Genealogy at Turas Siar

At Turas Siar we are in the process of setting up an Erris Genealogy Group so that tourists and

local people can learn how to trace their roots, the different websites to use etc.and different census's that are available. A large amount of

this information is here for anyone who wants to

learn how to set up their own family trees etc.

A deep knowledge of local families and their ancestry and history is most important when trying to trace your roots.


What is Genealogy?

The word Genealogy is derived from the Greek and is the study of family history and


It is often referred to as a family tree.

It is like a jigsaw puzzle, you have to try and fit pieces together to help information come together.

Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship of its members. The

results are often display in charts.

Objectives of Genealogical research

Identify Ancestors

Identify family relationships

Learn more about your ancestors lives, how

they lived.

Sense of responsibility to preserve the past

for future generations.

A desire to carve out a place for one’s family is the larger historical picture.

Hobbyists Genealogists typically pursue their own ancestry and that of their spouses.

Professional Genealogists may also conduct

research for others, publish books on

genealogical methods, teach or produce their

own databases. They may work for companies

that provide software or produce materials of

use to hobbyists and other professional genealogists.

Both types try to understand not just where and

when people lived, but also their lifestyles,

biographies and motivations. This often can lead to knowledge of antiquated laws, old political

boundaries, migration trends and historical socioeconomic or religious conditions.

Genealogists sometimes specialize in a

particular group.

Examples: a particular surname

A small community/group of people – a single

village or parish

Basic areas to try and cover at the start of

research for ancestors are:-

Date of birth and place

Parents names

Children’s names

Date and location of marriage

Date and place of death

Why are many relatives called ancestors?

An ancestor is a name given to those we are

descended from

Examples: Grandparents/Great-Grandparents

Those tracing their family tree have

2 Parents

4 Grandparents

8 Great-Grandparents

16 Great - Great Grandparents And so on.

If you go back 10 generations you will have 1024 ancestors

What is the difference between Maternal and Paternal?

Maternal: This is an ancestor on your mother’s side of the family

Paternal: Ancestor on yourfather’sside.


We often hear the term ‘cousin’ used, but there

are various types of cousin relationships.

First cousins: These are persons within your family who have 2 of the same grandparents as you.

Second cousins: these are individuals who

share the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparent’s.

Third cousins: these individuals have in

common 2 great-great grandparents and ancestors.

Cousins ‘removed’: this term refers to

individuals descended a common ancestor.

Once removed: This term means a difference of our generations.

Example: your mother’s first cousin would be

your first cousin, one removed as she is one

generation younger, than her parents and you

are two generations younger than your grandparents (her parents).

Twice removed: There is a two-generation

difference here.

Example: your Grandfather’s first cousin would be your first cousin twice removed as you are

separated by two generations.


Example: Half sisters have the same father but

a different mother or visa versa. Children of these half – sister’s would be half – cousin’s as they would only share one Grandparent.


These occur through marriage

Individuals are only related through marriage

and not blood.


These can tell us a wealth of information – that

can lead us back to another generation.

i.e. Parents names on a birth certificate

The most common certificates we have heard of


Birth Certificates – will tell you

Parents names

Father’s occupation

Date of birth

Where the person was born

Marriage Certificate – will tell you

The date that the marriage took place

The bridge and groom’s full names

Their ages (note: age given is as stated by bride/groom and may not be accurate)

Condition of marriage i.e. widowed, divorced or single

Their profession

Their residence

The bridge and grooms father’s names If a

father’s name is followed by ‘deceased’ then search backwards from the date of marriage to find a death certificate for him.

Names of witnessesoften family members

Death Certificate – can tell you

When and where a person died

Details of the informant (often a family member)

Their age

Their occupation – sometimes

The cause of death

Records that are used in genealogy research include:-

Vital records:

Birth records

Death records

Marriage and divorce records

Adoption records

Biographies and biographical profiles

Census records

Church records

Baptism or christening


Bar or bat mitzvah




City directories and telephone directories

Coroner’s reports

Court records

Criminal records

Diaries, personal letters and family bibles

Emigration, immigration and naturalization


Land and property records, deeds

Medical records

Military and conscription records

Newspaper articles


Occupational records

Oral histories



Poorhouse, workhouse and asylum records

School records

Ship passenger lists

Social Security (within the US) and pension


Tax records

Tombstones, cemetery records and funeral home records

Voter registration records

Wills and probate records

Genetic Genealogy

Genetic genealogy involves the use of

genealogical DNA testing to determine the level of genetic relationship between individuals.

The two most common types of genetic

genealogy tests are Y-DNA (paternal line) and

mtDNA (maternal line) genealogical DNA tests.

