Irish ancestors (1900s)

This guide was last updated in 2014

When Brendan O’Carroll investigated the shooting of his grandfather he encountered an extraordinary period in Irish history, writes genealogist Nicola Morris.

In fact, very few Irishmen and women would have been immune to the events that took place in Ireland in the first and second decades of the 20th century. Finding evidence of your Irish ancestors during this period has, in recent years, become a great deal easier.

The digitisation of a phenomenal volume of material, from census returns to Irish military pension applications, has made it possible to unearth the stories of families who lived through the First World War, 1916 Rising, War of Independence and Civil War in Ireland. The latest census available census dates from 1911 and should enable you to locate your family on the cusp of the coming turmoil.

Electoral Rolls, Street Directories and Revision Books should document where your ancestor was living and witness statements from the War of Independence can paint a very vivid picture of the conflict as it unfolded on the Island.

Many of these sources are now freely available online, and as we approach the centenaries of these events, now is the perfect time to start digging into the lives of your 20th century Irish ancestors.

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