What’s the Big Deal with St. Patrick’s Day?
On March 17th, it’s a proud time to be Irish. The number of people celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in the U.S. is at least five times more than the number in Ireland. There are about 34.7 million Americans who claim to have Irish blood as per the U.S. census data of 2013, compared to 6 million Irish living in Ireland. Does it peak your curiosity to find out what brought your own Irish ancestors here? Would you care to know things such as where they lived, what they did, or what it was like to leave their homes and come to a strange new land?
To find the answers, what time can be better than now — when parades, shamrocks, corn beef and cabbage (and a quaff to wash it down) are in the offing? As you celebrate your Irish ancestry, let’s also remember that your ancestors are the ones that survived the journey. The challenge to discover your history will be a lot easier than the challenge they faced.
A Bit O’ History
Many of us are familiar with the tales surrounding the Irish immigration to America. During the expansion of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, religious conflicts and lack of political independence were crucial motivations that led transatlantic migrants to settle on the continents of North and South America. However, it was the Great Irish Potato Famine during the 1840s that created the major driving force behind the historical Famine Immigration to America. By the time it reached its climax in 1851, more than a quarter of a million Irish had immigrated to North America. The ships that brought your ancestors across a turbulent Atlantic were often referred to as ‘coffin ships,’ bringing a significant number of dead along with the living immigrants. Those who reached the shores were the lucky ones.
Expanding your research into various nuances of the genealogical field is the best way to accomplish that goal to learn about your Irish heritage. When you take on the challenge, prepare for an adventure that will bring a new sense of belonging to your Irish ancestry.
Erin go Bragh!
Taking the Next Steps
Locating immigration records used to be a daunting task, but now many such records are available on-line. Any one of the major websites can be a good place to start. If your interest is keen about what’s out there to explore, there is a plethora of books, records, and stories available on Irish ancestry. You can even consider a possible vacation to Ireland. To begin with, here are some steps you can take to trace your roots:
- Start with a primer on Irish genealogy: We publish two such primers: Brian Mitchell’s “Genealogy at a Glance: Irish Genealogy Research” and his “Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Research.”
- Deepen your knowledge with John Grenham’s “Tracing Your Irish Ancestor: A Complete Guide“. And if you’ve got the bug, go to the second edition of “A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland“, again by Brian Mitchell, which explains the relationship between various kinds of Irish records and outlines the ways to relate the records to the townlands where Irish people actually resided. To help you narrow down research in this regard, “Irish names and Surnames“ is a classic account on the origins and location of names throughout Ireland.
- Do a course on Irish research: Enhance your knowledge with an online Genealogy courses. Genealogicalstudies, the leader in Online Genealogy Education since 1997 is offering a St. Patrick’s Day special to our readers. We hope some of you will take them up on their offer:
Irish Genealogy Courses Opportunity
17% off for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations on any of their 200 courses (Use Code GPC17).
For a list of eBooks on Irish Genealogy, go to Library.Genealogical.com and enter Irish on the Search Bar.