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  • Tracing Your Irish Family History



Monday, October 12th

This is an intermediate level course for those pursuing their Irish ancestry, with detailed information on what to find online, and how to take your research further on a visit to Ireland itself.

1. Church and State: Ireland's vital records

This session will explore how to locate ancestors in Ireland using the civil registration records of births, marriages and deaths from 1845 and 1864 onwards, both online and in Ireland itself, as held at both the GROI in Roscommon and the GRONI in Belfast. It will also examine how to understand and utilize the records, and to appreciate their strengths and limitations.

Chris will then look at the various church denominations in Ireland, how they were structured, and the types of records they kept. He will explore how to locate surviving material, to equally identify what has not survived (and why), and to understand where Protestant and Catholic Ireland occasionally overlapped, with the role of the Church of Ireland as the state church.

Where gaps in such records exist, Chris will further discuss how other sources may be able to provide alternative information to plug those gaps, including resources in Britain.

2. Irish land records

In this session Chris will provide an understanding of the administrative boundaries within which various records were created and gathered in Ireland, look at how to locate places mentioned in records in Ireland, and to understand what those place names might mean.

He will also provide an introductory overview of the key land records available for ancestral research - the surviving censuses and census substitutes, the records of land valuation and taxation (including 19th century tithe applotment book and Griffith's Valuation), the Registry of Deeds, the value of estate records – and of course, how to find them, both online and in the island's many archives.

3. Daily life in Ireland

As well as the basic resources to establish the genealogy of our families, additional record sets exist that document their role and status in society, and often their fate.

In this session Chris will look at additional resources that can place our families in context, including, for example, freeholders lists and absent voters lists, the administration of the poor law and the role of the poorhouse in Ireland, and education records. 

He will also look at surviving judicial records and the records of law enforcement, and provide a flavour of what might be out there, by exploring a case study of a 19th century murder which unblocked a genealogical brick wall, and pushed a family narrative back a hundred years to the mid 18th century.

4. The Decade of Centenaries

From 1912-1923 a dramatic transformation occurred in Ireland, culminating with the Partition of the island into the two constitutional territories in existence today. In this session Chris will explore the dramatic events of the period, which are today being commemorated north and south of the island as the 'Decade of Centenaries'.

These include the struggle for Home Rule and the defiance of the Ulster Covenant, workers' rights and the Dublin Lockout of 1913, the Suffragette campaign for the enfranchisement of women, the pause on all fronts created by the First World War, and the subsequent sacrifices made in the British Empire's name. During the turmoil, Ireland experienced its Easter Rising, which led towards a constitutional turning point, with the Conscription crisis, the subsequent War of Independence against British rule, the Partition of Ireland into two administrative territories, and the resultant tragedy of the Irish Civil War.

Amongst all of this, Chris will examine the many records becoming increasingly available to work out where our ancestors may have fitted in.

This is a day long event which will be followed by a live question and answer session.


Northern Irish born genealogist Chris Paton is the author of Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd edition) and Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records (both available from www.pen-and-sword.co.uk). He researches in Scotland (https://scotlandsgreateststory.wordpress.com) and writes the daily Scottish GENES blog (https://scottishgenes.blogspot.com).

As well as teaching Scottish based courses for Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd. Chris has also tutored for the University of Strathclyde's Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme. He is also a regular contributor to several genealogy and history magazines, such as Who do You Think You Are, Family Tree, Discover Your Ancestors and Scotland Magazine, and in a previous life worked in television production for 12 years. In recent years Chris has also worked as a researcher and caseworker for members of the Scottish and British parliaments.

From October 2012 Chris has been a regular user forum member of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and from May 2013 - May 2017 was a Director of the Scottish Archive Network Ltd trust. Chris is also a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He lives in the Ayrshire town of Irvine in Scotland and is married with two sons.

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"International Society for British Genealogy and Family History" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O. Box 3345, Centennial, CO 80161

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