I'm back and as you can imagine, I'm still trying to catch up! We had a great cruise on Celebrity and my genealogy lectures were well attended. The feedback was good, so I hope some of you are now following my blog. I had an updated photo taken while I was on the cruise since my photo was about five years old.
I'd like to encourage any of you who think you might be interested in the research trip to Ireland next October to drop me an email. I'm trying to determine if the trip is feasible and need a minimum of 20 participants.
At the FGS Conference in Springfield, IL the first week of September, Lou Szucs did a presentation entitled "Finding Your Irish Ancestors on Ancestry.com. Lou's lecture was recorded and is available from Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recording (along with many other lectures from the conference). Lou's syllabus discusses many of the same points I've made in my blog over the year; start your search here and know as much as possible about your ancestor to make sure you identify the correct person, and not just another individual with the same name. She then lists a page and a half of links to various databases on Ancestry. Some of them you will find easily by just searching the Ancestry Card Catalog for "Irish" (62 titles) or "Ireland" (113 titles). There are others you might find which refer to family names or locations without the words "Irish" or "Ireland" in the title such as Bantry, Berehaven and the O'Sullivan Sept (you may find these by using the keyword search).
Griffith's Valuation is one of the databases we frequently use in researching our ancestors once we have them back to their townland in Ireland and the database on Ancestry now contains not only the index, but also the images and maps. You can limit your search by location, but be aware that with 60,000 townlands the localities are frequently repeated.
The Tithe Applotment which date to the 1820s is another database available on Ancestry and although it might tell where a specific surname appears, it doesn't include images, so you would have to follow up either with a film from the Family History Library or make a trip to the National Archives of Ireland.
Before you search any database make certain you read the full description. Why was the database created? Is it taken from original records or from a derivative source? Do the records cover only a certain timeframe or location? Does it include "selected records" and if so, is the selection criteria defined? Sometimes the title of a database can be misleading...for example, Ireland, Catholic Parish Baptisms, 1742-1881. Does this include all Catholic Baptisms for the time period? Does it cover all of Ireland? By reading the description you find that there is no indication of the total records included in the database, but it does state that 40% of the records are from County Meath and 15% from County Roscommon. No information is provided as to where the other 45% of the records are from. So it's unlikely you'll find your ancestors in this database unless they are from Meath or Roscommon. Also, if you hadn't read much about Irish Catholic Church Records, you might not realize that records prior to 1800 are not plentiful...many records don't start until the early to mid 1800s.
So explore the various resources available on Ancestry.com, but don't assume your ancestor wasn't there without understanding the records included in each database.