I would advise anyone researching their ancestry in Ireland to acquaint themselves with the county,town and parish where their ancestors came from. If you do not know where they came from I would suggest you read the history of Ireland. The reading will certainly give you some insight into the times of your ancestors and why they left.
Many parishes have a book dedicated to the history of the parish and it's people. They probably will not be found on commercial sites but for many parishes they certainly would exist.
Some parishes have an incredible amount of detail written on the history and it's people. I will give an example of some details from a local history book written in the 1990's for Mid-Cork and I think it's extremely well written and researched. It's in relation to the famine and parts of it make a tough but fascinating read.
I strongly believe research is much more than names and dates and of course that extra reading can give us all clues.
1.From the baptismal register of 1847 Donoughmore, Co Cork....... "This was the famine year.There died of famine and fever,from Nov.1846 to Sept.1847 over fourteen hundred of the people and one priest, The Revd. Dan Horgan requiescat in pace. Numbers remained unburied for over a fortnight, many were buried in ditches near their houses, many without coffins, tho' there were four men employed to bury the dead and make graves and two and sometimes four carpenters to make coffins. All this year also we were visited by the cholera. 5 only died of it in this parish.
2. Dr Godfrey the dispensary doctor in Donoughmore gave details of visiting the Riordan family in Goulane, with 6 children and the parents dying of fever and another child in the Poor House in Macroom.The Kiely man of Coolacca, recently released from the Fever hospital, was dying and, in the Buckly household, the wife was lying on a few sods of turf, nearly exhausted from hunger. At her head lay a boy, dead for a week past, at her foot were two boys, the remains of a family of five sons. In another corner was a boy, 15 years of age, who died from the dysentry. A fifth was buried three weeks previously and the father said no one would enter his house either to bury his dead boys or to remove the living.
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