7 Unusual Ways To Trace Your Irish Ancestors

17th January 2017

When people plan to trace their ancestors in Ireland, they normally think of searching the Church records (baptisms, marriages), Civil records (birth, marriages and deaths) and property/land records, to identify their ancestors. The following are some Genealogy repositories and online sources you may not have thought of when searching for your Irish ancestor.

Did your ancestor have a dog?

Dog licences were introduced into Irish Law in 1865. The licences were issued in the same courts as held the Petty Sessions. The dog licences were brought about to identify the owners of trouble making dogs who were for example; scaring sheep, or damaging property. The information given on the licence varies, but the following information may be found on your ancestor and their dog;

  • Name of the owner
  • Address
  • County
  • Year and date of dog licence
  • Colour of dog
  • Sex of dog
  • Breed or type of dog

A transcript and image of the original licence register entry is available on line to search on Findmypast (subscription) website

What was your ancestor like, as a child in School?

The National Archives of Ireland hold National School registers and roll books for individual schools. The registers are a valuable source for information on your ancestor, providing the following details;

  • Pupil's name
  • Date of birth
  • Religion
  • Address
  • Occupation of parent or guardian
  • Details of the last national school attended and more

You can check the list of schools registers that are available in the National Archives of Ireland

Was your ancestor one of the school children who wrote a story about folklore and local tradition between 1937 and 1939?

Accounts and stories about folklore and local tradition was written by more than 50,000 school children from 5,000 primary schools in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939. The children wrote about oral history, topographical information, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts. The children recorded this material from their parents, grandparents, and neighbours. Duchas.ie has digitalized the National Folklore Collection of Ireland, material from 26 counties in the Schools' Collection online: http://www.duchas.ie/en

Did your ancestor make a Will?

Wills and testamentary records provide evidence of the date of a person's death and may record the dead person’s family names, where they resided and their property. The Index to Calendars of Wills and Administrations for the years 1858 to 1920 and 1922 to 1982, can be searched, to see if your ancestor made a Will, National Archives of Ireland Will Section If a Will/Administration record is available you can make a request to see the original record in the National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8.

Did you visit the County Library where your ancestor lived?

It is always worthwhile contacting the County Library where you ancestor lived. The County Library house a local studies department which holds a collection of items for their local area, for example;

  • Old newspapers
  • Local History Journals
  • Local Census returns
  • Local Photographs
  • Books and Pamphlets produced by Local History Societies
  • Local Historical Maps
  • Local Workhouse records and more

Was your ancestors name reported in a local Newspaper?

Local newspapers are a fantastic genealogical resource for researching your ancestor; you may find the following recorded on your ancestor;

  • Obituaries
  • Births
  • Photographs of your ancestor
  • Local announcements such as sports events, competitions
  • Advertisements of local businesses/tradesmen and much more

You can search local newspapers online on the Irish News Archives