“Nearly 37 Million Americans Claim Irish Ancestry including President Obama and Walt Disney
PROVO, UTAH (March 14, 2011) – In recognition of St. Patrick’s Day, Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today launchedThe Irish Collection – the definitive 19thcentury collection of Irish historical records. The collection provides nearly 100 years of insight into life in Ireland in the 19thand early 20thcenturies. Because few records exist from this time period, the collection is immensely valuable to people researching their Irish heritage and anyone seeking a more comprehensive view of Ireland before and after the Great Potato Famine, during which time many millions fled Ireland in search of a better life.
Nearly 37 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry (or approximately 12 per cent of the U.S. population) according to the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. This number is more than eight times the population of Ireland itself (4.5 million) and means that many millions of Americans may have ancestors in The Irish Collection.
The Irish Collection, online and searchable now at www.Ancestry.com/Irishrecords, offers an essential resource for anyone researching Irish history. The records will help trace Irish family heritage during 19thcentury Ireland through detailed maps, photographs and land use records spanning almost 100 years. Ancestry.com has enhanced the collections by cross-referencing family names with other rich content such as photographs and land records.
The Irish Collection, 1824-1910 includes:
- Griffiths Valuation, 1847-1864: One of the most important surviving 19th century genealogical resources for Ireland, this collection of over 2.5 million records provides a snapshot of ancestors who rented land or property throughout Ireland in the 1850s.
- Tithe Applotment Books, 1824-1837: In 1823 a law was enacted requiring all land holders to pay a tax or “tithe” to the Church of Ireland, regardless of their religious affiliation. With details like tithe payer, acreage of their land and amount of their tithe, these 600,000 records in effect provide a census of pre-famine Ireland.
- Ordnance Survey Maps, 1824-1846: The Ordnance Survey of Ireland maps relate to the first detailed mapping of Ireland undertaken during the 1830s and 1840s. The later part of the survey was produced during the height of the famine.
- Lawrence Collection, 1870-1910: This collection of 20,000 photographs showcases the length and breadth of Ireland —Howth Head in the East to Achill Head in the West and from Malin Head in the North to Skibbereen in the South — through the eyes of William Lawrence’s photography studio in Dublin.
Many key political figures in history have boasted Irish ancestry, including more than a quarter of United States Presidents, including John F. Kennedy, whose 2nd great-grandfather is listed in the collection. Patrick Kennedy was living in Wexford, Ireland where he was renting a home. His relative John Kennedy was living nearby. President Barack Obama’s4thgreat grandfather Fulmuth Donavan also appears, living in Ballygurleen, Bourney, Tipperary, in 1829 according to the Tithe Applotment records.
More notable Irish-Americans’ ancestors can be found in these new collections, including:
- Conan O’Brien:Conan’s 3rdgreat-grandfather Daniel O’Brien was renting a house, land, and offices from Kilner Brazier, Esq, in Lissard Townland, Galbally Civil Parish, County Limerick, Ireland
- Sean Hannity: Hannity’s great-grandfather, Thomas Hannity married Margaret Ward, who was born in 1845 to Edward Ward, a farmer, and his wife Alice Mulholland. Hannity’s 2nd great grandfather Edward Ward, also a farmer, was living in Ballymaghinghy, Drumgooland, County Down, Ireland. The lessor was Earl Annesley
- Walt Disney – Arundel Elias Disney, the great-grandfather of the entertainer and founder of the Disney empire, is listed in Griffiths and Tithe records, recorded as living in Clone, Rathbeagh and Kilkenny.
(Original record images for each of these names are available)
Through records such as the Griffiths Valuation and Tithe Applotment books, Philadelphia resident Tom Rogers uncovered the dire economic conditions that his ancestors endured in 19th Century Ireland, including illness and severe poverty that forced the family into the poorhouse before immigrating to the United States.
“My paternal grandmother put the ‘old country’ behind her to start anew in America so much of the family history, especially our oral history, has been lost over time,” says Rogers. “Ancestry.com’s wealth of records has helped me paint a fairly vivid picture of my family and explain why they came to America, where they were from, who they married, who was a horse thief, who was a hero and so on.”
Ancestry.com is continuously adding to its global collection of more than 6 billion historical records. With the addition of these new collections, Ancestry.com now possesses more than 35 millionIrish historical records and will continue building the collection as more are digitized.
“As more than one in ten Americans has Irish heritage, with these collections, we can now do more than just celebrate this St Patrick’s Day – we can actually explore where in Ireland we came from,” said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President at Ancestry.com. “The U.S. has always closely identified with Ireland and Irish culture and so it is very exciting to make available records that can help so many of us to trace back to a particular person, place and time in Ireland more than 150 years ago.”
Starting a family history research project can be as simple as entering a name into Ancestry.com, allowing the powerful search technology to comb through millions of records and help uncover facts to develop family stories. To promote the new Irish collections, Ancestry.com users can enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to Ireland. To begin searching The Irish Collection, visit www.ancestry.com/Irishrecords. For further stories and updates related to Irish family history research, you can also follow Ancestry.com on Facebook and Twitter.”