Letter Archive

Welcome to the letter archive page for the weekly "Letter from Ireland". We started to write these letters in 2013 covering Irish Genealogy & Family History, Irish Surnames, Irish Culture & Customs and Ireland Travel, here you'll find a link to all of them.


Browse the letters listed on this page and jump to one that interests you, or enter a placename, surname or other item in the search box below to see related letters.

All of our weekly letters to date

Do You Have This Problem Locating your Irish Surname?

Just this week I have had the following question asked a number of times: “Where in Ireland does my x surname come from?”. It’s a fundamental question for many of us – after all, we all like a sense of place in our lives. So, I thought it would be useful to share the following…

Five Surprising Ways to Search the 1901 Irish Census Records

Maybe you have heard that many Irish records were destroyed in a fire in Dublin in 1922 – and, as a result, it is difficult to source the details for any of your ancestors born in Ireland before the 1860s? While there is some truth in that assertion (there was a fire!) – but Ireland…

Do You Know this Irish American Hero?

We have just arrived back from a very successful visit to Chicago and Milwaukee – and took full advantage of the movies on offer in the airplane. One in particular caught my attention – it was a new film by Steven Spielberg. The director of Jaws and Schindler’s list always offers some great entertainment. In…

Irish ancestry brick wall

Have an Ancestry Brickwall? Here’s a new way to look at it.

We’re in Milwaukee attending the Irish Fest so I’m about six hours behind my normal self – hence the delay in the letter today! We’ve met up with some wonderful people and heard a lot of great music over the past two days – I can heartily recommend attending if you ever get the chance.…

3 Things to know about your Irish Ancestor Surnames

This week, we are going to feature a reader’s letter – one that takes you from a small village in County Kerry to the big port of Hoboken in the USA. Along the way, we’ll chat about Irish surnames, nicknames and tricky Irish pronunciations. But mostly this is the story of just one of the…

Irish pilgrim path through hills with woman hiking

Have You Walked one of the Pilgrim paths of Ireland?

Have you ever had the time to walk along one of the Pilgrim Paths of Ireland? These special places lie just beyond our main tourist routes and stops – but offer you a timeless world of beautiful scenery and a way to walk in the footsteps of your Irish Ancestors.

Irish saint

Do You Have an Irish Saint in Your Family Tree?

Have you ever wondered if you have an Irish Saint in your family tree? Here is one Irish family that had both a Saint AND a Martyr in their family tree – and I know that many of our readers are descended from this one Irish family.

Lifesize statue of an old Ford car

The Ford Motor Car and Confusing Irish Surnames

Now, if you were ever to take the south-westerly road out of Cork City, you would pass through the village of Ballinascarthy after an hour or so. On your left you might notice the surprising life-size sculpture of the original Ford Model T motor car. You see, William Ford left this area at the age…

Sherlock film poster

The Elementary Truth Behind Some Irish Surnames

There is so much talk of immigrants in the news around the world today – so I thought it would be useful to examine an Irish view of “immigrants” in ancient times through the names, nicknames and surnames that were often labelled on these immigrants. Names were given according to appearances – and one word…

Carina in a church

Get the most from Irish Ancestry Records

Do you know the name of your godmother or godfather? How about the names of the witnesses at your wedding (presuming you had one of course)? Now, think about who they were – they were often close relatives or friends. However, in the past life was local – and so the sponsors and witnesses that…