Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reading a Different Kind of Record

While I struggle with the sheer grunt work of reading the chicken scratch handwritten entries in parish baptismal records in Killeentierna and Kilcummin, there is another way to approach the Irish research challenge: find DNA matches whose roots grow in the same direction.

When I got the original note, nearly four years ago, confirming my husband had a match with someone sharing his second great-grandmother's maiden name, neither I nor that DNA match had any idea of just how, exactly, the two of them connected. The exciting news was that this researcher was from New Zealand, confirming at least one of the obituaries written for Johanna Falvey's passing in Fort Wayne in 1903. How Johanna connected to this DNA match's ancestor is still unclear, except for one thing: we'll need to stretch yet another generation or two to locate the most recent common ancestor.


There is still good news on the horizon—maybe. Between then and now, there have been additional matches showing at almost all the DNA testing sites I use, including a handful of other matches who live in New Zealand. While using these matches' family trees is not always helpful—each researcher seems to think the line originates with a different Falvey ancestor—at least we have one accurate detail we can be assured of: the count of centiMorgans connecting us. Now, that is truly a different kind of record—and a reliable alternative.

While I continue to flip those digital pages in the scanned baptismal records from County Kerry, scouring the entries for names of sponsors as well as mothers' maiden names, I'll be attempting a second research strategy: connecting with each of these matches and reviewing what documentation can be found to support their trees. Perhaps in the records of those matches' ancestors we can find the supporting actors who will tie the family connections together in a more reliable way.


  1. Jacqi are you using irishgenealogy.ie? You can search for combinations of parents and sponsors surnames

    1. Kat, I have tried it, but have not gotten any helpful results so far. I'm limiting the search to specific geographic regions, though, so maybe if I broaden the search terms...


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