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Trace Your Family Tree
​Researching your Family Tree
As long as I can remember, I always had a keen interest in my ancestors. I would love to hear the stories circulated amongst the adults who visited our home . Sometimes visitors came during the winter, many more came during the summer. Winter was a time to gather indoors around the fireplace. In summer, when it could be bright enough till after 10 p.m. and we could be outdoors. Sometime Aunt Effie came down from Dublin with Lily Naughten, and sometime Dolly McManus came from Ballinacarrigy.  Aunt Annie was another visitor and John Byrne might stop our way. All relatives, each with their own twist on events from the past.

Eventually, with the passage of time, one by one they passed on and no longer graced us with their company. It began to dawn on me that , which each funeral that brought many of these people to visit, there was one, who would never share their story with us again, and it would be our loss. So, I made it one of my priorities that I would gather whatever pieces I could and preserve it, at least for my lifetime. I interviewed Aunt Annie, then about 99 years old and she was a treasure trove of information, which I duly recorded in 1978. Annie died shortly thereafter. Interview the oldest first, you may not have that opportunity again. I have no desire to bore anyone with all this stuff, but if your are interested, and a relative - I dedicate the book to you. And don’t forget the old photos!

For anyone interested in researching their family tree / ancestry I would like to share a few points: save a copy of anything you find relevant, keep it safe, you may need it later.

If it does not seem important, save it anyway - for now. All your research cannot be completed on Ancestry.com. Those who think they can hire someone to do it for you, be well prepared to write a big check. Ancestry.com offers this service starting with a retainer of $1900 to start, and that will barely get you started. Most families have a custom of calling the new born after the father, grandfather, godfather, uncle, sponsor or some high profile relative. You, as the researcher, will be at a loss to tell what the parents were thinking when they chose that name, after a few generations, and with all the relatives using similar customs. When you arrive at the point of three, four or five Henry’s all born within 3 years, the index of births will be of little use. You are forced to use other qualifiers, parents names, birth location, middle initial if they have one to mention a few.

So in 1984 I began my quest. I visited Fr. Lynch in Carrickedmond and poured over the parish records. They only went back to about 1834. There was a block of missing years prior to that, and then an entry of about 10 more years. Missing records, some misspelling, some entries written in Latin, when you have the record, can you read the writing? Be that as it may I fared pretty well in this area. Another problem encountered is when someone married or died outside the parish you are researching. There will be no record here.

There is a website www.familytreedna.com which offers a service where you submit a DNA swab and they compare it to everyone in their database. They will then show you where your DNA originated and how it has spread across the globe. The results may surprise you but they are accurate, and give you other important details that only this method can determine. In our case it shows our DNA in Swedan, India and Pakistan, the British Isles and all across America, which my research also shows by other methods used.

The graveyard is another great source, if you are researching a local established family, if you can find the grave, and if you can read the headstone, - carved in stone does not always imply a permanent record, as you will find out yourself. In Abbeyshrule I did find the grave of Thomas Kielty 1766 - 1846, erected by his sons Michael & Simon Kielty. That was all.

The vital records offices, then in Dublin, now in Roscommon should be on you list also. Not everything is recorded here but most can be found.  
Contact the General Register Office, Convent Road, Roscommon 353 90 663 2900. 
Or the GRONI in Belfast 0300 200 7890 outside N.I. 028 9151 3101.

In 1986 I took employment with North American Van Lines driving a transport Truck all across America. It was during this period of my life that I wrote a small booklet about Tenelick. In this booklet I laid out the Longford side of my family. It was during this period also that I began to research the Belfast side also. Every place I stopped for the night I would open the local phone book and look for Kielty and Esler. A few interesting facts include that I did find some of our Kielty’s who had migrated to DeGraff, Minnasota, who recall letters received from Maggie Ann in Tenelick. The Kielty’s had migrated first to Donnybrook, North Dakota and in time to DeGraff. I still am in contact with these people today. We are trying to trace a connection to Owen Kielty of Killoe. I also found two Eslers of note: Phillip Esler, Sacramento had done extensive Esler research. He also put me in touch with Richard Curry Esler who had done a similar amount each arriving at the same conclusions, and to which our family is a sub branch. Again all Eslers in Northern Ireland for the most part are related from 1667 or before.

 In 1989 I obtained a telephone directory for Belfast and wrote a letter to each Esler listed. I received many responses but they all seemed to lead to nowhere. Either none were related in any way, or the information I gave was inaccurate. The later proved to be the case.Now in retrospect some of these were related. Almost every Esler from Northern Ireland is related if you trace the family line far enough back to 1667 and before. Since 20 plus years 
has passed, I regret some of the people who responded are no longer with us. 
Remember Rule #1.…..Speak to the eldest first. And don’t forget the old photos!

In recent time the National Archives have released the 1901 and 1911 census for all Ireland. This is a wealth of detailed, factual, historical documents. Actual signatures of our ancestors can be retrieved with the click of a mouse and the touch of a button. Here you can compare each household in a ten year interval. You will see name, age, sex, religion, occupation, marital status, years marries, children born and children who survived.
www.census.nationalarchives.com everyone with Irish DNA should visit.

Another great resource is www.emeraldancestors.com. This site deals only with Northern Ireland. It is very user friendly and a great cross reference for content in www.Ancestry.com and www.census.nationalarchives.com.

Once you have gathered all your information you will need to chart, collate, revise and just get very personal, as you ask yourself question after question after question. Compare dates and ask yourself is this possible or probable. Ancestry.com are member driven and often the conclusions drawn and entered by members are inaccurate and just impossible, watch for date errors. Taking someone else’s research for granted may be your worst choice for all the research you have done. Be careful. Actual records are one thing, Public Family Trees are another.

Using all the above methods and others my research has taken 28 years and is still not complete nor shall it ever be. Each strain leads to another strain. Each revelation leads to more questions and the quest for all the answers will never end in my lifetime or any other lifetime in the future. 

Mike Esler



Irish Eyes ® 725 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

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