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Friday, April 15, 2011

Irish Genealogy and A Theory

So, I have this theory about finding your Irish Family roots in Ireland.  It is probably not earth shattering but it does involve the people who live there.  Let me see if I can present my thoughts well enough to post this to my blog.

It all started with my Flanagan's.  They found their relatives in California after a bit of a break in communication lines a few generations back.  That's a story in and of itself as is the extent of information and documents that exists to form a very complete 300 years worth of family tree and history.  Now, the Flanagan's are an example of what can be done and happen when people come together to search out their family tree.

Does it start in Ireland with the people there looking for those who left over hundred years ago?  Yes.  That also means that the people living there must have a desire to seek out those who left.  It certainly is not that one sided, however.  Those who left need to have a desire to find their lineage in Ireland.  The only way to connect the dots is to have both sides looking.  Is there success available for everyone?  Possibly not.

Reality is that people left Ireland with the intention of never returning or looking back.  The famine hit the west coast of Ireland much worse than the east coast.  Also, the British provided more assistance to those on the east coast and close to Dublin for the hundreds of years of occupation in Ireland.  As you can imagine, despite some violence in Dublin here and there, much of the east coast did not suffer as much as the west coast.  Is that hard to believe?  Ask the Irish about their history and they will tell you.

When I have sought information about my east coast ancestors, I have found, in many cases, what I am looking for.  The lack of information found online is what has slowed me down.  For whatever reason, Ancestry.com indicates that Irish records are the hardest to come by and are limited.  I think Ancestry.com just does not want to deal with the variation of available information.  Anyway, when I seek information in a west coast location like County Clare, I find virtually nothing.

So what is my theory?  Part of it involved that heraldry information that we all can find about our Irish surname, crest and coat of arms.  Buyer beware.....The heraldry information for sale tends to indicate the origins of a surname going back before the 15th century Ireland.  The location of a surname then may not be where one's ancestors were living before they left Ireland.  The British did transplant people all over Ireland to breakup family septs and strongholds.

Let me give you an example.  The Flanagan name comes from 13th Century County Roscommon, the Kings of Connaught.  The specific location is identified as Elphin.  So what are the Flanagan's doing in the Termonfechin area of County Louth starting around 1690 and continuing on to present day?  Well, the Battle of the Boyne or a transplantation by the British might be the explanation.  If I looked for my Flanagan's in Roscommon, I never would have found them.  They are in Louth.

The same goes for my Maguire's.  County Fermanagh you say?  Ok, I'd agree in the 13th Century in Ireland or even a bit later on than that.  Enniskillen and the Maguire's go hand and hand.  Wait a minute!  My Maguire line is in Louth.  It would appear that maybe the Maguire's were in Louth before the Flanagan's even got there.  That's the 1600s by they way.  Again, I might find my McGuire's someday in Fermanagh but those Maguire's are in Louth.  Yes, I am a Maguire and a McGuire, both.  I must visit Fermanagh someday without a doubt.  Will I be able to trace those lines successfully?  And will they intersect and unite at some point?  Who knows?  All I know is that if I were looking for my Maguire's in Fermanagh, again, I would never have found them.

Heraldry information may be a comfort when you don't know where to find your ancestors.  I find that with several of my Irish surnames.  You just can't put a whole lot of stock in it when you are seriously looking for your ancestors in Ireland circa 1800.

How in the world do you find people who can help you and are potentially of your lineage?  My luck as been on message boards where people who live in the location are monitoring and fulfilling the requests to look information up at cemeteries and graveyards all over Ireland.  It can still be hit or miss but at least you've found someone living in the specific location.

Finding the specific location of one's ancestors can be challenging and is the first step to success.  That requires some ingenuity and usually marriage certificates.  I am still challenged with determining the parents names of my Patrick Hickey.  Maybe someone in Ireland has access to information.  If they are looking for it.......

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