How to Research your Irish Ancestors.

A Free 7 Module course with Real-Life Case-Study

Who is this Course Aimed At?

Are you a total beginner to researching your Irish ancestors? Or a champion genealogist (well done to you!)? Well, we have put this course together so there is plenty in it for all levels of experience.

In short, we will aim to fill in some of the knowledge and process gaps you currently experience when researching one of your Irish ancestors.

Purpose of This Course.

This course will bring you on a tour of the most common Irish record sets available online. Along the way we introduce tools to help you decide on the best Irish records to search for a given situation.

We then illustrate all we discuss with a real-life case-study and, most importantly, ask you to replicate the case-study results to help with your learning.

As a result, you'll become familiar with the most commonly used Irish record sets available online - knowing where to find them as well as how to access and interpret them. This put you in a good position to search those Irish record sets for your own Irish ancestors.

Who Wrote This Course?

This course is written by Mike Collins (based on the "Irish Research Roadmap" located in our special Green Room membership area).  It has also been compiled in answer to the many questions submitted by the readers of "the"A Letter from Ireland" since 2013.

This course has been audited by our resident Green Room Irish genealogists, Jayne McGarvey and Pam Holland, in terms of content and learning objectives. 

Irish Ancestors - Two Points to Consider Before we Start:

As mentioned, the course uses a case-study (involving a real-life individual and his family) that we use to illustrate the principles covered in each module. For the case-study I chose an individual with a low frequency Irish surname (Dolphin) who left Ireland in late 1800s. Why? By using this later era and a low frequency surname, you won't get too distracted (as you might with a "Murphy") or frustrated (try searching for 1700s Irish records) and will become familiar with the widest range of Irish record sets and tools for your own Irish ancestry research.

I avoid illustrating using the larger ancestry sites (familysearch, ancestry, myheritage etc.) on purpose. I hope that doing so will encourage you to access the Irish records sets and tools that I mention directly - therefore becoming aware of both the strengths and limitations of each of those Irish record sets.

What to do if you need help:

Our membership site, The Green Room is the place to go if you need any assistance putting this course into practice with your own ancestry. In the Green Room you can access our professional genealogists, a likeminded community and free access to Click here to see more about the Green Room.

How This Course Is Laid Out.

Each course module shown progressed through essential aspects of Irish family history research. From the beginning we use a real-life individual and case-study so you can test out the various research tools mentioned in real life - and see if you get the same results as ilustrated for our case-study individual.

Module 1

Choose your Irish ancestor and discovery questions.

  • Choose your ancestor/couple.
  • Gather what you already know about them - assemble into timeline format.
  • Choose discovery questions based on gaps in our current information.
  • Introducing the case-study individual/family we use through this course.

Module 2

Irish Land Divisions - What you need to know BEFORE Searching Irish Records.

  • Which Irish land divisions are essential to know about to read Irish records?

  • Introducing the "Land Division Research Worksheet".

  • Three tools for discovering the related Land Division information for a Townland.

  • Over to you - replicate our case-study findings with your own Irish ancestors.

Module 3

Irish Record Sets - What's Available and Where to find them.

  • Which Irish record sets are easily available online and where do you find them?

  • A useful tool to help you see which Irish Church records are available and where to find them.

  • Introducing the "Irish Records Research Worksheet".

  • Select a record search strategy based on earlier discovery questions.

  • Over to you - replicate our case-study findings with your own Irish ancestors.

Module 4

Let's Search the Irish Census & Civil Records.

  • We start with the Irish Census records to discover more about our case-study family.

  • We then move back in time to discover even more using the Irish Civil Records - births, marriages and deaths.

  • Over to you - replicate our case-study findings with your own Irish ancestors.

Module 5

Let's Search the Irish Church Records.

  • We search the Irish Roman Catholic Church records to uncover more about our family - baptisms and church marriages.

  • We introduce a tool to speed up your searching of the Irish RC Church records - and provide richer results.

  • Over to you - replicate our case-study findings with your own Irish ancestors.

Module 6

Let's Search the Irish Land Records.

  • We search various Irish Land records to uncover more about our case-study family.

  • We then do one more loop back to the Irish Civil records for our case-study family.

  • Over to you - replicate our findings in this module with your own Irish ancestors.

Module 7

Conclusion and What to do next.

  • Reminder of what we have covered on this course.
  • Final review of what we have gathered for our case-study family.
  • Next research steps for our case-study family.
  • What YOU can do next.


Full list of all Resources/tools from the course.

  • A handy one-page reference for all resources and tools referenced through the course.

P.S. This course is available for free - HOWEVER...

If you would like genealogist support while taking this course and much more then join us in The Green Room right now.