Genealogy at a Glance: Irish Genealogy Research

Genealogy at a Glance: Irish Genealogy Research, 2nd edition, 2020. pp. 4 .By Brian Mitchell and published by Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore MD. $9.95.  Use with Mitchell’s New Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy, 122 pages, 2020. $25.00. Originally published in 1991 and updated in 2002 and 2008. Now revised to meet the needs of genealogists who begin their research for ancestors among the many databases on the internet.

These are basic guides, written for both beginners who need a place to start and some guidance along the way.  And for seasoned genealogists, like myself, who need to be reminded of the core sources that provide genealogical information consistently that can be matched to prove a pedigree. Mitchell has listed these basic sources and the accompanying internet sites where the information can be most efficiently obtained.

Commonly overlooked are the digitized records for Ireland now available in electronic form through 

I am attaching a list Showing all 21 Collections for Ireland:

Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881
Ireland Calendar of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1920
Ireland Census Search Forms, 1841 and 1851
Ireland Census, 1821
Ireland Census, 1831
Ireland Census, 1841
Ireland Census, 1851
Ireland Census, 1901
Ireland Census, 1911
Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958
Ireland Civil Registration, 1845-1913
Ireland Deaths, 1864-1870
Ireland Landed Estate Court Files, 1850-1885
Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898
Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, 1814-1855
Ireland, Catholic Qualification & Convert Rolls, 1701-1845
Ireland, Diocesan and Prerogative Marriage License Bonds Indexes, 1623-1866
Ireland, Diocesan and Prerogative Wills & Administrations Indexes, 1595-1858
Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers, 1828-1912
Ireland, Poverty Relief Funds, 1810-1887
Ireland, Valuation Office Books, 1831-1856

Check often with this amazing website because millions of records are added every month. And if you wish to contribute to the effort, you can become an indexer so that we can find Irish ancestors more quickly.

Mitchell gives a brief description of Irish background, including the Scots-Irish. And ion 4 pages, it is difficult to cover the details of immigration of the Irish into New York. So allow me to add some research details as an aid to tracing your New York Irish.

The Irish– 17 Mar 1762 is the official date for St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York City, although there are evidences that 17 Mar was celebrated as early as 1737. Speculations exist that Thomas Dongan, Governor of New York 1683-1688, and a titled Irishman, may have celebrated the day with his cronies.

“The anniversary Feast of St Patrick is to be celebrated on Wednesday the 17th instant, at the house of Mr. John Marshall, at Mount Pleasant, near the College; Gentlemen that please to attend will meet with the best Usage.” New York Mercury, 15 Mar 1762.

From 1762 on, the newspapers announced or reported on these annual celebrations of the Irish–first in New York City and later across the state. See Hon. John D. Crimmins, Early Celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in New York and Other Places, 1737-1845. New York: 1902.

New York City has been “heavily Irish” since at least 1798-99, following the arrival of Irish Protestant exiles from the Revolt of 1798. By 1816, more than 25,000 Irish were residents of the city boroughs–1/4 of the total population of the City. After that date, thousands of Catholic Irish arrived every year until 1851, when almost one million Irish crowded through the Port of New York and spread across the state spilling over into the United States at large. Seeking jobs.  Looking for a place to establish themselves and their families.

By 1900, there were more Irish in New York, than in Ireland! These waves of immigrants from Ireland can be identified:

