Picture of Dennis Prue

Dennis Prue

Dennis has been researching family trees for more than 30 years. His expertise has been invaluable in helping to break through brick walls.


This Old Tree, March 2018

Irish Ancestry Records

And How to Find Them

In March I often think St Patrick Day. I know that I have Irish ancestors because my mother was s McConnell who earliest ancestor in North America from the Emerald Isle.

I reviewed my DNA results which show that 29% of my ancestors were from Ireland and Scotland. I wish that I had a better clue to where in Ireland two of my ancestors’ were born and lived.

The first one is my George McConnell 1725-1793. His surname on his headstone in First Reform Church in Lancaster, PA, USA, is spelled Meagundel. The family lived in the heart of Pennsylvania-Dutch country. They spelled his surname the best that they could. He came to Pennsylvania in 1746 on the ship Nancy which sailed from Belfast, Ireland. Belfast is in present-day Northern Ireland.

He was put up for bid and sold as an indentured servant. It has been hard to find anything on him until birth records of some of his children in 1760s to 1780s. Hopefully, I can someday find his indentured contract. That may give me a clearer picture of his home town.

My other major Irish brick wall is John Laurence Kelly whose ancestors were also from Ireland but that is all I know and there is not a paper trail on the dude. Even the names of parents are not clear. I believe they are Lawrence Kelly Sr. and his wife Catherine.

Doing Irish Genealogy research is not a walk in the park but it can be done. If your ancestors left Ireland in mid-to-late 1800s there are records and other resources to help you trace your family.

The Irish Tourism Board has started promoting genealogy focus tourism. They are working to help people find ways to hunt down that ancestor’s place of birth.

The more you know about your Irish relatives the easier it’s to do the research. Ideally, you need to know the county, the parish, and the town they lived in, all three of them. The internet and technology, in general, have helped to open closed doors or even find some hidden doors for you.

You may have to look in Ireland as well as Northern Ireland for the records. The Public Records Office can be useful places.

Another source I find enjoyable and informative has been the free online magazine Irish Lives Remembered. Each edition focuses on a specific county in Ireland and the various resources and tips to do research in that particular county.

That being said there are a great deal more records now online to help people do research. Many records are out there if your ancestors came to North American.

Ancestory.com has records on Ireland starting in the late 1700s and the early 1800s that can be helpful in your research. Google for Irish genealogy resources will reveal many possible site and records.

Most records I can find online concerning Ireland do not start early enough for me to find my ancestor. George McConnell was born in 1725 most likely in what is present-day Northern Ireland.

Family search does have some of the protestant church record microfilmed. Need to review them and see if I can find George’s baptism record and his parents.

Now I have a request for our many readers. I am seeking different types of brick walls you may have encounter on your genealogical adventure and how you were able to solve them.

Please email me with your stories; others would like to hear it. We all would appreciate reading about how a brick wall was tackled and conquered.

Later this summer I hope to have a column on brick walls and how to surmount them. Your experience will help guide me.

Creative Commons License
This Old Tree, March 2018 by Dennis Prue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at ac-gs.org.