Book Review: Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Chris Paton

Irish Family History Internet
Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Chris Paton

Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians. Second Edition. By Chris Paton.  Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK £14.99. US Distributor: Casemate Publishers 1950 Lawrence Road, Havertown PA 19083. $24.95. 2019. 179 pp. Illustrations, Index Softcover.

For readers outside of Ireland, who primarily do their Irish research online, this book is a must. It is not a listing of websites to use, but rather an excellent annotated guide to doing Irish research. While other books address the records, this one tells the researcher where it is best to access the records and why. Plus, it gives lots of practical tips on using the sites, and why one site may be better than another – clearer images, better search options, fewer indexing errors or omissions, and the like.

The book opens with a chapter on the genealogical landscape, addressing where to find the records, both in person, and also, more importantly, online. Sources include libraries, heritage centers, societies, archives, commercial services, online gateway sites, and more. The following three chapters address the vital records, where subjects lived, and their occupations. These are simple enough chapter titles, but they cover more than might be expected. For example, the chapter on vital records covers: civil registration; other civil sources; adoption and children; records in Britain; overseas British records; surname distributions; parish registers; burials; wills and probate; newspapers; books and periodicals; and DNA testing.

The following chapter is aimed at those who left more recently, or those seeking family who remained in Ireland, examining in detail the rapidly growing collection of online material addressing the Decade of Centenaries. This covers the events of 1912 to 1923, a period of enormous societal and constitutional change in Ireland. There are records covering the: home rule crisis; women’s suffrage; Dublin lockout; First World War; Easter Rising; Independence; treaty and civil war; and the legacy of these events.

The following four chapters examine each of the four provinces, arranged by county, highlighting the major online historical and genealogical sites for each area. The author acknowledges that the listings are woefully incomplete, but they provide a good online starting point for any county of interest.

The closing chapter looks at Ireland’s diaspora, addressing emigration in general and then highlighting sources specific to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. It concludes by pointing to resources for those seeking Irish citizenship and obtaining an Irish passport.

As might be expected there is a lot of material on all these subjects on the big commercial sites – FindMyPast, Ancestry, and The Genealogist. For each, Mr. Paton indicates what the data collections are called, thus making them easier to locate in their catalogs. He also rates the sites based on their usefulness to the researcher.

A lot has changed for the better in Irish research since the first edition appeared in 2013. This book could easily become the first go to book for any researcher seeking anything to do with Irish research. The records available are put in historical context with Mr. Paton pointing the reader to sources of background information and the ever-desired names of ancestors. The writing style is clear, practical and easy to understand. It is highly recommended.

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