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Hints and Tips to Uncover your Irish Genealogy through Research

Getting started with genealogy research should always begin with collecting information about your ancestors through your family. The basic questions of: who, what, when, and where need to be answered with some degree of certainty in order to be successful with your family history research.

Piece together the Important Details to Help Build your Family Tree

Start with the person’s first and last name. Knowing when and where the person was born is important. Another detail is knowing who the parents were; and if they had siblings, who they were will help locate the right documents for the person. Knowing other closely related family members will be useful to piece together your family tree when looking through old historical records.

Knowing the townland and parish district of where they lived is very useful to finding documents about your ancestor and help set apart a family with the same surname. Anywhere from five to thirty townlands comprise of one civil parish. Knowing the townland where your ancestors lived may prove significant in setting a family apart from others of the same surname. See the townland Database link to the right to start your townland and parish search.

What Records to Use to Begin your Irish Genealogy Research

The Irish Civil War of 1922 destroyed many important genealogy records so your research may be difficult, but not impossible. Depending on when your ancestor lived is where you should being your search. Below are a few suggestions for starting your research based on years you are researching:

1901 to 1911: Start with the census returns these are the only census that survived in their entirety.

1848 to 1864: Begin with Griffith’s Valuation. It provides the only detailed guide to where people lived and the property they possessed. It is arranged by county and then by poor law union. Each Poor Law Union is divided into electoral divisions, parishes (Civil Parishes) and townlands.

1823 to 1838: Use the Tithe Applotment books. It was a survey of land in each parish for occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre payabe to the Church of Ireland. Information you can find includes: name of occupier, name of townland, acreage, classification of land, and amount of tithe due.

Knowing the Land Divisions will help your Research

The administrative divisions in Ireland consisted of a variety of land units in descending order of size: Province, County, Barony, Parish and Townland. Knowing the different land divisions are Important to your Irish genealogy research and finding records. Based on what document you are looking for, it was created due to the land division.

Provinces are composed of groups of counties. Today there are four provinces: Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught.

The counties were planned in 1584 but many existed long before then. There are 32 counties.

The barony was used for: census, taxation, and legal purposes. They consisted of large groupings of townlands within a county. The 1891 census is the last to use the barony as an administrative unit.

This territorial division refers to both civil and ecclesiastical units. Civil parishes, which form one of the most important units of governance within the civil administration, largely follow the pattern that was established in the 12th century; however, because some parishes extended across rivers, they did not necessarily follow the civil parish network.

This is the smallest administrative territorial unit in Ireland, varying in size from a single acre to over 7,000 acres. Originating in the older Gaelic dispensation, townlands were used as the basis of leases in the estate system, and subsequently to assess valuations and tithes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.