Tracing your family in Limerick
A guide to tracing your ancestors
Limerick Historical Society
8:00pm Monday 14 April 2014
Room 301, Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick
Where do I start?
Where do I finish?
- Have you watched
- Are you among the millions who have you used the National Archives of
Ireland 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland website and search
form to look for your parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents,
greatgreatgrandparents, or more distant ancestors and relatives?
- The census is just the first in a series of stepping stones through the
- The Limerick census returns are divided into 144 District Electoral
Divisions in 1901
and 147 DEDs in 1911.
In the interim or in the transcription process (see table):
- Two parts of Glentworth ward merged
- Two parts of Market ward merged
- Ballynoe divided into Ballynoe and Ballynoe West
- Limerick No. 6 Urban divided into three parts included division of
Garryowen East townland into two parts (1-54
- Newcastle divided into Rural and Urban
- Two Rathkeale divisions divided into three
- Maps of DEDs courtesy of logainm.ie
- National Archives of Ireland GENEALOGY website has more
than just the census:
- National Archives of Ireland main website has more again,
e.g. more recent Calendars
of Wills and Administrations (Guide from Council of Irish Genealogical
- There are many other websites where you can start your research before
you visit libraries and archives.
- Remember Larry Brennan's mantra:
Genealogy is about names, dates and places.
These are the bones; family history is the flesh on those bones.
- For most genealogical events, there are up to four different associated
- the place where the event happened;
- the place where the event was originally recorded;
- the place where the original record is stored today; and
- the place(s) or website(s) where a manual, photographic or digital
copy (or copies) of the record can be seen.
- In rural areas of Ireland, we can typically identify the townland
in which the event happened.
- In urban areas, we can typically identify the street address at
which the event happened:
- Sometimes renumeration occurs (e.g. Kilrush streets in 1846
Slater's Directory, 1855 Griffith's Valuation, 1901 Census, 1911
- The administrative division(s) in which the genealogical event is or was
recorded and stored depend on
- the townland where the event actually happened;
- the nature of the event; and
- the general time period.
- Limerick and Ireland have been partitioned many times for many
non-genealogical purposes, but the genealogist needs to become familiar
with some of these repartitionings.
- Depending on the record, there may be an all-Ireland index, a 26-county
index, county-by-county indexes, or indexes for subdivisions of counties or
areas crossing county boundaries.
- Unless a person's name is extremely rare, narrow down the search by place
before you begin.
- Once we know the townland, we generally need maps and/or lookup tables to
figure out where to look for the record; for a summary, see this table.
- In your genealogy software, document the source of every name, date and
place that you find, whether it be a family source, a local source or a
Free online sources
The most basic source is Google,
which is great for more unusual names or combinations of names, like "quin
sleeman"; but Google, by accident or design, does not harvest many genealogy
The major free online sources for Irish ancestry include:
- First edition 6"/mile OSi maps, later 25"/mile maps, live street maps,
five-yearly aerial views
- Example: where are we?
- Here in
the townland of Courtbrack ...
- ... in St. Michael's civil parish in the barony of Pubblebrien in the
county of Limerick in the province of Munster.
- But Courtbrack Avenue was the Municipal Boundary, dividing the townland
into two parts, one within the city limits, the other outside the city
- In the 1911 census, the more rural part
of Courtbrack was in Limerick
South Rural District Electoral Division; the more urban part appears
to have been in Dock
Limerick Urban No. 4 DED.
- However, Ballinacurra Creek was the western boundary of Limerick No. 4
(St. Michael's) Registrar's District, which therefore contained all of
- We are in the Poor Law Union of Limerick (both pre- and
- We are in the Catholic parish of St. Joseph's
which extends "out to the end of Ballinacurra" and is in the Catholic diocese of
- We are in the Church of Ireland Union of Limerick
Cathedral (limerick st mary) in the United Dioceses of Limerick
& Killaloe, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh
- We are in the probate district of Limerick now served by the
Limerick/Clare district probate registry.
