How to trace your irish ancestors

Young couples may have chosen to name their children in the traditional manner, they may have named their children to honor friends or heroes of their new country, or they may have simply chosen names that they liked.

Use the traditional naming pattern as another clue, but don't insist on forcing the pattern to fit the reality of your family. If the traditional naming pattern was used by Eliza and Thomas, that would mean that the first-born son was named for Thomas' father, the second-born son was named for Eliza's father, and the third son was named for Thomas.


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None of the surviving sons was named Thomas, although their first-born son bore his father's name as the child's middle name. Therefore, we could not rely on the traditional patterns of naming for identifying Eliza's parents. The for-fee website Irish Ancestors is a great place to learn more about the location of surnames in Ireland. The creator of this website, John Grenham, has compiled all of the surnames from Griffith's Valuation and mapped them by parish and county. This allows users to enter a surname and discover the location or locations where this family resided in the mids.

As the image below indicates, the Kennedy surname is very common throughout Ireland, with the highest concentration of families living in County Tipperary. Location of families with the Kennedy surname. The family friend who visited Eliza, and whose name sounded like "Rock" was most likely Mr.

Lists of Irish surnames, both as they were originally spelled and after they had been Anglicized, can be found in a variety of places online.

Getting Started - Do your homework

To hear how a surname is pronounced in various parts of Ireland, try Trinity College's voice synthesizer. The Roche surname was found in southern Ireland, but the highest concentration of those families was in County Cork. If you are trying to track down an obscure townland or parish, remember that your Irish ancestor spoke with an accent. The American or German, or Italian, etc. Irish Townlands is a useful, and free, site for locating place names in Ireland; and Irish Ancestors offers assistance, too.

This last part is, admittedly, the slow and difficult part. Using the information you have gathered, both the solid facts and the clues, the final step is to compile a list of possible matches for your ancestor and then systematically eliminate those who cannot be the person you are seeking. Of course, as is true in many places, Ireland suffered its share of record destruction throughout the centuries. The most famous and far-reaching loss occurred as a result of the Four Courts Fire. With the exception of a few fragments, all of the through Irish Census reports were destroyed.

For those with Protestant ancestors, the fire makes researching their families particularly difficult because over half of the Church of Ireland registers for the years were burned in the fire. The majority of the wills and probate records as well as all pre legal court records and local government records were victims of the fire, too. Then we are faced with the intentional destruction of the and census records since it was considered that once the totals were taken from the returns those documents were no longer of importance. And the and census reports were recycled during World War One.

Finally, it is important to remember that not all parish records which do exist, whether Catholic and Protestant, are available online. Sometimes the local priest, minister, or church secretary will agree to search for a specific name if you can provide the date of the baptism or marriage, but if a general search is required, an onsite researcher is necessary.

For Eliza Kennedy, we began by searching for birth or baptismal records for Eliza Kennedy born between and in all of Ireland.

Irish Roots - Irish Genealogy

The result was over possible matches. However, when we narrowed the focus to births between and , the range of dates for her birth we had calculated based on the year of birth of Eliza and Thomas' first son and the approximate date of the photograph, we ended up with 46 possible matches. The family was Catholic, which allowed us to removed nine Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, and Methodist baptismal records. In the U. Census Eliza had reported that her birth occurred in March of We know that the year is incorrect, but it is unlikely that she would accidentally or intentionally alter the month of her birth.

That meant that we were looking for a baptism which occurred in March or April. Of the remaining 37 records, only eight were for baptisms which occurred in March or April. By tracing the lives of those remaining eight young women, eliminating those who died in Ireland and those who we identified as living in Ireland after , we were left with only one candidate: Elizabeth Keneddy sic. Assuming Eliza and Thomas married the year before the birth of John Thomas and hypothesizing that Eliza was one of those young women who married around the age of 21, it is more likely that she was born in , plus or minus a year, rather than in the years between and It was not uncommon for several children in a family to immigrate together, settling in the same part of the city once they arrived.

Having family nearby provided support and protection in a strange place. It is even possible that the parents can be found living in the same or a nearby neighborhood. We searched for evidence of Kennedy families living nearby to Eliza, especially in the census report, but the surname was too common to determine if any of the individuals were related to Eliza. We did not find any Kennedys listed in the pages immediately prior to or after the census page for Eliza and Thomas.

Tracing Irish Ancestors Online

It is important to remember that this was simply a tradition. Young couples may have chosen to name their children in the traditional manner, they may have named their children to honor friends or heroes of their new country, or they may have simply chosen names that they liked. The for-fee website Irish Ancestors is a great place to learn more about the location of surnames in Ireland. This allows users to enter a surname and discover the location or locations where this family resided in the mids.

As the image below indicates, the Kennedy surname is very common throughout Ireland, with the highest concentration of families living in County Tipperary.

Where your Irish history comes alive

Location of families with the Kennedy surname. Lists of Irish surnames, both as they were originally spelled and after they had been Anglicized, can be found in a variety of places online. The Roche surname was found in southern Ireland, but the highest concentration of those families was in County Cork.

Need Help From The Irish Genealogy Experts?

If you are trying to track down an obscure townland or parish, remember that your Irish ancestor spoke with an accent. The American or German, or Italian, etc.


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Irish Townlands is a useful, and free, site for locating place names in Ireland; and Irish Ancestors offers assistance, too. This last part is, admittedly, the slow and difficult part.

COMMENTS (23)

Using the information you have gathered, both the solid facts and the clues, the final step is to compile a list of possible matches for your ancestor and then systematically eliminate those who cannot be the person you are seeking. The for-fee website RootsIreland provides ecclesiastic and civil records for all of Ireland except for County Kerry and the southern part of County Cork. Those records can be found at the free website IrishGenealogy.

Of course, as is true in many places, Ireland suffered its share of record destruction throughout the centuries. The most famous and far-reaching loss occurred as a result of the Four Courts Fire. With the exception of a few fragments, all of the through Irish Census reports were destroyed. For those with Protestant ancestors, the fire makes researching their families particularly difficult because over half of the Church of Ireland registers for the years were burned in the fire. The majority of the wills and probate records as well as all pre legal court records and local government records were victims of the fire, too.

For Eliza Kennedy, we began by searching for birth or baptismal records for Eliza Kennedy born between and in all of Ireland.

The result was over possible matches. The family was Catholic, which allowed us to removed nine Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, and Methodist baptismal records. We discovered through research that our last name was changed from Riordan to Rogers in Wales. Definitely stimed as to where to search next!


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I am positive there is a connection to Scotland! The war being the catalyst to move to Ireland! The King of England encouraged Scottish protastants by giving them land! I think now ……. Scotland may have more answers. Your email address will not be published.

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