How to Trace your Limerick Family History
Most people set out on tracing their family history full of enthusiasm only to be hit by brick walls along the way. In this post we will share some useful tips about how to trace your Limerick City ancestors and what resources are available online. Luckily for those starting out in genealogy today there are a lot more resources available at the finger tips, though there is a certain loss of enjoyment from missing out on the dusty books and reels of micro-fiche which were the norm up until very recently.
Getting Started – Tracing Your Family History
Before you even attempt to start your search online, try and find out as much information as you can from family members. This can include making copies of certificates that are already in your families possession and writing down anything and everything you’re able to gleam from stories; names, dates, times, places, etc. These will give you plenty of clues for your search as well as saving you money in the long run.
Luckily digital cameras and phones are common place now, so use them. If your aged aunt has letters from a relative, photograph them and leave them with her (unless of course she is generous enough to pass them along to the next generation). When you find out photographs, to better gain insight into the time it is advisable to take note of the photographer or printing company as looking them up on the trade directories you will be able to find when and from where they operated.
This brings us on to the oral histories that are often passed down from generation to generation. We all have those tall tales in the family that seem too believable to be true, take note of these as well as the mundane from interviews with your family member as sometimes there is a grain of truth in these, you will be pleasantly surprised as well as shocked at what your ancestors got up to.
Know your Parish! This is a vital step in researching your ancestors, Ireland Reaching Out have a handy guide to parishes in Limerick city and county. Know their religion, in Limerick city there are two St. Mary’s, two St. Michael’s and two St. Munchin’s churches, one for Roman Catholics and one for the Church of Ireland (Anglican). It is easy get these confused, here are photographs of the city churches to help distinguish the main religious buildings.
Civil Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes
The Indexes to the Civil Records of Irish Births, Deaths and Marriages date from 1864 with non-Roman Catholic Marriages recorded from 1845.to Birth Records over 100 years, the Indexes to Marriage Records over 75 years and the Indexes to Death Records over 50 years are now available to search on Irish Genealogy
Limerick City Catholic Parish Registers
In 2015 the National Library released digital versions of their microfilmed Catholic Parish Registers for Ireland. These are scans of the original hand written record book and as such are not text searchable but you can refine the search by year. The registers for Limerick City are:
Limerick Society of Friends (Quaker) Records:
The follow records are scanned original record books and are not text searchable.
Transcribed Burials 1812 – 1833
Limerick Electoral Registers
Back to Limerick and our resources, first lets locate your ancestor using the electoral registers. These registers showed where those who were eligible to vote, and who had registered to do so were living. These registers are uploaded as PDF files, which can be downloaded and viewed in ones own time. A handy tip if you are not used to using PDF files is to click the search button and browse for the exact name you’re looking for as scrolling through the entire register can be a pain on the eyes.
From this you can find out where your ancestor lived as well as with whom, you can also see if their siblings or parents lived. As a cross reference, you can find the alternative street names on our street name pages.
Limerick Census Records
It is important to know your ancestors siblings as sometimes they can help you locate your wayward great grandparent, especially if your great grandparent was oddly named. Which brings us on to the census.
Both the 1901 & 1911 census freely available to use. It is a great loss to our heritage that the earlier census records were destroyed. The 1901 & 1911 census will tell you more than just who your family lived with but where they lived and their ages at the time. We have added a link to the 1911 census to each street in Limerick 1911 Census by Street
Make sure you open the House & Building Return to see what kind of house they lived in, this can give you great insight into their level of income. You can also check the 1907 “Sale of Limerick” map to see how built up the area was that your family lived.
Limerick Trade Directories
Now that we have come onto income, in Limerick we are incredibly lucky that we have the trade directories available online. Many surprising trades have been recorded here.
A tip for using this is to put the surname first: as in “Brown John” with no comma into the name search field. Once you find where your ancestor worked it might be interesting to check if the Limerick Museum has any material relating to that company.
First World War Military Records
You may have had a granduncle killed in the First World War, there were all too many Limerick men, and a few women who were killed, many of who left behind a Last Will and Testament and were recorded by the Common Wealth Grave Commission and Irish War Memorials.
The Limerick Library Local Studies have mapped the location of all known Limerick First World War Fatalities
Limerick Death Records
This brings us onto death records. We here at Limerick’s Life have been working on adding our own Limerick graveyard archive online, so far we have transcribed the headstones from St. Michael’s Graveyard, St. Johns Churchyard, Kilquane Graveyard, St.Patrick’s Graveyard and transcribed the Pump Lane Quakers Graveyard and are currently transcribing the King’s Island Military Cemetery, Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery and St. Mary’s Cathedral Graveyard
On the original Mount St Lawrence, Mount Saint Lawrence Extension and Mount Saint Oliver Burial Registers held by Limerick Archives, you will be able to search for your ancestors not yet on our transcription list. This will be able to help you locate them in the Cemetery itself as the plot numbers are included. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting the most out of the transcription records for Mount Saint Lawrence.You can now search the Mount Saint Lawrence Grave Markers
Many of the county graveyards have been transcribed by Historic Graves.
The obituaries from the Limerick Chronicle from 1838-1937 are available online through the Limerick Library Local Studies. Please keep in mind that the details for these records were provided by those who survived and they might not have known the exact age or address of the recently deceased.
Finally the Will Indexes from the National Archives these come in two parts Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1858 – 1920 and Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1922-1982
Final Tips on Tracing Family History
When browsing any online records keep in mind that sometimes people didn’t always register to vote, take or properly fill out the census form and the like. Using multiple records and cross checking facts is often the best route to take when tracing your family history.
As you begin your journey of tracing your Limerick city family history, let us know your interesting finds, as well as any hardships that you’re encountering. And if there are other resources that you have found helpful that have been excluded from our post, please let us know and we will be happy to add them.
Other useful free websites:
- Limerick Local Studies
- Limerick Genealogy Archives
- Limerick City Archives
- Family Search – Be sure to verify the source on information from this site. (Batch numbers for Limerick)
- Tithe Applotment Books
- Griffith’s Valuation
- Chief Secretary of Ireland Papers from 1818
- Paddy Waldron tips for the Irish Civil Registration
- Historic Graves
Other useful pay websites:
- Find My Past – These hold court records
- Roots Ireland – Holds many but not all the civil BMDs
- Irish Newspaper Archives
- Limerick Genealogy
- Irish Ancestry Research Centre