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Ancestry Offers Free Peek at Irish Genealogy Records

If you're an amateur genealogist, take note: Ancestry.com is making 10 million Catholic parish records from Ireland available for one week to trace your Irish heritage. Some records date as far back as 1655.

The records are available beginning today and will be available through St. Patrick's Day, March 17. More than 1,000 parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland have catalogued baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burial records over more than two and a half centuries.

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The popular genealogy website now has around 55 million Irish records available.

The newly available records are mostly in English, but some are in Latin, and they date back to between 1655 to 1915, with the majority of the collection dating from the late 1700s to the early 1880s, according to the Ancestry blog. They had already been digitized by the National Library of Ireland, but Ancestry.com indexed it to make it easier and quicker to do searches of dates, names and places.

More than 33 million Americans were of Irish ancestry in 2014, according to U.S. Census data. Among the records is a treasure trove of notable Irish citizens, as well as relatives of famous Irish-Americans, including an 1828 marriage record for President John F. Kennedy's great-great-grandparents.

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If you're going to dig into the records yourself, Ancestry recommends a few pointers. Because there are lots of very common Irish names, searching for more than just a single person helps yield better results. By gathering information on extended family and friends, associates and neighbors, you're likely to get father. Be flexible with trying lots of different spellings, too. And, if you can't find the English equivalent of your surname, try the Latin equivalent. You can also try looking for a surname and a parish.

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