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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In Search of The Irish - Ancestry.com

When I originally joined Ancestry.com, I took advantage of viewing their webinars online.  I even watched the one entitled "Irish Ancestry".  The webinar was definitely discouraging.  In fact, I wondered if I would ever find my ancestors in Ireland.  Mind you, I had already found my Flanagan's in Louth all the way back to circa 1700.

My hope in watching the webinar was that I could build some skills in searching for my ancestors in Ireland.  About half way through the webinar, I was greatly discouraged because "officials" could not even trace John F. Kennedy's family line in Ireland.  He was one of the most famous presidents in the United States and pretty much the only Irish Catholic one.  I only made it about half way through the webinar in May 2010.

Since then, I have circled back around to view the information again.  In this post, I do plan to post some notes that I or other researchers may be able to follow in future research of our family lines.  It is important to note when the various mass immigrations took place from Ireland to America.

They are roughly as follows:
-1717-1718 - Drought in Ireland
-1725-1729 - Landlords in Ireland charged outrageous rent for the land.
-1740-1741 - Famine in Ireland
-1754-1755 - Drought in Ireland
-1771-1775 - Mass evictions by landlords
-1783-1844 - Over 1 Millions Irish came to U.S. - Irish Catholics
-1845-1849 - The Great Famine

Another key element to researching in Ireland is that records were accidentially and intentionally destroyed.  The "other" records that aren't talked about much are those "hidden", "secret", or "private" records.  These would be records that individuals have held onto.  My Flanagan's have held their records and have shared them with various historical societies, universities, and others who have expressed interest.  There are also church records.  I find that these are rather inconsistent in availability but are still around.  They not online to extent that church records are in England.  A lot of church records were destroyed over the years either on purpose or as a casualty of the fighting in Ireland.

So, the National Archives of Ireland still has a lot of records.  Apparently, the records are indexed on http://www.irishroots.net/.  I tried to check this site out but it does require a paid subscription.  Maybe I need to switch to that site once my Ancestry subscription is finished. 

Census information in Ireland is lacking greatly.  The only Census that are readily available online are 1901 and 1911.  So were the Irish just not big on counting their citizens?  No, the previous census have been destroyed.  How sad is this?

I suppose Irish land records could be explored.  The webinar mentions these as a good resource.  The Tithe Applotment Books (circa 1823-1838) and the Griffith's Evaluation (1848-1864) sound like good resources.   My question to Ancestry though is, "What do you look for if your ancestors left Ireland before 1823 (or even that very year in my case!)?" 

Strategies......What are my strategies in finding my relatives who immigrated from Counties Longford, Meath, Limerick, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Clare, etc.?  I go bold and all out!  That can work for a while.  Networking is a great way to connect to potenial family lines.  I am blogging all of my information in a longterm attempt to network with those seeking the same family lines.  I have had so much good luck going this route!

The Ancestry.com webinar also mentions a few more sites to search.  Many of the sites require a paid subscription including but not limited to the Irish Family History Foundation.  I find it challenging that the webinars on Ancestry.com may mention "a handout" that contain links to accompany the presentation but the handout is no where to be found in their site.  In some cases, there is no handout or quick reference of the online links that the speaker mentions.  I am quick about writing things down but not as quick as the speaker goes through some of slides in the presentation.

So I come to about three quarters of the way through the "Irish Ancestry" webinar and am still at a loss.  My recommendation to Ancestry.com is to actually acquire Irish records from the Irish Archives and load them into their software for use online.  It would certainly add value to the World Deluxe Edition of the Ancestry.com subscription, especially if they can get the "old stuff".

I did finish watching the full webinar for prosterity.

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