Your best source for Irish records is probably your own family. Starting with a very limited amount of information, I found over fifteen family members who have also been searching. Some of these distant relatives have obtained records in Ireland, and one "cousin" has done genealogical research for over thirty years. For privacy reasons, I have not listed the cousins who have contributed valuable information for this site.
Finding your family members birthplace or residence in Ireland can be difficult. Family history may indicate they came from Cork, but this is probably the port of Cork where immigrants left Ireland. Some records may indicate their residence as a townland in Ireland, but a townland is not a town and does not have a government. It is merely a surveyed plot of land which could be uninhabited. See page: Cloonagh. Irish towns and surnames have many different spellings. The same name can be spelled phonetically in ships manifests, census records, obituaries and other documents.
Local community and county historical and genealogical societies may also provide new sources of information and often the names of others who are searching for the same surname. Illinois State Archives has placed a great volume of records on the internet. Some public libraries are also willing to provide birth, marriage and obituaries for you. I always send a contribution to the library and the historical society when I request information.
Once you have more definitive information, you can obtain a copy of a marriage or death certificate from the county clerk's office. The information you receive depends on the county and the date of the marriage. Some counties kept better records than others. I have obtained marriage certificates listing the birth, birthplace, parents names and parents birthplace from one county and a certificate merely stating the individuals were married from a different county.
Most of the 19th century Irish records were destroyed by the British or by the 1916 and 1922 conflicts. Census records are very limited for this period. Your best source for the older records are the local parish church files on baptism and marriages. Ten years ago, you could obtain the data from the parish church. Most of the valuable records have been sent to county "heritage centers". Many of these centers have had data base printouts for ten years or more for your surname. They spend five minutes printing a few pages and then wait four months to mail it, hoping you will think it took that long to obtain the data for you.
Genealogy searches have become very popular in the past few years. As the interest in genealogy has grown, so has the dishonest and incompetent genealogy search offers. Some of these places charge over $500 and often find nothing new. They want you to provide all the information you have on your relatives, and then send you back the same data claiming how great they have done. Their prices usually have a range of $25 to $1,000. Trying to obtain an exact price is impossible. On many of the sites, you have to figure out the currency exchange rate between Ireland and the United States.
In August, 1998, I sent money to one of these "centers". ONE YEAR later, I received a short paragraph of incorrect data along with a request to send them more money. If you have a complaint, they will not help, but tell you to write to a non-existent address in Ireland. We tried again in February 2000 with no results.
Parish registers in the National Library of Ireland
The main source of genealogical
information in the Library consists of Roman Catholic Registers. The Library
holds microfilm copies of the registers of most Roman Catholic parishes in
Ireland for the years up to 1880 and in some cases to 1900. For further
information on these registers, please read our Family History information
Parish Registers in the National Library of Ireland.
The National Library does NOT offer a research service. It is possible to commission research and there are researchers - private individuals and organizations - who have indicated a willingness to carry out family history research on a professional, fee-paying basis.
Some Cork County Catholic parish registers survive from as early as 1748, though most go back to only the early 1800s. When you view the parishes section of this site, you will find information about when each parishes baptismal records begin. The original registers are usually still held by the parish and the Parish Priest is entrusted by Church law with the care of the registers. Due to the need to preserve the original registers, visitors are not allowed access to the books for browsing purposes. Because browsing the registers is very time consuming, local clergy are usually reluctant to search for records without very specific dates.
Some parishes have good computer databases of the records in their care and a request will usually be attended to speedily. Written requests for information, giving as much specific information as you have, accompanied by a donation of 10 euro (equivalent to $10) per search to defray some of the cost of time and postage, along with your return postal address (and email) will usually get a response and a Certificate of Baptism (if a record exists).
If you do not have specific dates of birth or baptism, it is unlikely that the parish will have the resources to browse several years of records - especially if they are not computerized. All of the baptism records prior to 1890 for Cork County have been micro-filmed by the National Library (www.nli.ie) and written permission is NOT required from the priests of any Cork County parish to browse these films.
Time Difference: Ireland is eight hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Time. Example: 1:00 p.m. in Los Angeles would be 8:00 p.m. in Ireland.
Currency Exchange: Ireland now uses the Euro. For current exchange rates: click here.
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