Given the penchant of Irish families to use the same names across the generations, it is very easy to get muddled up between great grandfather John, and uncle John.
So, any family tree you draw up should include the lifespan of each ancestor. Even if the specific dates are not known – ballpark figures that show that great grandfather John, was born circa 1845 and died in 1920 – anchors them, not only in the family tree, but also to historic events.
With that year of birth John (1845-1920) was born at the height of the Famine and we can marvel at the fact of his survival. John cannot have fought in Ireland’s Civil War, (1922.) as he was deceased by then. But we can say that John (1845- 1920) lived through the great land agitation of the late 19th century, growing to adulthood in the late 1860s.
One of the saddest life-spans, to me, is of the Irish who, being born before the Famine, survived, emigrated and arrived in the USA as young men (and it was men) only to be caught up in that country’s Civil War.
Establishing – and clearly recording – the life span of our ancestors is a key task in family history.
By Carmel Gilbride