County Clare, Ireland Genealogy
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Guide to County Clare ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
The county name comes from the Irish word Clár, meaning a bridge of planks, and a bridge was used to cross the River Fergus at the town Clare (now Clarecastle town). The county covers 1231 square miles (3188 sq km). Its greatest length is 67 miles from Loop Head to the boundary near Lough Atorick on the northeast corner and the greatest breadth is 37 miles from Black Head to the shore west of Bunratty.
In the old Gaelic system, this county was part of the Kingdom of Thomond. This area was subject to raids by the Danish Vikings during the ninth to the eleventh centuries; which were eventually defeated by the O’Briens (a major family in Thomond). The Normans then invaded the area and the land was granted to Thomas de Clare, who never gained control of the area. The English established the county boundaries in the sixteenth century. Initially, Clare was part of Connaught and it became part of Munster in 1639. Following the defeat of the 1641 rebellion of the Catholic Confederacy, Clare was set aside to accommodate the "delinquent proprietors", i.e. those proprietors whose land was confiscated because they did not actively oppose the rebellion. Parts of the lands of the existing Clare landholders were confiscated to accommodate these landholders.
Clare is also known as the “banner county” after the custom of carrying banners to political meetings. Daniel O’Connell was welcomed by many banners at the Clare election in 1828 and the freeholders marched with banners to the Ennis courthous to cast their votes for O’Connell on that occasion.
The population was 208,089 in 1821 and grew to 286,394. It was greatly affected by the potato famine and its population decreased to 212,440 in 1851. The population continued to decrease until it was only 95,064 in 1926. In 2006, the population was 110,950. The predominant religion in the county is Roman Catholic. In 1871, 97.7% of the population were Roman Catholic followed by the Church of Ireland at 2% with 0.2% being Presbyterian. Overtime there has been a slight increase in the percentage of Roman Catholic to 98.8% in 1926. In 1926, the Church of Ireland decreased to 0.87% with 0.06% and 0.01% being Presbyterian and Methodist, respectively.
General County Research Information
- Further information about County Clare is available at the GenUKI site.
Civil Jurisdictions and Parish Research Information
Land and Property
- 1885 County Map: Courtesy of London Ancestor
- County Claire Library
- County Clare Old Age Pensions (information gathered from the 1841 & 1851 Ireland Censuses before they were destroyed).