Discovering Irish Origins Using the Records of Ireland; Volume 2 of the Getting Them Over the Water - An Irish Immigration Strategies Series; by Dwight Radford; 2021; 293 pp; ISBN: 978-1-62859-295-5; Soft Cover; Item #: FR0152.
Book reviews can be found at the end of this page.
Discovering Irish Origins Using the Records of Ireland is a happy combination of reference sources for Irish genealogy and methods for how to skillfully employ them. The strength of this book as a guide is its exceptional explanations of not only the usual Irish genealogy records but also of some that are mentioned less often in other works, such as those of Petty Court Sessions, workhouses, and prisons. For methods’ instruction, its worth is twofold. It goes to some length about how to effectively search within Ireland’s resources, whether online or at sites. A major aspect is its repeated discussion of further steps to research after obtaining results from each of the record types, that is, “If you find this, then look here or here next.” This facet of how to successfully search and what to do with the material discovered is not often found or explained well in most other genealogy texts.
So, what is so special about this presentation of Irish genealogy research? Breadth of coverage of helpful details is provided. All the usual sources are contained: censuses and census substitutes, church records, civil registrations, cemeteries and tombstones, estates, taxes, deeds, and voters’ lists. Some sources often neglected are included that are a must in any thorough Irish investigatory project because of the loss of nineteenth-century censuses and the late start of church registers for most of the Catholic Irish population: voters’ lists and records of workhouses, prisons, and Petty Court Sessions. To make searching these papers more productive, Radford incorporated an exhaustive inventory of resources to explore as well as helpful directories. Included are religious denominations that might be considered minor; lists of early, often-forgotten occupations; situating Church of Ireland diocesan courts into their respective counties; examples of fair towns and fair dates in County Leitrim; and detailed lists of mills by location and types of key mines, prisons by location and type, principal destinations for prisoner transportation by date and current names, and historical terms with definitions relating to hangings, land measurements, and land records. Radford’s review of Griffith’s Valuation and associated manuscripts is one of the best to be found.
All the information in the above mentioned sources is useless if researchers do not know what to do with what they find. The answer to this dilemma is what clearly sets Radford’s work apart. The methods’ aspect of the book is extensive and its strongest point. Radford repeatedly suggests how the researcher should utilize the search results from each source for the most rewards. Time and again, he starts with “If you know …, search this way in this record type.” Then he proceeds by showing “If you found …, look here next.” He ends with chapters on strategies that focus in depth on how to handle the vagaries of Irish names, tying families together through name distribution surveys, how to find the ancestral homesites, and how to navigate the perplexities of online databases This sort of guidance is seldom found in other genealogy works.
Research strategies combined with painstaking document evaluations make this an excellent teaching tool for Irish researchers of any competence. All can benefit from Radford’s knowledge.
The above description was adapted from the Foreword to the volume, written by Tom Rice, PhD, CGSM
The following is from the Table of Contents:
The following graphic resources are also found in the book:
Thank you for the complimentary copy of Dwight Radford's latest book, Discovering Irish Origins Using the Records of Ireland. And can I say, what an amazing book both in its breadth of coverage and insight!
...I have now read Dwight's book from cover to cover, nodding my head in agreement with points/illustrations he was making and with Dwight's philosophy/strategy for researching Irish ancestors.
For me, Irish genealogy has always been a mix of geography and local history, and it just so happens that these two topics have always fascinated me. I tend to see Irish genealogy as a means to make connections between people and place as opposed to tracking family lineage back in time, generation by generation. So, I now have Dwight's strategic insight to back up my belief in the absolute importance of identifying place in Irish family History research!
Not only does geography and knowledge of place offer more potential for researchers to feel an emotional attachment to that part of Ireland associated with their ancestors, it enables realistic genealogical research which, in the absence of indexes and databases, generally requires knowledge of the parish in which the ancestor lived.
So congratulations to everyone involved in the production of this fine book.
Brian Mitchell, M.A.G.I., Genealogist with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Northern Ireland. Author of: A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland (2009), A Guide to Irish Parish Registers (2009), Irish Passenger Lists 1847-1871 (2001), Irish Passenger Lists 1803-1806 (2010), Genealogy at a glance: Irish Genealogy Research (2010), Genealogy at a glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research (2014).
