1. About your Wicklow Ancestors:
Have you ever wondered about your family’s origins? About how and where they lived and how this has shaped your own life? If the answer is yes, then you are one of many! The hunger for family history research has grown at an astonishing rate in the last two decades, possibly due to the opportunities offered by the internet to search and share information globally in a way that is ideal for the family historian. Whatever the reason for taking up the “roots trail”, there is little doubt that countless people at this very moment in time are pouring over parish registers, census returns and tombstone inscriptions in the hope of gleaning clues that will help them navigate the detective trail that is family history! This is especially significant to Ireland if we consider it is estimated that over sixty million people around the world claim Irish ancestry!
A daunting task!
Beginning your family history research can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many different records to search in different locations. Thankfully, more and more records are now available online and also, most counties have a family history centre – see the Roots Ireland website for a list of county centres and records available. Wicklow County Archives & Genealogy Service (Wicklow County Council) offers a research advisory service, where we can get you started on your research and guide you to any online resources you need. We are also there to answer any queries you may have.
This is the first in a series of guides introducing the main sources you will need to trace your County Wicklow ancestors and where these sources are located. The guides will cover:
• CENSUS OF IRELAND – 1901 & 1911
• BIRTHS, DEATHS & MARRIAGES (post-1864)
• PARISH RECORDS (pre-1864)
• TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTIONS
• 19th Century CENSUS SUBSTITUTES: Griffith’s Valuation & Tithe Applotment Books
19th Century Administrative Divisions
It might be helpful to use these guides in conjunction with the article 19th Century Administrative Divisions in Ireland. Please also see our Genealogy Resource List of research addresses and links (link).
Start with what and who you know!
Beginning with your parents and grandparents, start to build a picture of your closest family, before you delve back into history. Many budding family historians are so excited and fascinated by various family legends passed down that they tend to “jump” into 19th and even 18th century records without getting their bearings, so to speak, by establishing the correct family line.
Of course, the best way to gain information on your parents and grandparents, such as maiden names, places of birth, etc., is to enquire with your relatives, particularly any members of the older generation of your family. If possible, try to make an audio recording of your conversations so you do not miss any gems of information. These gems might not seem significant at the time, but as you research, their meaning may become more relevant and thus help to confirm or clarify your findings.
Your relatives may also have family papers and documents which will assist your research – such as death notices, memorial cards, photographs with notes or dates, etc.
Once you have exhausted this valuable family knowledge, it is time to search the records. Please see the genealogy guides in this section for information on the various family history sources available.