Turas Siar


At Turas Siar we are in the process of setting up an Erris Genealogy Group so that tourists and local people can learn how to trace their roots, the different websites to use etc. and different census’ that are available. A large amount of this information is here for anyone who wants to learn how to set up their own family trees etc. A deep knowledge of local families and their ancestry and history is most important when trying to trace your roots.

What is Genealogy?

The word Genealogy is derived from the Greek and is the study of family history and descent. It is often referred to as a family tree. It is like a jigsaw puzzle, you have to try and fit pieces together to help information come together. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship of its members. The results are often display in charts.

Objectives of Genealogical research

> Identify Ancestors
> Identify family relationships
> Learn more about your ancestors lives, how they lived.
> Sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations.
> A desire to carve out a place for one’s family is the large historical picture.

Hobbyists Genealogists typically pursue their own ancestry and that of their spouses.

Professional Genealogists may also conduct research for others, publish books on genealogical methods, teach or produce their own databases. They may work for companies that provide software or produce materials of use to hobbyists and other professional genealogists.

Both types try to understand not just where and when people lived, but also their lifestyles, biographies and motivations. This often can lead to knowledge of antiquated laws, old political boundaries, migration trends and historical socioeconomic or religious conditions.

Genealogists sometimes specialize in a particular group.

Examples: a particular surname/A small community/group of people – a single village or parish

Basic areas to try and cover at the start of research for ancestors are:

Date of birth and place
Parents names
Children’s names
Date and location of marriage
Date and place of death

Why are many relatives called ancestors?

An ancestor is a name given to those we are descended from

Examples: Grandparents/Great-Grandparents

Those tracing their family tree have

  • 2 Parents
  • 4 Grandparents
  • 8 Great-Grandparents
  • 16 Great – Great Grandparents And so on.

If you go back 10 generations you will have 1024 ancestors

What is the difference between Maternal and Paternal?

Maternal: This is an ancestor on your mother’s side of the family

Paternal: Ancestor on your father’s side.

Cousin Definition

We often hear the term ‘cousin’ used, but there are various types of cousin relationships.

First cousins: These are persons within your family who have 2 of the same grandparents as you.

Second cousins: these are individuals who share the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.

Third cousins: these individuals have in common 2 great-great grandparents and ancestors.

Cousins ‘removed’: this term refers to individuals descended a common ancestor.

Once removed: This term means a difference of our generations.

Example: your mother’s first cousin would be your first cousin, one removed as she is one generation younger, than her parents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents (her parents).

Twice removed: There is a two-generation difference here.

Example: your Grandfather’s first cousin would be your first cousin twice removed as you are separated by two generations.


Example: Half sisters have the same father but a different mother or visa versa. Children of these half – sister’s would be half – cousin’s as they would only share one Grandparent.


These occur through marriage Individuals are only related through marriage and not blood.


These can tell us a wealth of information – that can lead us back to another generation.
ie. Parents names on a birth certificate

The most common certificates we have heard of are:

Birth Certificates – will tell you
Parents names
Father’s occupation
Date of birth
Where the person was born

Marriage Certificate – will tell you
The date that the marriage took place
The bride and groom’s full names
Their ages (note: age given is as stated by bride/groom and may not be accurate)
Condition of marriage i.e. widowed, divorced or single
Their profession
Their residence
The bride and groom’s father’s names If a father’s name is followed by ‘deceased’ then search backwards from the date of marriage to find a death certificate for him.
Names of witnesses – often family members

Death Certificate – can tell you
When and where a person died
Details of the informant (often a family member)
Their age
Their occupation – sometimes
The cause of death

Records that are used in genealogy research include:-

Vital records:
Birth records
Death records
Marriage and divorce records
Adoption records
Biographies and biographical profiles
Census records
Church records
Baptism or christening
Bar or bat mitzvah
City directories and telephone directories
Coroner’s reports
Court records
Criminal records
Diaries, personal letters and family bibles
Emigration, immigration and naturalization records
Land and property records, deeds
Medical records
Military and conscription records
Newspaper articles
Occupational records
Oral histories
Poorhouse, workhouse and asylum records
School records
Ship passenger lists
Social Security (within the US) and pension records
Tax records
Tombstones, cemetery records and funeral home records
Voter registration records
Wills and probate records

Genetic Genealogy

Genetic genealogy involves the use of genealogical DNA testing to determine the level of genetic relationship between individuals. The two most common types of genetic genealogy tests are Y-DNA (paternal line) and mtDNA (maternal line) genealogical DNA tests. These tests involve the comparison of certain sequences of the DNA of pairs of individuals in order to estimate the probability that they share a common ancestor in a genealogical time frame.
The Y-chromosome is present only in males and reveals information strictly on the paternal line.


