Gary Shea's Family History Home Page

Irish Ancestry

My Irish Forebears

I know of eight ancestors that came to America in the mid-1800s from Ireland. They are Ellen Sullivan and her son Denis Shea from Dromtarriff parish in Northwest County Cork, Jane Crawford and her son Bernard Fay from Drung parish in County Cavan, William Luddy, his wife Bridget Pendergrass and their daughter Bridget most likely from County Tipperary, and Mary Ann McNally whose possible county of origin is Carlow.

Follow this link to the start of my Irish ancestry.

Recommended Web Sites    For me the Genealogical Guides at are worth the visit. They provide by way of a quick read a good broad coverage for beginner and intermediate Irish genealogists.

GENUKI: UK & Ireland Genealogy    GENUKI does a fantastic job on the UK and Ireland. I like being able to drill down geographically by county. This site is a gateway to many many genealogy sites.

Recommended Irish Genealogy Books

Here are three on Irish family history on my bookshelf that are excellent books.

    A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors (2001) by Dwight A. Radford and Kyle J. Betit. This book is one of those in the Betterway series by the experts. I know firsthand through attending a seminar with Kyle that he has a rich knowledge of Irish genealogy. I find the book to be comprehensive and readable. It starts with researching in the countries where the Irish went (the ultimate goal is to find your ancestor's townland location in Ireland) and then moves to research strictly with Irish records. The ISBN is 1-55870-577-5.

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    Richard Griffith and His Valuation of Ireland (2000) by James R. Reilly. This is the ultimate book on the oft cited Census substitute called Griffith's Valuation. It is a guide to the Valuation, explaining its origin's, limitations, and treasures, as well as covering how to research with it. To me this is a monumental work, almost a doctoral disseration (albeit a readable one). The ISBN for this book is 0-8063-4954-9.

    Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History (Revised edition 1997), by James G. Ryan. This is the ultimate tomb identifying resource after resource mainly by county. A labor of love by Dr. Ryan, he really knows his subject. This is the go-to book for the Irish family historian. The ISBN of my copy is 0-916489-76-0.

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History Books

With the dearth of Irish records to contend with there's nothing like reading Irish history to help fill in the gaps. Fortunately, there is no shortage of books on Ireland in English. Here are a few of the many I have read with my comments.

I really like Professor Kerby A. Miller's monumental work Emmigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. This award winning history is published by Oxford University Press.

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William Makepeace Thackeray's The Irish Sketch Book of 1842 was a challenging read for me. My copy, printed in the 1840s was (still is) crumbling. Thackeray's bias can sometimes be overwhelming. His habit of protecting identities through the use of underscores instead of showing peoples' names is puzzling, frustrating and distracting. Still, it's all worth it to be able to read the language of that day and know that perhaps Mr. Thackeray rubbed shoulders with one's ancestors.

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The famine pushed my Irish immigrant ancestors to America. Two books I recommend on this topic are Ms. Cecil Woodham-Smith's 1962 classic The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 and the more recent book by Dr. Christine Kinealy, This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-52 published in 1995. For many it's a painful topic to contemplate let alone immerse one's self in. Yet I think it is worth it, for I found reading these comprehensive and well-researched accounts to be cathartic and illuminating.

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