Module 8: Conclusion and What to do next

In this module we wrap up the course by examining all of our discoveries so far – and deciding on next steps, further research questions – and what you can do next.

Table of Contents for this module:

  • Reminder: The aim of this course and what we covered in each course module.
  • Case-Study: Summary of findings and further research required.
  • In Conclusion.
  • What to do next.

I hope you realise by now that the main purpose of this course and case-study was not to uncover more about the Dolphin family, but bring you on a tour around the most commonly used online Irish record sets and help you to become more familiar with them by replicating the findings I uncovered for the Dolphin family case-study. In doing so, you should now be in a better position to decide on which approaches, tools and Irish record sets to use for your own Irish ancestry research.

In this final module we will :

  • Summarise what we covered in each module of the course.
  • Summarise our findings for the Dolphin case-study and suggest areas for further research.
  • Invite you to take further action using these Irish record sets and tools.
  • Conclude the course.

Reminder: The aim of this course and what we covered in each course module.

Reminder: The Aim of this Course.

As I shared in the introduction module, the aim of this course was to bring you on a tour of the most common Irish record sets available online. Along the way we introduced tools to help you decide on the best Irish records to search for a given situation.

To help consolidate the learning, we illustrated any theory discussed with a real-life case-study and, most importantly, asked you to replicate the same results that I uncovered in the case-study. This approach will help you to become familiar with which Irish record sets are available, where to find them and how to access and interpret them BEFORE searching those Irish record sets for your own Irish ancestry research.

Two other points I mentioned at the time:

  • This course used a case-study (involving a real-life individual and his family) to illustrate the theory covered in each module. For the case-study I chose an individual with a low frequency Irish surname (Dolphin) who left Ireland in late 1800s. This was to ensure that you did not get too distracted (as you might with a “Murphy” who left Ireland in the early 1700s) and become familiar with a wide range of Irish record sets and tools for your own Irish ancestry research.
  • I also avoided using the bigger ancestry sites (familysearch, ancestry, myheritage etc.) in the case-study on purpose. This was to encourage you to access the Irish records sets and tools I mentioned directly – becoming aware of both the strengths and limitations of each of them.

The Modules we covered in the course.

Each module in this course covered an “essential” aspect of Irish family history research. From the beginning we used a real-life individual so you can test out the various research tools we mention for yourself – and see if you get the same results.

Here is a reminder of what was contained in each module:

Module 1: Introduction to the course.

  • Setting the scene.

Module 2: Trace back to your first-known Irish Immigrant in your country.

  • Choose your ancestor/couple.
  • Gather what you already know about them – assemble into timeline format.
  • Choose discovery questions based on gaps in our current information.
  • Introducing the case-study individual/family we will use through this course.

Module 3: Irish Land Divisions – What you need to know before Searching the Irish Records.

  • Which Irish land divisions are essential to know to read Irish records?
  • Introducing the “Land Division Research Worksheet”.
  • Three tools for discovering the related Land Division information for a Townland.
  • Over to you – replicate our case-study findings.

Module 4: Irish Record Sets – What’s Available and Where to find them.

  • Which Irish record sets are easily available and where to find them?
  • A useful tool to help figure out which Irish Church records are available and where to find them.
  • Introducing the “Irish Records Research Worksheet”.
  • Select a record search strategy based on earlier discovery questions.
  • Over to you – replicate our case-study findings.

Module 5: Let’s Search the Irish Census & Civil Records.

  • We start with the Irish Census records to uncover more on our case-study family.
  • We then move back in time to uncover more on our family using the Irish Civil Records – births, marriages and deaths.
  • Over to you – replicate our case-study findings.

Module 6: Let’s Search the Irish Church Records.

  • We search the Irish Roman Catholic Church records to uncover more about our family – baptisms and church marriages.
  • Over to you – replicate our case-study findings.

Module 7: Let’s Search the Irish Land Records.

  • We search various Irish Land records to uncover more about our family.
  • We then do one more loop back to the Irish Civil records for our family.
  • Over to you – replicate our findings in this module.

Module 8: Conclusion and What to do next.

  • That’s where we are right now!

Case-Study: Summary of findings and further research required.

At the start of the course we introduced Patrick Dolphin – a resident with his family in Manchester, New Hampshire at the turn of the 20th century. The aim of the case-study was to uncover more on the Irish origins of this Patrick Dolphin.

We shared some initial personal information on Patrick and his family which we then formatted into a timeline. We examined the information and gaps in that timeline to decide on a number of “Discovery Questions”. These discovery questions were formatted into a “Discovery Questions and Answers” Worksheet as seen below:

Discovery QuestionAnswer/Notes
Where was Patrick Dolphin born in Galway?
Is Ballydavid in County Galway?
Was there a Dolphin family living there in 1855?
What was Patrick Dolphin’s first wife’s name?
Where was she from?
When and where did they marry?
Where and when was Michael Dolphin junior born?
When did Patrick’s first wife die?
Case-Study Discovery Questions and Answers Worksheet.

Throughout this course, we carried this worksheet along the way and filled it with new information in each module – ending up with the following completed worksheet:

Discovery QuestionAnswer/Notes
Where was Patrick Dolphin born in Galway?We found an RC baptismal record for a Patrick Dolphin born to Michael Dolphin and Margaret Butler in 1855 in Leitrim parish.

This Patrick also had 2 siblings recorded – James (b 1848) and Martin (b 1857).

We found no church marriage record for Martin Dolphin and Margaret Butler from sometime before 1848.

We found 2 death records for Michael Dolphin (d 1900) and Margaret Dolphin (d 1900) of Ballydavid. Deaths were reported by Martin Dolphin and Hanoria Dolphin of Ballydavid. This information starts to create a strong link between our Patrick Dolphin and Martin Dolphin as brothers and therefore that Patrick’s family lived in Ballydavid and that Patrick was most likely born there.
Is Ballydavid in County Galway?Yes. Ballydavid is in:
Civil Parish: Kilcooly
SRD: Loughrea
RD: Bullaun
Near Market Town: Loughrea
RC Church Parish: Leitrim and Kilcooly.

RC Dioceses: Clonfert.

Source: All sources shown in “Land Division Research Worksheet”
Was there a Dolphin family living there in 1855?Yes. We discovered a Michael Dolphin listed in Ballydavid Townland in the Griffith’s Valuation of 1856.

We also looked at the location of the house in modern maps and discovered that a number of buildings of the era were probably still standing and the area could possibly be visited for further “on the ground” research.

Source: Griffith’s Valuation.

Although we did not find a Dolphin family listed in the Tithe Applotment books for Ballydavid townland (1826) – we noted that a “Patt” Dolphin was listed in the adjacent townland of Hollyhill/Carrowroe. This may be worthwhile further researching – is this Patt Dolphin related to Michael Dolphin of Ballydavid in 1856?

Source: Tithe Applotment Books.
What was Patrick Dolphin’s first wife’s name?Looks like she was Mary Costillo. Father was Michael Costillo and she was born around 1857.

Source: Irish Civil Marriage Record.
Where was she from?Loughrea, County Galway.

Source: Irish Civil Marriage Record.
When and where did they marry?Married in the RC chapel of Loughrea, County Galway. January 18, 1881.

Source: Irish Civil Marriage Record.
Where and when was Michael Dolphin junior born?Michael Dolphin was born in Loughrea, County Galway on May 3rd, 1881. It looks as if he was born less than four months after his parents marriage.

Source: Irish Civil Birth Record.
When did Patrick’s first wife die?We searched the Civil Death records for the period 1881 to 1895 but did not discover any relevant records.
Other discoveries:Found Dolphin family living in Ballydavid in 1901 census – head of family (Martin Dolphin) appears to be the brother of our Patrick Dolphin as they were both living in Ballydavid when married and share the same fathers name.
Case-Study Discovery Questions and Answers Worksheet.

So, how successful was our research? Which questions did we manage to answer (and substantiate with records) and which questions still need an answer? What further questions have been triggered by our discoveries?

Let’s look at the main discovery questions above in turn:

Where was Patrick Dolphin born in Galway (and related questions)?

This was the main discovery question I pursued in this case-study. We wanted to uncover more on the origins of Patrick Dolphin. In doing so, we had to research further questions such as “Is Ballydavid in County Galway?” and “Was there a Dolphin family living there in 1855?” etc.

What did we discover?

Although we did not uncover a single birth record for our Patrick Dolphin stating his date of birth, Ballydavid as place of birth and parents as Michael and Margaret Dolphin – we uncovered a lot of “circumstantial” evidence e.g. a baptismal record for a Patrick Dolphin who was baptised to Michael Dolphin and Margaret Butler of Leitrim RC parish. I have noted additional uncovered records above in the table.

What was Patrick Dolphin’s first wife’s name (and related questions)?

We then pursued a further set of discovery questions linked to Patrick Dolphin and his first wife – wondering about their son, what became of his wife before his second marriage and more.

What did we discover?

We uncovered quite a lot of information in the Irish records relating to the probable name of Patrick’s first wife, the birth of their son, where they lived at the time of the birth etc. Our discoveries are shown against each question in the table above.

However, we still have to get to the bottom of just what became of Patrick’s first wife, where was their son Michael before he joined his father in the USA about the age of 10 and more.

Let’s Check with our Genealogists.

At the beginning I mentioned that this course was audited by our two resident Green Room genealogists – Jayne McGarvey and Pam Holland. Let’s now check with those genealogists for some feedback and guidance on what to do next.

I presented the results above to Jayne and Pam and asked the following questions:

  1. When you look at the Discovery Questions and Answers Worksheet I share above – do you have any comments on the questions I asked versus the answers I have uncovered e.g. do my answers seem reasonable to you?
  2. How would you recommend I carry this case-study research further? I especially want to get to the bottom of just what became of Patrick’s first wife and where their son Michael lived before joining his father in the USA about the age of 10.

Here is a summary of the feedback and guidance from each of our genealogists:

First, let’s go to Jayne McGarvey:

“This is a well-planned and executed initial foray into some of the best-known Irish research
records. These initial discoveries regarding Patrick Dolphin and his family fit the initial
profile you started with. You have not uncovered any contradictory evidence or potential
doppelgangers for Patrick or other family members.

On the search for Mary Costillo Dolphin’s possible death date, I would like to remind all that even though Civil death certificates commenced in Ireland in 1864, compliance was low in the first decades following its introduction. Couple this with the lack of burial records for many Catholic Churches – and it can make it difficult to definitively prove when and where an individual died. Some additional potential generic sources of information may include:

  • Gravestone
  • Newspaper death/funeral announcement
  • Probate (Will or administration of the estate)
  • Family knowledge

Another potential option for locating Patrick’s son Michael in Ireland before immigration might be to search the “Ireland National School Registers”. Not all records for all schools survive so it is important to remember that “absence of evidence” is not the same as “evidence of absence” when searching incomplete record collections. The collection “Ireland National School Registers” can be found online at FindmyPast at:

Finally, although the only complete Irish census records are available for 1901 and 1911, when the Irish pension was introduced in the early 1900s a number of people aimed to prove their age by carrying out a search of earlier Irish census of 1841 and 1851 – recording what age they were at that time. It is worth looking at available search forms – you may strike lucky and find a search related to a Dolphin family in Hollyhill in the mid 1800s. The census search form database is located here:


Thanks for that Jayne, I went through your suggestions and did strike lucky when looking at the Irish census search forms. I searched for anyone looking for a Dolphin household in Ballydavid, County Galway at .

My search returned the following record. In 1921, one Mary Dolphin requested a search of the 1851 census – and although she herself was not discovered in the search, it did return a “Michael Dolphin and Margaret Butler” as occupants of a house in Ballydavid Townland, County Galway in 1851.

Given our Patrick Dolphin was born in Ballydavid townland about 1855 and later gave his mother and father’s name as Michael Dolphin and Margaret Butler, this is the closest we have got to proving that the Michael Dolphin and family we discovered earlier in Ballydavid in the Griffith’s Valuation is actually the father of our Patrick Dolphin!

Thanks for the tip Jayne!

Next, we go over to Pam Holland for more feedback:

The Discovery Questions and Answers Worksheet is an excellent way to focus your
research and it helps you to search the available Irish records with a clear understanding of
what both can and cannot be found. The answers you found really help to paint a picture
of the Dolphin family in Ballydavid.

To carry the case-study further I would look at:

  • Passenger arrival records in the US to learn if Patrick’s son Michael arrived alone or with others. This might help with learning more about both of Patrick’s wives.
  • Look at any other Dolphin families living in Manchester, New Hampshire. It is likely there were others in the area that Patrick knew and that is why he went to Manchester. Can these others be tied back to the Ballydavid area?
  • Locate Irish church records and learn the names of Margaret Dolphin’s baptism sponsors. These could be family or friends from back in Ballydavid. These individuals then need to be researched and may be able to be tied back to Ballydavid.
  • Look for DNA matches to others with Dolphin ancestors or who have Ballydavid area ancestors. These matches may have useful information about their ancestors that can be used to help understand or learn more about Patrick Dolphin.


Thanks Pam for that feedback and suggestions for further research. I especially like the suggestion of widening the search to other Dolphin surname holders in the Manchester area – seeing if they have a connection with our own Dolphin family and possibly offering further information on links back to County Galway. I think that recommendation will be my starting point for further research.

In Conclusion.

Well done for sticking with the course up to this point! I hope that you enjoyed our tour of the most frequently-used online Irish record sets – and a variety of useful tools to help you browse, search and better understand the information in those records.

As I mentioned from the outset, I suggest that you try to replicate the case-study results I shared through the course – this will give you an insight into how you might use these record sets and tools for your own ancestral searches in the future.

If you are a Green Room member, I look forward to seeing your back and forward conversations with Pam Holland and Jayne McGarvey, our wonderful in-house genealogists, as you progress with your own version of the Irish ancestry search I shared throughout this course.

What to do next.

Here is what I suggest:

  • If you have not done so already, replicate the case-study results I shared with you through this course. There is nothing like “doing” to gain insight into the wide array of record sets and tools I shared with you.
  • I encourage you to look through the course for a second time – at least to browse. Keep the course on hand for your own Irish ancestry research as a refresher on certain tools and approaches.
  • We would love to get your feedback on the course content – and any suggestions for improvement – see the link below.
  • Finally, head over to the “Ask the Genealogist” section in the forum – see link below – and start your own conversation with Pam and Jayne as you progress with your own Irish ancestry research.
  • Finally – remember to have fun along the way! Share your successes and have a look at just how other members are progressing and breaking down their own Irish ancestry brick walls!

Thank you,

Mike Collins.

Click Here to Give Feedback and Suggestions for improvement for this course module.

Click Here to chat with Jayne or Pam in the Ask The Genealogist Section of the forum.

When you are ready, click on the “Mark Complete” or “Next Lesson” button below to progress to the next course module.