Taking a genealogical DNA test requires the submission of a DNA sample. This is usually a painless process. The most common way to collect a DNA sample is by a cheek-scraping (also known as a buccal swab). Other methods include spit-cups, mouthwash and chewing gum. After collection, the sample is mailed to a testing lab.


Genetic genealogy gives genealogists a means to check their genealogy results with information obtained via DNA testing. A positive test match with another individual may: 

  • provide locations for further genealogical research 
  • help determine ancestral homeland 
  • discover living relatives
  • validate existing research
  • confirm or deny suspected connections between families
  • prove or disprove theories regarding ancestry
  • increase global culture awareness

People who resist testing may cite one of the following concerns:

  • Cost
  • Quality of testing
  • Concerns over privacy issues

Genetic genealogy is a rapidly growing fields as the cost of testing continues to drop, the number of people being tested continues to increase. The finding a genetic match among the DNA databases should continue to improve.

Genealogical DNA test

A Genealogical DNA test looks at a person’s genetic code at specific locations. Results give information about genealogy or ancestry.

These tests compare the results of an individual to others from the same lineage or to current and historic ethnic groups.
The test results are not meant for medical use.
They do not determine specific genetic diseases or disorders. They are intended only to give genealogical information.
Census Records

The household returns and ancillary records for the censuses of Ireland of 1901 and 1911 are in the custody of the National Archives of Ireland,

1901 Census:

The 1901 was conducted on Sunday March 31st 1901, this was for every member of each household, the following information required was:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Relationship to head of the household
  • Religion
  • Occupation
  • Marital status and county or country of birth
  • Individuals ability to read or write
  • Ability to speak the Irish language

All of this information is given on the census which was filled in and signed by the head of each household. Where the head of the household could not write, his or her mark, usually an X was recorded and witnessed by the enumerator.

1911 Census:

This was conducted on Sunday 2 April 1911.

The same information was recorded in the 1911 census with one significant addition married women were required to state the number of years they had been married the number of their children born alive and the number still living.

While the recorded age of each person listed in the 1901 census was often incorrect, the introduction of old age pensions in 1908 (and it’s requirements for documentary proof of age) led people to be more careful about giving their correct age.

The total population of Ireland according to the 1911 census was 4,390,219 of whom 2,192,048 were male and 2,198,171 were female.

Population in Connaught (by counties):

County Population
Mayo 192,177
Galway 182,224
Sligo 79,045
Leitrim 63,582
Roscommon 93,956
Helpful Hints for searching and sources

The first step of your research is to decide which branch of the family you want to begin with.

The best place to start is usually with one of your grandparents – your maternal grandmother, your maternal grandfather, your paternal grandmother and your paternal grandfather. You aren’t limited to these four branches. You can select a family group or branch even further back in your tree if you have enough information; the point is just to choose a particular section of the family so that you have a defined goal as you start out on your research.

It is very tough and discouraging to be blindly searching the internet/records for information about ALL of your surnames at one time.

When researching your family it is very important that you keep track of every piece of information. This is important both as a means of verifying or ‘proving’ your data and also as a way for you or other researchers to go back to that source when future research leads to information which conflicts with your original assumption. Any statement of fact, whether it is a birth date or an ancestor’s surname, must carry its own individual source.

Family Names

Before searching for an ancestor’s birth date or location you will need to know their full name (including maiden name for your female ancestors). Without this information you will find it very difficult to locate records and even if you locate them you will find it almost impossible to verify that it is indeed your ancestor.

This is one of the most important areas in genealogy.

Surnames data may be found in trade directories, census returns, birth,death and marriage records.

An example of a naming tradition that is/was sometimes used from Ireland, England and Scotland.

Child Namesake
1st Son Paternal Grandfather
2nd Son Maternal Grandfather
3rd Son Father
4th Son Father’s Oldest Brother
1st Daughter Maternal Grandmother
2nd Daughter Paternal Grandmother
3rd Daughter Mother
4th Daughter Mother’s Oldest Sister

Genealogical data regarding given names (first names) is subject to many of the same problems as are family names and place names.

Also the use of nicknames is very common.

For example: Beth, Lizzie or Betty are all common for Elizabeth, and Jack, John and Jonathan may b interchanged.

Middle names provide additional information

Middle names may be inherited or follow naming customs

Historically, naming traditions existed in some places and cultures.


Whilst the locations of ancestor’s residences and life events are core elements, they may be subject to variant spellings.

Example: Cuilmore/Kellmore

Locations may have identical or very similar names

Maps and gazetteers are important sources for understanding the places researched.