These tests involve the comparison of certain

sequences of the DNA of pairs of individuals in order to estimate the probability that they share

a common ancestor in a genealogical time frame.

The Y-chromosome is present only in males and reveals information strictly on the paternal line.


Taking a genealogical DNA test requires the submission of a DNA sample. This is usually a

painless process. The most common way to

collect a DNA sample is by a cheek-scraping

(also known as a buccal swab).

Other methods include spit-cups, mouthwash and chewing gum.

After collection, the sample is mailed to a

testing lab.


Genetic genealogy gives genealogists a means

to check their genealogy results with information

obtained via DNA testing. A positive test match with another individual may:

provide locations for further genealogical


help determine ancestral homeland

discover living relatives

validate existing research

confirm or deny suspected connections between families

prove or disprove theories regarding ancestry

increase global culture awareness


People who resist testing may cite one of the

following concerns:


Quality of testing

Concerns over privacy issues

Genetic genealogy is a rapidly growing fields as the cost of testing continues to drop, the number of people being tested continues to increase. The finding a genetic match among the DNA databases should continue to improve.

Genealogical DNA test looks at a person’s

genetic code at specific locations. Results give

information about genealogy or ancestry.

These tests compare the results of an individual

to others from the same lineage or to current

and historic ethnic groups.

The test results are not meant for medical use.

They do not determine specific genetic diseases or disorders. They are intended only to give

genealogical information.

Census Records

The household returns and ancillary records for the censuses of Ireland of 1901 and 1911 are in the custody of the National Archives of Ireland,

1901 Census:

The 1901 was conducted on Sunday March 31st

1901, this was for every member of each

household, the following information required





Relationship to head of the household



Marital status and

county or country of birth

Individuals ability to read or write

Ability to speak the Irish language

All of this information is given on the census which was filled in and signed by the head of each household. Where the head of the

household could not write, his or her mark, usually an X was recorded and witnessed by the


1911 Census:

This was conducted on Sunday 2 April 1911.

The same information was recorded in the 1911 census with one significant addition married women were required to state the number of years they had been married the number of their

children born alive and the number still living.

While the recorded age of each person listed in

the 1901 census was often incorrect, the introduction of old age pensions in 1908 (and

it’s requirements for documentary proof of age) led people to be more careful about giving their

correct age.

The total population of Ireland according to the 1911 census was 4,390,219 of whom 2,192,048 weremale and 2,198,171 were female.

Population in Connaught (by counties):













Helpful Hints for searching and sources

The first step of your research is to decide which branch of the family you want to begin with.

The best place to start is usually with one of

your grandparents – your maternal grandmother,

your maternal grandfather, your paternal grandmother and your paternal grandfather.

You aren’t limited to these four branches. You

can select a family group or branch even further back in your tree if you have enough information; the point is just to choose a particular section of the family so that you have a defined goal as yo start out on your research.

It is very tough and discouraging to be blindly

searching the internet/records for information

about ALL of your surnames at one time.

When researching your family it is very

important that you keep track of every piece of information. This is important both as a means

of verifying or ‘proving’ your data and also as a way for you or other researchers to go back to that source when future research leads to information which conflicts with your original assumption. Any statement of fact, whether it is a birth date or an ancestor’s surname, must carry its own individual source.

Family Names:

Before searching for an ancestor’s birth date or location you will need to know their full name (including maiden name for your female

ancestors). Without this information you will find it very difficult to locate records and even if you

locate them you will find it almost impossible to

verify that it is indeed your ancestor.

This is one of the most important areas in genealogy.

Surnames data may be found in trade directories, census returns, birth,death and marriage records.

An example of a naming tradition that is/was sometimes used from Ireland, England and Scotland.



1st son

Paternal grandfather

2nd son

Maternal grandfather

3rd son


4th son

Father’s oldest


1st daughter





Paternal grandmother




4th daughter

Mother’s oldest sister

Genealogical data regarding given names (first names) is subject to many of the same

problems as are family names and place


Also the use of nicknames is very common.

For example: Beth, Lizzie or Betty are all common for Elizabeth, and Jack, John and Jonathan may b interchanged.

Middle names provide additional information

Middle names may be inherited or follow

naming customs

Historically, naming traditions existed in some

places and cultures.


Whilst the locations of ancestor’s residences

and life events are core elements, they may

be subject tovariant spellings.

Example: Cuilmore/Kellmore

Locations may have identical or very similar


Maps and gazetteers are important sources

for understanding the places researched.


Exercise extreme caution with dates

Although baptismal dates are often used to approximate birth dates, some families waited

years before baptizing children.

Both birth and marriage dates may have been

adjusted to cover for pre-wedding pregnancies.


