Moving on with your research
Irish family history: next steps
John and George Nichols
If you've already taken your first steps
to tracing your Irish family history, it's probably a bit late for this
warning, but I'll give it anyway: Be aware that hunting for and finding
ancestors, especially in Ireland, is an addictive pastime. If you want to jump
ship, this may be your last chance!
Of course, if you've already enjoyed the thrill of discovering a previously
unknown ancestor or have recently uncovered some unexpected information about
your forebears, you are quite likely to already be hooked. Don't worry. You're
not alone. Irish family historians are harmless enough and the addiction
will bring you pleasure in spades. It's even legal!
Trouble is, like most addictions, it makes us impatient. So, too, do our
modern lives. "Now! Now! Now!" is the mantra of the 21st century and
we are all guilty of expecting the answer to practically every question to be
waiting for us on the Internet.
Irish genealogy isn't like that (nor is any genealogy, come
Accept that finding your ancestors in Ireland is unlikely to happen in two
clicks of a mouse. It may take months or years. So slow down, enjoy the hunt,
and savour the experience.
Your next steps
will depend on what you already know after your initial research but will
probably include some or all of the following:
- Find out
what Irish family history sources are available locally to where you live
legal documents such as wills and probate
queries on online message boards and genealogy forums
a professional genealogist
more about the history of Ireland
more about the heritage,
and social traditions of Ireland
the area of Ireland where your ancestors lived.
Toolkit Top Tip
your Irish genealogy project is underway, be sure to include the brothers and
sisters of your direct ancestors.
from adding depth and extra colour and personality to your Irish family
history, members of this extended family might have left behind important
records that your direct ancestor didn't.
siblings or cousins will supply a clue that can launch you over one of the
brickwalls you will occasionally encounter in your direct path.
There is no
hard and fast rule about where you start on this second stage of your genealogical research. What you already know will make some of these
suggestions more relevant than others.
For example, if you don't have a pretty good idea of where your
ancestors used to live in Ireland, many online records are effectively
off-limits. But if you know the surnames of both parties to a marriage, and an
approximate date (after 1845 for non-Catholics, after 1864 for Roman Catholics),
it might be better to head straight to the civil registration indexes.
have to use your own judgement (or commission a professional genealogist).
Irish Genealogy Toolkit will help you to develop that judgement.
following the links above or the buttons on the navigation menu at the top of the page,
you'll gain an understanding of the most important Irish family history
sources, find out what their limitations are, and learn to use them effectively
when tracking your ancestors.