Those of us researching our Irish roots are always hoping to discover our family’s place of origin in Ireland. But even after searching diligently for every scrap of information possible in U.S. records, we are often left frustrated. Too many U.S. records simply list “Ireland” as a place of origin.
Fortunately, sometimes you can find better information in unusual places. Newspapers are an excellent resource to check. You may have searched newspaper archives for marriage announcements or obituaries, but you should not stop there. Recently I found two examples of unique newspaper articles which named an individual’s origins in Ireland.
The first article covered the celebration of a golden wedding anniversary. In 1909, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Conroy celebrated the 50th anniversary of their marriage, and the event was carried by the local newspaper.1 After detailing the events of the celebration, the article gave details of Patrick Conroy’s life. It stated that he was the son of Patrick Conroy and Margaret Welch, born on 16 April 1833 in Slabe townland, near Mountmellick, County Queens (now Laois).
The townland name may have been misspelled or garbled in the article, as I could find no reference to Slabe in modern literature. However, Mountmellick is easily found. If Patrick Conroy was your ancestor, you would be delighted to learn this information.
The other interesting article I found was a report of the Thubber Club’s formation in New York City in 1881.2 Created by a group of men from the village of Killenaule, County Tipperary, this social club was formed to “keep alive old associations and recollections.” The men named the club after their local holy well.
I wish I could have been present for this meeting. The program included a presentation on the genealogical history of Killenaule, the names of the principal families, and details on the local history. What a goldmine of information that would have been.
The article concluded by listing the names of all the men in the club. If your ancestor was one of those named, I bet you would do a genealogical happy dance! You can find the full article by following the link in the notes below.
I urge you to explore newspaper archives whenever possible. Note than many newspaper archives require a subscription to access. There are certainly many more wonderful articles out there waiting to be discovered. If you find another interesting article with a place of origin in Ireland, I would love to hear about it.
Irish Newspaper Archives
American Ancestors members may access a large collection of Irish newspapers. The archive contains 6 million images of pages of newspaper content from titles North and South of the Irish border, spanning from 1738 to the current day. Learn more about external databases from AmericanAncestors.org
Irish Genealogy Research Guide
This free guide lists a wealth of resources for researching your Irish ancestry at AmericanAncestors.org and beyond.
Recorded Lecture: Anniversary of the Four Courts Fire in Dublin
Centuries of Irish history were lost as a result of the Four Courts Fire in Dublin in 1922. In this lecture, Senior Genealogist Rhonda R. McClure delves into the history of the event, details which records survived, and offers alternative avenues for research.
1 “Celebrate Their Golden Wedding,” Marshall News, Marshall, Michigan, 10 Nov 1909, p. 2., col. 5; https://newspaperarchive.com/.
2 “The Thubber Club,” Irish American, New York, NY, 16 Apr 1881, p. 5., col. 1; “CRL Digital Delivery System,” https://dds.crl.edu/item/317191.
About Pam Guye Holland
Pam has been researching family roots in Ireland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Germany for over twenty years. She is the genetic genealogy director for the Massachusetts Genealogical Council and is a certificate holder from the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate program. She lectures internationally, is a regular contributor to the NEHGS blog, Vita-Brevis, and has published articles on genetics and genealogy in the American Ancestors magazine. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she grew up in West Virginia, and currently resides in the Boston area. During her earlier career she earned a BA in International Relations from the College of Wooster and a MS in Computer Science from Northeastern University. Areas of expertise: Irish immigration, Irish records, DNA, church records, German, New York (both city and state), and New England.View all posts by Pam Guye Holland →