Do you have a brick wall in your Irish genealogy? (Don’t we all!) Have you put information online that might help family find you? I call this trolling, and it’s worked for me. Last week I had an email from Agnes in Ireland who had found a reference to one of her family members in my Moughty: Daly Family Tree. Her grandmother, Margaret Martin and my husband’s grandmother, Ann Jane Martin, were sisters and she still lives in County Monaghan. That’s Ann Jane’s picture on the About Me page. On my trip to Ireland next year, I’ll definitely try to make a side trip to Monaghan to meet her.
I’ve also been contacted by an individual in Dublin who read one of my blogs and, having been born in the same town, knew the family I was looking for and put me in touch with them. Two years ago we celebrated in a pub in Mayo. Last year I was able to visit with a cousin of my grandmother on a line (with a common surname) on which I had not been able to make any progress. The women who contacted me recognized the married name of the individual and again, put me in touch with her. After my trip to Ireland I went to England and stayed with her in Chippingham, about an hour outside of London.
Perhaps you think that without your own website this isn’t possible, but there are many ways to get your information out there. If you look at the families on my webpage, the information was created in my genealogy software, Reunion, and output as web cards. I just linked the “Home” card to the family name on my site. Most genealogy software now has some way of creating a file for your website and you likely have some free web space with your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
If that seems too daunting for you, a Blog is another way of sharing your family information. Creating a blog is just like creating a word processing document and sites such as Blogger and WordPress are free. You can tell the story of one of your ancestors, or discuss your research. Some individuals use their blogs as their research log. Geneabloggers is a great place to start. If you can’t think of something to write about, this site created by Thomas MacEntee, even provides suggestions and has a Blog Resources section to get you going. You can check out blogs by type...there are about 40 Irish blogs, and about the same number of surname blogs. You can also just Google the name you’re searching with the word blog.
Putting your family information on one of the database sites using the GEDCOM from your genealogy software is another option. If you decide to go this route, please include your source citations with the information that you post. I frequently hear people complaining about these trees and the inaccurate information they contain. If you’re a serious genealogist, putting your source citations is one of the only ways to correct the wrong information that is out there. The largest database is Ancestry and you can use their Family Trees (free) even if you don’t have an Ancestry subscription. This will allow you to share you family information, but you will not be able to use the “hints.” You do need to create a free account with a user name and password but there is no charge. Make sure you read the submission agreement which states that “Ancestry may reproduce, compile and distribute, all information about non-living individuals in your submitted GEDCOM file.”
Some people find this unacceptable, but I only submit the facts...birth, death, marriage. You cannot copyright facts and since I’m looking for connections I have no issue with this. When people contact me, I establish the relationship and share other information.
When new FamilySearch is released (maybe later this year) I will also put my information there as well. Remember, you’re trying to get the widest distribution of your information so people can find you. There are lots of other places to post your information including Geni.com, MyHeritage.com, LostCousins.com, and We’re Related on Facebook just to name a few.
If this seems more than you want to do, I would suggest posting information on a mailing list. RootsWeb has an extensive selection of mailing lists from surnames to geographic localities. If you ancestors came from Leitrim in Ireland, I would suggest joining the RootsWeb IRL-LEITRIM mailing list where you can post a query about your family. It’s only logical that other people who are looking for someone in that locality would go to that site as well. Another place would be the IrelandGenWeb Project.
Sometimes rather than waiting for someone to contact you, you might want to be more proactive and find those people who have posted family files or queries. Last week when my daughter-in-law was visiting I began adding her family to my tree on Ancestry, and in the process received a hint from another tree with my parents names listed. I didn’t know the individual who had posted the tree so I contacted him. Turns out his wife’s family connected through my Moag line. There is a branch of this family that is very active and has a reunion every summer, however this particular line has never been included as the immigrant brother (to my great grandfather) died young in a mining accident. So I now have another cousin with whom to share information. It’s a great time to be doing family research!