Irish immigration to the USA dates back to the 17th century but grew significantly from 1820 onwards, due mainly to the opportunity for skilled and unskilled workers to find employment within the rapidly expanding construction and service industries.
In terms of geographical placement, Irish Catholics originally settled more so in the Northeast and Midwest states and cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, whereas Irish Protestants tended to gravitate more towards the Southern states.
However, over the years, due to Irish/American marriages and the ever changing labour market, the geographical and demographic profile is now widely dispersed across the country.
Recent surveys estimate that over 36 million Americans are of Irish ancestry and there is a growing interest to find their family roots and with the aid of the internet ,genealogy and ancestry is now much easier and fun to research than at any other time in history.
To begin your search, start with building your family tree. Gather and collate as much information as you can about your ancestors such as;
- Their full names
- Dates of Birth
- Town or City of Birth or Residence
- Marital Status
Speak to your family and other relatives and friends as they may be able to assist you with important factual details about your ancestry and fill in any vital missing gaps!
Once you have sufficient information to start your search, there are numerous sites on the internet available to assist and guide you through your quest.
- Births, Deaths and Marriage Records
- Census Records
- Parish Records
- Historical Records
These are just a few options to give you a head start.
It is important to be aware that searching for Irish ancestry is not without its challenges as in 1922 a fire at the Public Records office in Dublin destroyed census and vital probate records from 1860 onwards so you may need to enlist the help and access the records that are available using professional ancestry and genealogy search sites such as;
- Find my past Ireland
- Genes Reunited
There are many sites to choose from, some of which will provide information without a fee but for best results the paid services are recommended and several of them do offer a free trial period so you have nothing to lose by giving them a try.