A professional genealogist friend commented to me; “I contacted the [blank] Heritage Centre and they said nothing could be done because the church registers didn’t go back far enough.” I said, “Oh really!” I proceeded to learn more.
It turns out the Catholic immigrant family had children born in the 1820s. So the centre was correct there would be no further church registers. However, they found one child christened; probably the last one. I asked if the christening record provided a townland (address) where the family was living in the parish, as well as sponsors (godparents) names. The answer was yes.
If the centre staff meant there were no further church registers, then they stand correct. If they meant no further records at all, then the staff was incorrect. I’ve worked with most of the genealogical centres in Ireland and Northern Ireland by now, and the majority are informative and helpful. They’ve helped me find all kinds of non-church records from which to continue my search.
In this case, I told my friends they had to look at their pre-church records Irish research in a similar fashion as one would do Southern United States research or African American slave research. In the case of Southern US, church registers may or may not exist. So you may build a lineage while never looking at church registers. This means looking at land, tax, probate, voters, or anything else you can get your hands on to build a case. In the case of African American slave research, you look for the slave by researching the plantation records kept by the owner.
Irish research is a combination of both strategies. The landlord papers, called “Estate Records” may contain leases and rent books. This can document your family in the townland. When these have not survived, then you go to any other record you can get your hands on. This takes digging to see what is even available.
So my friends left encouraged their research wasn’t finished. The point is once there are no more church registers, then think in terms of what else may be available.