18. Place of Origin in IrelandMost importantly, in all of your research, you will be trying to determine your ancestor's county of origin in Ireland, their civil parish and finally their townland or town, village or city.
It would also help if you knew whether they were Roman Catholic (the majority grouping by far), Church of Ireland or other Protestant Church, Presbyterian or, indeed, if they were members of one of the other religious groupings that were less common in Ireland.
Townland is the smallest civil administration division in Ireland, and usually comprises just a few small family holdings but can sometimes be much bigger. It is a term unique to Ireland. If you know the Townland name it becomes much simpler. But there was sometimes more than one name for a townland. So, don't give up if you get stuck.
19. Know Parents and Siblings Names
It would also be helpful if you had the names of some or all of your subject's siblings and roughly when they were born or married. Their parents' names would be especially useful. The reason is that in some cases the surname and given name are very commonly found in that region.
There may be many Patrick Murphys or Mary O'Donnells in a similar time span and you will need additional information to distinguish between them.
Similarly, people would often use a number of given (first) names in their lifetimes. They might be christened John James O'Neill and you could find them referred to as Jimmy Nail or Jack Neale or Sonny O'Neal.
Sometimes they went by a completely unconnected first name but this was, thankfully, the exception.
20. Understand Family Naming Patterns
Generally, Catholic families named the eldest son after the paternal grandfather (the father's father), the second son after the maternal grandfather and the third after the father. The first daughter was often called after the maternal grandmother and the second after the paternal grandmother but this sometimes varied.
These practices were not compulsory but traditional and lasted up to the middle of the 20th century in many cases.
Irishgen Ltd. 2002
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