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Home | Whats New | History of the Clan | Family History | Family of James Bradley (1863 - 1940) | Family of Catherine Bradley Doherty (1866 - 1932) | Family of John Bradley (1871 - 1946) | Family of Daniel Bradley (1875 - 1957) | Family of William Bradley (1876 - 1950) | Family of Denis Bradley (1878 - 1919) | Family of Mary Ann Bradley (1881 - 1964) | County Donegal and the Inishowen Peninsular | Maps | Researching Your Own Family History | Links

The Bradley's from Inishowen Co. Donegal

Researching Your Own Family History

Tracing your Irish Roots

(My appolgies, but no assistnce in researching family history can be given to visitors to this site. However the notes below together with the numerous web sites available should provide a guide to any who wish to trace their own roots)

Beginning Your Research

Unfortunately Genealogical research in Ireland can be pretty difficult.

The major disadvantage being that many precious records were destroyed when on 13 April, 1922, there was a fire in Dublin's Four Courts, a repository of Irish public records, state, domestic, manorial records, wills, and ecclesiastical records. This loss has made research in Ireland more difficult. In addition many of the more regular records did not begin until the early or mid-1800s.

To begin a search of Irish ancestry, it is first vital to be able to trace your ancestors back to the county, and hopefully parish, that they came from. Without this information, it is almost pointless to try looking in Ireland for your ancestors unless they have a really unusual surname. If you are planning a research trip to Ireland, it is essential to have done as much groundwork as possible at home.

National Archives, Records and Useful Genealogical Web Site:

National Archives of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

General Register Office

Cyndi's List

(a superb guide to genealogical sources on the net)

Ellis Island Site

(entry point of many immigrants to the USA. Search for your ancestor's entry)

Research Tips

Sources at Home

Oral Tradition, Relatives & Family Stories:
Anyone setting out to trace their family history should begin where possible, by consulting with relatives. Many elderly relatives can be a goldmine of information, recalling names, places and dates that could otherwise take years to obtain. Even vague details can help narrow searches down and save time and expense. Write down or record any details given to you for future reference.

Family Records:
Obtain copies of any available birth, marriage and death certificates, as well as old letters, photographs, newspaper cuttings, deeds or memorial cards.

Find the Emigrant Ancestor(s):
It is essential to find out where the emigrant ancestor came from. This can be done in several ways. You may need to consult census records as well as birth, marriage and death records (or in the case of church records, baptismal, marriage and burial records) in order to find out dates, locations and names of parents. These records should somewhere yield the name of an Irish parish or county. If it turns out to be fruitless, try finding extended cousins - they may have something passed down to them that might be useful in tracking down any elusive common ancestors. Don't forget to look at naturalisation records and ship lists if possible.

Church and Civil Records

Before starting researching church records, you will need to identify which church the family belonged to. The vast majority of Irish were Roman Catholics, so it is usually these records that are searched.

Roman Catholic Records:
Baptismal Records
Marriage Records
Death Records

The original parish registers are usually held by the Parish Priest of the parish.

Please note that Donegal's records are infamous for starting late. Indeed, some parishes did not start registering baptisms or births until the beginning of compulsory Civil Registration in 1864, and sometimes well after that.

Census Records:
For the genealogical researcher, there are only two complete censuses of Ireland available for research, those of 1901 & 1911.

The type of information that may be found from the 1901 Census covers the following:
Relationship to Head of Household
Religious Denomination
Whether they can read or write
Marital Status
County of Birth (or Country if not born in Ireland)
Ability to speak Irish
Serious Infirmities