Initial Book Reviews:
In a world filled with too many dry and painfully boring genealogy books, Dwight Radford’s Discovering Irish Origins Using the Records of Ireland is refreshingly enjoyable to read, interesting and informative. I heartily recommend this book to not only those just getting started but also crusty old experts as a go to for questions regarding Irish genealogical research. - Craig Foster, MA, MLIS, Accredited Genealogist in Ireland.
Easy to read and understand, Discovering Irish Origins Using the Records of Ireland gives hope that there are ways to find where our immigrant ancestors were from using Irish records. Dwight has done an excellent job sharing his extensive knowledge of how to use Irish records to solve these research problems. This is one I plan to refer too often. - Kori Robbins, Accredited Genealogist. Professional Genealogist, BA in Family History/Genealogy from BYU
As in the first volume of his series of Irish research reference books, Dwight Radford has given researchers a second text of excellent and required information about records in Ireland. It is a worthy compilation of detailed and necessary information covering past and present research techniques, along with his special strategies categories, which are becoming a hallmark of his writings. Throughout all of the chapters are charts, pictures, maps, and/or illustrations to put a picture to the words, making it extremely understandable for the beginning, intermediate, and even advanced Irish family researcher. Mr. Radford is applauded for his efforts on our behalf for giving attention to the smallest details so often passed over. Once again, it is another contribution by him to anyone’s ongoing desire to locate complicated Irish ancestry. I heartily recommend making space on your bookshelf for yet another gem to guide your research project in Ireland. - Sheila Benedict, Benedict Research Services, Forensic and Family History Research.
Mr. Radford has produced an incredibly insightful and clearly written guide to Irish research, specifically for assisting researchers to determine the origins of their illusive Irish ancestors. Particularly impressive is the generous use of maps that clearly explain various jurisdictions and strategies. Images of original documents and other illustrations help familiarize the reader with the various records and concepts described in the book. There are also several unique reference aids throughout the book, such as “Locations of Abbreviations for Selected Religious Orders of Women, Pre-1920,” “Metallic Deposits or Mines,” “Surviving Marriage Bonds’ Indexes for Each Diocese,” “Locations of Prisons in Ireland” and even “Irish Masonic Lodges in 1804.” These lists will no doubt prove valuable to researchers but are not ones that most researchers would have the ability to ferret out for themselves. We are fortunate that Mr. Radford has compiled these for us in such a handy format. This book is packed full of practical information, including step-by-step guides to several research strategies, such as creating a Surname Distribution Survey. There are also three interesting glossaries: Historical Land Measurements, Irish Land and Tax Dictionary, and Gallows’ Historical Terminology. The later being fascinating and definitely exclusive to this guidebook. If you are struggling to track down the origins of your Irish ancestors, this book provides a fresh approach and deserves a spot on your bookshelf! - Claire Smith-Burns, Genealogical Researcher and Educator, Kelowna, BC, Canada.
Radford’s latest work on tracing Irish-American family history endorses the historical research approach of group migration and addresses many of the same techniques as historians in that field. He lists and explains a variety of resources to be used to resolve issues and eliminate blocked walls in our genealogical endeavors. He plots various methods of tracing one’s Irish immigrant families. His is a detailed explanation of a multitude of records, including a discussion of each source’s strengths and weaknesses. Tackling Irish-American research frequently overwhelms even experienced family historians. Similar to his other two works on this topic, he proffers an amazing list of resources to investigate as well as alternate tools and approaches for solving genealogical dilemmas. Using techniques and sources which Radford outlines, will assist most researchers to attain success in tracing their Irish past. - Wendy Elliott, PhD, FUGA, Professor Emerita of History, California State University, Fullerton, Past President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.
Too many of us with Irish ancestry have long been discouraged by the warning that we cannot track our families back very far in time. Now Dwight Radford, from his many years of helping those pursing their heritage in Ireland, presents a fresh look to guide our research. He helps us know and understand what the realities of record destruction and lack of record keeping have been and the importance of how these relate to our research in the records that survive and are available—from the most basic to many of those not so well known and explored—in order to produce successful research results. Now when someone inquires about Irish research, I can ask enthusiastically, “Have you checked Radford?” - Roger D. Joslyn, cg, fuga, fgbs, fasg, Co-editor, The American Genealogist