Dipping My Toes in to Irish Genealogy Research

Apart from my British, Finnish and a little European heritage, I have some Irish blood in me too. About 30% in fact (according to my AncestryDNA test). But the whole Irish side is one that I’ve pretty much avoided. Afterall, there are so many other lines and branches to follow … so it always ended up in the “I’ll get to it one day” pile.

Well I’ve just discovered John Grenham’s YouTube channel. And to say I’m a fan is an understatement.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of John Grenham, he is like THE No.1 authority on Irish genealogy research. The Godfather of it so to speak. He’s also the author of the best known Irish research book “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors“, now up to the 5th edition, and which is commonly referred to as the Bible for Irish research. So in other words, he knows his stuff.

He also has the most incredible website for Irish genealogy around. It has SO MUCH info. So much, that he’s actually created a video to show people how to use it. I urge to to find 20 minutes to watch this video, because if you haven’t used his website, you will be blow away by what it offers, and how it works.


But I also wanted to share another of his videos with you … one that is common for everyone starting their Irish research “Irish Ancestors: Why Can’t I Find Mine?” As I’m a total newbie to Irish research, I thought it would be good to watch this to see what he had to say, and as expected John gives his viewers lots of great advice, so I’m sharing it here.

If you are researching Irish ancestors, please go and check out (and subscribe) to his YouTube channel. You’ll learn heaps!!!

So now I am enthused about getting going on my Irish ancestors, now to find some time (which really translates to “MAKE” some time) to do some actual research.

Wish me luck!


Discovering Links: 21 FREE Links for Irish Genealogy and History

In this “Discovering Links” post, we take a look at some links that relate to Ireland. You can see my previous Discovering Links posts here. These posts consist of a collection of links that I have discovered, or found useful, and want to share with others. But rather than simply giving you a whole batch of random links each time, I am grouping them by topic, country or Australian state.

For this one I’ve decided to share my Irish links (together with a few covering specific counties). It is not intended to be an exhaustive collection of links (not by a long, long way), but they are simply some, that some may find useful, and may not have known about.

And while many people think that genealogy costs a lot of money, let me tell you that all of the links below are free. Personally I find that it’s often a matter of knowing where to look beyond the big-name websites, and hopefully this will help with that.


This site is the work of Peter Clarke, whose aim is to “build the biggest index of freely available ebooks on Irish history, biography and genealogy!”

This site currently features 70,000 free Irish gravestone records coming from hundreds of Irish graveyards, spanning all 32 counties, and compiled and transcribed by Dr. Jane Lyons and exclusive to From-Ireland.net. In addition, they have links to gravestone photographs, and complete transcriptions as well.

The FamilySearch Wiki is a powerful learning tool that everyone researching Ireland history and genealogy should use.

The Military Archives has been the official place of deposit for records of the Irish military records since 1990. Their mission to collect material from the foundation of the military up until the present day, including records from overseas missions. From as early as 1924, the National Army undertook measures to preserve historical documents from that time.

www.irishgenealogy.ie is a website that allows users to search online indexes to historical BDMs and to baptism, marriage and burial records from some counties.

The National Library of Ireland have digitised 390,000 microfilm images of Catholic parish registers, and have put them online and free to view on their website, but are not indexed. However you will find that 10 million of the entries have been indexed on findmypast.co.uk where they are available free of charge indefinitely. Note: if you want to view the index AND image on Findmypast, it will ask you to subscribe. So use the index, then go to the NLI website, and look at the image, and it doesn’t cost you anything.

This is John Grenham’s website, and is packed full with useful links. For those who haven’t heard of him, he’s the author of the “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” book which is also referred to as the “bible for Irish genealogy”. So he totally knows his stuff.

The David Rumsey collection of historical maps is an incredible collection of old maps that number over 69,000, and include maps from all over the world. When I narrowed the search to Ireland, there’s 4601 maps showing which is impressive in itself! All viewable, zoomable and online for free.

This website contains links to over 1000 Irish directories, each with links to where you will find them. The majority are free, with a few that can be found on pay sites.

History Ireland is a magazine that has been running for over 20 years, and while you do need to subscribe to get the current issues, you can view a number of their old ones free online in the Archive section on their website.

On the topic of magazines, you can’t go past “Irish Lives Remembered”. This is a free digital magazine, and can be read on your computer or device that gives you 70 pages of Irish genealogy and history each issue. They have recently been taken over by Eneclaan (who have recently rebranded themselves as the Irish Family History Centre). The magazine is expected to relaunch in the near future. You can view Issue 33 online here.

The Irish Archives is a portal website for specific for Irish genealogy. They have collected thousands of Irish ancestry and genealogy related links, and have put them into categories making it easier for you to find and search.

Claire Santry’s website is one to bookmark, as it is another that is packed full of information. And I suggest following her blog, as she will keep you abreast of all the latest Irish genealogy happenings.

The Emerald Ancestors website is dedicated to records from Northern Ireland.  Containing BDMs and census records for over 1 million Irish ancestors from the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, this index is totally free to search, though if you do want further information you will need to subscribe which costs £9.99 a month.

This Townland database holds details of all 60,000+ townlands as they appeared in the “Index of Townlands”, which was used for the 1851 census. It details the name of the County, Barony, Civil Parish, Poor Law Union and Province for each location.

Created by those who have created the Irish Famine Memorial Sydney website, you’ll find details of the ships that sailed to Australia with also with details of the Irish famine orphan girls on them. The ships were are Derwent, Diadem, Digby, Earl Grey, Elgin, Eliza Caroline, Inchinnan, Inconstant, John Knox, Lady Kennaway, Lady Peel, Lismoyne, Maria, New Liverpool, Panama, Pemberton, Roman Emperor, Thomas Arbuthnot, Tippoo Saib, and the William and Mary.

Run by volunteers the IGP has a host of information, some for more counties than others, but more added each month. Information you may find for you county could be: Biographies, Cemetery Records, Court Records, Church Records, Census and Census Substitutes, Directories, Emigration Records, Headstones, Land, Local History, Memorial Cards, Military and Constabulary, Miscellaneous, Newspaper, Obituaries, Photos, Vital Records (Births, Deaths and Marriages), and Wills.

=== CORK ===

The Cork Past and Present website contains a huge amount of info including the history of Cork, old maps, photos and images, old adverts, directories and a heap of info to help you trace your Cork roots.

=== GALWAY ===

The Clonbrock Collection contains over 2,000 glass plates spanning the years 1860-1930. The photographers were members of the Dillon family, Barons Clonbrock, of Ahascragh, Co. Galway, a family of enthusiastic amateur photographers (particularly Gerald Dillon and his wife Augusta Crofton Dillon). The images provide a substantial and varied pictorial record of life on a landed estate. An index to the entire collection is available in a searchable database on the National Library of Ireland website. Please note that images are not attached to the database. A selection of catalogue records linked to images is available in their Online Catalogue.

=== LIMERICK ===

For anyone with Limerick connections this is a must bookmark site. You’ll find their collection of over 70,000 burials at Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery, the county’s largest cemetery. These range between 1855 and 2008, and include the name, age, address and grave location. Apart from that you’ll find information about their holdings including records from the Limerick City and County Council and it has also collected archive material relating to older administrations including Limerick Union, Limerick Rural District Council, private papers and collections relating to the commercial and cultural aspects of life in Limerick.


The Tipperary Studies website is all about preserving Tipperary’s history and heritage and share it with the world. They have digitised a bunch of Rate Books, and have details of lots of holdings.