Search Your Irish Roots on St. Patrick's Day

Unique Records Lead to Unique Findings
The greatest challenge in doing Irish family history research is the virtual nonexistence of typical family history records. A fire destroyed a vast collection of wills, church records, and marriage licenses and grants in 1922 and virtually no census records for the nineteenth century exist.

While a lack of records is surely a research challenge, it can also be a unique opportunity to learn information about your ancestors that may not be available in standard genealogical records. For example, one popular resource is a list of Irish flax growers where you can learn the county and parish in which an ancestor grew flax (a detail unlikely to be found in the usual birth or death record). Another example is Griffith's Valuation which could provide not only an ancestor's name and county of residence but a description of property owned or leased and its value.

St. Patrick's Day Research Tips...

  • When researching your Irish roots you should remember that many variants exist of practically every Irish surname. This is especially important if your Irish ancestors later lived in the United States, since surname prefixes were sometimes dropped at the time of immigration. For this reason, if you're searching for the surname "Donald" you'll want to search for your ancestors under "O'Donald," "McDonald," "MacDonald," "M'Donald," etc. Read more about the origins of Irish surnames.

  • When collecting birth dates and ages from Irish records, you should remember that this information is often an approximation. Because, in many Irish families, a child was born every year or so the children's birth dates weren't always recorded. As children got older, the child. Children's ages could often be underestimated and adults' ages were often overestimated. According to the Irish Family History Foundation, St. Patrick's Day and Independence Day were often adopted as "birthdays" when an official date of birth was unknown.

Online Irish Resources
More than 44 million Americans share Irish ancestry. Because so many people share an interest in Irish research, you'll find many "how-to" articles on the subject. To get you started, here are some topics:

Also Try...

Irish Facts

Eight Irish-Americans signed the Declaration of Independence.

Twenty-one American presidents have Irish roots.
The first St. Patrick's Day celebration in America was hosted by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston in 1737.
In Ireland, almost all businesses (with the exception of restaurants and pubs) close on March 17. A religious holiday, many people attend mass where they offer prayers for missionaries throughout the world before celebrating the day in earnest.
And More...
Celebrate St. Patrick's day or your Irish heritage by singing some traditional Irish ballads
Why not bake some old-fashioned Irish soda bread or cook up a "Dublin Lawyer" this March 17th?
Find out your surname's history or determine which counties your surname was most common.


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