Getting started on your family tree

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Mother & Child - Public Domain
Mother & Child – Public Domain


The easiest and quickest way way to discover your roots is to hire a professional genealogist. This is also expensive. In these posts, I will share my family research experiences as an amateur, but enthusiastic, researcher.

A family history search is often a painstaking and frustrating journey. The task is even more difficult in Ireland where so many records have been lost or destroyed over the centuries. The joy of discovering your ancestors and finding out more about their lives cannot be overstated!

Advice for beginners

For complete beginners, I suggest that you gather as much information as possible from older members of the family. Ask them to write down or talk about anything they can remember from the past – relatives, place names, events and family stories. Perhaps, with their agreement, you could record their anecdotes.

It is amazing how many people and incidents can come to light that had previously been forgotten. These memories can suggest where to start your research and will provide vital clues to locations of interest.

As you begin to uncover your ancestors, they will not just be names on a page but living people with lives and characters of their own. I have found this is also an enjoyable experience for an older relative – a jaunt down memory lane with a young companion!

Useful Sources of Information

Now follow the link below to see our growing archive of posts & hints on Tracing Your Family Tree:


An additional website recommended by one of readers is FamilySearch. The link below will provide access to this free site. (

Family Search Website
Family Search Website

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David Boyle · 12 December 2023 at 4:11 pm

I am looking for someone to create a family tree for me either hard copy or on line or both. I have all the details but need someone to bring it all to life. Can you recommend someone to help?

    P&P · 13 December 2023 at 1:53 pm

    David, we use for family research and building the tree but this is subscription based service at around £12 per month. An alternative is which is free and supports some researching (not as comprehensive as Ancestry as its an American website) and a completely free family tree builder. The main selling point of this website is that it is completely free and you can search across all family trees in it. Copy and paste that familysearch web address into your browser to look at the site.

    Alternatively, if you just want a template to draw a family tree there are free options online eg Canva offer free templates to store and print your family tree at – Many of their family tree templates are free but some are “Pro” (ie payment needed). Hover the cursor over the templates to see if Pro appears and avoid these for a free visual. A search on your web browser for “family tree template” will find other options. Good luck.

rodh · 20 October 2023 at 9:02 pm

best place tosart is to use familysearch for free all the records on could want no need to start with a pro

    P&P · 21 October 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Rodney, thanks for this suggestion. We had looked at this site before but found no useful records on our own families and went on to the other sources mentioned as more useful free tools.

    However, given that you have found Familysearch useful, we have added information on it as recommended by our readers. It is now included.

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