Mary McKee, Findmypast
The recently released Irish Poverty Relief Loans, 1821-1874 on Findmypast are a fascinating source for those building their Irish family tree.
They record the names of over 600,000 people in rural Ireland, before during and after The Great Famine. Geographically, the records mainly cover the counties on Ireland’s west and south-west coasts, areas of the country which can be notoriously challenging for family history research.
Not only do the records provide much needed documentation of the population of those areas but they also set out the devastation brought on by the Great Hunger in Ireland during that period. Page after page of the collection lists loan borrowers and/or guarantors who have either died of starvation or emigrated in order to survive – a stark reminder of what life would have been like at the time.
The Poverty Relief Loans were part of the Irish Reproductive Loan Fund which was started in 1822 to assist with agricultural and industrial entrepreneurship.
The loans often went to farmers or fishermen who could use them to create a living for themselves. Two guarantors were required for each loan so discovering your ancestor in these records usually means you also finding some of their family members, neighbors or closest friends.
Did your ancestor emigrate from Ireland to America during the Great Famine? These brand new record could be key to discovering where in Ireland they originated from and they can only be found on Findmypast.