Making great breakthroughs with Irish ancestry

My Dublin-born great-grandmother’s line was a brick wall for us for many decades. Partly it was because I could never trace a marriage certificate for her, and so had no idea of her father’s name. And then even when I found she was born in Dublin, from the 1911 Yorkshire census, I couldn’t trace a matching birth registration. The closest was an unnamed female child birth in 1879 in Dublin North. That looked really promising, but there was no way I could prove it to be mine.

Until, that was, I checked the website recently, and found that that little girl was baptised Anne. So this fitted completely with my great-granny Annie Tait or Tate, and although I can’t be 100% sure I’m mighty confident that I have the right family now, and have been able to trace it extensively.

Using other parish registers indexed at I was able to find baptisms for Annie’s younger siblings. And through the Irish civil registration records at I could trace the marriage of her parents, and deaths for many of those siblings. One of them, Mary, had a marriage noted beside her baptism entry, so I followed that up as well. And ordered lots and lots of certificates from Ireland.

The marriage certificate of the parents in 1877 was really helpful. It confirmed why I’d not been able to find Annie’s father in Dublin trade directories. He was described as a pedlar, and there’s no way he would have been listed in a trade directory. The marriage certificate also gave me the names and occupations of Annie’s grandfathers and through the parish register websites I was able to trace a maternal Fagan uncle’s marriage and baptisms of his children.

The second batch of certificates arrived today. These were 3 deaths and 1 marriage, all for siblings of my great-grandmother. 2 of the deaths are definitely mine. The other one I’m not sure about, but it probably was. And the big surprise was that when Annie’s little sister Mary married in 1912 she was already a widow, Mrs Brady. Discovering this led me to finding Mary Brady with her father John Tait in the 1911 Dublin census, and lots of little Brady children. And then I was able to find John 10 years earlier, with a second wife, and Mary, and lots of younger children. Irish census returns before 1901 were destroyed, so to be able to find the family in the few years that still survive was a big breakthrough. And through the parish register sites I found an entry for John’s second marriage, which even names his mother, Ellen, which was the name he gave his second daughter, who probably died, and also another daughter by his second marriage. In the 1911 census John Tait and daughter Mary Brady had occupation “Dealer. Delph” but since they were living in a 1-room home, 7 in the family, it must have been a tough existence. The 1901 census indicates that John was born in Cork.

So I need to buy more certificates! I’m going to order what looks like the marriage certificate for John Tait and wife #2 in 1893, to be sure he was a widower then. And I’m going to get what looks like his first wife’s death certificate, a short time before his remarriage, to see what happened to her. And I’m going to order what I think was probably John’s death certificate, aged 60, in Dublin in 1912.

When Mary Tait married Joseph Brady in 1902, which I was able to trace through the parish register websites, she was only 17. It looks like she married as soon as she could. Her older sister Anne probably married before the age of 20 too, and probably left Ireland at a young age. I do wonder how they got on with their step-mother, or if the remarriage was an encouragement to leave home. Or maybe just extreme poverty.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
This entry was posted in BMD certificates, census, parish records and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Making great breakthroughs with Irish ancestry

  1. martie says:

    I am creating an ancestral blog. May I ask you how my blog will be picked up by others? In other words how will my blog become known to others? Thank you so much.

    • vivdunstan says:

      If your bog is on WordPress then Google will index it almost as soon as you post. So people can easily find your blog posts via Google keyword searches. You can also promote your blog and posts on it through social media, like Twitter, Facebook etc. And if you use tags on your blog posts like I do, summarising the content of each post, people will find it that way too.

      I’ve had quite a few distant cousins make contact with me via my blogs. It really works.

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