Genealogy - Getting Started

With family history, as with most new projects, it is tempting to set off full of enthusiasm only to become disappointed and disenchanted when the results don't come quickly enough. Nevertheless the pursuit of one's ancestors and the value that this may add to our own story is a pursuit worth sustaining. Genealogy should be treated as a hobby, something to do for the enjoyment of the thing itself.

It may seem obvious but perhaps the best thing to do at the beginning of your quest is to write everything that you know about your family history down. Begin with yourself then add the details of parents, grandparents and so on. You should try to get proper names, dates of births, marriages and in the case of the deceased, deaths. Once you have done this you should then start to ask everyone else in the family circle to fill in gaps or correct any mistakes that might be in your version.

Now is the time to properly begin your search. Don't think that you have to run off immediately to the Public Record Office or the National Archives. You might be able to find some additional material in your local library. Street directories and even some land records are often held in Libraries as are census returns, gravestone inions and newspapers. You will probably find that even after you have visited the Public Record Office that you will want to return to the library to flesh out some details.

The main sources for family history, however, are often going to be kept by either the Public Record Office or the General Registrar's Office. These records will often include such things as church records, land valuation records, solicitor's papers and of course birth, marriage and death certificates.

It is probably wise to ask in your local library about classes or published guides to the various sources so that you can more easily decide where to concentrate your efforts.

Genealogy is a pursuit that many people find more interesting the longer they are involved in it. You might find that it is something that you will return to again and again.

The Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library & Archive has a large collection of material that the genealogist searching for ancestors within the archdiocese of Armagh may find of help. Much of this can also be accessed free of charge although for some items a small search fee may be applicable.

Cardinal Toms Fiaich Library
15 Moy Road
BT61 7LY
Northern Ireland

Tel: +44 28 3752 2981

For directions, opening hours, etc,