Irish research presents unique challenges
If you’re using online indexes to Irish church records, then you are faced with some unique challenges. In your immigrant research, you know ages mean little as they can vary five or ten years in either direction with each census. Also, Irish given names sometimes vary. So what do you do when you find a baptism in an index which really catches your attention?
You have to come to terms with that targeted family in the index, even if it’s only to eliminate them. If I find an entry in an online index, then I take the entire family unit and look at naming patterns. If the targeted family has some unusual names (siblings of the potential ancestor), then ask if these name names passed down in your branch of the family. If they did, then you may be onto something. Another strategy is to see if any of the potential siblings, found in the index, immigrated to where your ancestor did.
Sometimes the name of the game is disproving what you find
An additional strategy is to see if the family from index, including who you think is your specific ancestor, actually stayed rather than immigrated. If they stayed when your family immigrated, then you have dis-proven them. However, this strategy can be a little tricky because of the massive amount of immigration. So look at it from the perspective that staying behind would answer your question.
Remember, what happens when you assume
Never just accept an entry from an index as your ancestor unless you have enough information to positively prove your case. If you do not know some information such as parent’s names, siblings names, or mother’s maiden name, then you certainly cannot use age, or even first names to necessarily identify a correct entry. In these cases, you are still working with an immigrant research problem, not an Irish research problem.
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