Best Genealogy Sites for Irish Research: Findmypast
I've saved my favorite of the Genealogy Giants for last. Findmypast has the best focus on specific databases for doing Irish research. They are owned by DC Thompson, a British company with experience in family history. In addition to Findmypast.com, they also have websites focused on Ireland (.ie), the UK, (.co.uk) and Australia (.au). DC Thompson owns the rights to the British Newspaper Archive (hence the extensive Irish newspapers at Findmypast) and in 2018 purchased Twile, a company focused on creating timelines for Family History. Their partners include FamilySearch, the National Archives (UK), the British Library and Eneclann. For those of us doing Irish Research, their association with Eneclann is important.
Eneclann, founded in 1998 by Brian Donovan and Fiona Fitzsimons, has been involved in genealogy, heritage and history. They were one of the first companies to digitize Irish records, making them available on CDs. Beginning in 2014, Brian Donovan, in addition to the work at Eneclann, became the Head of Irish Data and Business Development for Findmypast and is currently the Strategic Initiatives Manager. With his knowledge of Irish genealogy he has identified projects and records to add to the databases at Findmypast. He was also instrumental, along with Fiona in the development of the Irish Family History Centre and the EPIC museum in Dublin.
Fiona is well known in the Irish genealogical community as a researcher and has been involved in the research for programs such as Who Do You Think You Are. She also compiled the genealogies of the Obamas, Joe Biden and many celebrities including Tom Cruise. Fiona also teaches a Genealogy Course at Trinity College.
Bringing that all together, Findmypast's Irish collections are extensive and although some of their collections are now shared on other websites new collections appear first at Findmypast.
In terms of the basic resources such as Irish Census, Griffith's Valuation, Index to Civil Records, they are all there. As I've mentioned in my Griffith's explanation, Findmypast has the most complete set of records. Their version was originally created by Eneclann and although the records were scattered among different repositories, Eneclann was able to collect 300 of the 301 total books, including revisions and amendments. I find this helpful when searching the records under 9&10 Vict (the first Tenement Valuation) when appeals could be made. For some localities you can actually find the appeals book. Because this timeframe overlapped with the Famine, sometimes you'll find that between the original and the revision, people disappeared (indicating a possible death or emigration). The sheet on the right only shows the appeals (most of which were refused) but in some cases the names changed between the 1st printing and the revisions.
Findmypast allows you to search on the type of record (Original, Amendment or Revision) so a search on Amendments for Carrigmore in County Cork provides information on the changes. Here you can see that Ellen Brien, now shows the Reps of Ellen Brien indicating that she has died. The original was done on 15 March 1850 and the Amendment on 2 September 1850. This, therefore gives you an approximate timeframe for Ellen's death. So even though Griffith's is available at all of the Genealogy Giants and at AskAbout Ireland, using it at Findmypast may provide additional information.
So what about other records? If you search on Record Sets and select Ireland, you get a list of 237 databases. Yes, some of these are at other websites including the National Archives, Ancestry and FamilySearch. But if you dig into these records, you also find unique records sets specific to a County or timeframe.
Remember two things. Don't search from the Home page unless you have an unusual name (like Moughty). Even that now gives me over 800 records today worldwide. If I limit it to Ireland, I still get 580 records. A search for Daly in Ireland gives me almost 432,000 hits. That's a bit too time consuming to go through! Think about your research question and search in the database that is most likely to answer your question. For most of us, Burke's Landed Gentry isn't going to be helpful unless you are specifically searching for information on your ancestor's landlord. But what about the Ireland, Poverty Relief Loans 1821-1874? That brings me to the second point, read about the database before you search. Would your ancestor be included? Is it the correct time and place? Are there exclusions which would prevent your ancestor from being there?
But wait, there's more! Don't forget to click on "Learn More" and "Useful links." As you scroll down there is lots of additional information. (Below is only part of the information.) The links on the right take you to additional sources.
And there is even more! Wouldn't you like to know if the location where your ancestor lived was included?
I do want to mention the one thing I would like to see improved (and I have had this conversation with Brian). I want a source citation. In some cases you can figure it out, but I want to know the original source of the material and where it is located. Does any of the original material survive or is this it...something we always have to think about with Irish Research.
