This week I'm going to discuss one of my favorite sites, one I use every day, IrishAncestors. This is not a site where you will find your ancestor's name, but a place to look to find out what types of records are available. Remember that all research begins with a question, and part of that question is the "where" and "when." I frequently receive messages from people who have searched "for years" for the birth of their ancestor and haven't found it. As you delve into the where and when you find first of all that the birth would have been about 1845...so you will not find a birth record. Births were not recorded (civil registration) in Ireland until 1864. You might however find a baptismal record. That's where IrishAncestors comes into play. This is John Grenham's site, John being the author of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors a must for anyone doing Irish research. (John also joins us for dinner during the Irish Research Trip to Dublin.) Here's where the "where" comes into play. Unless you happen to have a name as unusual as Moughty, you are going to need the locality...hopefully something more than the County. I'm going to use my favorite location example for one of my ancestors, Kilvine, Mayo. If this theoretical individual born was born in 1845 in Kilvine, you have a problem. Baptismal records for Kilvine don't start until 1870. The answer is no, you will not find either a birth or baptismal record for this person. The researcher who has searched "for years" can continue to search for years and will not find the record...it doesn't exist! Save yourself a lot of aggravation and change your research question...your research will have to reflect an approximate date based on other records. IrishAncestors is the first place you should go to check the availability of church records.
As you can see here, first, the Roman Catholic records were never microfilmed for the National Library. This is another fallacy that I frequently hear...all Roman Catholic records are NOT at the National Library (and that means they were never indexed by Ancestry and Findmypast). But wait! They were microfilmed by the LDS and that microfilm is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. FamilySearch has just completed digitizing all of their microfilms so I should be able to access it on FamilySearch! Not yet...here is the Catalog entry from FamilySearch. Note it still shows these records only available on microfilm. It may take a while for that to change and when it does, it will likely be a "browse only" collection. I'm OK with that.
I have to admit that I've been through this film and haven't found the baptism of Michael Daly, born 20 Dec 1886 according to civil registration. Why do I want his baptismal record when I already have his birth record? Because I believe that there is a good chance that the civil date is incorrect. If you are not familiar with this Irish phenomenon, Baptized Before Birth you can read about it. According to IrishAncestors, the records for this parish have also been indexed from 1870-1900 and are at RootsIreland. And no, Michael Daly does not show up there either. The fact that the record keeping in this particular parish was not great, was confirmed by a conversation with Gerry Delaney, who heads up the South Mayo Family History Centre (which provides the records to RootsIreland). According to Gerry, there is no record for Michael and presumably others from this parish. Never let it be said that Irish research is easy!
One more thing to note here. If your ancestors were members of the Church of Ireland, those records were recorded beginning in 1699. However, look at the note on the right. The Church of Ireland Records for this parish were at the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922 (the reference to 1919 is when the Deputy Keeper did a complete review of the records held) and so were lost. What survives are baptisms from 1884 and marriages from 1846 (those are Protestant Civil Records).
If you are not using the IrishAncestors site, you should be. Much of the information is free but some is available by subscription. John allows five searches each day before he requests a subscription. If you're not in a hurry, just wait a day. Here's a blog I wrote on Using the IrishAncestors Website which includes a video. You can also view videos on how to use the site on John Grenham's YouTube site.
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!
Here are some other blogs where I've discussed IrishAncestors