Last Updated: 5 March 2014
Céad Míle Fáilte - "a hundred thousand welcomes" to the Ireland Genealogy Projects Co. Down website. Here you will find some great resources and helpful links to assist you with your research of family history in County Down.
About Co. Down
County Down is located in the historic province of Ulster, and one of six counties that today forms Northern Ireland.. It covers an area of about 2,448 square km (945 square miles), and ranks third as the most populated county in all of Ireland.
Knowing where your ancestors lived is a very important part of Irish genealogy.
All counties in Ireland are divided into parishes (either civil or church), and the parishes are further subdivided into townlands. The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has an online listing of the 1,226 County Down townlands, and a map showing the seventy County Down civil parishes.
Researching Your Ancestors
Due to the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in Dublin in 1922, many useful documents for tracing family history in Co. Down are not available. However, it is still possible to trace your ancestors back to at least the early 19th century, beginning with the Census of Ireland 1901/1911.
Civil Registration records exist for births, deaths and Catholic marriages starting in 1864, and Protestant marriages from 1845. For earlier information you will need to rely on church records. This requires that you know the religious denomination of your ancestor, and the parish or townland where they lived. Details of what records exist for each parish church in Co. Down can be found in “A Guide to Church Records”, which has been prepared by the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
If you are new to genealogy in Co. Down, and have no idea where your ancestors lived, we suggest searching the Griffiths’ Valuation collection at AncestryIreland, the Freeholders Records at PRONI, or Ros Davies’ Co. Down Surnames database to help discover where the family name was most prevalent.
You might also want to consider joining Fiona’s County Down Genealogy Group at Yahoo!Groups, or the NIR-DOWN Mailing List at Rootsweb to connect with some wonderful folks who share an interest in researching Co. Down ancestors.