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Tracing your Irish family history: Newspapers

Niall Cullen, Findmypast

Unlike today, your Irish ancestors would not have access to news on demand 24/7 from TV, radio and the internet. In fact, the only mass media available for much of their lives would have been newspapers. This makes the publications of the time an incredible resource when tracing your Irish family tree.

Old newspapers

Historic newspapers reveal the daily lives of our ancestors in fantastic colour and detail. In 19th century Ireland, national newspapers often got much of their content from their local and regional counterparts, meaning the everyday happenings in towns and villages across the nation would have been reported.

The articles in local Irish newspapers also provide a view of major national and local events through the eyes of that community. The story of important events, such as the Great Irish Famine or Fenian Risings are reported through a local lens, allowing you to further understand an ancestor’s place within their local community.

Today’s privacy laws regarding identity protection didn’t exist back in the time your forebears lived so don’t be surprised to find rich detail such as names and addresses included in historical newspaper articles.

When searching vintage newspapers for information on your Irish ancestors here’s some of what you can expect to find:

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• Local news reports from their community
• Details of any crimes they may have been involved in
• Family notices of the most important events in their lives such as births, marriages, deaths and elopements – which may include unique information you never knew before
• Their family business being advertised
• Even photographs of them so you can check for family resemblance!
• Details of special events and visitors to their locality
• Legal notices regarding the sale of their property and land.

You can explore 13 titles, nearly 2 million historical Irish newspaper articles now on Findmypast, home to the world’s largest collection of online Irish family history records.

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