How to Search For Your Irish Ancestors

A person with Ireland’s flag on a street

About 32 million Americans identify as Irish, while there’s also a significant part of the population that suspects they might have Irish heritage—this is about 1 in 12 people.

These staggering statistics that show America’s Irish population as more than the population in Ireland itself may be shocking, but they can’t be disregarded completely. Many Irish immigrants arrived and settled in America during and after the Great Famine. In fact, within a ten year period, about a quarter of the Irish population made their way here.

So, if you’re trying to find family history through genealogy and have reason to believe you might have Irish ancestors—it’s a good idea to dig deeper.

Here are some tips that might help.

Look For the Best Online Sources

When it comes to Irish ancestry, there’s no shortage of websites and other online resources. We suggest that you start by looking at these to help you find relevant leads to offline records and genealogy paths.

Here are the ones that we find most helpful:

Here you’ll find US databases, as well as Ireland-focused collections that contain almost 40 million records of helpful research. These records are a great place to start.

This is the website of the Ulster Historical Foundation, which is an education-based charity from Belfast. The ULF is part of the genealogy center network curated by the Irish Family History Foundation. You’ll find many helpful church and civil records here.


Based on the agreement between FamilySearch and the National Archives of Ireland, this website features all of the NAI’s records, save for a few censuses. The most valuable resources you’ll find here are the Irish civil registration records.


GRONI stands for the General Register Office of Northern Ireland. Their online database features civil registration records from several counties.


Do A Crash Course on Irish History and Learn About the Political Boundaries

A couple by the lake in a greyscale photograph

Ireland has an incredibly rich history with plenty of highs and lows. If you’re looking for Irish ancestors from recent centuries, they may have lived through some of the historical events. Learning about history will help you add historical context to your genealogy research. It’ll also help you learn when and why your ancestors may have migrated.

Some historical events you may want to cover are:

  • The Protestant Reformation
  • Gaelic Order
  • The Penal Laws
  • The Great Famine
  • Partition and Independence

Also, while studying Ireland’s history, start making notes about the political boundaries and learn how the country is divided into provinces, counties, baronies, and so on.

Look for Professional Genealogy Services

Exploring your family’s roots can be interesting but also complex, especially when they’re on a different continent. If you want to find Irish ancestors online, consider looking into genealogy research services like what we offer at DavisDNA And Family Research. Our traditional family research services can help you trace your Irish roots to help you build your family tree with the help of family history dna analysis!

Check it all out!