Researching Your Irish Ancestry

There are approximately 33 million people in the United States with Irish ancestry today. If you happen to be one of them and you’re researching your family history, there are many books at the BPL and lots of online resources to help you in your search.

Books at the BPL

Scotch Irish

Before the 19th century, most of the Irish in the U.S. claiming Irish ancestry were of Scotch-Irish descent. Scotch-Irish descend from Scottish Presbyterians who settled in Ireland between 1608 and 1697. They are also called Ulster Presbyterians after the county in which many of them settled. In the 1700s, many came to America and settled in Pennsylvania and the Appalachian region. Many more immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century.
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The Great Famine

The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland. It lasted from 1845 to 1849, and led to the deaths of about 1 million Irish people. The Great Famine also significantly contributed to large waves of Irish immigration to the United States in the 19th century.
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Irish Genealogy General Guides

This list has some of the books available at the BPL for general guidance in researching your Irish ancestors.
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Irish Genealogy By Location

There are many place-specific guides to researching your family history in Ireland. If a location you’re interested in isn’t listed here, try searching our catalog for the place’s name and “genealogy” or “family history.”
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Irish Genealogy Misc. Topics

Here are some books covering different aspects of researching your Irish ancestors. Topics included are passenger lists, heraldry, and church records.
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Online Resources

Research Guides

  • BPL Genealogy Research Guide - Includes links to more resources and information about Ireland and researching Irish ancestry
  • Births, marriages and deaths in Scotland and Ireland - From the National Archives of the United Kingdom, this resource includes information about how to locate records in the United Kingdom
  • Discover your Irish Ancestry - From the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), this page includes links to NEHGS records, guides, books, articles, organizations, and websites about Irish history
  • Ireland Genealogy - From, this resource includes geographical information and links to tutorials
  • Irish Genealogy (Irish Studies) - From Boston College's Irish Studies department, this guide includes information about resources at Boston College and links to other online resources
  • Irish Genealogy Toolkit - From Irish genealogist Claire Santry, this resource includes guides to multiple types of records. It also includes information on how to use and where to access the records.

Record Collections

  • Irish Ancestors - From professional genealogist John Grenham. Please note some records need a paid subscription to view
  • Irish Genealogy - From the Government of Ireland's Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; this collection includes research guides and online records
  • Roots Ireland - From the Irish Family History Foundation. Please note some records need a paid subscription to view


  • Beyond 2022 - Records the efforts of a team from Trinity College in Dublin to recreate an archive and records that were destroyed in a fire in 1922
  • Genealogical Society of Ireland - Promotes awareness, appreciation and knowledge of genealogical heritage in Ireland and those with Irish ancestry. It also includes heraldry, the study of coats of arms, as a way to trace genealogy.
  • The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) - Promotes the growth, study and exchange of ideas among people and organizations interested in Irish genealogy, historical research, and education
  • Irish Genealogical Society International - Provides genealogical education and help to members. Helps the community at large in discovering Irish history, culture and heritage