Forget the parades and green beer: For genealogists tracing Emerald Isle ancestors, the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with new family history discoveries. But you won’t need the luck o’ the Irish to do it — here’s a sampling of our favorite computerized resources for finding your genealogical pot of gold.
You can read all about your Irish ancestors’ lives and times in old newspapers on the Web. If you’re researching immigrant ancestors, begin with the Boston Pilot: Between 1831 and 1921, the news paper ran a Missing Friends column with advertisements from people looking for friends and relatives who’d emigrated from Ireland. Boston College’s free Information Wanted Web site <infowanted.bc.edu> includes key details from the ads; so far, more than 31,000 records from 1831 to 1893, 1901 and 1913 are online. With a $75 Research Membership to the New England Historic Genealogical Society <www.newenglandancestors.org>, you can search its online database of 45,000 ads covering 1830 to 1920 — which contains 100,000 names and the entire advertisements, rather than extracts.
For articles from the Emerald Isle, try Ireland Old News <www.irelandoldnews.com>, a volunteer-generated collection of obituaries and news items appearing in Irish newspapers from the 1700s to the early 1900s. The Belfast Newsletter Index 1737-1800 <www.ucs.louisiana.edu/bnI> covers nearly 300,000 news items and ads.
Few Irish censuses survive from before 1901, but genealogists are lucky to have a valuable substitute in Griffith’s Valuation. Conducted between 1848 and 1864, this tax enumeration covers every parish in Ireland — and it’s full of genealogical data: the names of landowners and heads of household, property values, acreages and taxes assessed.
Irish Origins <www.irishorigins.com> has indexed more than 1 million names in Griffith’s Valuation and linked them to digital images of pages from the original volumes. The site operates on a pay-per-view basis: You’ll need one credit per index entry retrieved and 20 credits per image viewed; 300 credits good for a week cost $9. Or check the free Griffiths Valuation 1848-1864 <www.failteromhat.com/griffiths.php> index, which covers all of Ireland and gives first and last names, townland, parish and county-most of the details from the original record.
An arm of Trinity College in Dublin, Eneclann <www.eneclann.ie> publishes primary sources and original research on CD. Its catalog includes a wide array of records useful to Irish roots seekers: For example, Brian J. Cantwell’s Memorials of the Dead, a collection of gravestone inscriptions (mostly from Dublin, Wexford and Wicklow counties), and Ireland’s Memorial Records World War I, 1914-1918 furnish ancestral vital statistics. You can tap the contents of two genealogical journals with The Irish Ancestor, 1969-1986 and The Irish Genealogist, Volumes 1-8, 1937-1993 (the latter includes material drawn from private collections and original documents that no longer exist). CD prices vary as much as the contents, ranging from around $30 to more than $100 per product. Eneclann also publishes historical texts — such as The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1846 and Statistical Survey of County Donegal, 1802 — on CD as part of the international Archive CD Books project.
More Irish family history Web sites worth checking out:
• The Church of Ireland Genealogy and Family History <www.ireland.anglican.org/library/libroots.html>
• Emerald Ancestors <www.emeraldancestors.com>
• Fianna <rootsweb.com/~fianna>
• Irish Roots Cafe <www.irishroots.com>
• Leitrim-Roscommon Genealogy <www.leitrim-roscommon.com>
• National Library of Ireland <www.nli.ie/new_what_res.htm>
• ProGenealogists <ireland.progenealogists.com>
• UlsterAncestry.com <www.ulsterancestry.com>