Tracing your roots!

Tracing your roots!


So everyone wants a bit of the Irish, well, we’ve just learned that world famous actor Mr Tom Cruise recently traced his Irish roots back to Anglo-Norman times. Cruise, who was aware that he had family links to County Roscommon, recently found out that his great-great-great grandfather Patrick Russell Cruise, who had gone to America, returned to Westmeath when he learnt that his tenants had been evicted. After he restored them, the town of Clonmellon honoured Cruise with a public dinner.


Thanks to the website:, here are a few tips to get you started on tracing your Irish ancestors. Who knows what you’ll discover!


1. We all know about the many genealogy websites that can help you with your family tree, but expert genealogist Megan Smolenyak tells us that the best place to start is offline. “A lot of us are sitting on tons of information and of course, your older relatives are living libraries. They have stuff locked up in their brains that you want to make sure you capture,” she advises.

2. After digging around in real life, you can go digital and check out public archives online. The National Archives of Ireland ( holds the 1901 and 1911 censuses as well as estate records, parish records and marriage licenses. The Archives also offer an in-person Genealogy Service to help first-time researchers.

3. If you’re tracing your Irish roots, a visit to The National Library of Ireland ( can help too. The Library holds Catholic Parish Registers, newspapers and heraldry records, which can all be useful in building your family tree. If you need a bit of help, the Library also provides a free Genealogy Advisory Service, which is aimed at people beginning their research.

4. Don’t forget about non-governmental resources. A while back we talked to Eibhilin Roche of the Guinness Archive, which is open to the public and available at “The archive is such a valuable source of family information,” she says. “Especially when it comes to family history, there are so many doors and so many avenues that can open up.” The company’s personnel records can include documents like birth certificates, employment applications, army regiment details and more.

5. If you need a hand from people who are passionate about Irish ancestry, try Ireland Reaching Out, an organisation that focuses on reverse genealogy research, meaning people in Ireland sift through records and find the descendants of people from their communities. Additionally, Ireland XO, as it’s known, helps you connect with your ancestral homes through its many Week of Welcomes.

6. Another organisation that you should check out is the Glasnevin Museum (, which chronicles the history of Ireland through the 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery since its establishment in 1832. The museum is hosting a number of special Family Week gatherings throughout the year for people of specific family names, such as KennedyO’Connor and Byrne.

6. Irish genealogist Helen Kelly also suggests taking a look at Griffith’s Valuation, an extensive record of Irish property published between 1847 and 1864. Kelly says that although most of our ancestors didn’t own their land, these records, which cover the entire island, provide details on tenants as well. “Most members of the diaspora are likely to find someone in Griffith's Valuation and that’ll help them to determine whether there are ancestors still there in the area,” Kelly explains. Griffith's Valuation is available online

7. Finally, if you get stuck in your research, Megan Smolenyak suggests sitting back and letting your ancestors come to you, so to speak. She explains: “You’d be surprised how many times when you really have done everything you possibly can think of that all of a sudden an email will fall out of the sky from some posting you did six months ago that you’d forgotten about; some little clue will happen; a new record set will be released; or you’ll be using a new newspaper site and trip across an article on your ancestor or something.”


Posted on Thursday, 4 April 2013  |   Company NewsOther NewsSurrounding Areas  |  By Team Newgrange  |  0 comments

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