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Down is the county in Ireland most associated with our patron Saint Patrick. He is thought to have first arrived in Ireland through the county and to be buried there. If your Irish family hailed from County Down, here’s some facts you may not have known:

1. Some of the most common Irish family names associated with the county include Campbell, McGuinness, O’Neill, Gilmore and Hamilton. Does your Irish name come from County Down?

2. When tracing your ancestors’ births, marriages and deaths you’ll need to know the civil registration districts that lie within the county’s borders. There are 8 – Banbridge, Belfast, Downpatrick, Kilkeel, Lisburn, Lurgan, Newry and Newtownards.

3. Early street and trade directories are a great way to discover what your ancestors did for a living and where exactly in County Down they lived. Try Bassett’s County Down Guide and Directory (1886) for example.

4. Former President, George W. Bush has roots in County Down. His five times great-grandfather, William Holliday was born in Rathfriland near Banbridge.

5. There are a range of parish records on Findmypast, perfect for uncovering your early Down ancestors. You’ll find baptism, marriage and burial records from churches in Annaclone/Anaghlone and Ballyroney.

In fact, Findmypast is home to over 3.9 million County Down records as well as the largest collection of Irish records anywhere online, so start exploring today and see what family stories you can discover.

For more stories on tracing your Irish heritage from Findmypast click here.