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Best Genealogy Sites for Irish Research: MyHeritage

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

MyHeritage is considered one of the Genealogy Giants. It is an Israeli company that was founded in 2003 and has its strength in many European users. In addition to various databases, MyHeritage also offers DNA testing. You can test directly with MyHeritage, or you can move your results from another testing company allowing you to match in another pool of testers. MyHeritage offers some unique matching technologies, in 42 languages and has about 50 million users.

I would say that one of the strengths of the company is it's large number of Family Trees (although like all Family Trees, you need to use them as hints and find original sources for your matches). One of the problems I see with this is if you accept the "Discovery" made by MyHeritage it adds entire branches of the match into your tree. Not a fan of this! I want to add people individually since I have no idea how good the other person's sources are. One of the "Discoveries" links my mother-in-law to a tree and wants to add 40 people to my tree. I have researched all of these are people and although they are not in my MyHeritage Tree, they are in my desktop database and I've also added them to Ancestry and FamilySearch. I can't view the matches individually, but believe that most of the information has come from my other trees. I can't always view the tree of the person who manages the "Discovery" as many of these trees are "private" however, you can contact the owner of the Tree. That's not a bad thing if they respond.😀 In some cases I have been successful in corresponding with MyHeritage users in Europe and Australia.

Another feature on MyHeritage is the ability to enhance or colorize your photos. The success will depend on the quality of the original. The original is kept as well so you don't have to worry about damaging it. The colors may not reflect the originals, but it does tend to brighten the photo. Here's an example of a photo likely taken about 1920 which I first enhanced (left), then colorized.

So now that I discussed generally some capabilities of MyHeritage, how does it stack up for Irish Research. A search in the Collection Catalog for "Irish" displays 31 databases. Using Ireland as the search term provides 99 collections, including many that are also in the Irish category. You will find the basics such as the 1901 and 1911 Census and Griffith's Valuation. The majority of the databases are available on other sites, such as Ancestry, FamilySearch or Findmypast, as well as free sites such as the National Archives of Ireland. I find it frustrating that the limited information about the databases does not give the original source of the information nor does it supply the localities included (or not included) in a specific database. How would I know if my ancestor should be there. Some of the databases are easy to recognize as coming from FamilySearch, The National Archives of Ireland or the National Archives and Records Administration in the US. There are some Directories I haven't seen elsewhere and they may cover the area where your ancestors lived, but this would be more for trades people, merchants and gentry rather than farmers. There are also a number of books that cover the Anglo-Irish gentry and the Peerage (if your family happens to fall into one of those categories). A number of the references are to material that includes Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland.

The largest collection of records at MyHeritage is the US Collection with 3,209 databases. If you've not been able to determine the locality of your ancestors in Ireland, then using the US record collections would be helpful. I'm particularly partial to the Histories, Memories & Biographies Collection. In the late 1800s almost every existing county in the US had a County History written which named residents of the County back to its creation. The History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania mentions a number of my ancestors. It can be a great place to identify the females as they may be mentioned in a biography of their husband. One of my favorite stories is about Alexander McDowell, an old Indian hunter who came from Ireland and who in 1788 appears in Wharton township having been "shot through and sold to British traders for a gallon of rum and a silver half-dollar." It goes on to say that he was the ancestor of the McDowells of Wharton Township which is where I pick up my Robert McDowell in 1800. It's such a great story, and I really want to be related to this person...still working on it! Frequently it is in these County Histories in the Biographies section that you'll find information about a person's origins. Here we have George Johnston, a native of Monaghan along with information about this arrival and children.

When selecting one of the Genealogy Giants for Irish Research, MyHeritage would not be my first choice, however if you have access to it through your local library or Genealogical Society, it would be good to check it for US records and Family Trees.

Happy Hunting and Stay Safe.

My Heritage is currently running a promotion on DNA Kits for $49.

Available until September 13.

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Apr 20, 2021

I maybe speaking heresy here, but I don't like the job that MyHeritage does with colorization. I think that the saturation levels are way too high.


I am not a fan of MyHeritage's "Discovery" feature either. I tried using this and ended up attaching 50 people to my tree and I found few sources. Thanks for the tip about their History, Memories and Biographies Collection. Where I do find MyHeritage to be extremely helping is with DNA. I had uploaded DNA from Ancestry for 6 kits I manage and we found a 170 cM match with my Irish Keeney line. Thanks for the helpful post, Donna.

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