  1. Merchant Irish. Grocers who peddled their wares on corners and from the backs of peddler wagons. They moved into store-fronts in Irish neighborhoods. They were married and brought their families with them. These grocers were also bail bondsmen. By 1810, 1/3 of the sureties for Irishmen were grocers.
  2. Canal Irish. 1823-1832. The original overseer of the Erie Canal and its canal networks was an Irishman who imported his Irish diggers from England where they had been employed building canals in the northern British Isles. Paid in cash and 1 quart of whiskey per day, these Irish were largely single men who later went home to marry. Or brought their prospective brides here. Immigrant agents and shipping companies offered tickets to Ireland at reduced prices for round trips or the purchase of multiple tickets for other family members.
  3. Palatine Irish. Families from the German Palatine settled as laborers and some specialized workers on the Southwell Estates in County Limerick. They migrated to the Camden Valley (Washington County New York) then to the Bay of Quinte in Ontario Canada. They were Loyalists. The footnotes in To Their Heirs Forever written by Eula C. Lapp (Belleville Ontario: Mika Publishing Company, 1977) discuss the problems of identifying and matching the New York settlers among those listed from Ireland. The number of Palatine refugees was estimated between 6,500 and 15,000.
  4. Service Irish. Women, especially single girls, were engaged in service occupations as well as live-in maids or as the family nanny. Roman Catholic Sisterhoods maintained hospitals, schools, orphanages, and elder-care facilities. First responders were Irish—men who became policeman and fireman, other service occupations. These were often generational in families of Irish background.
  5. Garment Irish. Employed in the burgeoning garment and clothing industry, including ready-made clothes of fine silks and treated cottons–an industry New York City and its immediate environs is still noted for.
  6. Famine Irish. 1844-1853. Hoards of families fled from Ireland–the English and Irish governments even sponsored immigration to relieve the strain on their depleted resources. More than 1.8 million people came from Ireland to America through the port of New York City alone!
  7. Railroad Irish. 1853-1862. Railroads were built across New York state (and many other states as well) drawing their workforce from unemployed Irish. Railroad owners bragged that they could build “transportation routes to hell and back” given enough Irish and whiskey.
  8. Settlement Irish. Families who sought to better their lives with lands and opportunities offered in New York came on their own or with groups sponsored by Irish immigrant associations. Settlements in or near cities ensured job opportunities for laborers not yet used to farming.
  9. The Waterfront Irish. Brooklyn, New Jersey, West-side New York made up the Irish waterfront in New York City. It was the busiest waterfront in the world for many years until the use of cargo containers changed the shipping industry. Under the control of the International Longshoreman’s Association, bosses ruled the workers with an iron fist.
    The academy-award winning movie, On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando depicts events and scenes of life from this environment. Without the historical background.  Without the locations. Without the many ancestors and their descendants involved and directly impacted by this environment.

Study Bibliography

Bayor, Ronald H., and Timothy J. Meagher, eds. The New York Irish. Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Massive and thorough examination of the Irish impact.  includes maps of each borough of New York City and the location of the Irish churches.

Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Online index to more than 500,000 persons buried there. can search first name, surname. Index gives name, date of interment, lot and section #s. See also article in New York Researcher by Leslie Corn (Fall 2002/Winter 2003): 61-69 for very detailed instructions on how to find someone.

Buggy, Joseph. Finding your Irish Ancestor in New York City. Baltimore MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2014. Sage advice in the use of familiar genealogy records to identify and trace an Irish ancestor. Irish immigrants and refugees were more often than not city residents living with relatives who arrived first. Or living at the back of a tenement where they could be easily overlooked and missed by the census enumerator. From 1860 on, numerous Irish and their families were enumerated. Read the census carefully, don’t just rely on digitized census indexes where the names may be mis-typed.

Goodrich, Victor B. “Sending Money Home: The Accounts of an Immigrant Financial Agent in Deposit, New York, 1851-1860,” Tree Talks 32 (Dec 1992):1-55. Separate issue, #4.  Original ledger in the Deposit Historical Society archives.

Haberstroh, Diane Fitzpatrick, and Laura Murphy DeGrazia. Voices of the Irish Immigrant: Information Wanted Ads in Truth Teller, New York City, 1825-1844. New York: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 2005. See also their article in the New York Researcher (formerly the New York Genealogical and Biographical Newsletter) (Summer 2005): 59 ff.

Kincaid, Roberta. “Payments to People Involved in Building the Erie Canal, 1820-1821,” Tree Talks 35 (Dec 2008). Separate issue #4. Includes map showing completion dates of each section of the canal. As each section was finished, it was opened to traffic.

Rich, Kevin J. Irish Immigrants of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, 1850-1853, Volume I, 1-2500 Accounts. Volume II, 2501-7500 Accounts. For the author: PO Box 158, Massapequa NY 11758-9998. Entries transcribed from the original registers at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in spreadsheets. These accounts are also available on microfilm through the Family History Library.

Silinonte, Joseph M. Street Index to the 1892 New York State Census: City of Brooklyn. For the author: 7901-4 Avenue, #D, Brooklyn NY 11209. Includes the 6th Ward, which was mostly Irish.


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