Finding Irish Origins: Part One

Finding an ancestor’s Irish town of origin is a goal for many genealogists. This January, I was able to do that for an ancestral couple. The strategy and resources used might help others who are searching for an Irish ancestral hometown. 

My personal research has taken a backseat to client work and teaching. I decided to change that in January. When I was teaching at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, I selected a family of my own to focus on in my limited spare time — a couple who are presently the end of the line on my pedigree chart. How neat would it be to add more names to that chart?

U.S. records were silent on the identity of their parents. Discovering where they came from in Ireland could help to expand the pedigree. Besides, who doesn’t want to daydream about visiting their ancestral homeland? Walk the streets where ancestors walked, visit the church that they worshipped in, and get a sense of place?

A bit of every person is a reflection of where their roots first entered the ground.

Michael Mahoney and Johanna Daly were born in Ireland. Their five known children were born in England; the family appeared in the 1851 and 1861 censuses there. The couple and their four surviving children arrived in New York City in 1866.

First step: I created a quick timeline for the selected family group. A timeline reminded me of what I already knew and helped me to see holes in my work and gaps in the family group. It prepared me for the next step, creating a research plan. What did I consider?

• Names
• Dates
• Places: included addresses from vital and census records
• Gaps in the timeline
• Religion

Second step: Create a research plan. It prepared me for the work ahead. It was slightly fluid, because there were resources I did not yet know about, and discoveries often lead us in other directions.

• Determine resources available for location, time, and religion. How? Check the Family History Library Catalog and ask the British Isles staff for guidance.
• Make list of items to review.

Third step: Review a source in the location where they lived when their children were born and when the census was taken. I’ve researched the family in New York City, so I started working in the London area.

• SS Mary and Joseph, Poplar District, Middlesex County, England, library computer database from CD-ROM, FHL computer access only.
• This extract included baptismal records for many of the children I knew about. It also included children that I previously did not know existed. I made a note of the sponsors.

I wasn’t back to Ireland yet, but I was working my way back in time systematically.

© 2015, Debbie Mieszala. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to Finding Irish Origins: Part One

  1. Pingback: Recommended Reads | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  2. Laurie says:

    I can’t wait to read the next installment! I’m helping a co-worker who is traveling to Ireland next summer, find her ancestral village. Family lore and a passenger list are in conflict. I’m attempting to find the naturalization record, which is a record group I’ve not used before.

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