How to Research Your Irish Family Tree

by admin on April 26, 2013 · 355 comments

Millions of Irish citizens emigrated from their homeland in search of a better way of life between the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, putting together your family tree is more difficult, but not impossible if you use the right resources

Thanks to the Internet, there are numerous online databases of public records and search tools available at the click of a button. Read on further to learn more about how you can research your family tree both online and in Ireland as well as what to do while visiting in Ireland.

Irish Family History

What to You Need to Know First
Before researching, see how many of the following questions can be answered. Knowing at least some of the following information is vital before beginning any genealogy research. The more information you obtain will result in more success.

1. What is the name of the ancestor being researched?

2. What are the names of the ancestor’s spouse or parents?

3. What is the approximate date of birth of the ancestor being researched?

4. From which county did the ancestor originate? Ireland consists of 32 counties while Northern Ireland contains 6 counties. Within each county are parishes and towns. Knowing which parish or county an ancestor derived from will greatly assist your research.

6. What was the ancestor’s religious denomination?

7. What was the ancestor’s occupation or trade?

How to Obtain Vital Information
Researching the family tree begins with the immediate family. Start by asking family members what they know about the family history. Looking at old photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, family Bibles and gravestones may provide useful information, so be sure to document any names and dates that you find. For any specific dates of birth, marriages and deaths that you don’t discover, try and approximate them because every bit of data you have on hand will aid in pointing the way to applicable records. Other documents that will advance your research include newspaper obituaries and wills as well as records of pensions, military service and naturalization.

How to Get Started on the Internet
Once you have gathered as much vital information as possible, you are now ready to go online and access public records and census returns. The Internet offers a vast mixture of free and subscription websites that provide databases of records that you can use to search for your ancestor. It is a good idea to begin with the free sites. The following are some of the most popular and reputable freebies.
Organized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, this website offers a database of Irish civil registration indexes between 1845 and 1958 as well as records of baptisms, marriages, births and deaths.
In addition to useful researching tips, the National Archives of Ireland offers free searchable databases. One particularly helpful feature of this website is its digital images of the 1901 and 1911 census records, which are free to the public.

This is a personal website of John Hayes, but it provides a number of databases and Irish documents such as property deeds and cemetery transcriptions.

USGen Web Project
Found at, this site is a database of records and information that is volunteered from all over the United States.
Ireland GenWeb is an Ireland-based website that provides a volunteer collection of records from different Irish counties.

Helpful websites that charge a subscription but provide millions of valuable records include the following:

Additionally, the Irish Newspaper Archives at offers free searches but charges for viewing and downloading each page.

Going to Ireland to Search Your Family Tree
If you have the opportunity to travel to Ireland and search your family tree, some of the best places that can provide you with more information about your ancestors include the National Library of Ireland. Located on Kildare Street in the city center of Dublin, this national library offers a genealogy library where you can go in and use their search services.

Also located in Dublin is the General Register Office, which holds a great number of civil registration records like marriages, births and deaths as well as some property deeds and court records.

If you know the county from which your ancestor originated, you will certainly want to visit that county and check out the local libraries, genealogy societies and churches, which may offer records of births, baptisms, marriages and burials.

What to Do While in Ireland
While you are in Ireland researching your family tree, you might as well see some of the country’s most famous places, which may have been familiar to your ancestors.

Since the capital city of Dublin is the place where most visitors first arrive in the country, you can tour historic sites like Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College. You can also watch Irish beer brewing at the Guinness Storehouse, enjoy traditional Irish music and dancing along the Temple Bar district, or you can simply relax in the beautiful Phoenix Park.

If your research takes you elsewhere in Emerald Isle, you can explore places like the majestic Cliffs of Moher on the West Coast, kiss the Blarney Stone in County Cork, or
visit prehistoric sites like Newgrange and Clonmacnoise.

To save money when staying in Ireland, be sure to check for the best prices at where you can compare hotel prices on one, easy to read website and be certain you’re getting the very best deal possible.

It’s time to get started! Your family for generations to come will be thankful for the time you invested in putting together your family tree.