Detailed Information

AE-HN400 - Who do you think you are? An introduction to Irish family history

This course offers an introduction to family history in Ireland. It acquaints learners with the methods and sources for conducting effective Irish family history research. It places a strong emphasis on examining online Irish genealogical sources, particularly those sources dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries. These include census records, civil records, church records and land records. In addition to these categories of source, some attention will be given to estate records, cemeteries, professional records, and extant Early Modern sources. Students will learn about the nature and utility of the extant sources but will also be given the opportunity to locate and critically analyse and evaluate different types of sources. Learners will receive guidance enabling them to conduct their own Irish family history research projects, culminating in the (optional) creation of research outputs (e.g. family trees, presentations etc.). The course is delivered through contiguous lectures and seminars. The latter involves active learning, including both individual and collaborative learning exercises. The course will be ideal for anyone who wants to get involved in researching their own family's history using sources available online. It will also benefit anyone who wants to understand how family historians use sources to interpret aspects of the past.

Dates Schedule Time Venue/Location Fee €
02 Oct 2023 to 27 Nov 2023 Sessions: 8
02, 09, 16, 23 Oct (no class 30th Oct), 06, 13, 20, 27 Nov
18:00 Belfield


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Dr Eoin Ó Donnchadha is an occasional lecturer in the UCD School of History, and an adjunct faculty member at Hibernia College. He holds an MA and PhD in Irish history from UCD, and postgraduate qualifications in education from TCD and the University of Buckingham. Eoin's research interests include medieval Irish history, family history, and history education. Eoin previously presented family history research at the 2021 Dublin Festival of History.

8 Mondays


02, 09, 16, 23 Oct (no class 30th Oct), 06, 13, 20, 27 Nov

  • Census records (e.g. 1901 & 1911 censuses) 
  • Civil records (i.e. birth, marriage and death records) 
  • Church records(e.g. Catholic parish registers) 
  • Land records (e.g. Griffith's valuation) 
  • Cemeteries (e.g. Glasnevin cemetery) 
  • Professional records (e.g. DMP & RIC records) 
  • Estate records (e.g. Coolattin estate records) 
  • Other sources for Irish family history & genealogy (e.g. Early Modern sources) 
  • Using online repositories and databases 
  • How to record your family history 

The following is a selection of recommended texts for those interested in reading further around the course content. We advise that you do not buy books in advance of the course as your tutor will discuss the list and suggest the most relevant reading for particular interests.

Begley, Donal, ed. Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder. Dublin: Heraldic Artists, 1981. 

Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. Fifth edition. Dublin: Gill Books, 2020. 

Maxwell, Ian. How to Trace Your Irish Ancestors: An essential guide to researching and documenting the family histories of Ireland's people. Second edition. Oxford: How To Books, 2009. 

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. Second edition. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Family History, 2015.  

Murphy, Sean J. A Primer in Irish Genealogy. Bray: Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical Studies, 2023. url:

At the end of the course, students should be able to: 

  • conduct effective Irish family history research by drawing on a range of sources 
  • understand and distinguish between different categories of source for Irish family history 
  • locate evidence for the history of Irish families using online resources and repositories 
  • analyse sources to extract information about historical people, their lives, and their relationships 
  • evaluate the reliability of different types of evidence 
  • work collaboratively with peers to solve problems using historical evidence 
  • create their own evidence-based Irish family history outputs 

The learning outcomes will be delivered via contiguous lectures and seminars, as well as through optional project tasks. Lectures will be centred around the presentation of key information using oral and visual communication methods. They will also involve interaction, including questioning, pair discussion, and formative feedback. Seminars are built around active learning exercises where students apply their knowledge from lectures and readings to: (i) conduct family history research; (ii) to analyse and evaluate sources; and (iii) to create their own family history outputs. This will involve both individual and cooperative learning tasks. Students will receive formative feedback on their work in seminars, and on optional project tasks they choose to complete. Where possible, students are encouraged to bring internet-enabled devices (e.g. laptops or tablets) for use in seminars, however some paper-based learning materials will also be made available for students without access to a device.