Taking a Genealogical Journey back to Ireland

It’s been said that everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, but if you really do have Irish ancestry every day of the year you aren’t alone. More than 36 million Americans reported that they had Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s approximately 12% of the total population of the country.

To start your genealogical journey back to Ireland:

1. Talk with your family and find out what is already known. Get dates and places of events (births, marriages, immigration dates, deaths, etc.) but also get family stories.

2. Research your family in the United States working backwards from 1940; find your family in the census every ten years as far back as you can go. Add information from vital records and other sources such as obituaries, wills, and military and land records.

3. Complete all your research in the United States first to get the clues you’ll need to do your research in Ireland.

4. When you have a full name, place (county and town in Ireland), and the date of at least one event that occurred in Ireland (usually a birth or marriage) then you are ready to try Irish sources.

5. Reading about the complicated but very interesting history of Ireland will also give you some clues and ultimately help you understand the richness of the lives of your Irish ancestors.

6. Consider taking an autosomal DNA genealogy test. You will get ethnicity percentages and matches to distant cousins. The DNA tests may help locate which part of Ireland your ancestors were from. Contacting and sharing information with cousin matches may also help you go back a few more generations.

Laramie County Library System has many resources to help you with your family history research including over 20,000 family history books and access to genealogy databases at the library including Ancestry Library, and Fold3.

You’ll find these databases at gowyld.net/genealogy.html (to use at home you’ll need your library card number and PIN), then continue your research with some of these recommended websites:

FamilySearch: familysearch.org

FindaGrave: findagrave.com

Irish Newspaper Archive: irishnewsarchive.com

Griffith Valuation of Land in Ireland (1847-1864): askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation

National Archives of Ireland: nationalarchives.ie

Ancestry Ireland: ancestryireland.com/search-irish-genealogy-databases/

Public Records Office of the Republic of Ireland: proni.gov.uk

Elaine Jones Hayes – Special Collections Librarian