It seems to me that the reasons for our anxiety are threefold:
According to the experts on Irish research, what we really need to know about our immigrant ancestor is his real name and the townland where he lived in Ireland. That will get us a long way towards discovering his ancestors. Can we find this information on the net? Maybe. Sources in America are more likely to give us that information.
So what can you expect from the net? Probably some clues that will point you in the direction of some further research and the possibility of connecting with other people who are looking for the same person you are. To me, that is the truly wonderful part of research on the net -- getting to meet live relatives (probably fifth or sixth cousins) who are on the journey with you! This gives us the possibilities sharing both the burdens of research and the joys of discovery.
The temptation for all researchers is to skip the hard stuff -- DOCUMENTATION. It is even more important to keep the issue of sources in mind when working on the net because most of the records that you are able to find are just pointers or secondary sources. You are typically not looking at original documents on the screen. Therein lies the opportunity for further research. When you find that possible kernel of truth, you should verify it at the townland source in a record that was made contemporaneous with the event. We should never forget the best principles of genealogical research even as we encounter new and better web sites and newsgroups to peruse. It is so easy to get caught up in this incredible process and forget the basics.
There are four web sites I would recommend to you for starters.
You will want to visit them periodically to keep up with any updates made
to the sites:
The other newsgroup, soc.genealogy.uk+ireland is focused on everything Irish -- history, surnames, geography, wars, heroes, etc. and their relationship to genealogy. To make the best use of these two groups, get the Genealogy Meta FAQ. It used to be posted every 22nd of the month. Print it and read the instructions. Then keep the FAQ for future reference. You will come back to it from time to time for further pointers. It is an invaluable net reference piece.
In the Meta Faq there are two excellent tutorials: one for researching overseas, (it is heavily British, but a great reference tool for the serious genealogist), and another for use of the civil registration (which was used for Northern Ireland since 1921).
This just touches on my subject. I hope this has given you some new ideas to pursue or challenged your current research methods. You might consider attending the Genealogy SIG meetings if you want more challenges. Or you might think about joining our local San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society (210 342-5242) to associate yourself with other serious genealogists. In any case, whatever you do, do not give up hope. You will find you elusive Irish ancestor one of these days. It will take a lot of work and the luck of the Irish!
Laura B. Grover is an Irish researcher concentrating on the
names Carberry and Candler. She recently attended the Irish Genealogical
Conference in Boston sponsored by the New England Historic and Genealogical
Society. Some of her comments herein are attributed to Steve Kyner, author
of the NEHGS computer interest newsletter and a speaker at the conference.
Ms. Grover taught the "Genealogy on the Internet" course at the recent
Internet Odyssey and performs professional heirship searches. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.