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SC2014 Research and Write your Family Tree

Ended 30 Mar 2021

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Full course description

Course Overview

Creating a family history has never been easier than at this time: the era of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).  The use of DNA tests, computerised databases, genealogical applications and online family trees has made possible what had previously been impossible.   Your family tree can be researched more cheaply, produced more easily, displayed more impressively and distributed at no cost, thanks to developments in ICT.

However the new tools also have their downside.  They can be a distraction, encouraging perpetual online research.  They encourage the erroneous belief that family histories can be preserved and accessed indefinitely as digital media. Websites like push their members into creating huge, unwieldy, conglomerations of far out relatives, to no purpose.  Traditional characteristics of family histories are being forgotten and the tried and tested display patterns and numbering systems are rarely used.  

The aim of the course is to equip attendees with the skills and information necessary to create a traditional family tree using modern genealogical tools.  This objective is to produce a pedigree of seven generations (including the subject of the pedigree).  This task may be made a little easier by making a child or grandchild the subject of the pedigree rather than yourself.  

There are three strands to the course. Firstly, twelve important genealogical sources will be described in detail, with a focus on how to locate and use them to get information on your own ancestry. Secondly, a methodical approach to family history research will be outlined, advising how to tackle a mass of documentary material, and also suggesting how to produce a finished family tree document. Thirdly, the historical and social context necessary for a deeper understanding of our ancestors and our genealogical records will form a continuous backdrop to the course.  The three strands will be intertwined to form a practical, informative and entertaining experience. 

Genealogy is one of the most popular and enjoyable hobbies in the world. The internet is making more and more family history sources available online at little or no cost to the family history researcher. However, unless you have some knowledge of Irish history and a clear understanding of the various record compilations in their historical context, you can waste a lot of time and make significant mistakes. This course provides all you need to set out on the Irish ancestor trail with confidence.  The course provides an introduction to the top Irish genealogical sources; it provides a summary of Ireland’s past sufficient to give a sense of historical orientation, and it provides enough information and advice to encourage participants to produce a finished family history document.  It also provides a clear plan for your family history with a number of charts to help you in the work. To derive full benefit from the course, participants are expected to use their new knowledge and skills to carry out their own research, both online and in various archives and to produce a finished family history document suitable for distribution among their extended families. This work is expected to be carried out both during the course and after the course has finished. 

Course Schedule 


Classes will be delivered online on Tuesdays 7-9pm for ten weeks from 26 January to 30 March.


1. General Introduction:Source: Census Returns, Project Plan. History: First People in Ireland
2. Source: State Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages, start research with the live ones. History: The Bronze Age to the Celts
3. Sources: Catholic and Church of Ireland Parish Records, Administrative Divisions. History: St Patrick to the Vikings
4. Source:Valuation and Poor Law Records, the Easy Options. History: The Norman/British Conquest of Ireland
5. Sources: Wills and Administrations, Records of the Graveyard, the Matheson Report. History: The Plantations
6. Source: Estate Records, Parliamentary Papers. History: The 1641 Rebellion to the Battle of the Boyne
7. Source: The Registry of Deeds, Intensive Investigations. History: The Ascendancy
8. Sources: Tithe Applotment Books and the Land Commission, Finishing the Job. History: O’Connell’s Ireland
9. Sources: Hearth Money Rolls and the Religious Census; Assessment of Material. History: Parnell’s Ireland
10. Source: Miscellaneous other sources, The Final Document; History: de Valera’s Ireland

Course Lecturer

The course is taught by Tony McCarthy MA who has lectured widely on genealogy in Ireland and the United States. He is the author of The Irish Roots Guide (Lilliput), The Ancestor Album (Lilliput), Tracing Your Cork Ancestors [with Tim Cadogan] (Flyleaf), The Facts of Death (Belgrave). With his wife, Angela, he founded Irish Roots, a magazine which he edited for 16 years. He is a Fellow and former President of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, and a Fellow of the Cork Geological Society.  

Entry Requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.


Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.

Closing Date for Application

Monday 18 January

Contact Details for Further Information

Regina Sexton, Phone: 021-4904700, Email: