Coming Home to Ireland
There’s that nagging feeling again; every time you see something green or make Irish stew for dinner, you feel like Ireland, and your ancestors, are calling you home. And of course you want to find out about your forefathers and walk the fields they did, but you’re just not quite sure how or where to begin. Worry not! There are plenty of resources to help you find your Irish ancestors, no matter what part of the world you hail from. In Ireland itself, lots of repositories, archives and people can help trace the roots of a member of Ireland’s diaspora. With any luck, you’ll find the names you’re looking for and be able to make it official with a Certificate of Irish Heritage; framed proof that the ‘home’ feeling you get in Ireland isn’t just wishful thinking. And who knows? You might find your last name written in a parish’s record book somewhere. Or maybe inscribed on the city bell!
So whether your search takes you to a hillside village in County Donegal or a crumbled cottage in Connemara, we wish you ‘Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat’ (may the luck go with you).
Tracing Your Ancestry
At first, it may seem like a daunting task to discover your family’s history in Ireland. Millions of people throughout the world have roots leading back to Ireland, and there are plenty of resources available to help find your county, town, village or even house of origin. For some, it can be an emotional journey to return back to where it all began, but this newly discovered heritage is a reward to be passed on through family history to younger generations. Blogger Gerry Britt experiences it all in his account of tracing his Irish roots.
Pour Over The Pages
Ready to start searching? Gather up some basic information first – dates of birth, marriage and death are most useful. The census is an easy place to start as the 1901 and 1911 Census records are all easily searchable online – you can even download a copy of the original form. Another brilliant resource for records is the local church parish. Roots Ireland holds 18 million records of births, marriages and deaths from civil and church registers. Knowing where in Ireland your ancestors lived will help tremendously. Griffith’s Valuation allows a free search of a survey taken in Ireland between 1848 and 1864. Lastly, Family Search has a massive stash of Irish civil birth, marriage and death registers from between 1845 and 1958. Now it’s over to you, Sherlock…
You’ve found that tangible link to your homeland, now it’s time to make it official! The Irish government is distributing official Certificates of Irish Heritage to anyone who can prove that they have Irish ancestors. This nifty video explains the whole proccess. The first Certificate ever issued was presented posthumously to a New York fireman. Just input information from your family tree, and you’ll receive a document certifying that you indeed have Irish heritage. It’s even signed by the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs. That’ll beat your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirt any day!