UCC ACE Short courses

Genealogy: How to Trace your Family Tree

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Genealogy: How to Trace your Family Tree

  • Code


  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    Ten weeks, Tuesdays 7-9pm, from 28 January to 7 April 2020

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications

    Cert of Attendance

  • Fees

    €230. See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    Applicants must be over 18 years of age by course commencement. See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Friday, 17 January 2020

  • Venue

    Western Gateway Building, Room 304, UCC 

  • Start Date

    Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Course Outline

This course aims to equip attendees with the skills and information necessary to set out confidently on the ancestor trail. There are three strands to the course. Firstly, twelve important genealogical sources will be described in detail, with a focus on how to locate and use them to get information on your own ancestry. Secondly, a methodical approach to family history research will be outlined, advising how to tackle a mass of documentary material, and also suggesting how to produce a finished family tree document. Thirdly, the historical and social context necessary for a deeper understanding of our ancestors and our genealogical records will form a continuous backdrop to the course.

The three strands will be intertwined to form a practical, informative and entertaining experience. In addition, this course will also take a close and critical look at DNA in genealogy. In recent times, genealogy has become high tech.  The days of the the family historian pottering round  graveyards is gone with the arrival of the internet and, more recently, DNA testing, it’s all ICT and biology.  I took the Ancestry and the My Heritage DNA tests this summer and found the experience to be fascinating, though it took me several weeks to develop an understanding of this new technology.  My verdict: DNA adds a new dimension to family research. However, it has a downside.  You can waste your money taking tests, and your time trying to understand the results, unless you have acquired some knowledge of what DNA is all about.  Worse still, you can destroy your carefully researched family tree if you allow online ‘fake family trees’ to merge with your work.  The three strands will be intertwined to form a practical, informative and entertaining experience.

1. General Introduction: Source: Census Returns, Project Plan. History: First People in Ireland
2. Source: State Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages, start research with the live ones. History: The Bronze Age to the Celts
3. Sources: Catholic and Church of Ireland Parish Records, Administrative Divisions. History: St Patrick to the Vikings
4. Source: Valuation and Poor Law Records, the Easy Options. History: The Norman/British Conquest of Ireland
5. Sources: Wills and Administrations, Records of the Graveyard, the Matheson Report. History: The Plantations
6. Source: Estate Records, Parliamentary Papers. History: The 1641 Rebellion to the Battle of the Boyne
7. Source: The Registry of Deeds, Intensive Investigations. History: The Ascendancy
8. Sources: Tithe Applotment Books and the Land Commission, Finishing the Job. History: O’Connell’s Ireland
9. Sources: Hearth Money Rolls and the Religious Census; Assessment of Material. History: Parnell’s Ireland
10. Source: Miscellaneous other sources, The Final Document; History: de Valera’s Ireland

Course Practicalities

Who teaches this course:

The course is taught by Tony McCarthy MA who has lectured widely on genealogy in Ireland and the United States. He is the author of The Irish Roots Guide (Lilliput), The Ancestor Album (Lilliput), Tracing Your Cork Ancestors [with Tim Cadogan] (Flyleaf), The Facts of Death (Belgrave). With his wife, Angela, he founded Irish Roots, a magazine which he edited for 16 years. He is a Fellow and former President of the Genealogical Society of Ireland.

The course consists of ten two hour lectures (7-9pm). To derive full benefit from the course, participants are expected to use their new knowledge and skills to carry out their own research, both online and in various archives and to produce a finished family history document suitable for distribution among their extended families. This work is expected to be carried out both during the course and after the course has finished. 


Short courses are non-assessed

Why Choose This Course

Genealogy is one of the most popular and enjoyable hobbies in the world. The internet is making more and more family history sources available online at little or no cost to the family history researcher. However, unless you have some knowledge of Irish history and a clear understanding of the various record compilations in their historical context, you can waste a lot of time and make significant mistakes. This course provides all you need to set out on the Irish ancestor trail with confidence.  The course provides an introduction to the top ten Irish genealogical sources; it provides a summary of Ireland’s past sufficient to give a sense of historical orientation, and it provides enough information and advice to encourage participants to produce a finished family history document.


Applicants must be over 18 years of age by course commencement

Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €230..

How Do I Apply

This course is now closed. 

Contact details for this course

Year 1 Modules

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