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Expert Q&A :: Irish family history research with Findmypast Ireland

Q. From Anne: Any hints for Ireland pre 1830s – have all my Irish ancestors from when they arrived in Australia but can’t get back any further. (Yes, one is Martha Noble b. ca1820 Irvinestown Fermanagh – arrived (1840) on the “Pearl”. Unmarried female immigrant. mostly seem to be from Fermanagh or Derry.)
A. Cliona: As Catholic records for Irvinestown do not begin for Irvinestown until the 1850s this means that you are unlikely to find birth or marriage records for Martha’s parents.  Although their death records may survive.  Searching for other family names to pinpoint a location may help to identify other parishes  with records which predate 1830.  Useful resources at PRONI

Q. From Ros: I have free Irish and convict Irish ancestry – they were found by other family members so I’m very grateful for that but I have a challenge !!! Margaret Sweeney Claims born Cork 1821 married Thomas Jones Bungonia 1844 Church of England stated was a widow. On her death certificate it is stated she was 21 when she married and her father was Daniel Sweeney and her mother Lotte Davis …The newspaper reports of her death as well as her death certificate claim she came from Cork. She married twice the second time to John Cruickshank in 1850. I discovered in Trove a Margaret Sweeny had a ticket of leave granted in November 1842 but I haven’t been able to locate it in the State Records indexes yet or other convict indexes . Thanks to another researcher we have a photo of her headstone. This photo helped us crack a family mystery so I’m very grateful to the researcher for all her help. Any help greatly appreciated.
A. Cliona: Hi Ros. You are doing very well to have traced a family member back to the 1820s in Ireland. For events dating before 1864 your search will be in Parish records, you will find some parish records for Cork on the website Cork is not well represented on commercial sites but the Cork Archives may be able to assist you Parish records are also available in person at the National Library of Ireland, so you may wish to consider commissioning a professional researcher to look on your behalf,

Q. From Janne: Looking for Irish info about the family of my great grandfather John/ Johnathan Bennett born about 1814 in Tandragee, County Armagh to William Bennett and Ann Rennie.
A. Cliona: Hi Janne: As these dates pre-date civil registration parish records would be your best line of inquiry. You can find further information on Tandragree Parish records appear to start online in 1831so you may need to consider commissioned research. A quick search of Bennett + Tandragee shows George & Robert in Bassett’s, Book of County Armagh (1888) as farmers – there is also a Landed Estate Court rental records for a John Bennett in 1864. Some things to consider include: when did John / Jonathan leave Ireland? Do these names appear anywhere in your family tree?

Q. From Rochell: Can’t find conviction record of 3 Regan brothers William Michael and John – transported from Cork per Isabella 1823 (7 years)
A. Cliona: Hi Rochell, Having looked the records for the Isabella I note that William was a native of Cork whereas Michael & John are from Limerick.  I wondered what other evidence you might have regarding their being brothers.  You will find information on our prison records here:

Q. From Lisa: I’m looking for Maloneys, Naughtons, Murray and Macnamara’s families from Bunratty, County Clare. 
A. Cliona: Hi Lisa – if you are looking for living relatives you can find further details on Genesreunited. If you are looking for family history links I would suggest tracing your family back from your generation until you find your Irish forebears. Best of luck!

Q. From Jane: I have an elusive Irish gr-gr-grandmother. Margaret Ann Stewart, Born: 26 May 1858 (per family bible), Ballyhome, Co. Antrim, Ireland; Father: John Stewart; Mother: Jane Brown. Arrived Rockhampton, Queensland in 1876 on the Scottish Bard. I am not overly familiar with Irish records but have tried the main sources without any luck finding out any more about her Irish roots. Any information or suggestions greatly appreciated.
A. Cliona: 
Working on a hunch that this was likely a Protestant family we were able to find the index entry for a John Alexander Stewart marrying a Jane Brown in Belfast in 1851 in the find my past  index to Irish marriages The government recorded marriages of Protestants & other religions, earlier than those of Catholics. You would need to order the certificate from the general register office, they should be able to provide you with a photocopy which is the most inexpensive option.  You will need the following details: Year 1851, Registration District Belfast, Volume 3, Page 130. 1901 census would appear to indicate that Ballyhone was occupied by those of the Presbyterian faith.  Many baptismal registers for the protestant church were destroyed in 1922 so it may not be possible to find Margaret Ann’s baptism.  The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland or the Representative Church Library may be able to assist.

