Genealogical Research in Ireland

Ireland is known to be a destination for genealogical research.  Especially for Americans.  It makes sense considering the millions of Irish who made the move to the US during the 19th century.

Until recently, I had never considered any sort of Irish heritage to be mine.  I stuck to the Swedish side. It was easier that way.  But on my recent trip to Ireland, I found myself sitting in the home of a small parish pastor looking at church records from the 1850s in an attempt to trace my ancestors in Ireland.

An incredible experience.  Even if it was all for naught.  My grandfather, my mother, and I based our search on a copy of an old marriage record.  It was an old copy. A difficult-to-read copy. So we attempted to decipher the 150 year old handwriting and made our best bet.

Off we went to a small Presbyterian church.  We though we struck gold when we found a gravestone with my grandfather’s last name. Clearly, we were in the right place.  But the dates didn’t really match up.  The first names of the deceased didn’t really match up.  And so we kept searching.

Which is how we ended up in the home of that small parish pastor in Tullyallen, Northern Ireland.  It is also how we ended up leafing through several books of church records finding nothing at all.  We walked away empty handed.  Kind of.

We learned quite a bit about the genealogical process.  We learned about the different types of churches.  We even learned what tully meant (which was helpful considering the number of place names using tully).  We learned that it never hurts to ask, because suddenly you might have a meeting with the parish pastor.  Most of all, we learned just how hospitable, just how helpful, just how friendly, people could be when out searching for family.

You can’t plan for hospitality when traveling in Europe. When picking those European destinations, nothing is guaranteed.  But if you do find yourself visiting Europe in search of old family history, enjoy the whole process.  Even if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for.  You might still end up with a memory that becomes a part of your own family history.

If you are looking for family in Northern Ireland, start here: The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

This entry was posted in European Culture, Ireland on by .

About Marcus Cederstrom

I was born in Sweden and moved to the US just before my 6th birthday. I grew up in the United States eventually graduating from the University of Oregon. After graduation and about 17 years in the US I made the decision to move back to Sweden. I have been living in Stockholm since the summer of 2007. Since graduation I have traveled throughout eastern Australia as well as in Sweden and Europe.