New for 2018

New Programme for 2018

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors 2018 is now live and places can be reserved here. Our 2018 programme will see delegates:

Celebrate 300 years of Irish Migration

For centuries migration has dominated and shaped Ulster’s history. This applies to both immigration and emigration – people arriving and people departing. The seventeenth century witnessed the arrival of thousands of families from Britain. By the late 1600s families from Ulster were beginning to travel westwards to North America.

View of the coast line at Portrush

In the early 1700s the pace of emigration quickened and it is reckoned that as many as 250,000 people crossed the Atlantic from the province in the eighteenth century. Migration, on an even greater scale, continued throughout the 1800s and 1900s and now included destinations such as Australia and New Zealand. People from this province and their descendants have made an enormous impact on counties around the world.

On this trip you will visit many of the places that feature prominently in our migration story. These range from the ports of Belfast, Newry, Portrush and Derry to the Ulster-American Folk Park. We will also travel to Downpatrick and learn more about some of the earliest people to travel from Ulster to Australia. 2018 will mark the tercentenary of the 1718 migration to New England and places associated with this important exodus will be visited in the Bann Valley.

Traditional White Wash Cottage at the Ulster American Folk Park

Delving even deeper into the past, we will visit Dungannon to learn about the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607, when two of Ulster's leading lords left the island for Continental Europe, never to return. There will also be a tour of Barons Court, the magnificent seat of the Duke of Abercorn whose ancestors migrated from Scotland over 400 years ago.

Learn more about the 1718 Migration from Ulster to New England

Perhaps the most important single year in the story of the relationship between Ulster and America is 1718. It was not by any means the first migration of people from Ireland to America, but it is probably the first that was organised to bring groups of settlers from one definite catchment area, and importantly, these were people who wanted to continue to live together in the new land.

In  1718 several hundred people from the north of Ireland travelled on sailing ships to Boston in America, and thence to found towns and communities in America, at first in New Hampshire and Maine, and then onwards throughout the continent. In 2018, we in Ulster along with colleagues and distant relatives in New England have the opportunity to mark a very important but largely forgotten tercentenary.

Commemorate 300 years of migration with visits to sites and places synonymous with this landmark migration of Ulster families to the New World.

The graveyard at Bonamargy Friary, Co. Antrim

The option to attend our genealogical essentials course

Before Tracing your Irish Ancestors formally begins on the evening of Wednesday 05th September, we are also offering an optional pre-conference essentials course. This course will see delegates undertake two and a half days of intensive learning, with practical demonstration using relevant websites and other electronic resources.

Not only will delegates learn more about cover all the major sources used in Irish and Scots-Irish family history research such as census, civil and church records; land records (including tithe books and Griffith’s Valuation), wills, newspapers and estate papers, they will also receive a one-on-one consultation with one of our research team to help shape their research aims for the week ahead.

Participants of our June 2017 Essentials Course

Although not essential, this workshop will greatly benefit those of you wishing to spend the week of the conference researching in the archives.

This course will ensure that when you arrive at the archives on the Thursday, you will ‘hit the ground running’ in the search for your ancestors & be able to head upstairs to the search room with some of our research team and get started on your research straight away.

For more information on what the course will cover please click here.

Journey into beautiful County Donegal

View of Co. Donegal from the top of the Grianan of Aileach

Before journeying into beautiful Co. Donegal to Monreagh delegates will first visit one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe and walk on Derry's famous walls and explore the amazing sites that the city has to offer which can include visits to the First Derry Presbyterian Church;  St Columbs Cathedral; Tower Museum; Siege Museum; the historic Guildhall; St Augustine's Church and Long Tower Church. Whilst being a thriving cultural and historic City, Derry~Londonderry was also a key port in the migration story of many Irish migrants and central to the story of the 1718 migration.

Journey through Early Christian and Medieval Ireland

During your time with us your will be able to journey through Early Christian and Medieval Ireland. Delegates will walk in the footsteps of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland by visiting the town named after him. This trip will also afford delegates the opportunity to visit the 12th Century Cistercian Abbey at Inch which in its more modern history has also been used as a filming location for HBO's Game of Thrones. Our journey into Early Christian Ireland will also see delegates travel through the Boyne Valley, Ireland's Ancient East and the location of the High Crosses at Monasterboice and the first Cistercian Abbey built in Ireland at Melifont.

Inch Abbey, 2017

Delegates will also visit two impressively well preserved sites that are central to Ireland's Anglo-Norman History, Dundrum Castle and the Medieval town of Carlingford. Both these sites are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, with Carlingford situated at the beginning of the fabled Cooley peninsula, home to many tales from Irish folklore including the Táin Bó Cúailnge and Cú Chulainn and with Dundrum Castle having stunning views the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Bay.

Previous Conferences

The Ulster Historical Foundation has been organising events to bring people to the archives and assist them in their ancestral research for almost 40 years. In 1991 we established annual family history conferences in the Searching for that Elusive Irish Ancestor series, with attendees regularly exceeding 100 in number.

20150911_204958Participants of our June 2015 Family History Conference

We vary the programme each year and recent conferences have looked at ancestors from Limavady and the Roe
Valley in County Derry/Londonderry and ancestors from Belfast. In 2013 we hosted Return to the Cradle of Irish Presbyterianism which marked the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Presbyterianism in Ireland.

Participants of our September 2017 Family History Conference

In 2015 we devised a completely new programme, Tracing your Irish Ancestors: A Family History Conference. Since 2015 over 350 delegates have participated in tours across the island of Ireland and endeavour to find their Irish ancestors with the Ulster Historical Foundation.