Irish history and Irish genealogical research go hand in hand. When you think about it, it’s really impossible to learn about one without learning about the other. In the course of doing regular Irish genealogy research, you’ll naturally pick up all sorts of facts and anecdotes about the history of Ireland and its people. Without even trying, you may eventually become a de facto expert on the subject! However, rather than just picking up random historical details here and there by accident, taking the time to actually deliberately study the history of Ireland along with your genealogy research can actually enrich and expand the story of your Irish family history.
Here are the top 3 ways that studying Irish history can help expand your genealogy research in wonderful ways you never imagined!
1. You can find out details about how your Irish ancestors likely lived. People are products of the times in which they live, and your Irish family was no different. They were deeply affected and influenced by such things as social customs and expectations, fashion, religion, local laws, and manner of speech that were common to their eras. Their daily lives were influenced by the technologies available at the time, and how accessible those technologies were to regular people. By reading up on the manner of everyday life for people in Ireland at the time your ancestors lived there, you’ll gain a much greater understanding of how they lived, and what kind of people they may have been.
2. You can discover how historical events may have influenced or affected the lives of your ancestors. Things like wars, famines, political upheavals, large religious movements, natural disasters, and even weather patterns that happened in Ireland when your ancestors were living would all have likely had at least a small impact on them. In most cases, the impact was probably very great. By reading up on what was going on in the area where your ancestor lived at the time he or she lived there, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the hardships, triumphs, and changes they must have experienced in their lives.
3. You can find out what role your ancestor may have played in local events. Sometimes, during a search of Irish history books, you may come across a mention of your ancestor you haven’t seen in any of the regular record sources you’ve consulted. If you find your ancestor in a history book, it’s probably in the context of something he or she did that was notable in the area at the time. This could be valor in military service, a dramatic rescue your ancestor participated in, outstanding charity work, or any number of other wonderful things. It could also be something less savory, such as notorious criminal activity, participation in political intrigue, or or mistreatment of tenant farmers (some large landholders became infamous for forcing the mass eviction of tenant farms during the Great Famine). Either way, you’ll gain a greater understanding of who your ancestor was as a person, and how the area of Ireland in which he lived has been shaped and influenced by him to be what it is today.
The best part about studying Irish history as an extension of genealogy research is that it allows you to become more intimately familiar with your ancestors. Rather than just names and dates on the records they generated, they can become real people to you, with unique personalities and their own hopes, dreams, struggles, and triumphs. In a sense, this knowledge will help them live again in your mind. This creates a hugely rewarding and rich genealogy experience for both you and anyone who reads your work in the future. Putting history together with genealogy in the study of Irish ancestors is a remarkable way to leave an incredible family history legacy to future generations.