Why The Irish Drive Me Crazy, and Why I Love Them So Much (From a Genealogist’s perspective)

They Drive Me Crazy

  1. They were so NOT creative when naming their children.  The # of Irish families with children named Mary, John, Patrick, Margaret, and Michael makes searching for them often impossible.  Good luck finding the right John Driscoll from Cork Ireland in 1840 – there are only 100 of them to consider. 
  2. They can’t add.  Every single record from their past has a different year of birth.  Sometimes they get younger.  It’s quite maddening.  How is it possible that my gg grandfather was the same age in the 1850 census as he was in his 1848 passenger ship record?  Aaah, what’s a couple years??
  3. Sadly, the Irish Catholics were seriously discriminated against in the 1800’s.  Many US and Ireland records were sporadic because townspeople didn’t bother to record their vitals.
  4. Their poverty was epic.  The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s took the lives of a large number of our ancestors.  How heartbreaking for a mother to lose half her family, like my great-great grandmother, who lost 5 of her 10 kids.
  5. The food is all about Potatoes.  My diet makes me think I am Italian.

Yet I Love them So Much

  1. They had a tradition of naming their first-born son after the paternal grandfather and the 2nd born son after the maternal grandfather.  This has been a huge help in figuring out the correct families.  For example, my gg grandfather was John O’Connor.  His first-born son was David, who died 5 years later.  Then he named his next son David.  That was my clue to know his father was David.  This led me to find 3 of John’s brothers in Massachusetts – all with first-born sons named David.  Currently, we have 10 David O’Connor’s in our tree just from this one branch.
  2. They were extremely loyal.  Family and friends lived together in packs making it very easy to locate loved ones.  Either by living in the same house or as next-door neighbors.  Fast forward to today.  Who wants to live next to their family? Anybody????
  3. Their bravery makes us proud.  They ultimately survived the Potato Famine, and crossed the ocean as stowage, all for the sake of finding a better life for their families, including me. 
  4. Their religious conviction leaves something to be desired in the 21st century.  That left us with a wealth of church records to hunt for including baptisms, marriages and burials.  Baptism records identify sponsors.  Sponsors were usually siblings, and siblings help us connect the dots to the correct family.
  5. They gave us beautiful redheads, porcelain skin, green eyes and lots o’luck.  For that, we thank you!!



  1. I totally relate! I'm looking for Denis Connell in cork, ire. Found him in griffiths, but nothing before. Cannot find anything for his marriage. He left cork in the late 1850's with son John. Jonn's first son is Dennis (you saw that coming, right?). Dennis had two boys and did not name either after his father, but each son had a boy they named Dennis. It's too much! They drive me crazy and yet they are the family I want to know about the most.
    You can read about them at www.researchingoconnells.wordpress.com

  2. My Irish are making me crazy too. I have a lot of Bridgets and Nora's too. I can't find O'Rourke in Limerick, but did find a lot of Dowd's in Galway. The right Dowd's too, and this was all because my great grandmother (Bridget) but on the county of birth for her husband when he died in 1930. Thank you Bridget.

    Welcome aboard with your Blog.

  3. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist: http://www.indepthgenealogist.com/