Q. From Ann: I am having no luck with ancestors from Wexford. Robert Deegan and Mary Kennedy are the parents of Patrick Deegan born about 1860 .If you could find anything at all I would be most grateful, like brothers, sisters death, anything at all. Have been stuck on this forever. Thanks.
A. Cliona: As these years pre-date civil registration (registration by government) the best sources will be parish registers.  When researching Irish family history geographic information is vital – do you have any further details about where Patrick was born? If you have the parish this could yield further details of marriages / other family members baptisms, or with the townland information you can search Griffith’s Valuation for the family. The availability of parish registers for Wexford is mixed; there are microfilmed copies of parish registers for Co. Wexford in the National Library of Ireland, Kildare St., Dublin.

Q. From Johanna: My 2nd Great Grandmother – Alice (Alicia) Hooks. Her daughter is Maria O’hara (My great grandmother). She was married to Michael O’hara and besides Maria, she had three other children, – Michael, John and Bridget. Maria was baptised in Drumcliff and Magherow, Sligo in 1864. I can’t go back any further and would like to pursue Alice’s ancestors. Her husband, Michael O’hara is in the too hard basket as there are so many O’haras, but, Alice Hooks should be easy if I know how and of course, if the records exist. I wrote to the church but never got a reply, to see if someone could look in the gravestones for some clues. Thank you for reading.
A. Cliona: Church records do not begin for Drumcliff until 1865 for marriages, so unfortunately it appears that Alice Hooks and her husband Michael’s marriage has just missed the start of records.  If you have not looked at the original baptismal certs for Maria, John, Michael and Bridget I would suggest looking at these via the subscription site rootsireland, it will cost you about $10 per certificate.  These will have additional names of sponsors who are often family members.  Searching for those names will allow you narrow down the area the Hooks are from and hopefully you will come across some other Hooks who are very likely to be related to Alice.  Our search for Hooks in Drumcliff showed a John, Patrick & Martin Hooks living in the parish.  I would also suggest that you could try working with the name John as a potential for Michael’s father, as in Irish families the first son was often named after the father’s father.

Q. From Kelly: Oh so many Irish brick walls! I would like to ask about my Armagh ancestors, if that’s okay. I have James Todd Carrick born c1799, married Isabella Robinson born c1809. His parents may have been William Carrick and Sophia Todd (?). He had a brother Charles Todd Carrick, and sister Elizabeth. They had connections to a place named Richmount. He and Isabella had children born c1830-1845 in Armagh: David, William, Benjamin, Sophia, Jane, Charles Todd, James Todd. I’ve been told Isabella Robinson was a daughter of Richard or Thomas Robinson and Sophia Ruddell Todd (?), apparently with origins near Portadown at a place called Divenny. There was a James Ruddell Todd born 1783 in Seagoe, who became a British MP and director of the South Australian Company (would like to know if connected). James and Isabella and children migrated to South Australia in 1847. Isabella’s brother Benjamin came out years earlier. I can’t find anything about either of these families. Is it possible to get records from this far back? Thank you.
A. Cliona: Hi Kelly, given the early date of your search it would be important that you discover the parish record for Todd and Anna, as these documents would make the necessary connections with the preceding generation, i.e. William and Sophia). You can see what’s available at or check alternate commercial website for Armagh Parish records. Bear in mind that Irish civil records do not start until 1864 and that parish records are uneven for the late 18th century.

Q. From Corrinne: Good evening. I am enquiring about my great great grand father Terence SHERIDAN who was born possibly Meath in Dublin about 1838. He was a policeman when his first child died on Kilronan April 1864. Oral history says that Terence was a police sergeant and that the second child was possibly born in the police barracks in Dublin two months earlier in Feb 1864. Research has shown that: in the 1901 census Terence was a retired policeman in Dublin. Earlier correspondence with Garda Liochana and Dublin Police museum both returned negative results. Further correspondence with police historian Jim Herlihy (Royal Irish Constabulary) in 2011 provided 3 possible candidates, of these the most likely being: married, pensioned, and counties of allocation during birth of children, is no. 20847 (in agreement with correspondence from Cath Oneil from Aran Island RootsWeb). Several of his children were later born in Dingle, Boherebe and Castle Gregory, Co Kerry (1867-1885). Is there any other way I can follow up and/or obtain any further records of his service? Thank you.
A. Clione: Hi Corrine. When researching Irish Family history geographic knowledge is vital – do you know where in Meath your great great grandfather was born? With this knowledge you could investigate parish records. Have you been able to narrow down the three possible candidates through any research of significant dates of vital events such as marriage? The parish records of the children born 1867 onwards will provide you with his wife’s name if you do not know it. If you have already been in touch with the Garda Siochana we would suggest you consider commissioned research though our partners Eneclann.

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