This is another post in a series looking at ways to find our illusive Irish ancestors. The previous articles were:
Why Newspapers are important for Irish genealogy
The 1922 fire at the Records Office in Dublin destroyed a lot of valuable genealogical data, especially pre-1901 census returns and Church of Ireland parish records. However, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, not all records were lost and although finding your Irish roots isn’t as straightforward as in other countries, it’s not impossible.
A really important data set, often overlooked by family historians, is newspaper collections. As well as news about local communities, newspapers often contain useful genealogical information such as obituaries, birth, marriage and death notices and court proceedings.
This information started to appear in Irish newspapers from the second half of the 18th century. At first the BMD announcements would have only been for the wealthy, but this was extended to much of the rest of the population from the mid 1800s.
Only a small percentage of historical newspapers are currently available online, but this is increasing all the time. There is a fee to be paid for most online collections (pay per view or subscription).
Research Newspapers in your own country first
If your ancestors emigrated from Ireland, then to stand a better chance of success in researching your roots, you need to know which part of Ireland they came from. If you know that your ancestor came from Ireland, but you don’t know from which area, you may find an obituary in the local newspaper in his/her adopted town. The obituary may contain valuable genealogical information including specific information about a place of birth.
For a listing of US online collections, check out the Online Newspaper Site. There are also some Canadian, Australian and Irish collections also listed.
There are two main collections of historical Irish newspapers available online; both are subscription sites; the British Newspaper Archive and the Irish Newspaper Archives.
British Newspaper Archives
The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) is a joint venture between the British Library and FindMyPast. It is a huge collection of scanned and searchable newspapers from the British Library’s collection of British and Irish newspapers. The BNA currently has 155 Irish newspaper titles including 43 from Northern Ireland. Just about every county on the island is covered. There are monthly, 3-monthly and yearly subscription packages available.