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Irish Genealogy Toolkit will guide you to your Irish ancestors

This is my family. Do not pin or redistribute.

Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, 1909
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 and without favour to any organisations or service providers – 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:

Poster for White Star Line taking Irish emigrants to New York.
The story of Irish emigration to Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
Top 10 sites for Irish genealogy research
My independent selection of the Top 10 FREE Irish genealogy websites.
Title page from old Munster Express edition
Historical Irish newspapers – a rewarding but under-estimated source of details.
Map of the counties of Ireland.
A county map of Ireland to help you discover the area where your ancestors lived.
Cell in Kilmainham Gaol.
Court records are often overlooked but can be rich in genealogical details.
Section of family history form
Free family history forms and charts to print off and use in your research.
Part of an Irish census document
Hope fades for an early release of the 1926 Irish census.
Random selection of family history memorabilia and documents.
New to genealogy? Here's how to start your Irish family history research.
Whitewashed cabin on edge of forest in Rathbarry.
Some techniques to help you find where your ancestors lived in Ireland.

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?

Wicklow lifeboat launch 1866.

Launch of the Robert T Garden, Wicklow, 7 September 1866

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.

Irish genealogy - free booklet

Click image for Irish Genealogy Toolkit's free 20-page booklet listing all the new and upgraded Irish family history records released in 2014.

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.

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Free family tree templates

Check out my exclusive range of FREE family tree templates. Most can be filled in on screen and then printed, ready for framing.

Latest News

  • 8 July 2015: MAJOR NEWS! Images of National Library of Ireland's RC parish register collection published on new free website. More
  • 6 April 2015: Irish civil registration indexes return to free More.
  • 2 April 2015: All-party Committee produces 37 recommendations for the future of Irish genealogy. More.
  • 13 March 2015: 'New Irish Genealogy Records, 2014' published by Irish Genealogy Toolkit & News. Download your free copy.

Irish Genealogy News blog

Irish Genealogy News is the blog that both professional and amateur genealogists rely on to keep them up to date with developments and resources in Irish research. It runs in tandem with Irish Genealogy Toolkit and provides an essential and free service for those who are serious about finding their ancestors in Ireland.

Glasnevin Cemetery
Glasnevin gravestone.

Glasnevin Trust has a database of 1.5m burial records. Find out more in the A–Z section.

Did all the records burn?

The short answer is No, but the truth is a bit more complicated, because much of Ireland's genealogical heritage did, indeed, go up in flames at the Public Records Office in 1922.

Discover which Irish records burned, and which survived, and how this may impact your Irish family history research.

Top Ten Bubbles

See my personal selection of the very best free online databases for Irish genealogy research. Click image.


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 & advice you offer. C.C., USA.

Spotlight on...

Irish Petty Sessions Registers

These won't be the first records you turn to, but for advanced family historians this collection can illuminate the characters and lives of our ancestors.

Private family photo. Subject to copyright.

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.

Census records
1911: Download a blank form to use when transcribing your ancestors' details.

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By Claire Santry, Copyright© 2008-2015 Dedicated to helping YOU discover your Irish Heritage.
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