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Journey # 18: The Luck of the Irish

As you may recall, I received a crushing blow to my research plans when I learned that virtually all Irish birth, marriage and death records had been burned in a fire in 1922. But I was unwilling to give up completely on my Irish ancestors. Instead I looked to England to provide direction. I'd found what I believed to be the birth record of my great-grandmother's youngest sibling and had ordered the certificate.

When it arrived, I did a jig. Not only was it the correct person, but it showed his mother's maiden name. Now I not only knew that my Irish great-great-grandfather's name was Patrick Connell, but I knew that my Irish great-great-grandmother's name was Bridget McHale.

I quickly turned to the Internet and with that information was lucky to find a baptism record for the couple's first child, who happened to have been born in Ireland just before they moved to Yorkshire. Her name was Mary Connell, so with knowing her mother's maiden name, I'd have never been able to identify her, even though I knew approximately when she was born from the census.

 But there she was, clear as day in the database: Mary Connell with parents Patrick Connell and Bridget McHale. That's the nice thing about baptism records — they often have the mother's maiden name. But more importantly, the database showed that she had been born in Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland. Prior to that I'd only known that Patrick Connell had been born in County Galway and that his wife Bridget had been born in County Mayo. I finally had a location in Ireland.

So while they say there are no records for Ireland, the truth is that there are no official government records for Ireland. But that doesn't mean there aren't records out there.


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