Irish Genealogy Toolkit will guide you to your Irish ancestors
Irish genealogy gained a reputation long ago for being a frustrating one-way street to disappointment and headache.
Thankfully, calming potions and analgesics are no longer essential equipment for the amateur genealogist because family history in Ireland has entered a golden era.
More and more records – many of them free – are now available online and offline.
So, if you've been longing to find out who your ancestors were, and how they lived, there's never been a better time to start looking.
You do, however, need to look with some care! Too many websites overstate the difficulty of Irish genealogy research or encourage you to part with large sums of money unnecessarily. I'm not referring here to well-qualified professional genealogists, who use experience and great skill to unlock the past for their clients. No, I'm talking about the bandwagon merchants, who are all too ready to fleece the unwary.
With the advice available on this site – all of it provided absolutely free – you can avoid these pitfalls.
Free information, free tools, free advice
No matter where in the world you now call home – whether it be the Canadian Rockies, the Australian Outback, one of the world's great emerald cities such as Liverpool (UK) or Boston (USA), or the beautiful craggy coast of Donegal – you'll find page after page of relevant advice on this website plus the very latest information on genealogical resources in Ireland.
Here's just some of what you can expect to discover here on Irish Genealogy Toolkit:
Take a look around by clicking on the images above or on the buttons in the left hand column. You'll soon see this isn't just another website listing hundreds of genealogical databases (although I'll show you where to find the best), nor will it attempt to sign you up for unnecessary subscriptions or commissioned research.
You'll find all the information and contacts you need to help you to discover your heritage in Ireland.
Whether you are just starting out on your family history search or you've already made some headway on your journey, Irish Genealogy Toolkit will lead you to a greater understanding of how your ancestors lived and where you come from.
Meet the ancestors
Thanks to some of the genealogy resources that have become available in recent years, I've managed to trace my Irish roots back to 1723 on my maternal line and to 1775 on my paternal line. Not bad for a supposedly impossible exercise, eh?
Among the folk I've discovered is my 3 x great grandfather, Edward Doolittle, seen here at the launch of the 'Robert T Garden' lifeboat.
Born in 1812, Edward was coxswain of the lifeboat and Wicklow Harbour Master, a position later also held by some of his sons.
His grand-daughter is the woman (Sydney Doyle) at the top of the page, photographed with her ten children in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, in 1909.
That's my Nana on her lap.
Along my ancestral trail, I've extended my understanding of Ireland's social and political development, picked up a bit of Latin, learned to decipher 18th and 19th century handwriting, been riled by many historical injustices, and stood and stared at the very same gentle hills and dramatic seascapes that my ancestors stood and stared at. It's been fascinating and rewarding – and there's still plenty more to learn and experience.
This website is my chance to share the knowledge I've gained with others who want to discover their roots in the Emerald Isle for themselves.
When relevant, I'll be using my own ancestors' records to demonstrate certain aspects of Irish genealogy, but I'd love to hear about your ancestors, too, and how you tracked them down. If you've a tale to tell, please contact me.
Glasnevin Trust holds an online database of 1.5m burial records.
Discover more about this remarkable resource in Toolkit's A–Z section.
See my personal selection of the very best free online databases for Irish genealogy research. Click image.
I just wanted to thank you for making this website that has helped me sooooo much on a history paper I am writing on Irish immigration. I don't think it would be nearly as good without this resource. LB, USA.
Your site is a godsend, with everything I would like to know about starting Irish genealogy. Thanks for a wonderful informative site. K.C. Australia.
Many, many thanks for your website & blog, and for all of the great resources and advice you offer. C.C., USA.
This site is dedicated to my mother, seen here enjoying an afternoon out with her younger brother, Paddy, at the tennis courts in Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, in about 1936.