Filling in your family tree is a bit like solving a big puzzle – and each puzzle is different for every family! You will have to do some detective work, so remember to take notes and keep your eyes and ears open for clues that well help you discover the names that you are looking for. Remember, don’t expect to be able to fill in your tree straight away – but every time you find a new name, it will lead you to discovering more about your family and where you come from.
Tips on how to make and design a Family Tree of your own
1. Start with what you know
Fill in the names of the people you already know! It is a good idea to include the year they were born as sometimes many people in a family have the same name.
2. Interview your parents and your grandparents
Your Mum and Dad will have a lot of the answers, but your granny and granddad will have even more. Tell them about your Family Tree project and ask them to tell you about THEIR grandparents. If your grandparents live far away, you can do this over the phone or on SKYPE.
3. Do some online research
Did you know there is lots of information about your ancestors available for free online?
Get your parents to help: Visit the National Archives online Census page to see your family at the beginning of the 20th Century. www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/
To search for your ancestors in the Census you will need to know their surname and the street or Townland where they lived. If you don’t find them at first, try again using a different spelling of their name or widening your search to cover the entire County. This is where it helps to have an unusual name!
4. Put a face to the name!
Ask your parents and Grandparents to show you some old photographs. Wedding photos are great for including older generations of your family. Use a digital camera or phone to take your own photos of old photographs and print them out. That way you can write the names beside the faces and it will help bring your tree to life!
Looking for more of a challenge? Create separate tree templates for your Mum and Dad, inserting their name where it says “Me”. This will mean you are looking for THEIR grandparents and great grandparents, taking you a whole generation further back in time.
5. Share the fun!
Why not ask your brothers, sisters and cousins to help you with your family tree? Let them know that you are doing this and ask them to send you any information they come across. If your cousins are living in a different country, this is a great way to collaborate on a common project!
Get your parents to help: Did you know that you can share information about your ancestors on IrelandXO for free by creating an Ancestor Chronicle? Remember they must have been born more than 100 years ago. This is a great way to ask for help when you have ‘hit a brick wall’. Visit our Ancestor Chronicles for more information.
Click on the Family Tree button to download your Free Blank Family Tree Template
Do you know a lot about your Irish ancestors and would like to share them with others descended from the same place in Ireland? Or perhaps you would like to learn more about the people who also lived in the same place as your own ancestors!
Visit our ancestor database on the XO Chronicles to find out more!
Do you have a question about your Irish heritage and would like to connect with people living in your ancestors' Irish place of origin? Visit our Message Board to get free family history advice from our IrelandXO community and to connect with our volunteer network, that covers the whole of the island of Ireland.