Exercise extreme caution with dates

Although baptismal dates are often used to approximate birth dates, some families waited years before baptizing children.

Both birth and marriage dates may have been adjusted to cover for pre-wedding pregnancies.


Occupational information may be important to understanding an ancestor’s life and for distinguishing two people with the same name.

A person’s occupation may have been related to his or her social status, political interest and migration pattern.

Since skilled trades are often passed from father to son, occupation may also be indirect evidence of a family relationship.

It is very important to remember that a person may change occupations over time.

The effect of time

The passage of time often affects a person’s ability to recall information.

As a general rule, data recorded soon after the event, is usually more reliable than data recorded many years later.

Primary and Secondary Sources

In genealogical research, information can be obtained from primary or secondary sources.

Primary sources are records that were made at the time of the event, for example a death certificate would be a primary source for a person’s death date and place.

Secondary sources are records that are made days, weeks, months or even years after an event.


Genealogy software is used to collect, store, sort and display genealogical data.

Genealogy software accommodates basic information about individuals including births, marriages and deaths.

Knowledge of the informant

The informant is the individual who provided the recorded information.

In many cases the informant is identified in the record itself.

For example: a death certificate usually has two informants a G.P./Doctor who provides information about the time and cause of death and a family member who provides the birth date, names of parents etc.

Approximate year of birth

If you do not already know, you will need to find the approximate year in which your ancestor was born. This can be estimated by using his/her age at various events in their life, if you have previous records – i.e. birth/marriage/death cert.

Approximate place of birth

If you do not already know you will need to find the approximate location in which your ancestor was born. This can usually be found on records which were generated later in their life or by tracing the movements of relatives (siblings and children) and neighbours.


Locate the immigrant family’s port of departure or port of arrival.

These will also vary by country but may include census records, naturalization papers, newspapers, published indexes of passenger and immigration lists etc.

Without this information you will find it very difficult to locate records and even if you locate them, you will find it almost impossible to verify that it is indeed your ancestor.


Photographs are one of the longest surviving home sources.

They depict your ancestors as they were.

On the backs of some photos you may find names and dates. Many early photos are printed on cards with the name and location of the photographer, which can tell you where to look for your family in official records.

Other clues may come from the types of clothing worn by your ancestors, towns or houses pictured in the background or even the way in which the people are arranged in a larger group shot.


Whilst not as personal as family photographs, postcards can provide a wealth of information on your family.

Scenes that are pictured on the cards may include the towns where they lived, which they may have immigrated to and more.

Personal notes can help with dates, names and relationships as well as providing you insight into the lives of your ancestors. People who moved away from home often used postcards to keep in touch with family members who remained at home. These could help you to identify the place from which an immigrant came or the place to which part of the family immigrated.

Addresses and postmarks on the cards can help you to track family movements and timeframes.

Official Records – Birth Certificates, Wedding Invitations.

Diaries, Letters and Journals

These can be some of the most personal family sources. They can bring your ancestors alive by telling you what they found important enough to write down. They will usually be full of names and dates.


In a scrapbook you will often find newspaper clippings of marriages, obituary notices and even family triumphs. Other items often found in scrapbooks include wedding invitations, funeral cards, birth announcements, diplomas, award certificates, recital or concert programmes, school papers, ticket stubs, dried flowers and other important mementos. These may be valuable for the information they provide (names, dates, etc.)


Your ancestor’s gravestone is the only physical evidence of the life they lived. This can be an emotional and the end of a long search for some genealogists.

Tips for visiting a graveyard to trace ancestors


Write down names, dates and inscriptions exactly as they appear on the stone. Make a note of the relationship between tombstones as well. Family members will often be buried together in the same plot. Nearby graves may belong to parents. Small unmarked stones may indicate children that died in their infancy. Neighbours and relatives may also be buried in adjoining sections. Take care when visiting abandoned cemeteries or those located on private property.

Never enter private property without permission and never go unaccompanied to remote or dangerous areas.

Visiting a library/research building


Some points to consider when planning your trip to make it more successful for you. Know what you are looking for and have your list of questions and pedigree chart with you in case you need help locating records.

Take advantage of pre-planning, look on the website (if there is one) or find out opening and closing time and location of building.

This will help you to become quickly acquainted with the materials available to you, where they are located and the libraries policies and procedures for handling and photocopying of records.

Allow plenty of time for your research trip and keep your search organized.

There may be a vast amount of material available to you, but if you don’t take time to scan records for all clues, which they may contain and make careful, detailed notes and source citations, you will regret it later or end up with the wrong information.

The final step is to set a research goal – look at the blanks in your family group sheet and decide what you want to learn about your family. Some people stick to just names, dates and places, choosing to collect as many ancestors as possible.

