From March through May 2021, Ancestor Network, Ireland’s preeminent and most trusted Irish genealogy research, advisory and publishing business, ran a series of workshops on topics that you have told us you would like to know more about.

In the five sessions we covered, an Introduction to Irish Genealogy Research, How to Search the Land Records for Irish Genealogy Research, Searching Irish Church records, Searching your Ulster Ancestors as well as getting the most out of your Autosomal DNA Test from an Irish Perspective.

We have now edited these sessions and they are now available to buy in or Shop and keep, for just €29.99.

Below we recap on the specifics of each, what was covered and who conducted the session.

Session 1: Introduction to Irish Genealogy Research – delivered by Dr James Ryan

This talk is a general introduction to Irish records and how to access and use them. It is illustrated with examples. It includes an outline of the unique administrative divisions used for Irish record organisation. Having set the context, it then describes the content and availability of major comprehensive sources, i.e. Land Records; Censuses; Civil Birth, Marriage & Death records; and Church records, including their on-line access.

It also introduces other forms of record including: Gravestones, Commercial and Trade Directories, Wills, Newspapers, Deeds, Estate Papers and Rentals; and published family and local histories.

For each it briefly describes the information contained, its relevance for family history; and their availability. This includes both web and other sources. It also looks at problems caused by variations in family and place names, explains the basis of this variation and provides some guidance on how to overcome them as well as an on-line demonstration of the major free websites.

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Session 2: Land Records for Irish Genealogy Research – Delivered by Aiden Feerick

This talk delves into records dealing with land, its ownership and exploitation. Starting with the foundation of the Registry of Deeds in 1708, it investigates the main land records from then until the present day. From the early years of the 18th century until the Famine gripped Ireland in the middle of the 19th century, was the heyday of the large and small estates on which our forebears lived. In the second half of the 19th century, many of these estates were bought through the Land Purchase Acts which enabled tenants to purchase the land. As well as talking about Griffith’s Valuation, the talk will also discuss the Landed Estate Courts, the Land Commission, the Congested Districts Board and the Land Registry. It also discusses the Property Registration Authority of Ireland (PRAI) and the role it plays in registration of land holding in today’s online world.

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Session 3: Irish Church Records – Dr. James Ryan

This talk outlines the records of the major Irish churches, i.e. Roman Catholic; Church of Ireland (Episcopalian or Anglican); Presbyterian and Quaker. Over 97% of the Irish were members of these churches in 1861, with some 80% being members of the Roman Catholic Church. Some churches, notably Catholic and Church or Ireland, are spread throughout the country while others (e.g. Presbyterian) are mainly in Northern counties. The records of these churches are important sources of information of their members. However, their survival and quality is very variable due to the events of history and the vagaries of record-keeping practices. Churches and their members were affected in dramatically different ways by the events of Irish history.

The churches also differed greatly in administrative efficiency, and in the degree to which the rules for record-keeping were imposed. Finally, the format and content of their records, and their survival, was widely variable. This lecture describes church history and administrative organisation, and how this affected the types of records available. It also details where the records can now be accessed and demonstrate some of the major free websites of relevance.

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Session 4: Get the Best from Your Autosomal DNA Test – an Irish Perspective delivered by Claire Bradley

If you are you thinking about taking a DNA test, this talk is to help understand it and discover your Irish ancestors. As more and more people have taken a test with one of the popular databases like Ancestry or 23andMe, we help you understand what those ethnicity results mean, and who are all those people who share some DNA with you. You might have a pot of gold sitting under your nose! This talk explains what it all means and shows you how to get the best out of your test by taking you through some easy steps.

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Session 5: Getting started with Ulster genealogy delivered by Michael Rooney

How do you start with exploring Ulster genealogy? This is a video presentation aimed at people who want to learn more about their Ulster ancestors. From church records to land records, from censuses to wills, we will talk you through the main archives that are available both online and in repositories such as the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (“PRONI”). It will also help you negotiate the lesser well known eighteenth and early nineteenth century records.

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About our Experts:

Claire Bradley is a genealogist based in Dublin, Ireland. She holds a Certificate in Family History from University College Dublin and is currently working towards an MA in the History of the Family at the University of Limerick.

Aiden Feerick has a B.A. and a Certificate in Genealogy from University College, Dublin. He is a member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI), a member of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) and a member of the Genealogical Society of Ireland (GSI). He is also joint founder and a Director of Ancestor Network Ltd.

Michael Rooney holds a B.A. from Queens University in Ancient History and Byzantine Studies, and from the University of Durham, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Michael is currently a student on the University of Strathclyde’s Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies programme.

James Ryan Ph.D. is an author, speaker, writer and publisher who has been active in Irish genealogy for the past thirty-five years.

 

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