Irish Genealogy Essentials

This taught course will be delivered by the Foundation’s expert staff and will take place over the first 3 days of this programme.

This course will offer delegates two and a half days of intensive learning, with practical demonstrations using relevant websites and other electronic resources, and will give participants full access to the Foundation’s research and newspaper library, and of course the expertise of our staff and researchers.

What you should expect to learn?

  • Learn that despite the loss of many records in 1922 that much material is still available for family historians
  • Learn about the main archives and websites that are key to beginning your research
  • Learn about different Irish land divisions
  • Be introduced to church, civil, census records and Griffith’s Valuation
  • Be given practical demonstrations and guidance on how to use relevant websites and online databases
  • How to access and interpret the main sources such as civil, census, church and valuation records
  • Lesser-known sources such as the Registry of Deeds and local government records
  • How to utilise the records available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), including identifying church records and using PRONI’s electronic catalogue. You will be assisted while in PRONI by members of our research team.
  • From the other members of the course as to how they have got over their own brick-walls in their family history.

Lecture Overview

Monday 10 June

Day 1 - Morning lectures and afternoon of research

Morning lectures

Welcome and introduction to speakers

Irish land divisions

Understanding the importance of our land divisions and sense of place to local people in rural Ireland (irrespective of location) are crucial to success in Irish genealogy. This presentation explores the different administrative divisions: e.g. townland, barony, parish, County, Poor Law Union, etc, their origins, how they relate to each other, and their relevance and usage in the historical records.

Census Records

This session will focus on how much information can be gleaned from the 1901 and 1911 census returns and the value of these resources, even for those whose ancestors had left Ireland prior to the twentieth century. We will also look at the census fragments that survive for the nineteenth century.

Civil records – birth, marriage & death certificates

Civil registration of all births, deaths and marriages began in Ireland in 1864 (non-Catholic marriages registered from 1845). This session will focus on birth, marriage and death records, the information they contain and the various websites that can now be used to access them.

Tuesday 11 June

Day 2 - Morning lectures and afternoon of research

Morning lectures

Church records for use in genealogical research

This session will look at the records available for main religious denominations in Ireland and how their varied histories have affected the types of records which exist. We will examine baptismal, marriage and burial registers and will focus on where these records are held and how to access them.

Wills and testamentary papers

Wills can be an invaluable source for clarifying family connections and learning more about our ancestors. During this session we will look at the background to the administration of wills in Ireland, assess the information that can be obtained from a will and where these records are held and how they can be accessed, both in the archives, and more recently, the large amount of material which has been made available online.

School registers & education records

The records of the National Education system, introduced in 1831, can be a most useful collection of records for tracing families, especially in the period 1860–1920, and where the records survive back to the 1850s and 40s. As well as providing information on school children the records offer information on teachers, and the establishment of schools and how they were run. They can give details of family movements within Britain and Ireland, and indeed emigration to America, Canada and Australasia. Prior to this period some records also exist for private schools, schools supported by various religious bodies, and schools established to educate the children of the poor. The session will explore the value of these records for family history research.

Wednesday 12 June

Day 3 - Morning lectures and afternoon of research

Morning lectures

Griffith’s Valuation

Land records are an extremely important part of genealogical research in Ireland due to the destruction of the majority of nineteenth-century census records. We will look at Griffith’s Valuation, the first truly comprehensive survey of property in Ireland, which covers the period 1848 to 1864, as well as the subsequent Valuation Revision (or Cancelled) Books.

Landed estate papers

The documents generated by the management of landed estates are among the most valuable of records for the local and family historian.This talk will look at the background to landed estates in Ireland, before going on to discuss the more useful sources found in estate collections.

Printed sources – newspapers, street directories, etc

Printed sources are essential for those researching Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors. We will look at a wide range of printed sources including newspapers, street directories and Ordnance Survey Memoirs; as well as identifying how to access this material.