Family history resources
UK civil registration records began in 1837 and there are good census records back to 1841.  Prior to this date one needs to rely on the surviving parish records.  In Ireland, civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not start fully until 1864 and, unfortunately, most Irish census records and parish records prior to 1900 have not survived.  However, there are often other alternatives, including DNA testing.  The following is a list of the main sources of family history data that the author has found useful.


                               UK on-line genealogy resources (FREE)

UK birth, marriages and death index, 1837 onwards (free, online searchable database)
Most of the UK civil registration indexes for births, marriages and deaths up to about 1940 have been  transcribed by volunteers and are available to search on-line for free at  The current coverage by year can be checked at

UK census records 1841 onwards (free, online searchable database)
The UK census records for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1891 are being transcribed by volunteers nd are available to search on-line for free at  You can check the current database coverage by year and county at

UK Parish records (free, online searchable database)
The available UK parish records are being transcribed by volunteers and are available to search on-line for free.

Family Search (LDS) (free searchable database, including some Irish data on-line)
Many parish records are on microfiche only, and can be ordered to view at your local LDS center for a nominal fee.

Ellis Island USA immigration records (free, online searchable database)
Most immigrants entering New York from 1892 to 1924 are recorded here.

UK Telephone Directory
If you know the town and county that your ancestors came from, this is a quick way to check if any descendants still live there.  Of course, not all telephones numbers are listed.  Don't forget to click the "Find a Person" tab before you start the search.

Rootsweb Discussion Board (free)
A popular discussion board (supported by where you can search for messages by family name or country and county, and post your own inquiries for free.

GENUKI, UK & Ireland Genealogy
Non-commercial reference library of genealogical information, maintained by a charitable trust and a group of volunteers.

Ireland & United Kingdom GenWeb


                               UK on-line genealogy resources (PAID)

General Register Office (GRO)
This the UK government site for ordering birth marriage and death certificates online.

Genes Reunited (online searchable database)
Searchable UK web site with over 500 million names where you can post your family tree. It includes mainly British and Irish families.  Free to post your family tree and to search, but you pay a fee (six-month fee was 15 in 2014) to contact the owners of other family trees.

UK census records 1841 - 1911 (paid)
The National Archives lists the main commercial sites for searching UK census data.  They are usually free to search, but there is a fee to view the records. and
One of the most comprehensive collections of family history records, including Irish. One month's subscription starts from about 14 per month (2016 prices).

Find My Past
Search family history records, subscription is 10 per month (2016 prices).

UK Census Online
Includes 1841-1911 census data and BMDs (1837-2005), subscription is 7 - 20 per month (2016 prices).

British Newspaper Archive
Includes some newspapers dating back to 1710, subscription is about 13 per month (2016 prices).


                                        Irish on-line resources

Irish genealogy resources (listed at


                                    Genealogical DNA Testing

If you can't find the necessary records, then a simple DNA test might help.  By comparing your DNA (from saliva or a cheek swab) with a genealogical database, it may be possible to determine if you share a recent common ancestor with another person in the database, and  it is possible to get an indication of how closely related you are.  DNA tests can also be used to determine your ethnic origins.  

There are three types of DNA test that can be useful for genealogy:

1)  Autosomal DNA tests have the advantage that they track all your ancestral lines (both male & female).  However, unlike Y-DNA tests, they are limited in range to only a few generations as autosomal DNA gets diluted by 50% at each generation.  The current tests (as of 2016) record about 1 million SNPs which allows comparisons to about 6 generations back (i.e. fourth-cousins).  The main autosomal DNA testing companies charge from $99 to $199 (plus shipping) for their tests (2016 prices).  A comparison of autosomal DNA testing companies is posted here.

The test fee normally includes access a list of your nearest DNA relatives that tested with the same company (providing the individual permits contact).  Additionally, you can download your results and then upload them to the free website,, where you can compare your results with those from other DNA testing companies (for free), so increasing your number of potential DNA relatives.

Autosomal DNA test results of descendants of many of the familes recorded on this website have tested with, and results are also posted at

2)  Y-DNA is passed through the direct male lineage only, almost unchanged over many generations, and is used to trace male (surname) lineage.  Females need to test Y-DNA from a close male relative such as a brother, father or paternal uncle.  One of the most widely used genealogical tests is the Y-chromosome 37 STR marker (Y-DNA37) which starts from about $149 USD (as of 2016).  Both the Gallagher and de Courcy families posted on this web site have submitted Y-DNA37 test results to their respective name projects: Gallagher Y-DNA Project, de Courcy Y-DNA Project.

3)  mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) is passed down virtually unchanged through the direct female line only. Males inherit their mother's mtDNA but do not pass it on to their children.  Males and females can use their own mtDNA to track their maternal lineage, but Autosomal or Y-DNA tests are usually more useful for genealogy.

Genealogical DNA tests use only very limited sections of DNA and with the exception of, most have little or no medical value.  Further information at


Family tree building software (free)

A free version of Legacy Family Tree is available for download.  There is also a paid version with extra features.  The free version seems adequate for most users and was used to create the descendant charts, etc. on this web site.


                             Books & documents on Irish history

Historical articles & information about Ireland, including County Mayo


Ancient Ireland
An interesting summary of Ireland's history and colonisation since the last ice age 20,000 years ago up until the famine in 1845, also depicted in a series of maps.


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