Woven intricately into the fabric of life stories are the threads that link us to the dearly departed: our ancestors. Whether we live in the country they once immigrated to, follow the customs of a culture they married into, or simply bear a physical resemblance to a family member from the past – our lives are invariably tied to those who came before.
Some families have been diligent about preserving the ancestral record keeping. Many of us are interested in learning more about our roots and are faced with the daunting task of doing the research. Before access to the Internet it entailed trying to track down and gain access to county or religious records. This work was usually done in-person and often involved travelling to or communicating with a different country, when immigration was involved. Once located, it was tireless work to manually sift through the paper trail.
Now, with the rise of online genealogical websites such as Ancestry.com (which even allows you to submit a DNA sample to help your search!), much of this research can be done in the comfort of our own homes.
Get ready for Saint Patrick’s Day
For those looking to discover their Irish roots FindMyPast.com, a genealogy hub, has indexed the entire National Library of Ireland’s records collection by name, year and place. Even images of the original documents can be accessed by following online links. “In less than five years, we have made over 110 million records (with 300 million names) available online for the first time,” says Brian Donovan, Irish records expert at Find My Past.
One of the best reasons to use a website like Find My Past is that their collection of digitized documents goes beyond the parish records. “In addition to birth, death and marriage records, we have historic newspaper archives, petty court records, dog license applications and loads more besides,” says Donovan.
From the past to the present
The true gift that these kinds of records offer goes beyond the names and dates on a registry and completing stories of who our ancestors were. As researchers of an Emory University study found, family stories are beneficial as they provide individuals with a sense of identity through time. They offer us, in a nutshell, a small piece of the puzzle of who we are today.
If you’re curious to find out more about your Irish ancestors now is the time to dig a little further: using FindMyPast.com is free from 9am Tuesday March 1 to 9am on Tuesday March 8, 2016.