Have you used the Petty Session records? These were the magistrate courts, the lowest courts that handled primarily minor cases of drunk and disorderly, a cow getting into someone's garden and assaults. I'm sure your family is not there, but there are 181 instances of the Moughtys in these records (and that's only one spelling). Now, I have to say that they are not always the Defendant...sometimes they're the Claimant or a Witness. These records are interesting to read and they put a person in a particular place at a particular time. Bernard Moughty of Aghnabohy (that's mine) was in the Petty Session Court in Ballymore in 1876 because he had an unlicensed dog for which he had to pay a fine and get the dog licensed. That means it's time to check the Dog Licenses (as Irish researchers we'll use anything we can find). I did have to check multiple spellings (of both surname and given name) but found records of dog licenses from 1871 through 1920. There were a few years he clearly "forgot" and 1876 seemed to be one where he got caught. The registration was for a brown and white Sheep dog. Why should I care? If your ancestor disappears from the dog license database what happened? The answer I usually get, is the dog died. No, these were typically working farm dogs so if the dog died, it was probably replaced. I'd start looking about that time for a death or emigration record.
Another one of my favorites is the Landed Estate Court Rentals. Since this is getting a bit long, the link above will take you to a previous blog where I explain the records. Make sure you check it out.
In the Ancestry blog a few weeks ago, I mentioned that Findmypast and Ancestry worked together to create the index to the Roman Catholic Records. In addition to the Ireland Roman Catholic records, Findmypast has also digitized and indexed Roman Catholic records in the US for the Archdioceses of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland and Toledo. They also have Roman Catholic records for the UK. This is a great help if your ancestors settled in one of these areas. Roman Catholic Church records are hard to locate and are deemed private so the digitization can be key to identifying a locality in Ireland. Marriage records in particular can be helpful since some priests required proof of baptism in before marrying a couple (this information was required after 1907). The marriage below is recorded in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia naming the locality of the baptism in Ireland as Bacon [sic] (Bekan), County Mayo. Always remember that the Irish weren't great with dates so be flexible.
Findmypast also provides DNA testing through their partnership with LivingDNA. If you've tested at Ancestry, you can move your results to LivingDNA. You can also create a Family Tree at Findmypast for which they will provide hints. I can't say I'm a big fan of the Tree and the hinting. Most of the hints are already in my master Family Tree, although occasionally when a new database becomes available I'll see something interesting. As I've commented in the past, my master Tree is on my computer where I can control the information and I use the online trees to look for hints and to find cousins. Findmypast has recently begun to provide hints to other trees on their site, but without providing any way to identify or contact the owner of the matching tree. I want to correspond with that person to find out their sources and assure the match before I accept anything.* (See updated note below) The cousins always seem to get the good stuff, so if they have the family Bible or photos, I want to know who they are!
An excellent way to keep up to date with Findmypast's offerings is through their Findmypast Fridays. Each Friday they release new records. The records are not always for Ireland, but even when they focus on the UK or Scotland, there are usually a few nuggets such as Irish newspapers. Their newspapers cover all of Ireland, some of them back into the 1700s. For many of our ancestors there may not be mentions of births, deaths, and marriages until the late 1800s, but you never know...always look. I was doing the happy dance when I found the article below. I already knew the date of death of James Moughty and even had his will. What this confirmed for me was the relationship between John Moughty of Multyfarnham and James (and my Bernard) Moughty. I already knew that James and Bernard were brothers and I have their baptismal records, but have never found a baptismal record for John. John died in 1900 (before James) but his son, John is identified as the nephew. I now have one more piece of evidence as to the relationship between James, Bernard and John. (Notice that females are not mentioned in those attending the funeral...even when the deceased is a female. I find that odd.)
There is so much to explore at Findmypast.
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!
* So the day after I published this blog, I saw a note on a UK site saying Findmypast had instituted Private Messaging between users with online Trees. I jumped back on (I didn't see this yesterday) and couldn't find any reference to Private Messaging. I asked a question about it using their bot and here's the response...
"You should have a Private Messaging inbox if you have a Findmypast family tree, have received a tree-to-tree hint and are currently on a Starter, Plus or Pro free trial or subscription. Once you receive a message from someone, you'll see an envelope icon. The feature is only available on findmypast.co.uk at the moment. It will arrive on findmypast.com, findmypast.com.au and findmypast.ie soon.
Stay tuned...as soon as I see it, I'll mention it on my Facebook Page.