Occupational information may be important to understanding an ancestor’s life and for distinguishing two people with the same


A person’s occupation may have been related

to his or her social status, political interest and migration pattern.

Since skilled trades are often passed from father to son, occupation may also be indirect

evidence of a family relationship.

It is very important to remember that a person may change occupations over time.

The effect of time

The passage of time often affects a person’s ability to recall information.

As a general rule, data recorded soon after

the event, is usually more reliable than data

recorded many years later.

Primary and Secondary Sources

In genealogical research, information can be obtained from primary or secondary sources.

Primary sources are records that were made at the time of the event, for example a death certificate would be a primary source for a person’s death date and place.

Secondary sources are records that are made days, weeks, months or even years after an event.


Genealogy software is used to collect, store, sort and display genealogical data.

Genealogy software accommodates basic

information about individuals including births, marriages and deaths.

Knowledge of the informant

The informant is the individual who provided

the recorded information.

In many cases the informant is identified in the record itself.

For example: a death certificate usually has two informants a G.P./Doctor who provides information about the time and cause of death

and a family member who provides the birth

date, names of parents etc.

Approximate year of birth

If you do not already know, you will need to find

the approximate year in which your ancestor was

born. This can be estimated by using his/her age at various events in their life, if you have previous records – i.e. birth/marriage/death cert.

Approximate place of birth

If you do not already know you will need to find

the approximate location in which your ancestor

was born. This can usually be found on records

which were generated later in their life or by tracing the movements of relatives (siblings and

children) and neighbours.


Locate the immigrant family’s port of departure or port of arrival.

These will also vary by country but may include census records, naturalization papers,

newspapers, published indexes of passenger and immigration lists etc.

Without this information you will find it very

difficult to locate records and even if you locate

them, you will find it almost impossible to verify that it is indeed your ancestor.


Photographs are one of the longest surviving

home sources.

They depict your ancestors as they were.

On the backs of some photos you may find names and dates. Many early photos are printed on cards with the name and location of the

photographer, which can tell you where to look

for your family in official records.

Other clues may come from the types of clothing worn by your ancestors, towns or houses pictured in the background or even the way in which the people are arranged in a larger group shot.


Whilst not as personal as family photographs,

postcards can provide a wealth of information on

your family.

Scenes that are pictured on the cards may include the towns where they lived, which they

may have immigrated to and more. Personal

notes can help with dates, names and

relationships as well as providing you insight

into the lives of your ancestors. People who

moved away from home often used postcards to keep in touch with family members who remained at home. These could help you to identify the place from which an immigrant came or the

place to which part of the family immigrated.

Addresses and postmarks on the cards can help you to track family movements and timeframes.

Official Records – Birth Certificates, Wedding Invitations.

Diaries, Letters and Journals:

These can be some of the most personal family

sources. They can bring your ancestors alive by

telling you what they found important enough to

write down. They will usually be full of names and dates.


In a scrapbook you will often find newspaper

clippings of marriages, obituary notices and even family triumphs. Other items often found in

scrapbooks include wedding invitations, funeral cards, birth announcements, diplomas, award certificates, recital or concert programmes,

school papers, ticket stubs, dried flowers and other important mementos. These may be valuable for the information they provide (names, dates, etc.)


Your ancestor’s gravestone is the only physical

evidence of the life they lived. This can be an emotional and the end of a long search for some


Tips for visiting a graveyard to trace


Write down names, dates and inscriptions exactly as they appear on the stone.

Make a note of the relationship between tombstones as well.

Family members will often be buried together

in the same plot.

Nearby graves may belong to parents.

Small unmarked stones may indicate children

that died in their infancy

Neighbours and relatives may also be buried in adjoining sections.

Take care when visiting abandoned cemeteries or those located on private


Never enter private property without permission and never go unaccompanied to remote or dangerous areas.

Visiting a library/research building;

Some points to consider when planning your trip to make it more successful for you.

Know what you are looking for and have your list of questions and pedigree chart with you in case you need help locating records.

Take advantage of pre-planning, look on the

website (if there is one) or find out opening

and closing time and location of building.

This will help you to become quickly

acquainted with the materials available to

you, where they are located and the libraries policies and procedures for handling and photocopying of records.

Allow plenty of time for your research trip

and keep your search organized.

There may be a vast amount of material

available to you, but if you don’t take time to scan records for all clues, which they may

contain and make careful, detailed notes and

source citations, you will regret it later or end up with the wrong information.

The final step is to set a research goal – look at the blanks in your family group sheet and decide what you want to learn about your family. Some people stick to just names, dates and places, choosing to collect as many ancestors as possible.

