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The Luck of the Irish…Maps

Have you been searching for an elusive Irish ancestor? Are you a bit of a cartophile (lover of maps)? Then, perhaps you would have luck finding them using the surname maps of Ireland. There are several versions, each based upon different records and genealogical data, so depending upon when your ancestor emigrated from Ireland, you may want to consult a particular one, or multiple ones. As many genealogists know, maps can really help illumine your ancestral history, and these versions add additional possibilities!

  • Barry Griffin’s Irish Surname Maps
    • On this site, you can enter a surname to plot a map of its distribution for the 1901 and 1911 census of Ireland. You can also use wildcards to target name variations and expand your search results. As Esri’s notes, “We tend to assume that surnames are of ancient origin. In fact, they were quite fluid from generation to generation in Ireland (and elsewhere in Europe) until about 900-600 years ago.”
  • Esri’s Mapping Irish Surnames
    • On this site, you can enter a surname in the search box to see where it was most common. This map is “based on a late-19th-century report that cataloged surnames by county; if five or more children born within a county shared a surname, then that name appeared on the list.” You can also zoom in and out on the map to see where surnames were commonly found.
  • John Grenham’s Irish Names
    • Like with the others, you can use the search box to enter a surname. You can also use wildcards to account for name variations and expand your search. In addition, you can browse the surname listings for spelling suggestions. This resource contains data from various records, dating between 1864 and 1911. The search results will even display county-by-county results and additional information about surname variations.

Image of Irish Surname Word Cloud

Conceivably, one of these resources has helped you identify an area to search. Once you identify a region (or several), go to these sites to search their records to see if you can find records about/by your ancestor.

  • RootsIreland
    • Please note, this resource does not include records from Kerry, Cork (South), Carlo, or Dublin City, so if your ancestors lived in these counties, consider IrishGenealogy (detailed below). According to Deb Dudek, “The Ship Manifest Records on RootsIreland are particularly good, as they contain accurate surname spellings, a departure date, occupations (missing from early records in the US), the ship name, and everyone listed in the outgoing family unit.” This site claims to have “the most extensive and easily searchable database of Catholic Church records anywhere online.”
  • IrishGenealogy
    • This site specializes in counties not covered or widely available on RootsIreland, namely Kerry, Cork (South), Carlo, and Dublin City. On IrishGenealogy, you can search for a wide variety of records. Sometimes, you can find images directly on this site by scrolling to the bottom of the page. The site itself is divided into civil and church records, and you can use their research guides to learn more about their records and Irish genealogical research.
  • NLI Catholic Parish Registers
    • If you find that your ancestors were Catholic, you may be able to find additional information through the parish registers that are available through the National Library of Ireland. This great resource allows you to search by parish name, diocese, county, and region. You can use their interactive map to start your search.

Ideally, if you are green to Irish genealogical research, this has mapped the territory a bit. If you are a seasoned researcher, perhaps you can still find some uncharted territory to explore. If you still need a little help, try out GENUKI which includes location guides for the various Irish regions, counties, and parishes. This website also has an interactive map.

Finally, do not forget about all the Irish genealogy resources that are available at the library! These include genealogical atlases, surname books, and regionally specific record finders.

Hopefully, you will do a jig after learning about one (or several) of these resources! Happy Irish American Heritage Month!

Categories: Genealogy

Tags: Genealogy

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