These tips will point you in the direction of some good resources. In your case, some may be helpful and some not so helpful.
1. Maybe someone has already done a good bit of work on your family but you don’t know it. Perhaps a third or fourth cousin you don’t know. Or there might be some people searching the same surname who are not closely related but may have some advice. One way to check that out is my surname page (not ready yet) . Another option is to use Google or some other search engine to find the names that interest you. Be creative in your search terms!
2. There are also mailing lists where you get emails on a topic which could be a surname or an interest such as Irish genealogy or even as local as Co Limerick genealogy. Maillists work by sending a copy of each message to posted to all subscribers. Some lists are very small and some are large.
Generally on lists, it is good practice to subscribe and then just read messages for a week or so before you post. Get a feel for the list. And read the welcome message you get when subscribing. List owners often describe the type things that are allowed and not allowed on their lists. Mail lists are a very powerful way to get your message in front of many people who may be able to help. Learn the types of things that are unacceptable on the list, how people ask questions, etc. Participating on a list is not hard but it’s a good idea to make a good first impression.
Many lists are hosted by Rootsweb. You may want to check out the Rootsweb Maillists. There are 2 search boxes and you can search the archives for a name or term of interest. Or search for a maillist (Find a mailing list) by keyword. The keyword Ireland pulls up about 200 mailing lists out of the 30,000 or so lists at Rootsweb.
3. Messege boards are closely related but do not sent you emails. You have to go out and look and them on a website. Your search may turn up links to them.
4. There are also many websites with good information. If you are new to Irish genealogy or just looking for new stuff you might want to check out one of these:
- Fianna’s Irish Genealogy Guide
- Rootsweb Guide General Genealogy explained
- Where to Start (Paul Gorry, Ireland)
- Primer in Irish Genealogy (Sean Murphy, Ireland)
- Researching From Abroad Good advice from GEN UKI
If you have a place name in Ireland and don’t know where it is try the sites listed below. Remember the spelling you have may not be correct so if you can’t find a match try spelling variations. Or sometimes if you mention it on a list (see #2 above) maybe someone will recognize it. But try these first.
- Irish Ancestors Irish Times Ancestor site . See their ‘placenames’ search function
- IreAtlas a townland database
If you’re ready to move beyond the basics, one of these would be a good starting point.
- http://www.irishgenealogical.org/ Irish Genealogy (IGSI)
- http://www.jackreidy.com/ My genealogy index page
- http://www.genuki.org.uk/ UK Genealogy
- http://www.irelandgenweb.com/ IrelandGenWeb Project
4. This relates to all above. Let others know the names you are searching and the questions you have. Maybe you’ll find someone or someone will find you and they may know more (or less). Much of the power of the internet is not the primary records you’ll find online. It is the person-to-person sharing that goes on. It may be on very general matters or very specific but it only happens when people know about each other. Participate in a mail list or online discussion boards if you want. Also leave queries and register your surname interested when you can. You might want to explore Rootsweb. They have a very large web site with all sorts of resources. They are the online home of many genealogical societies and host many mail lists. And among many things you will find the the world’s largest surname interest list.
If you know enough, it might be worth your while to try paid sites. Many offer trials to look or occasionally have a some or all records freely available for short periods so you can try the services. I have found Ancestry useful but look around.
After you’ve found out a good bit on your own, you might consider hiring a professional for those missing records you need for somethings that you just cannot seem to find on your own. This will vary considerably among people. Some enjoy the search are are happy on their own and will not do this at all. Others need or want the help and may decide on this option fairly quickly. The more you have found out on you own, the more focused will be the search that you are paying someone else to do.
5. There is an amazing amount of information on the internet; much of it is free.
Most all of it's a hobby (although it borders on obsession in many cases) so enjoy it.