Best Genealogy Sites for Irish Research: FamilySearch
FamilyTree Magazine listed only two sites for Irish research among their 101 Best Genealogy Websites. So far, I've listed nine which includes the two mentioned in the article, The National Library and The National Archives. With a nod to Sunny Morton who created the Quick Sheet naming The Genealogy Giants, I'd like to mention some of my favorite Irish databases on their websites.
You're probably already familiar with the Genealogy Giants—Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage. You might even already have a subscription to one or more of them. I use all of them at different times depending on my research question. You should be familiar with what they offer. I have two cautions:
Don't search from the Home Page.
Read the description of the database before you search.
I'm going to start with FamilySearch. It's free! It has 21 indexed Irish collections. Click on Great Britain on the map on the right of the Home Page then select Ireland.
My favorite database here is Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958. This was one of the first indexing projects done by FamilySearch and I indexed a large number of the records back in 2008 (because I desperately wanted this index). It is an Index to Civil Registration in all of Ireland up to 1921 and then covers the Republic of Ireland only from 1922-1958. Since I've already told you about IrishGenealogy.ie, which has not only an index but images of the registrations, why is this database at FamilySearch is important? Because of the Irish Data Protection Laws, only births older than 100 years can be in the IrishGenealogy.ie database with the images and those records currently only to 1919. If you're looking for a birth after that date, you need to refer to the FamilySearch index. If you identify the correct record you can order the registration from the General Register Office. The same goes for marriages after 1944. Because deaths are available until 1969, it's not as important, however the IrishGenealogy.ie database doesn't start images of the death until 1877. (When ordering from the General Register Office you only need a photocopy for €4 unless there is a legal reason for a €20 certified copy. They have the same information.) The FamilySearch index uses the old system so you need to note the Registration District, Year, Quarter, Volume and Page number from the Index to order the registration. Don't forget to click on Document Information on the right to get the page number. You'll need that for your order.
A number of the other databases at FamilySearch are from other sites. To see the image of the census records, for example, you will click through to the National Archives of Ireland site. The Poverty Relief Loans images can only be viewed at a Family History Center, however they are available at Findmypast. Images for the Petty Session Records are also at Findmypast.
Then there is the database Ireland Births and Baptisms 1620-1881. Remember, read the descriptive material on the database before you search. Ireland civil registration for birth records didn't start until 1864. The Penal Laws didn't allow Catholics to keep records until the late 1700s at the earliest. There are only a handful of Church of Ireland Churches that have records from the 1600s. Where did this information come from?
This is basically a compilation of records from the International Genealogical Index which is where people submitted their information to the LDS church. There are no sources included. Just like family trees, you can use it for hints, but will need to find other sources for the information. This database has been shared and is on all of the Genealogy Giants websites. Here's another hint...if a record includes "Selected" records, beware. Always find out the selection criteria. What localities are included or are missing? Would your ancestor even be in the database?
In addition to the indexed records at FamilySearch don't forget to check the Browse Only and Catalog collections. These are records that have been imaged, but not yet indexed. It's like the old days of using microfilm, except that you are clicking to various images. Many of these image collections were microfilmed with whatever index was included in the original...that might help you find the correct image. If the records are in chronological order you can click on the images to jump forward until you're close to the year you are interested in.
Search the catalog. I find the best way to do this is by location. I used to say that you could just order the film to your local Family History Center, but that is no longer possible. When you check the film notes, you may find that there is a digital image of the film (look for the camera icon). If there is a key above the camera, the record can only be viewed at a Family History Center. Although most are still closed, I have heard rumors that if you sit in the parking lot (and have log-in info from a previous visit) you can access the records.😀
You can also search for Books. The Family History Library in conjunction with a number of other genealogical libraries has digitized many of the books in their collections. There are some limitations to viewing because of copyright (look for Public vs. Protected), but if the book is not viewable, check WorldCat to see if it is in a library close to you. If not, your library may be able to order the book through InterLibrary Loan. Search on a family name, a locality or subject.
Family Trees and Genealogies can be a place to check for previous research done on a family or individual. You might also be able to connect with a "cousin" who is also working on the family. Just remember, check the sources! Don't take someone else's word for a relationship. Until you've seen the original sources and correlated the information to what you have already confirmed, the reference is to the Tree and it's just a hint. The FamilySearch Family Tree is a shared tree so other people can make changes to an individual which may or may not be correct. Fair warning!
Last, I want to remind you of the wonderful resources available at FamilySearch. There are free courses and webinars on Irish research in the Learning Center. There are also lots of resources within the Research Wiki. Search for Ireland.
Are you having trouble with church records in Latin? Check out the Latin Word List.
FamilySearch is not just names. Spend some time exploring the site to better prepare yourself to break through those brick walls.
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!
Interested in researching in Ireland in 2021? There is limited availability so if you're interested, registration forms are here.
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