The following sites are those that you will probably use most frequently.
1. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/ free government site contains the online census data from the earliest returns in 1901 and 1911. Bear in mind that there was a lot of illiteracy back then, especially with older people, so surnames may be phonetic on occasion. Ages are not to be taken as gospel. I have a come across where clearly the age put down was a guess on their part, it didn’t appear to matter as much as it does now. However, you may notice that in the 10 years between 1901 and 1911, some older people have aged nearly 20 years in 10 years ! A suggestion I have heard is that the Old Age Pension Act came into being in 1909 for over 70s, so people were adding a few years to qualify early !
2. http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/ this is another excellent free government site, which is trying to bring a number of online projects together, such as, Griffiths Valuation, Military Archives, Tithe Applotments etc. I will detail them separately following this.
3. http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml?action=nameSearch Griffiths Valuation was the first full scale property evaluation carried out between 1847 and 1864. It is extremely useful for finding out who farmed what during the mid 1800s. Unfortunately it only shows the farmer, not his family, but it’s something at least.
4. http://titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie/search/tab/index.jsp Tithes were a tax on agricultural produce, for the benefit of Protestant Clergy, from 1823 to 1832. Again, it gives the farmer’s name and townland.
5. http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/ This is a really excellent site, showing not only data on births, deaths and marriages but a digital photo of the page where the entry is made. Unfortunately not all parishes are shown. From what I understand, some of the County Genealogy centres have chosen to keep the data behind their own pay per view site. I would search here before checking http://www.rootsireland.ie/
6. http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/bmhsearch/browse.jsp If you had any ancestors involved in the War of Independence or any post 1922 military job, check this site out. In fact it’s worth checking anyway as you never know what you might find. Members of the Old IRA gave witness statements and in many cases they hold a mine of information. For example, my Grandad’s cousin TJ Golden gave this witness statement http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0014.pdf while Grandad’s brother in law gave this statement http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0713.pdf#page=1 In fact the extent of his WW1 details were a surprise to his daughter when I found it.
7. Wills are a great source of information, as to who is alive at that point etc. The indexes can be viewed online http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/search/cwa/index.jsp and there is a good chance of the actual will surviving. Here is an example of an index http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/reels/cwa/005014898/005014898_00174.pdf
8. www.google.com You would be surprised what can sometimes turn up by putting in some ancestor’s name and the townland they were from, or whatever. Google is always a good ally for a shot-in-the-dark research. Also see here http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Category:Bookshelf
9. http://www.corkpastandpresent.ie/ is a nice City Council site with plenty of scanned old books, maps, photos etc. In fact, this page is to be recommended when starting off on family research http://www.corkpastandpresent.ie/genealogy/traceyourcorkancestors/ and http://www.corkarchives.ie/genealogy/
10. The very first thing you should do is to draw out in a chart form, the family tree as you know it, preferably with a family elder. I cannot express firmly enough to grab the opportunity to talk to the elder members of the family and what they know, but beware some will be openly hostile to you looking into the past. Trust me, every family history researcher encounters this. If you do, work around them with care. It’s sad to have to do that, but it is necessary. Those who do talk, try to video them talking about the past …. Set the video camera off in the corner and lubricate their tongues with alcohol !
11. Irish Genealogy Tool kit, run by Claire Santry, is a fantastic resource, full of hints, tips and up to date news. http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/index.html and http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/irish-roots.html
12. Great sources of information are the Birth, Marriage and Death records. They can help jump generations back. Civil records started in 1864 and can be got from the General Records Office (GRO) who are based in Roscommon. Normally, a certificate can cost a whopping €20. However when doing research, you can order a “Research Copy” from them for only €6 (which includes a search), or €4 if you have the exact records details. This beats the UK GRO as they charge about STG£10 for an official cert and they don’t do research copies. At €4 a copy, sometimes I might take a punt at a few exact records, or on the one application form, you might say “it is probably this one or this one, and the mothers name should be X”, and the Irish GRO people are normally very obliging, even ringing you up to clarify something. It’s an excellent service. The photocopies normally arrive in 2 weeks.
Be sure to tick the Photocopy box. You can put your Credit Card details on the form, print & scan it back onto your computer, and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are uncomfortable putting your credit card details on the form, you can note on the form to call you when they are ready to process payment.
When you are filling a form, get the exact key requirements from https://familysearch.org/search
and take this info to put on the form as well
GS Film number:
Digital Folder Number: