Tracing family history in Ireland can be daunting, especially if the town, or even county, or origin is unknown. An English census may simply read “Ireland” for the place of birth.
A fire at the Public Record Office in 1922 destroyed most Irish census returns pre 1901, and if a family left Ireland prior to this, then this lack of records can be difficult to overcome. As well as this, Irish General Registration only began in 1864, compared to 1837 in England.
But there are ways to overcome these issues. Firstly, find a person of Irish birth in as many censuses in England as possible: just one of these may give more information on place of birth. If they lived until 1911 particularly, it is more likely that a precise place of birth would be given on this record.
If both parents are born in Ireland, but they have children in England, buy the birth certificate of one of these children. This should give the mother’s maiden surname, and this may lead to their marriage record in Ireland. This could be essential if no specific place of origin is given in census returns in England.
If these methods are fruitless, then the mid nineteenth century census substitute Griffith’s Valuation could help localise a surname. This was taken between 1847-1864 in order to asses liability to pay the poor rate. As such, it represents a useful resource where other genealogical records for the same period are lacking.