If you haven't yet found the county in Ireland where your ancestors came from, see Getting to the roots of your Irish family tree: Part 1 for some helpful ideas on how to get started.
If you need a little review on the various political divisions of Ireland, both modern and historical, check out Irish Geography 101 at A Light That Shines Again for a good beginning.
Now for some help on going past the county level:
- Websites focusing on genealogy of a specific county - Check out this Irish Times webpage for links by county to many helpful resources. This GenealogyLinks.net Ireland webpage also offers many county-by-county links. GenUKI is another place to find an array of webpages that might help to find your ancestors' origins in Ireland, including this page on Researching from Abroad.
- Local county heritage societies in Ireland - They may hold information about your ancestor and his family in indexes and other resources. Don't forget to check for parents, siblings, etc. The more you know about your ancestor's extended family, the better chance you have to determine which Patrick Foley, Frank McCue, Ralph Kennedy, John McGonigal or Michael Tierney is your Patrick Foley, Frank McCue, Ralph Kennedy, John McGonigal or Michael Tierney. (Yes, those are all names of my ancestors - if you have an ancestor with a similar name, please let me know.)
- Local county libraries in Ireland - Don't you just love the library? What better place to contact than the library in the county of your family's origin for help in researching that family? I found much of the information that I have about one branch of my family (the Tierney family of Quincy) thanks to the local Massachusetts library. If I have half this success with help from the county library in Ireland my research will go a long way.
- County birth indexes - according to Michael O'Lauglin's book on County Tipperary research the birth index in that county for the 19th century shows my great-great-grandmother Catherine Kennedy's surname as one of the most numerous. It also gives various spellings of the name: Kennedy, Kenedy and Cannady. Since I know that her husband came from Tipperary, this gives me hope that I might find her origin there also, although Patrick and Catherine were married in Boston.
- Griffith's Valuation of Ireland - This is a listing of landholders and leaseholders from 1848 to 1864. Although not comprehensive, it can be a very helpful resource. You might want to start by plugging the surname you are researching into this Irish Times index for Griffith's. The most comprehensive online database is located at the fee-based site Irish Origins. If you have a relatively uncommon surname, you might find as I did that Griffith's Valuation may help you to narrow down your geographical search in Ireland. It was interesting for me to view the index's small number of Cowhey families (and similarly spelled surnames) and their locations by county.
- Tithe Applotment Survey - This is a similar resource to Griffith's Valuation, but only includes rural landholders between 1823 and 1836. Indexes can be found in various libraries, with online indexes available for parts of the survey. Check out the county by county website listings above (see "Websites focusing on genealogy of a specific county"). The indexed versions of both Griffith's Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Survey records are available through the Family History Library.
All of these possible directions for your Irish genealogical research may seem overwhelming. There are many places to start. Perhaps the best advice is: Just begin somewhere. Who knows what records will lead you to your ancestral home and help get you to the very roots of your Irish family history?
The photograph of the traditional Irish home above was taken by Andrea Poel.