization is Key
Scrawling notes onto scraps of paper will only lead to lost data and will waste valuable research time. You should approach family history research in an organized fashion.

Prepare yourself
Once you start researching your family history, expect to come across one or two unpleasant surprises. Accept that truth may differ from its interpretation in family stories and be truthful when recording history.

Limit Your Expectations
Unfortunately, for those of us with Irish ancestry who seek our roots through research, most likely lead us down a road of poor, landless labourers – with their lives not well documented or having survived at all until 1810 at best – meaning the first half of 19th century may be all you can find out about.

Once you have completed this first stage of research, you should have an enhanced understanding of your Irish roots and future directions of family history research. Plus, it will equip you with confidence as you move to take the Next Steps towards uncovering them!