Irish Family History Society

Connecting People With Their Irish Roots

Tracing your Donegal Ancestors

By Helen Meehan and Godfrey Duffy      ISBN 978-0-9539974-9-7
Published by Flyleaf Press  Price €13 plus p&p  
County Donegal is interesting in the fact that it is the most northerly county on the island of Ireland but its jurisdiction is in the south.
Population wise the figures have fluctuated vastly over the last century and a half. Prior to the famine it reached almost 300,000 and in the intervening years the numbers dipped as low as 108,000 and now it is back up to almost 150,000 souls.
Many of those missing numbers are made up of families who emigrated to various parts of the globe and have become part of the Diaspora.
This publication will be of particular interest to the descendants of those who unwillingly left these shores.
The authors tell us that Donegal families are an interesting mix of native Irish and of Scots Irish families who came to Donegal from the 17th Century onwards. It was to experience a high level of emigration to North America , Scotland and the North of England.
The book has 15 chapters under such headings as, Administrative divisions, Civil registration, Census, church records, Wills, Newspapers, Commercial directories, emigration records and Surname and family histories. The location of these records is clearly shown in each case as are the dates and years of access.
One of the most useful items shown is a map displaying all of the civil parishes of the county. Also included is a map of the Roman Catholic parishes of the county. The areas marked are matched up with a numerical list of the parish names. All the usual sources are quoted and in most cases there are facsimiles of the important documents which are vital in family research, the likes of Index of births, of marriages and of deaths in Ireland . Other examples shown are Special report of surnames in Ireland 1894. “Spinning wheel premium lists” “Griffith’s Valuation of tenements” “Raphoe wills 1684 to 1858” and “Thom’s directory” plus a number of other trade and commercial directories covering the county from 1824 up to 1896.
The book finishes off with a lengthy index which seems to be a very useful tool in making the best use of information enclosed. The publication is one of a kind and does all the correct things required of such a book, directions to availability of vital data, examples of such data and all other relevant information which will steer the beginner and the more experienced researcher when searching for Donegal ancestors.
Eddie Brennan, Hon. Librarian.

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