Tracing your Connemara ancestors can be a very enjoyable way to spend a holiday in the West of Ireland. Doing the research yourself will give you an insight into the past. With a bit of luck you could find your long lost cousins and make some new friends along the way. Either way you’ll have a great holiday. Check out our places to to stay and things to do
Tús maith! Starting out on your journey
Start with what you know is one tip so at the next family gathering or Thanksgiving dinner start to collection information on your family history. Every family has their own stories and lore so record it or take time to listen. There’s usually some element of truth in the stories that have been handed down so pay extra attention and record them.
Some useful resources to aid your search -Foinsí chun cabhrú le do chuid taighde
We’ve put together a few useful resources to help you in tracing your Connemara ancestors or if they come from the Aran Islands or Inishbofin
Explore local resources.
There are numerous heritage groups and genealogical groups in Galway.
West Galway Genealogy on facebook is a is a very useful group for anyone with an interest or Galway genealogy.
For anyone tracing their North Connemara Roots the Clifden Heritage Society has a very useful overview of Tracing your North Connemara Roots.
This also gives a good general overview into the parish, electoral divisions etc. This is a great resource when to get a grip on the local divisions.
The more infomation that you have regarding birth, deaths and marriage the easier your search will be. A system for state registration of births, deaths and marriages began in Ireland in 1864. Records of all births, marriages and deaths occurring after this date should be preserved in the Office of the Registrar General in Dublin. Irish Genealogy is a great resource but you will need to find to have reasonably exact date and names to search it. Here is a list of Galway Civil Placenames which you may be useful for place names. Oughterard Heritage have a very useful list the Kilcummin civil townlands on their website.
Church records are a valuable resource but the information available online varies significantly from parish to parish. Information on Births Marriages and Deaths prior to 1864 can be found in parish registers. The surviving Catholic Registers for the period up are available on microfilm in the National Library of Ireland or online for Connemara at the links below.
Dna testing has made a huge difference in genealogical research. The Moycullen Heritage genealogy group has a DNA testing project and the great Moycullen Tree Project has many families on it. It is based on descendants of people recorded in the Fr Blake Census Another project is the Rosmuc DNA and Genealogy Group which has a gathering once a year and is very active group. The Maine Gaeltacht project which is sponsored by Maine Irish Heritage Centre (MIHC) They invite Irish descendants with Galway ancestry to join the DNA project.
”Between 1882 and 1884 James Hack Tuke, assisted 4,930 people to emigrate from Connemara: 3,214 from Clifden Poor Law Union and 1,716 from Oughterard. They settled in places like Minnesota, Ohio, Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachettus, Ontario and Manitoba.” Learn more about the project and you can search th Tuke emigration database to see if your ancestors were amongst them.
The Archbishop Ireland assisted emigration scheme sent people from the Gaeltacht area to Minnesota area. The facebook group Connemara to Minnesota in 1880’s aims to connect families on both sides of the Atlantic.
Other Resources /Foinsí eile
Census Data From 1821, and every ten years after there was a census carried out. Unfortunately not all records for households prior to 1901 survived. The records for 1901 and 1911 are available online at 1901 and 1911 Censuses. There are snippets of the census from other years available and also some records of pension applications which show some records from 1841/1851
Griffith’s Valuation was compiled in the 1850s and is a register of everyone who was eligible to pay a property tax called Rates. Unlike a census which details all residents this a list of the heads of households in the 1850s.
The Tithe Applotment Books They were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland
Burial ground records from County Galway
IrelandXO Ireland Reaching out is an international team of volunteers who enjoy helping people of Irish descent connect with their roots in Ireland.
Diaspóra na Gaeltachta aspires to connect with and foster a closer relationship with the Gaeltacht community at home and abroad.
Family Search is free database
Epic -The Irish Emigration Centre is gives an insight into Irish Emigration worldwide and partners with the Irish Family History Centre The Family History Centre has some great tips and they also do online
John Grenham is a subscription site but has lots of free resources. A good starting point for researching your surname is to pop your name into the search on the John Grenham site. This gives a list of all the places associated with that surname and associated records. It also has a lot of useful and insightful information including a blog. I enjoyed his take on the six habits of highly effective researchers.