Kindly written by , Brian Mitchell - Derry Genealogy - www.derry.rootsireland.ie
The starting point for your research will be an online examination of records for Dungiven, County Derry.
There are 45 parishes in County Derry. You can identify the civil parish of Dungiven, and its associated townlands, at https://www.johngrenham.com/places/civil_index.php by selecting Derry on the map. The townland and town of Dungiven is located in the civil parish of Dungiven, County Derry and is situated 16 miles east of Derry City. Dungiven is named on 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey Map of Northern Ireland 'Sheet 7 Londonderry'.
To examine historic maps and aerial photograph of Dungiven search Public Record Office of Northern Ireland’s Historical Map viewer at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/search-proni-historical-maps-viewer. By entering ‘Dungiven (Dungiven)’ in ‘Type Placename or Address’ box you will be able to view, by selecting 'Layer List' tab, second edition (1846-1862), third edition (1900-1907) and fourth edition (1905-1957) Ordnance Survey maps of Dungiven.
If the ancestors you seek were born, married or died after 1864 you should begin with an examination of www.irishgenealogy.ie for civil birth, marriage and death certificates. ‘Historic’ Civil Records of births 1864-1920, marriages 1845-1921 and deaths 1871-1921 for Dungiven area can now be searched and viewed, free of charge, at www.irishgenealogy.ie.
Civil registration of births, deaths and Roman Catholic marriages in Ireland began on 1st January 1864 while non-Catholic marriages were subject to registration from 1st April 1845. Hence, prior to the commencement of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in Ireland, you should now turn your attention to church baptismal, marriage and burial registers.
There is no national index to Irish church registers. To date, only the county-based genealogy centres have attempted any large scale, systematic indexing of church registers in their localities. Derry Genealogy at www.derry.rootsireland.ie for example has transcribed and computerised the following church registers(with gaps) in Dungiven parish:
Church Baptisms Marriages Burials
Dungiven Church of Ireland 1804-1826 1809-1935
Dungiven Presbyterian 1836-1880 1837-1935
Scriggan Presbyterian 1864-1884 1845-1905
Dungiven Roman Catholic 1825-1900 1825-1900 1825-1871
Although RootsIreland, www.rootsireland.ie, is the largest online source of Irish church register transcripts in Dungiven area, it must be emphasised that a failure to find relevant birth/marriage entries in this database doesn't mean that the events you are looking for didn't happen in Ireland. It simply means that they are not recorded in the database; for example, they may be recorded in a record source which doesn't survive for the time period of interest or in a source that has not been computerised.
If you wish to view microfilm copy of church registers, which either have not been indexed or to verify any information found in a database, they can be examined, at no charge, in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Belfast (contact details at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/contacts/contacts-az/public-record-office-northern-ireland ). PRONI's Guide To Church Records, which can be accessed on their website at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/publications/proni-guide-church-records, lists, in alphabetical order by civil parish, church registers of all denominations for most parishes in Ulster and their commencement dates, together with their microfilm reference details.
Quite often the only realistic strategy in tracing ancestors beyond church registers (which are the building blocks of family history) is to examine surviving land records and census substitutes for Dungiven parish for any references to a surname or given name of interest. The problem with these sources is that they name heads of household only; hence they provide insufficient information to confirm the nature of linkages between named people in these sources. Such census substitutes, however, are very useful in confirming the presence of a family name in a particular townland and/or parish, and in providing some insight into the frequency and distribution of surnames.
There are a number of census returns (e.g. 1831 census) and census substitutes (e.g. 1630 Muster Roll, 1663 Hearth Money Rolls, 1740 Protestant Householders Lists, 1766 Religious Census, 1796 Flax Growers Lists, early-19th century Tithe Books and mid-19th century Griffith's Valuation) which can be searched for Dungiven area to confirm the presence of the family name. Griffith's Valuation of 1858/1859 can be searched at www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation while many of the other sources can be searched either at www.derry.rootsireland.ie or www.billmacafee.com. These sources will confirm the presence of a surname of interest but they will not confirm if there is a connection between people with the same surname!
Finally, you should also visit Dungiven as it is always possible that you may be able to make contact with local people with knowledge/oral traditions, not to be found in any historical documents, that shed new light on the origins of your ancestors. You could also visit local graveyards in the Dungiven area and Dungiven Library as they may hold historical information relevant to the local area (further details at https://www.librariesni.org.uk/libraries/county-londonderry/dungiven-library
Derry City and Strabane District Council