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(Warning: some $$$ (subscription) sites are listed in this process – used only when I’ve exhausted all the FREE DB’s)

Here are some of the methods I use when I search for the family names of my Irish female lines.

Keeping in mind that families and extended families usually clustered in an area, if / when they emigrated, it was generally chain migration, they regrouped in the land where they settled.

Irish Genealogy Research

Irish Genealogy Research

The FAN Research Technique

I use the ‘FAN’ (Friends, Associates & Neighbours) technique to flush out that sometimes ‘all elusive’ family name of my female ancestors. These are ‘tools’ only, ‘door-openers’ and cannot be relied upon as evidence without further research and other validating sources

No 1. I check for the marriage in Roman Catholic Parish Registers / civil registers. She will be listed in the RC records, depending on the date she may be listed on IrishGenealogy.ie. She may appear as ‘the mother’ in a civil birth registration on FamilySearch.org

A list of 6~8 people ‘listed on the same page’ is often published on some of the subscription sites (Ancestry, FMP and others $$$), by a process of elimination, using the RC registers I can often pair these couples. They are named & paired on an Irish subscription site (RootsIreland $$$) and fathers’ names are often listed

No 2. I look at the first and middle names of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – the Irish naming system was fairly consistently used – I watch for recurring names. It’s not ‘fail-safe’ so I validate findings with another source

No 3. I note ‘Witnesses and Sponsors’ in marriage and baptisms. Again, it’s not ‘fail-safe’ so I validate findings with another source

No 4. I take note of ‘Informant’ names. Informants were often relatives. As above, it’s not ‘fail-safe’ so I validate findings with another source

No 5. I sort census records by ‘Townland’ and look at neighbors in the area or using one of the many maps available, I check the neighbouring townlands for recurring names / naming patterns

No 6. I note household members with different names – are they parents, parents-in-law, siblings, siblings-in-law? Is my ancestor on a census in her/his place of work? What other names are listed? Are they related? Entire families often worked and ‘lived-in’ in the same place

No 7. I search for the marriage of her husband, leaving spouse’s name field blank. It’s useful to search surrounding parishes also as it was custom to marry in the woman’s parish

No 8. I research burial and cemetery records, headstone inscriptions, obituaries

No 9. I search her children’s birth’s, baptisms, deaths – the mother’s maiden name is often listed

No 10. I look through family memorabilia. Talk to other family members, they can recall more than they realise in a trigger conversation. A maiden name may appear on the back of a photograph, in a scrapbook, on a memorial card, or in old letters

Never Give Up

New records are being published all the time. I may fail to find it tonight, it may be available next month, next year – I NEVER give up! I may have a light-bulb moment another night that will uncover the name. In the meantime, I just add it to my ‘Research Tasks’ aka ‘Brick-wall List’ for the moment!

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