Beginning Irish Research

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Ireland, How to Find a Place Name
Events in the lives of your ancestors, including births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths, may have
been officially recorded at the time they took place. In many cases, you need to know exactly
where an event took place in order to find a record of it. If you don't know the place, you may be
able to find that information in sources readily available to you. This guide suggests sources that
may help you identify place-names.
What You Are Looking For
Look for the name of the place where an event occurred in the life of one of your ancestors.
Follow these 8 steps to find sources that will help you identify a place-name.
Step 1. Gather information from home and family sources.
Many sources for identifying place-names may be found in your own home or in the home of a
family member or relative. These sources may include:
• Letters.
• Journals and diaries.
• Scrapbooks.
• Family Bibles.
• Birth, baptism, marriage, or death certificates.
• Photographs.
• School records.
• Military records.
• Naturalization papers.
• Obituaries and funeral cards.
• Newspaper articles.
• Deeds.
• Pension records.
• Tax records.
• Wills and other probate records.
• The personal knowledge of older relatives.
Any of these sources could supply needed place-names. Gather information from the sources
you can find in your home and from relatives.
Ireland, How to Find a Place Name
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/20/01
Step 2. Write the information on forms.
Write the information you find on pedigree charts and family group record forms. If you need
forms, you may print them from your computer now, or you can order a supply online. You can
also purchase a software program for your home computer that helps you organize your
genealogy and allows you to print out these forms. Programs are available at most computer
software stores. One program, Personal Ancestral File, may be downloaded online. It may also
be purchased on CD-Rom.
Not all of the information you collect will fit on pedigree charts and family group record forms. See
Tip 1.
Step 3. Decide on a research goal.
Once you have gathered information and recorded it on forms and in notes, you can see what
information you have and what is missing. You may have dates without places to go with them.
Even when a place is identified, you should verify that it is correct. Determine a place name, such
as a place of birth, that you would like to find or verify. This is your research goal.
Step 4. Look for compiled research sources.
After reviewing home and family sources and selecting a research goal, look for research on your
family compiled by others. Someone else may have already identified places where the events in
the lives of your ancestors occurred. Compiled research may be found in private and public
collections of individuals, libraries, and societies, as well as on the Internet.
For more information about finding compiled research sources, see How to Find Compiled
Step 5. Analyze what you know about your ancestor.
If you are still missing the name of the place where an event in your ancestor's life occurred, you
can analyze the facts you do know to help you determine where to look for the missing
information. See Tip 2.
Step 6. Look for indexes.
Look for indexes to records with broad coverage for Ireland or for indexes to records for the
specific county where your ancestor lived. Surname indexes to collections of records may provide
the names of places where people of your surname lived. You can then look for your ancestor in
records of those places. Indexed records may include:
• Civil registration records.
• Census records.
• Church records.
• Burial or cemetery records.
• Probate records.
• Tax records.
• Land records.
Indexes are available at libraries with genealogical collections, such as the Family History Library.
Indexes may also be available on Internet web sites. Some indexes are created by family history
societies, private groups or individuals and may be available for purchase from them. For more
information on finding indexes, see Where to Find It.
Ireland, How to Find a Place Name
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/20/01
Step 7. Cite your sources.
Every time you find new information in a record, cite your source. When you cite a source, you
document the information taken from that source. If you need to look at the source again, your
documentation will help you find it. If others should consult your research, they will also be able to
find the source.
Cite your sources on a research log, and include a library call number when applicable. If it is an
original source, make note of where you found it. Your research log will serve as a guide to your
If possible, make photocopies of your sources, and cite the sources on the copies.
Step 8. Find information about a place.
Once you have identified a place, you should find information about it.
You should also locate the place on a map.
Tip 1. What should I do with information that does not fit on my
genealogy forms?
In addition to names, dates, and places, you will collect additional information about the lives of
family members that does not fit on standard genealogy forms, such as:
• Military service.
• Education.
• Employment history.
• Social or economic status.
• Migration.
• Participation in community, social, religious, or historical events.
• Physical description.
• Other biographical details.
You should keep this additional information as notes. Keep these notes with your records, or
include them in the area provided for notes in your genealogy computer program. Your notes
should also include the source of the information.
Tip 2. How do I analyze what I know about my ancestor?
You can analyze the facts you know about your ancestor to help determine where to look for
missing information. For example, if you are looking for the birthplace of your ancestor, you might
ask yourself the following questions:
• What is the earliest known fact about my ancestor?
• Where were my ancestor's parents born, married, or buried?
• Where were my ancestor's siblings born?
• Where was my ancestor married?
• Where was my ancestor's spouse born?
• Where were my ancestor's children born?
• Where did my ancestor die?
• If my ancestor emigrated, who were his neighbors in the place where he eventually settled?
• Did any of my emigrant ancestor's relatives also emigrate?
Ireland, How to Find a Place Name
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/20/01
You may search the records of the places where any of these events took place to see if you can
find birth information for your ancestor. In addition, learning about your ancestor's relatives and
neighbors may give you clues that will help you find information about your ancestor.
Where To Find It
The following are suggestions for finding indexes to records that may help you identify placenames:
On the Internet
Indexes to selected records of Ireland may be available on Internet web sites. In addition, many
of the family history societies in Ireland and throughout the world have Internet web sites that
contain lists of their publications for sale, including indexes. You can access many of the sites for
Ireland and some indexes through GENUKI. Others may be available through additional websites
Family History Centers
Most Family History Centers have at least one index to records of Ireland in their collections:
• International Genealogical Index, available on microfiche, on computer, and on the Internet. It
includes information extracted from civil registration and church records of Ireland. You may
access the index here by clicking on Search for Ancestors above, and then selecting the
International Genealogical Index.
Some Family History Centers will not have microfilmed indexes to records of Ireland in their
collections, but centers can borrow microfilms from the Family History Library. There is a small
fee to have a microfilm loaned to a center.
If an index is not available on microfilm, you may request a photocopy of an index page from the
Family History Library. You should complete a Request for Photocopies form, which is available
at all Family History Centers. Complete the section of the form for books, and include the library
call number for the index that you obtained from the catalog. Send the form and the payment to
the library.
Family History Centers are located throughout the United States and other areas of the world.
See Family History Centers for the address and phone number of the center nearest you.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has a large collection of indexes to records of Ireland that could help
you identify place-names. There is no fee for using the library's collection in person.
For a list of the library's holdings, click on Family History Library Catalog above. Do a Place
Search for both the country and your county of interest. Look for topics with Indexes as
subtopics. When looking at the catalog entry for a specific index, check to see if it is available in
microform and can be sent to a Family History Center.
For more information about contacting or visiting the library or a Family History Center, click on
Family History Library System above.