Friday, May 27, 2016

Dispelling more myths about Irish genealogy

Anyone who has ever tried to do Irish genealogy knows that it can be challenging. Irish history has not been friendly to genealogist and many of the events of the last 500 years have affected the records that are available. In some cases, it has to do with records that were destroyed and in other cases, it is that records were not allowed to be kept. In spite of the challenges, Irish genealogical research is not impossible. 

#1 Myth No Census Records Survived 

The census returns for 1881 and 1891 were pulped during World War I. The returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after they were taken. The 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were housed in the public record office in Dublin and on June 30, 1922, at the beginning of the Civil War in Ireland the PRO (Public Record Office)  was destroyed by a two-day bombardment and explosion that led to a fire. Very few records survived but fragments have survived of several counties especially Cavan and other northern counties. 

That is the bad news, the good news is the 1901 and 1911 census have survived and are available online. Now I am sure you are thinking but my ancestors left during the famine how is a census taken 50 years later going to help me. You might be very surprised. Just because your ancestor left, it doesn't mean that every one of their siblings left and some may have still been in Ireland in 1901 and 1911

#2 Myth If my Ancestor left Ireland in the famine no one stayed behind

I have recently found that this myth was false in the case of my family. I have always assumed that since my ancestor was a 15-year-old boy who came alone that none of his family survived the famine. Well, that turned out to not be the case. I was very surprised to find the younger brother of my ancestor alive and well and getting married in the parish records so naturally, I went looking for him on the census. 

#3 The information from the lost census' doesn't exist anywhere

The physical census' were mostly destroyed from 1821-1891. But, and this is a very important but, the 1908 Old Age Pension Act provided compensation for people 70 years old and older. At this point, the censuses had not yet been destroyed. for the next 14 years, people used census extracts to prove their eligibility. You can access their pension applications and it is filled with valuable information about your family and what was in the census record. 

So now that we have dispelled some more myths about Irish genealogical research it is time to see if these apply to you and how you can use them to continue or begin your research. 

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