Genealogy – a guide to researching your family tree

Where to Start??

So you are looking to research your family tree.  But where to start?  The best place to begin is with your immediate family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins.  Once you have these listed, you have a three generation family tree. A good place to expand from!

The next step is to ask your parents and grandparents, if possible, to find out more on older generations.  Hopefully after this exercise you will have your great grandparents, or even great great grandparents, along with second and third cousins.

Presenting and Compiling your Research

Now the amount of information you have gathered is getting substantial, so you will have to decide on a way to store and present your research in a logical manner.

If you are looking to create a family tree online, I would recommend ancestry.co.uk. This site also has some research material you can browse, especially if you have ancestors in the UK. These would include Military Records, Birth & Death Records, even Criminal Records in some areas. They also have some Irish records but as yet it is limited. You can search the records for free but if you want to view the actual records you have to pay a subscription.
http://www.ancestry.co.uk/

If you want a free downloadable program, there are acres to choose from online. The Church of the Latter Day Saints have developed a PAF (Personal Ancestry File) program which is fairly nifty.
http://www.familysearch.org/eng/default.asp

Of course you may decide to store your research in your own way which is totally up to yourself!

Research Sources

Interviewing family members can only get you so far.  Once you have wrung all the information you can out of your family, you will have to use other sources to expand on your family tree.

Online Records

The Internet is one of the most accessible resources you will have to hand.  More and more records have become available online, be sure to take advantage of this.

The Irish 1901 and 1911 Census Records are now online, giving easy access to family listings at this time.  As well as family names, the records also provide the age, occupation and martial status of each individual.  These records are available here http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/

As almost all nineteenth century census records for Ireland were lost, The Griffith Valuation and Tithe Books are used as substitutes for genealogy research.  The Griffith Valuation can be found online at http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml

Newspaper records are now also online for the most part,which are very useful for finding birth announcements, obituaries and other information, however again you have to pay for the privilege. http://www.irishnewsarchive.com/

If you are looking for ancestors who have ended up farther afield, the Ellis Island records are very handy if you are trying to track down family members who immigrated to America from Ireland. http://www.ellisisland.org/

Other Records

There are some areas where graveyard surveys have been conducted, such as our own Kinneigh Graveyard Survey.  These are an invaluable resource as some graveyards would have burials going back further than any other accessible records.

The Tithe Allotment Books cover the period from 1823 to 1838 but cover only titheable land in each parish, so it does not cover towns and cities. These are available for viewing, by appointment, in the National Archives.

Your local church will have records of baptisms and marriages.  All you need to do is ask the curate/sacristan or parish priest for permission to view these records to which they are usually very amenable.  These records can also be found in the National Archives.

There are also many journals and surveys released by local historical groups and individuals which would aid you in your search.  They may also be a useful contact in gathering information on the area.  A list of local groups and journals are provided in the resource section.

As Genealogy has become so popular in recent years, you may very well come across distant relatives who has done their own research into their ancestors.  This will allow both of you to expand your family trees by exchanging information on your common ancestor.

Cover image by Los Ojos De Muerte

3 Responses to Genealogy – a guide to researching your family tree

  1. William Dillon January 12, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    My grandmother came from West Coppeen near Enniskeane. Thanks for you intrest

  2. William Dillon September 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    My grandmother Margaret A. Donahue came feom Coppeen Ireland and immigrated to Milton Massachusetts in the late 1800’s . She had a sister whose name was
    Ellen who immigrated before her and worked in Milton Massachusetts
    saved her wages and provided money for her sister to come to Milton. Are there any
    records in Coppeen of that period? I took summer study at University College Dublin
    and lived at Saint Patrick’s (Belvedere House) years ago. My brother married a women from the Aran Islands. I am intrested in finding where Margaret Donahue’s parents areburriesd

    • columcronin September 28, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      Hello William, good to hear from you. In order to address your query in a meaningful way, it would be great to get any more detail at all on your grandmother Margaret. Can you verify that she came from ‘our’ Coppeen – near Enniskeane, County Cork, as there are other places named Coppeen in other locations. The name O’Donoghue/Donoghue is fairly common in this area (pretty close to your ‘Donahue’) We would be delighted to try & help you trace your ancestors, but it would be most helpful if you have any other information at all, be it in relation to the place, or Margaret’s siblings names (who remained in Ireland) or the likes.
      Regards, Colum Cronin – Chairman CAHCS.

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