Once you have selected a family group or

surname to research, the next step is to learn a little about the geography and history of the area in which they lived. Having a good understanding of the political and historical

events of the time period in which your

ancestors lived may give you insight into where

to look for records. Geographical and political

boundaries as well as place names have also

changed over time.

Case Study: First immigration passenger into

Ellis Island

Annie Moore:

From 1820 to 1920 more than 4 million people left their native Ireland bound for the Port of New York and a new life in America.

When Ellis Island officially opened on January 1 1892, the first passenger registered through the now world-famous immigration station was a

young little girl named Annie Moore.

Annie Moore was born in Co. Cork, Ireland on January lst 1877. She had one older brother named Tom.

When she was 14 years old she travelled with

her two younger brothers, Anthony (11) and

Philip (7). Annie departed from Queenstown (County Cork, Ireland) on December 20, 1891

aboard the S.S. Nevada, one of 148 steerage passengers.

The trio spent 12 days at sea (including Christmas Day) arriving in New York on

Thursday evening, December 31. They were processed through Ellis Island the following

morning, New Year’s Day and alsoAnnie’s 15th birthday. She was very surprised when an official gave her a $10 gold piece. She had

never seen so much money and did not know why he gave it to her. He explained that Ellis Island was new and the $10 was a gift to the

first person off the ship.

All three children were soon reunited with their

parents, Matthew and Julia Moore who were

already living in New York with elder brother


UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 UK,

Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960


Annie Moore





Birth Date:

abt 1876

Departure Date:

20 Dec 1891

Port of Departure:

Queenstown, Ireland

Destination Port:

New York, USA

Ship Name:




For years, it was believed that Annie left New York for Texas and died there, but three years

ago, experts determined that she stayed in New


Annie lived with her parents for a few years at 32 Monroe Street in Manhattan, after 2 years of working in a factory she married German immigrant Augustus Schayer at the age of 18 in 1895. He worked in a fish market; the couple had at least 11 children, five survived to adulthood, three of which had children. Annie Moore died of heart failure on 6 December 1924 at the age of 47.

Her previously unmarked grave was identified in

September 2005, on October 11 2008, a

dedication ceremony was held at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, which celebrated the

unveiling of a marker for her grave, a Celtic cross made of Irish Blue Limestone.

Today two statues honour Annie – one at her

port of departure (Cobh, formerly Queenstown) and the other at Ellis Island, her port of arrival.

She will forever represent the millions who passed through Ellis Island in pursuit of the

American dream.

Annie’s story is told in the song ‘Isle of Hope,

Isle of Tears’, written by Brendan Graham and

has been performed by many artists.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island is located in Jersey City, New Jersey and is situated in the Upper New York Bay.

The 35 years before Ellis Island opened over eight million immigrants arriving in New York had been processed by New York State officials at Castle Garden Immigration Depot in lower Manhattan just across the bay.

Many persons passed through Ellis Island over

the years starting out on their new life

Questions for a genealogy research interview

There is no set formula for conducting a genealogy research interview with a relative (be

guided by the age of the person and the period they lived through). The question you ask may differ from one person to another or you may ask a number of relatives the exact same question in

order to get as many opinions or perceptions of an event or person as possible.

The list below contains some fairly general lines of enquiry which you might find useful as a

starting point for finding family history stories and developing them. You will also want to ask

your own questions about issues (or people)

specifically affecting your family.

Basics: Full names, baptism/confirmation

names, nicknames, maiden or former names.

(Repeat all these questions for each of your relative’s immediate family members).

Any explanation/history of family surname?

Birth: Where and when, at home or hospital,

what day of the week, what time, any family tales about the birth?

Family Life:

Where did the family live when he/she was a

child, did the

family move, names and approximate ages of

those in the household, what

did he/she wear at home, who made or bought

the clothes, what times did

the family get up and go to bed, what chores did he/she have to carry out at

home, who had a temper, how were birthdays

celebrated, what rivalries

existed among the siblings, memories of mother, memories of father.

The Home:

Apart from the main living areas, were there

any outbuildings,

was the home connected to electricity and water supplies, where was the

bathroom, where did he/she sleep, when did the family eat, what did they

eat, did the family eat together, favourite/least favourite meals, what meals

were typical of Christmas.


When did he/she start school (age), first impressions, what did

he/she wear at school, what time of day did school start and finish, how did

he/she get to school, what did the children eat at lunchtime, what subjects

were studied, what sports were played, what were the teachers like, what

methods of discipline did teachers use, who were her/his favourite teachers,

what games were played in the playground, what age did he/she finish

school, any surviving school reports or certificates, what level of education

attained, favourite subjects, most disliked subjects, happiest/saddest

memories of schooldays.