Once you have selected a family group or surname to research, the next step is to learn a little about the geography and history of the area in which they lived. Having a good understanding of the political and historical events of the time period in which your ancestors lived may give you insight into where to look for records. Geographical and political boundaries as well as place names have also changed over time.

Case Study

First immigration passenger into Ellis Island: Annie Moore

From 1820 to 1920 more than 4 million people left their native Ireland bound for the Port of New York and a new life in America.

When Ellis Island officially opened on January 1 1892, the first passenger registered through the now world-famous immigration station was a young little girl named Annie Moore.

Annie Moore was born in Co. Cork, Ireland on January lst 1877. She had one older brother named Tom. When she was 14 years old she travelled with her two younger brothers, Anthony (11) and Philip (7). Annie departed from Queenstown (County Cork, Ireland) on December 20, 1891 aboard the S.S. Nevada, one of 148 steerage passengers.

The trio spent 12 days at sea (including Christmas Day) arriving in New York on Thursday evening, December 31. They were processed through Ellis Island the following morning, New Year’s Day and also Annie’s 15th birthday. She was very surprised when an official gave her a $10 gold piece. She had never seen so much money and did not know why he gave it to her. He explained that Ellis Island was new and the $10 was a gift to the first person off the ship.

All three children were soon reunited with their parents, Matthew and Julia Moore who were already living in New York with elder brother Tom.

UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

Name: Annie Moore

Gender: Female

Age: 15

Birth Date: abt 1876

Departure Date: 20 Dec 1891

Port of Departure: Queenstown, Ireland

Destination Port: New York, USA

Ship Name: Nevada

Master: Cushling

For years, it was believed that Annie left New York for Texas and died there, but three years ago, experts determined that she stayed in New York.

Annie lived with her parents for a few years at 32 Monroe Street in Manhattan, after 2 years of working in a factory she married German immigrant Augustus Schayer at the age of 18 in 1895. He worked in a fish market; the couple had at least 11 children, five survived to adulthood, three of which had children. Annie Moore died of heart failure on 6 December 1924 at the age of 47.

Her previously unmarked grave was identified in September 2005, on October 11 2008, a dedication ceremony was held at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, which celebrated the unveiling of a marker for her grave, a Celtic cross made of Irish Blue Limestone.

Today two statues honour Annie – one at her port of departure (Cobh, formerly Queenstown) and the other at Ellis Island, her port of arrival.

She will forever represent the millions who passed through Ellis Island in pursuit of the American dream.

Annie’s story is told in the song ‘Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears’, written by Brendan Graham and has been performed by many artists.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island is located in Jersey City, New Jersey and is situated in the Upper New York Bay. The 35 years before Ellis Island opened over eight million immigrants arriving in New York had been processed by New York State officials at Castle Garden Immigration Depot in lower Manhattan just across the bay.

Many persons passed through Ellis Island over the years starting out on their new life

Questions for a genealogy research interview


There is no set formula for conducting a genealogy research interview with a relative (be guided by the age of the person and the period they lived through). The question you ask may differ from one person to another or you may ask a number of relatives the exact same question in order to get as many opinions or perceptions of an event or person as possible.

The list below contains some fairly general lines of enquiry which you might find useful as a starting point for finding family history stories and developing them. You will also want to ask your own questions about issues (or people) specifically affecting your family.

Basics: Full names, baptism/confirmation names, nicknames, maiden or former names. (Repeat all these questions for each of your relative’s immediate family members).

Any explanation/history of family surname?

Birth: Where and when, at home or hospital, what day of the week, what time, any family tales about the birth?

Family Life

Where did the family live when he/she was a child, did the family move, names and approximate ages of those in the household, what did he/she wear at home, who made or bought the clothes, what times did the family get up and go to bed, what chores did he/she have to carry out at home, who had a temper, how were birthdays celebrated, what rivalries existed among the siblings, memories of mother, memories of father.

The Home

Apart from the main living areas, were there any outbuildings, was the home connected to electricity and water supplies, where was the bathroom, where did he/she sleep, when did the family eat, what did they eat, did the family eat together, favourite/least favourite meals, what meals were typical of Christmas.


When did he/she start school (age), first impressions, what did he/she wear at school, what time of day did school start and finish, how did he/she get to school, what did the children eat at lunchtime, what subjects were studied, what sports were played, what were the teachers like, what methods of discipline did teachers use, who were her/his favourite teachers, what games were played in the playground, what age did he/she finish school, any surviving school reports or certificates, what level of education attained, favourite subjects, most disliked subjects, happiest/saddest memories of schooldays.

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