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Finding Where Your Ancestor Came From


What if all you know is…


  • Keep researching sources in U.S.
  • Research extended family - they probably came from the same place
  • Look at friends and neighbors, especially those who may have moved with your ancestors from place to place
  • Look at ancestor's descendants - their records may have told of parent's origins
  • Look at intermediate countries of migration, Did they stay a while in England prior to moving on?
  • Locate where a surname is found in Ireland
    • See where MacLysaght's Surnames of Ireland says the name is concentrated.
    • Check Griffith's Valuation for where the name occurs in Ireland.
    • Check John Grenham's website for surname locations and where two surnames occure nearby.

The County?

  • If you know the county, your next goal is to find the Parish and Townland
  • More research outside Ireland many be needed
  • Research all branches of the family
  • Check for clues as to geographic origins (Minor religions, occupations)
  • Check with the County Heritage Center
  • Check Householders Index to Griffith’s Valuation
  • Check Tithe records
  • Look for place where spouses’ name occur together
  • Look for families that stayed: 1901 and 1911 censuses, Civil Registrations of deaths, marriages of family members

The Parish?

  • Find out which type of parish it was: Do you have the name of a Civil or Church Parish
  • Check church records. They often give the Townland of residence.
  • Check
    • Householder’s Index to Griffith’s
    • Tithe Applotment Books
    • County Heritage Center
    • Irish censuses and census substitute

The Townland?

  • You are in Irish genealogical heaven
  • Make sure it is in the right Townland (Many had the same name)
  • Check for alternative Townland spellings
  • Locate the Townland on maps
  • Find the home site using Griffith’s Valuation maps.
  • Start digging in Irish sources