special thanks to Larry for sharing the following tips for tracing your Irish ancestors ...
Among your biggest challenges in Irish genealogy research is identifying that specific place of origin on the Emerald Isle. Although the island of Ireland is about the size of Indiana, it can seem as big as Jupiter if that's all you have to go on. But if you learn all you can about your Irish ancestors in American records, with a bit of Irish luck, you might discover their origins. Leave no Blarney Stone unturned in your search, including tombstones. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
1. The Irish are known for including the county and sometimes the townland of origin on their headstones-for example, Bridget McNamara's Richmond, Va., headstone says she was a native of Kildysart, County Clare, Ireland.
2. Be sure to look for obituaries, death certificates and church records in America, as Catholic priests with largely Irish congregations might have included this information in records of marriages, baptisms or burials. But a place of origin can turn up in any record, so gather every document your ancestor might've created in America.
3. Expanding your search to all family members' records is key, too, as instructor Sharon Carmack learned when researching her great-grandmother Delia Gordon. Delia and her twin sister, Mary, emigrated from Ireland. Some relatives thought they were from County Cork. Records for Delia, Mary and their immediate families said only "Ireland." When Mary attempted suicide in 1906, a newspaper article mentioned another sister, Annie, whom Sharon hadn't known about. Sharon started tracking Annie's family, and her husband's naturalization gave Annie's origins as County Leitrim. Because of Sharon's lengthy search for the three sisters, she could give the County Leitrim Heritage Centre (part of the Irish Family History Foundation's network of genealogy centers) enough information to find the Gordons in church records. Turns out they lived in the townland of Ardvarney.
4. To find Irish Heritage Centres and learn what records they have, go to <www.irish-roots.net/counties.asp> . They're generally not open to the public, and they charge a fee for searches, but some offer records and indexes on their websites. If you're still coming up empty on the place of origin, broaden your search to people associated with your ancestor, such as witnesses to baptisms, deeds, and other records, as well as Irish-born neighbors listed in the census. Immigrants tended to migrate with and settle near people they knew from their homeland.