Town of Ballymahon, Longford, Ireland
No one said your Irish genealogy research would be easy, but that’s the fun of it. Although I do quite a bit of work for clients in Ireland, I get very little time to work on my own family. My trip to Ireland last summer allowed me to visit some Irish cousins, but I really didn’t spend any time delving into my family. Perhaps when I go this year, I get that chance. I plan to be in Ireland the first two weeks of July, so if you’re interested in any research, let me know. Some people have asked if I plan to take a group to Ireland to research. Although that’s not my plan for this year, if people are interested in being there in early July, I would be happy to set something up.
Most people have heard that “you can’t research in Ireland because of the fire.” Although the fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922 was devastating, there are still many records to research your 19th century ancestors. The farther you go back, however, the more difficult it becomes.
Over the past year, a number of new resources have become available for Irish family researchers. As I’ve written on a couple of times, the Irish Civil Registration Indexes at FamilySearch.org are one of the most helpful new resources. Instead of having to order films from the LDS to your local Family History Center, you can now search the birth, death and marriage indexes from 1864, and Protestant marriages from 1845. After 1922 only the Republic of Ireland is available. For more information, I’ve linked a copy of the article I wrote for Digital Genealogist to my Calendar page.
The expansion of the Irish Family History Foundation online database of church records is another great resource. Although you can search the index for free to see the actual certificate costs €5 (about $7). Not all counties are available, but it’s a terrific site for the counties that are online.
Finally, IrishGenealogy.ie. This site is hosted by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and currently has about 1,334,000 Church records of Baptism, Marriage and Death available to view free of charge. The focus so far has been on Kerry and Dublin. Kerry is important, since their records have long been a problem. Although the microfilms of Roman Catholic church records were available at the National Library, they could not be viewed without permission of the Bishop. Last spring, the National Library opened them for viewing and this database is a huge step forward for genealogists researching in Kerry. One of the interesting features of this website is that it will find a name, whether it appears as a name of a child, parent or sponsor. Hopefully the government will continue to populate this site with new records. In addition, this site also has a “Central Signposting Index” covering over 3 million names in eleven counties. It will point you to resources in the county (usually a Heritage Centre) that will be able to assist you with your search.
Remember, if you’re planning research in Ireland, you need to do your homework before you leave. The websites listed above will help you prepare for a successful research trip to Ireland.