I have been asked to present 'Everything
that I know about Irish genealogy' in one
five hour session
Five Hours on What ?
Despite writing books and teaching on the
subject for 30 years - how can I put 30 years
of experience into 5 short hours ! Worse yet,
how can I find 5 hours worth of things to
talk about continuously. ( Well, that might
not be so hard, considering my ancestors.)
Not Addresses and URL's
No, I will not go on and on about addresses
of people and places on the internet. A quick
survey of that will do fine. You can find most
of that on your own fairly quickly.
The Most Important
So, here then are a few of the things I consider the
most important that I have to offer:
1) How I traced my families back to Clare and
Kerry 30 years ago - without the aid of a computer.
Donahue and O'Loughlin, and a few more.....
(Yes, it is entirely possible to do).
2) Basic courtesy and patience when researching
in Ireland. You might be surprised, if
you are in a big rush, and don't have the time
of day for anyone but yourself - you'll get less
help. Worse yet, you will not even know that
you have been stiffed. (works at home too).
3) The history of 19th century Ireland and the
famine. Very important to know about what
was happening when so many came to the U.S.,
Canada and Australia. You'll also know what
a Poor Law Union was for; What the Earl Grey
scheme was; and why Daniel O'Connell was so
4) Wild Geese and more.
The history of the 17th century. If you want
to know about Ireland today - here is one great
place to start. The battles of Kinsale and Limerick.
The Flight of the Earls; The Civil War in which the
native Irish sided with the King !; and the flight
of the Wild Geese, where Tens of thousands were
exiled to the continent and to the armies they
found there. You also have resources recording
the location of the Irish in things like the 1659 census.
Army Lists and Pay Schedules
They just found a pay book for the army on the orange
side of the battle; and we have King James Irish Army
List that was published to trace the lineage of all the
Irish on the green side of the war, so to speak.
This is also the time when up to 90% of the Irish
would lose their lands and home. If you are lucky
enough to trace your family back this far, you will
want to know the setting in which you will be working.
Yes, it's modern, and we don't know everything, but it
provides us with a lot of clues and eliminations. The
testing is easy, no long needles (just short ones (ha)).
You should at least know about the basics, and get a
direct male descendant tested now. ( of course, new
studies are now including Mom's DNA too.). You may
take things to the extreme and start tracing your possible
Basque ancestors from 10,000 years ago.
Don't forget books, rare and forgotten books and records.
Many can be found online for free, and more every day.
County histories, occupation lists, census data, personal
family histories. You'll probably learn more than just the
birthdate of your ancestor. Libraries count here too !
7) Do you homework at home First
Yes, Start looking in American Records to find
the County and town in Ireland if you are an American.
Look not just at Great grandpa, but his brothers and
sisters records if you are at a standstill. That means
obituaries; birth, death and marriage records...
8) Use the telephone, computer and the mail.
Use social networking on the internet, Facebook
has been used a lot lately to find far flung relations.
A well placed phone call can jump start a search, and
don't forget that you can drop a letter with details
in it that don't fit into a short conversation. You can
even make a little 'mass' mailing to your family to
get the search started and scare up some help.
9) Start a Free Blog on your family history
You can do this for free, and if you are serious
it is not a big deal. It will reach all across the world,
for a long, long, time. Todays blog might be read a
year from now, and make a connection.
10) Publish a short inexpensive family history
as you go along, either in ebook format or in hard-
copy. Use that as your calling card and donate it
to libraries now. It will generate new info for you.
There's plenty more, but at least that gets me started......
Three suggestions for things not to do as you go along:
1) Never say you have an Irish Tartan. (Scots-Irish - maybe)
2) Do not use 4 leaf clovers on St. Patricks Day - its 3 leaves.
3) Never think you have the 'right' spelling of your name.
The Proof is in the Puddin'
Next week it's the 5 hour course at the Dublin, Ohio Irish Academy.
It has to be ready by Friday, August 6. These folks are offering
other courses at the same time on things like the Bodhran, Flute,
Fiddle and Banjo. So, there is no excuse, for not learning something
new about your Irish Family heritage this year.
Say, I wonder if I could learn to play the fiddle in 5 hours ?
Want to become a 5 hour miracle student ? Try the Irish Academy: