Now, if you’re someone who’s not based in Ireland but does roots in the Emerald Isle but you’re hitting the time where it’s getting harder to trace your ancestors in Ireland (pre Civil Registration in 1864) you might be wondering how to pin your surname in question to a particular area of Ireland.

To that I bring you to John Grenham’s website []

Here, you get a wealth of information so if I type in my surname (Loftus) – I get a large amount of info and while this may be overwhelming at first, I want you to take a look at the map that’s there on the left hand side (should be the first thing that shows up on the left) and this shows you the number of families in Griffiths Valuation. So for me it looks a little something like this…

Now straight away you can see where most of the Loftus name comes from (and is absolutely right in my case – Mayo) and in this situation you can see that an awful lot of them come from County Mayo. Now being a genealogist we always like to have more than one reference right? Now we move on to Exhibit 2.

This website is from Barry Griffin and can be found at [] and this gives you each surname mapped out in the Irish Census of 1901 and 1911. While it may appear that only the 1901 Census has been done, this isn’t the case.

So if you click on the button for the 1901 Census of Ireland, it’ll give you a search box for you to type a surname. I did my surname again and this time I was greeted with these. (You just have to scroll down to find the 1901 and 1911 Census ones)

So if you have all of the maps sitting side by side it should give you an idea as to where your Irish ancestor’s surname originates. Now it’s worth saying that this will be everyone’s case as you have to think, if I was in the situation where my first Irish ancestor comes from Ireland pre civil registration and I didn’t know where my ancestor came from, I could just naively say “Oh my Loftus ancestors came from Mayo, because that’s where they show up the most”, well – I could be right but I don’t have enough evidence to support that. And it doesn’t just show up in Mayo, for all I know I could descend from the little yellow blotch in the 1911 census at the top right in county Antrim. So if you do decide to look at this for your Irish ancestor, please look at the whole picture! Stay tuned for more…