Irish Roots

December 12th, 2011

John Grenham


Unless you're here because you happened to be visiting my upstairs neighbour, Mr. Ó Muirithe, the fact that you're reading this means you already have at least a passing interest in genealogy. But perhaps you're still wary about taking the plunge and starting research. Here are a few common misconceptions that block the paths of beginners:

"Irish research is impossibly complicated." No it isn't - the process is simple and straightforward. You start from what you know and use it to find out more, then repeat that again and again. On the other hand, looking for a needle in haystack is also straightforward. It can just be hard to do successfully.

"All Irish records were destroyed in the Public Record Office in 1922." No they weren't. Huge quantities of nineteenth-century censuses, Church of Ireland registers and countless original wills and administrative documents were indeed blown up. But plenty remains - birth, marriage and death records, property surveys, church registers, and a great deal more. In fact, If you try really, really hard to look on the bright side, 1922 actually simplified Irish research.

"What about all the skeletons in the cupboard?" This is a reason for starting research, not for putting it off. The sins of the grandfathers can't be visited on the grandchildren, but the grandchildren will find them absolutely fascinating.

"Will it not take forever?" Yes, it will. It may be possible to cover the main record sources for a direct line in just a few weeks, but that will only whet the appetite. Genealogy is for life, not just for Christmas.

If you still need convincing, I'm giving a free public talk on "Starting Your Family History" at the Irish Times building in Tara St. in Dublin on Thursday evening next, December 15th. More details are at irishtimestraining.com.

Corrections, comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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