- Julius Caesar: Divide and
conquer - divide et impera
--- Irish Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958
- See sample page from original
- Registration districts in this index are:
- The 1851
townland index shows that post-Famine County Limerick comprised all
or parts of nine PLUs:
- Glin (remainder in county Kerry, dissolved 30 Sep 1891,
divided between Listowel and Rathkeale) (Was the division along the
- Kilmallock (remainder in county Cork, East Riding)
- Limerick (remainder in county Clare, as far west as the O'Garney
river and as far north as Ardcloony)
- Kanturk (two
townlands, remainder in county Cork, East Riding)
- Mitchelstown (remainder in county Cork, East Riding)
- Tipperary (remainder in county Tipperary, North Riding and county
Tipperary, South Riding)
- The first six unions had their workhouses in county Limerick; the last
three had their workhouses across the county boundary.
- FamilySearch.org's one-size-fits-all search form can mislead beginners.
The indexes don't include spouse or parents, apart from the birth index
from c1928-1958, which includes mother's maiden surname only. To narrow
the search, you can fill in one of (a) birth date and/or place (b)
marriage date and/or place or (c) death date and/or place. Filling in
fields which are blank in the record you want will prevent you from
finding it. More details here.
--- Ireland Births and Baptisms mostly 1864-1881
- See sample
- To narrow the search, you can fill in both parents' first and/or last
names and/or birth date and/or place. The appropriate placename to use
varies from year to year and from record to record. Try townland or
dispensary district or Poor Law Union or county.
--- Ireland Marriages mostly 1845-1870
- See sample
page from marriage register
- To narrow the search, you can fill in spouse's and/or father's first
and/or last names and/or marriage date and/or place. Irish marriage
certificates did not until relatively recently include the name of either
the groom's mother or the bride's mother.
--- Ireland Deaths mostly 1864-1870
- See sample
- To narrow the search, you can fill in death date and/or death place
and/or residence place. Irish death certificates did not include the name
of any relative until c2004, unless the informant happened to be a
relative, and even then the relationship may not have been specified. The
appropriate placename to use is generally the townland.
- Full familysearch.org search
- In some non-Irish records the familysearch.org transcriptions may
include father's first name, mother's first name and mother's last name,
but not father's last name! See, for example, many entries in New Jersey,
Marriages, 1678-1985. You must leave the father's last name blank if
you want to find these records.
- Church records for only about
four counties, mostly pre-1900.
- The results from the main search form provide
links to other free government-backed online databases.
- Griffith's Valuation (askaboutireland Family Name
Search or Place
Name Search - free)
- It's apparently not possible to link to specific map locations - see discussion.
It is possible to link to the occupiers of a specific location using the
PlaceID, e.g. Ballybrown
(PlaceID=805749). Results are stupidly broken into pages of 20 occupiers
at a time. To view Original Page or Map View, right click on icon and
select "Open Link in New Tab".
- Lewis, Samuel:
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837
Applotment Books 1823-1837
- Available online since November 2012. Edit the URL
to see results 100 at a time.
Subscription-based online sources
- Griffith's Valuation (Irish
Origins - subscription)
Valuation (Find My Past - subscription;
also includes Landed Estates Court Rentals)
- Griffiths Valuation, printed in the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s for
different parts of Ireland,, is continued up to around the abolition of
rates in 1977 in Valuation Office cancelled books, Irish Life Centre,
Abbey Street, Dublin; e.g., Moore
(Catholic church records possibly not available elsewhere, etc.)
Parish Baptisms, 1742-1881
Parish Marriages and Banns, 1742-1884
Parish Deaths, 1756-1881
- Catholic Birth
and Baptism Registers, 1763-1912
Marriage Registers, 1775-1912
- Catholic Death
and Burial Registers, 1767-1912
Confirmation Registers, 1775-1912
- General Register Office
- Valuation Office
- National Library of Ireland
- National Archives of Ireland
Free online sources
- City Archives
- Digital archives.
- Local studies
of civil parishes
- Map of catholic
- Work in progress, by Mike Maguire, City Library
- Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery
- More details on Mayors
- County Limerick
Ireland Genealogy group at facebook.com
- 1.139 people (as of 14 Apr 2014) tracing their Limerick roots
- Ireland Reaching
Pay-per-view online sources
- Scratch-card model
- "Like reading the bible through a keyhole"
Family History Foundation
- Check the source
- The Granary
- St. Camillus's
- A family history is never finished!
- Keep trying to go back another generation
- Explore new sources
- Trace the emigrants
- Add current births, marriages and deaths
- Do a one name study
- for an unsual surname, because it is easy to document everyone of
- for a common surname, because the easiest way to prove that a record
relates to your ancestor is to prove that it doesn't relate to any of
his or her unrelated contemporary namesakes