Welcome to March: the month to celebrate Irish heritage! Even people without Irish heritage enjoy pretending to be “Irish for a day,” and with such gorgeous natural scenery and rich heritage, why not? Have you ever wondered if you do have Irish heritage, but just haven’t had time visit the local genealogical society to find out?
Whether you’re new to family history research or have been searching microfilm for years to dig deep into the roots of your family tree, there has never been a better time to discover, once and for all, whether you have Irish roots (or any other nationality, for that matter)! One of the reasons family history research has become so much easier in the past few years is that archivists, research institutions and libraries around the world have been using e-ImageData microfilm scanners to digitize these precious records to make them safely available across a wide range of online platforms to search, even if you're not in Ireland. So, are you ready to find your pot of family history gold?
How to Start Looking for Your Irish Roots
First things first: call your relatives and ask them what they already know. Your grandma or great uncle might already have some information that will get you started. Ask for names, spellings and any geographical data they have. See if they have any pictures, letters, marriage certificates, birth certificates or any other documents. Ask for any stories they might know. Write it all down in a safe place; scan it digitally if you can. All of those things are like gold for family history research, and, as you search, you may discover distant cousins who would appreciate connecting with you over these records too!
Then, take what you know and organize it. Fill out your family tree using a web-based app like Ancestry.com (a fee-based service with some free collections) or FamilySearch.org (it’s free and extensive). Both sites, as well as others, have been collecting and indexing scanned, digitized microfilm and microfiche records for years, and those links above go straight to Irish collections. Both websites have a lot of helpful guides, and you can reach out to tech support if you’re not sure where to look first.
Of course, there are many microfilm and microfiche records stored in Ireland too, and you don’t have to get on a plane to access them. Check out the National Archives of Ireland and IrishGeneology.ie. You can also check the Irish Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI for important scanned microfilm documents.
Microfilm Scanners Bring More Family History Records to Light
A word of warning about searching for Irish family history. First, don't get discouraged. Some records in some parts of the country don’t far past the 1800s yet, and many records were either lost or destroyed during Ireland’s difficult history. Fortunately, however, the growing hunger to know more about Irish family history records is driving archivists, universities, churches and research centers to dig deeper and use microfilm scanners to make more records available to researchers all the time. Second, family history research can be addictive—but in a good way. Family history helps us understand who we are, where we came from, and our part in the vast history of the human family. It can help us understand our family relationships and even lead to medical, history and family discoveries that build new connections and heal parts of ourselves that seemed missing before. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth the digging to find your pot of family history gold!
If you work for a university, family history library or research center striving to archive these precious historical resources, please contact us for more information about how e-ImageData ScanPro® products can help in your efforts!