Tracing Family Roots? – Start Here

Posted in News on 15th October 2018



Where to Begin?

As most of you know, tracing family roots can be quite the task!  Online resources will certainly help but in order to begin, you will need to know the family name and County to search.  Irish Clan Names can be traced back as far as the Ancient High Kings, many of them with origins in specific parts of the Country.  The search becomes more difficult for Births, Deaths and Marriages which pre-date Civil Records.  Please note that Civil Birth records began in 1864, Non Catholic Marriage in 1845 and Catholic Marriage in 1870.  Death records have been kept since 1878.


Some little known facts!… 

Each County in Ireland holds its own records so Nationwide searches for names can be narrowed down significantly when the County of Birth, Death, or Marriage is known.  It’s not unusual to run a search for a common name such as Patrick O’Reilly without getting a result showing over 2000 possible matches!

To trawl through each result would be enormously time consuming and without knowing the parents names and County where the Birth Registration took place, the effort would be wasted.  Did you know that every child born in Ireland is filed under the Full Birth Name of the Mother?  This is her full name before any marriage.  It’s an age old system that works – The Birth name of the Mother never changes.  When ordering a Birth Certificate, this name is required in order to expedite the search process.  Providing “Unknown” in the order box relating to the Mothers name can stall the search process and the details may be requested … best to do the research first!

Church Records V Civil Records – Tracing Family Roots

Civil Records of Birth, Death or Marriage are a necessary requirement when applying for a Passport, Citizenship or any legal process.  Church records do not suffice if a Civil Registration exists.  In order to determine whether a Civil Record can be obtained, searches must be carried out and the information must come from the client.  A little bit of research ahead of time can very often supply the details.  We strive to dispatch Certificate orders within 1-2 working days, provided the record is immediately located on digital systems, we ensure it’s in the post to you ASAP! The Government have supported us in providing this express service since 2004.  In the case where we find that a Civil Record does not exist, we provide an alternative document stating this and it can then be paired with a Church Certificate in Passport applications or Citizenship applications.  Sometimes, searches through the original record books of the time is a necessary part of the search process, most, but not all records are immediately available.  

The Joy of Research

When doing a family tree and digging into the past, it’s quite likely that you will find family you didn’t know existed!  We hear stories like this all the time.  Our clients tell us their good news stories and we get emails and photos of them meeting for the first time.  It’s the typical feel good factor that we’ve become accustomed to here in the office!  Very often a family name evolved through emigration.  For example, those bound for England often Anglicized their name, like dropping the O’ from O’Sullivan and becoming Sullivan.  Whereas, those bound for America/Canada/Australia may have picked up an O’ and went from Kelly to O’Kelly!  This was an expression of their heritage and not uncommon.  Don’t rule out these surprises along the way!


A simple Google search will give you several options for research websites, typing in Genealogy Ireland will certainly give you results!  Facebook groups and pages also offer support and guidance on the research process. Above all, taking a couple of hours to dig back through time is never a wasted effort!  Census records will also help – the last one published took place in 1911! You may just find out something you didn’t know!  We saw this article and thought you may enjoy it, Irish Central, as part of National Family History Month, have given us a rundown of a little known Irish tradition!  The Irish Naming Pattern will explain why several members of a family may have the same first name.  You can find a link to the article below:


Enjoy the search!  Remember that it’s a process and you may not figure it all out in an hour!  Family research, conversations with older members of the family will give you a great starting point.  Information on family history may be passed down generation to generation and make the task so much easier for you in the long-run!  It’s a great excuse to get the family together!