Do you have ancestors from Ireland? A trip can help you discover your Irish heritage. Learn tips for ancestry visits in this guide.
Did you know that there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as partially or primarily Irish? That means that the Irish-American population is 7 times bigger than the population of Ireland itself!
If you’re one of these 34.5 million Americans with Irish heritage, then you’re probably looking to take your appreciation and knowledge about your heritage beyond St. Patrick’s Day.
Planning a trip to Ireland is one of the best ways to learn more about your Irish heritage.
But, discovering more about your heritage can actually be an overwhelming process that takes a lot of planning and digging.
That’s why we’ve created this guide.
Read on to learn the top tips for visiting Ireland to discover your heritage.
1. Understand Records
Unfortunately, Irish ancestry records are not extremely clear-cut.
Here are a few things to know about these records:
- Civil registration began in 1864 for births, deaths, and marriages for Catholics. It began in 1845 for Protestants. Most Irish who emigrated to the states were Catholic, so it’s likely that your family’s registration began in 1864
- There’s a chance that key historical records for your family may be missing, as a fire destroyed the Irish Public Records Office in Dublin on June 30th, 1922
- Northern Ireland has its own national registry, which means there may be duplicates of some records
2. Talk to Family Members
Before heading to Ireland, the best thing to do is to talk to family members about your Irish heritage.
There should be at least one person in your family who has clues about dates, names, or places somewhere in their memory.
Out of all the information you can extract from family members, location is undoubtedly the most important. This is because records are linked to townships and parishes.
If location knowledge has been completely lost, you can also use surname maps to help pinpoint location.
Also, be very careful of name variations. As genealogists have discovered that sometimes the same last name has several different spellings.
It may even be a good idea to take an elderly family member with you on your trip as a senior travel experience. If they lived in Ireland at one point, certain sites might be able to job their memory.
3. Hit the Internet
Before heading on your trip, it’s also a good idea to scour the internet for clues about your ancestry.
Luckily, there are plenty of websites dedicated to helping people locate their ancestors, such as ancestry.com and familyresearch.com
Additionally, there’s a website for those specifically searching for Irish ancestors, irishgenealogy.ie.
4. Head to Ireland
Once you have the location of your ancestors in hand, the best thing to do is to drop by the church in their place of residence to see what records you can find.
In addition to churches, you may also want to check local gravesites and the local county library.
If your family is from Northern Ireland, you should also check the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.
In Dublin, you can also check the National Library of Ireland for information.
Are You Ready to Discover Your Irish Heritage?
By following the tips above, you’ll be able to discover a lot about your Irish heritage.
Who knows, maybe you’re even related to someone famous!
Also, be sure to check back in with our blog for more travel tips and tricks.