So I’ve decided recently to embark on a little genealogical project (yes I know, everyone’s doing genealogy at the moment), but I thought it might be interesting to trace my roots back to Ireland, as I am planning on going there again next summer, and would like to see out the homes (if still standing) where my Irish ancestors lived. While some people see genealogy as a way for anyone with a laptop to feel like a historian, I think it is actually a great way for people who might not otherwise have been interested with history to involve themselves within their own historical backgrounds. Who knows what is there to be discovered!
So what I am going to do with this particular series of posts (scattered over the course of the next several months, I’m sure), is lay out my process for delving into my genealogy, analyze my findings, address my conclusions, and eventually (next summer) post about my exploration of my family history in Ireland.
I have decided to focus specifically on my maternal ancestry (both sides are Irish, but this one I happen to know more about). I have a pretty good jumping-off point: a family tree that I made in fifth grade. And yes, it is actually a quite reputable source – I broke into the family record book currently held by my grandma, and made sure that my resources were consistent. (AKA, Paige, the eternal historian). Anyways, this antiquated school project is pictured above, with my maternal ancestry leading back to the early nineteenth century on the left hand side. These are the individuals that I will begin with, and will hopefully be able to work backwards from there.
As you can hopefully see from the picture, the furthest back I was able to go with this family tree was to my great great great great grandparents, Mary Skelly-Ryan and Patrick Ryan (b. 1838 in Ireland). I am certain that with this information, I will be able to further trace back my ancestry using Irish parish records. I just need to determine where these individuals lived. That is what I plan to do with the next several months – identifying the villages in which my Irish family came from in the hopes of locating parish records. Also, this family tree is incomplete. It traces back through grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc., but doesn’t include any of their siblings. So it will need to be further fleshed out.
Here’s a brief overview of what I know so far, not having done any census research as of yet. My grandmother was born in Peterborough, Canada, the descendant of a line of Irish people who had emigrated there in (circa) the 1820s. This would place them within the first large wave of Protestant Irish immigrants who left Ireland prior to the Famine (1845 – 1850). Three generations of my grandmothers family lived in Canada (mostly in Peterborough, a popular destination for Irish immigrants), until shortly after my grandmothers birth in 1926 when the family made the move to Rochester, NY.
While I have a lot of information on my Irish family in Canada, and the circumstances of their immigration is certainly interesting, I am more interested in learning about my ancestry in Ireland itself. My goal with this project is, as I said, to locate the towns of origin of my Irish ancestors, use parish records in Ireland to trace back my lineage as far as possible, and hopefully find the location of one or more of their homes. We’ll see how much I am actually able to accomplish – but genealogy in the hands of a historian seems like a piece of cake! …Maybe.