Other resources

This guide was last updated in 2009

It's often worth having a look at other documents and archive material to build up the fullest possible picture of the lives of your Irish ancestors. Below are some of the key sources to investigate. 

Wills and testamentary records

Wills are another useful resource, often revealing an extensive network of family ties, as well as identifying your ancestor’s property and showing how their possessions were distributed after their death.

Beneficiaries often included spouses, children (detailing daughters’ married names) and grandchildren – providing a wealth of family connections to help you compile your family tree. Although original (pre-1900) wills were destroyed in the Irish Civil War, transcripts of wills proved in district registries (excluding Dublin) from 1858-1900 have survived, together with some pre-1858 wills indexes.

Those for Northern Ireland can be found at the PRONI and those for the Republic at the National Archives. A partial index to wills of the Prerogative Courts (1536-1810) is also available online at www.irishfamilyresearch.co.uk.

The Registry of Deeds also has wills books dating from 1708-1832, and abstracts have been published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, and can be viewed at the British Library or the National Archives, Dublin.

Gravestone inscriptions

The Journals of the Association for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead (1888-1931) are indispensable in locating early headstones. Most gravestones recorded by the association date from the 1700s, providing an invaluable link to Irish ancestors, pre-dating parish registers and civil registration. The Journals have been transcribed and are available online at www.irishfamilyresearch.co.uk.

Residents’ Directories

Residents’ Directories can pinpoint where your ancestors lived in the 19th century, and provide details of their occupations. While early directories listed gentry, professionals, merchants and traders, later directories included farmers (but excluded small tenant farmers, those living in tenements, and servants).

Newspaper research

Newspaper research is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your ancestors, and the era in which they lived. Obituaries often provide an outline of the deceased’s life, listing chief mourners.

You may additionally find your ancestors took part in local community events, which also were regularly reported. The British Library Newspapers have a large collection, as does the National Library of Ireland.

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