Census Return Forms

I love this time of the year… not just good old mother nature…. but I love catching up on my Irish family history research that I have neglected over the warm summer months.  As the evenings get dark earlier, I feel less guilty about spending the evenings on my laptop searching for my ancestors…  or maybe that’s just me.

So I’m back in full flow of research and discovering new bits and pieces that I missed on previous excursions into the depths of Irish records. Although we are limited with our census records, going back over the census forms with a fresh pair of eyes always reveals something new.  It’s akin to walking away from a jigsaw puzzle when you are struggling to find where any of the pieces fit, only to return an hour later and the right pieces are starting straight at you.  Just because you can’t locate a snippet of information one day, always go back, even 6 months later as you might have missed something or new records have been added that can resolve the road block that you encountered previously.

Most of us who start our family history research do so all gung-ho and fire off in all directions.  When I do consultations with clients, I find that this approach has worked to a certain extent but they have missed lots of key pieces of information available to them in birth, marriage, death and census records.  They often skim over records in a rush to get the information.  There are lots of ‘tricks of the trade’ that can make your research less daunting and more rewarding.  Most of these are covered in my courses or during consultation sessions, where, more often than not, I get ‘God, I didn’t know you could do that’… ‘Really, that’s brilliant, if I had known that, it would have saved a lot of heartache’.

One of the recurring issues is the census records.  People generally look at the Household Return Form A and ignore Form N, Form B1 and Form B2.  For example, Form B1 contains information on the street or area when your ancestors lived.  This has helped me on many occasions to find the house they lived in based on the description of the house on a street.  Also, Form B2 provides details about outbuildings.  This information gives you a huge amount of background about your ancestors, the community they lived in and also their means.  In the example below on Line 1, you can see my great granduncle Michael J Whelan, a publican, of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford who the following outbuildings at his public house premises on Island Road: a stable, a coach house, a harness room, a calf house, a cow house, a dairy, a piggery, a fowl house, a boiling house, a barn, a workshop, a shed and a store.

Suffice to say that Michael J Whelan was doing ok for himself.  The benefit of using this information is that when other information comes to light, it is easier to validate.  The public house that Michael J Whelan owned was demolished in 1967 and when I was provided with some old photos of the pub plus the rear of it during the demolition, it confirmed that there was indeed substantial outbuildings at the rear of the pub.  I was also able to establish exactly where the pub was… and it was such a pity that it wasn’t still standing.

If you feel you would benefit from a consultation session or doing one of my online courses, you can find out more information at:

Your Irish Family History

Happy hunting… Sandra

Note:  Courses are designed so that you can do them at your own pace, no weekly classes, no fixed schedule and there are plenty of practical video demonstrations to guide you through the records.

Whelan's Pub Island Road Enniscorthy Co Wexord




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