Irish Records

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Some excellent advice by professional genealogist John Grenham, whose Irish Roots column is a must-read.

Free Irish Records for 4 Days

Via John Reid’s Anglo-Celtic Connections, Findmypast is offering free access to its Irish birth, marriage, and death records for four days, from 27-30 June.

This gesture of generosity from the UK-based Findmypast as an apparent commemoration of the destruction by fire of massive amounts of documents (the 19th-century Irish census returns, for example: sob!) during the Irish Civil War? Well, that’s a bit weird, perhaps, but eh, sure, whatever. Free is free, and Findmypast has an impressive store of databases and documents.

Down Survey of Ireland 1656-58

Via Deborah Large Fox, I’ve just discovered The Down Survey of Ireland 1656-58, a searchable, online mapping database with digitized images of all surviving Down survey maps from 1656 to 1658. From the project’s website (at Trinity College Dublin):

Taken in the years 1656-1658, the Down Survey of Ireland is the first ever detailed land survey on a national scale anywhere in the world. The survey sought to measure all the land to be forfeited by the Catholic Irish in order to facilitate its redistribution to Merchant Adventurers and English soldiers. Copies of these maps have survived in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland and Britain, as well as in the National Library of France. This Project has brought together for the first time in over 300 years all the surviving maps, digitised them and made them available as a public online resource.

Wow! This is a fantastic website, offering (free of charge!) an amazing resource.

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Cavan Genealogy is hosting a conference called “Crossing Borders, [.PDF brochure],” which will explore “some features of the borderland counties of Cavan, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Meath.”

Date: 12-15 September 2013.

Place: Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, County Cavan, Ireland.

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Now online at PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), a searchable placename index to the Valuation Revision Books, covering the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone between the years 1864 to 1933.

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So the reason I’m blue in the face is not apnoea or an impending heart attack, it’s from telling people over and over and over that it makes no difference whether your Quin family have been insanely fussy about spelling their surname with one N for the past three centuries. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the person writing the name down was not a Quin, and couldn’t give a hoot.

— John Grenham, The Os and the Macs

Tithe Applotment Books online

When I get a chance (which won’t be until after Christmas), I’m going to post an entry about searching the Tithe Applotment Books for various ancestors. I think I have found my Lahey ancestors, for example, who emigrated to Upper Canada from Killycross Upper, Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary.

But for now, just a brief post to note that the Tithe Applotment Books (one of the most important census substitutes for Irish genealogy) are available online at two  different locations:

  1. At familysearch.org: Ireland, Tithe Applotment Books, 1814-1855
  2. At the National Archives of Ireland: Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837

The National Archives of Ireland’s The Tithe Applotment Books: About the Records is well worth reading.

Irish Catholic Ancestors: How Far Back Can You Go?

You already know, of course, that you can’t really trace your ancestry back to Niall of the Nine Hostages, or to anyone grand and legendary like that. And you probably also suspect, if your family tree looks anything like mine, that traditional family lore along the lines of ‘We were once the kings and queens of Ireland!’ rests on dubious and shaky grounds at best; and turns out to be, upon further investigation, something more like, ‘We were once the agrarian underclass of the counties of Cork and Tipperary!’

So: how far back can you really, and realistically, go?