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A Guide To Tracing Your Irish Ancestry


Posted 23/07/2019

Interest in Irish genealogy has sky-rocketed in the last 20 years. Historical records of Irish towns, villages and parishes are now readily available making it far easier for you to trace your Irish roots. This has contributed to the ancestry research boom as has the success of TV show Who Do You Think You Are? The show is popular on both sides of the Atlantic and it shows that every family has unique story. 

Researching your family history can help to explain some family traits e.g. eye color, hair color, and it can help you uncover interesting family histories and long lost relatives. We have noticed a distinct trend in Irish-American families tracing their roots to discover where they originally came from in Ireland. If you are interested in doing this too, you can have a look at FindMyPast's records. Their collection of Irish records is twice as big as any other ancestry website. 

Here are some guidelines on how to get your Irish Ancestry research underway. 

  1. Start with what you know. Any little bit of knowledge you have about your family might help you on your research journey. A family name or town will be a help to you out as you start. 
  2. The name. Names can be a bit confusing when researching your Irish ancestry. Often people who moved from Ireland to America changed their name to fit in. For example, many will have changed their name from Padraig to Patrick. Similarly surnames weren't widely used in the 1800s in Ireland. However, these could have been changed from their localised forms to the common English spelling when your ancestors made their way to America e.g. de Brún to Brown.
  3. Speak to your relatives. Older relatives might have some great information on your family's past. Do they remember stories, family members or locations from your past? If you're lucky they might have some physical eveidence you can look through. Wedding certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, newspaper cuttings and photos will all be helpful. Anything with a name or placenames could be crucial to your search. 
  4. Take notes. You should keep track of all the information - and where you sourced it from - for your own personal records. A scrap of paper or photo can be easily lost so it would be good if you keep your notes digitally, either on a phone or computer. Keep your notes organised too. Most people separate them by the period they relate to e.g. 1850-1870 and 1920-1940 and so on. 
  5. Create a family tree. As you go deeper into your research it might be helpful to use a visual aid like a family tree. Make sure to keep relatives on your maternal and paternal sides parallel. One of the biggest mistakes people make when researching their history is mixing up their generations. 
  6. Do your online research. There is more online resources than ever to research your Irish family history. You can access some basic information for free on Here they have information on the Irish Census and Catholic birth and marriage records. For the widest range of online records you should consider registering with They have the most extensive collection of Irish records of any ancestry website and they have proven to be very popular withour Irish-American followers. FindMyPast helps to bring your family journey to life. 
Want to learn more about your Irish Family History? Get in touch with us at Eternally Irish and we will guide you on your way!

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