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    Trace your Irish roots with Castles of Dublin

    Fancy tracing your Irish roots? Does your family name have a connection to an Irish Castle? Well then, you’ve got the perfect excuse to visit Ireland. The desire to know who we are and where we come from – where we belong – is a strong one, and the more remote we are from it the more we want to know about it.

    Castles in the Capital

    Dublin, a Viking city, is a modern and historic city, proud of its heritage and home to many beautiful and historic castles. Dublin has even used “Three Castles” as it’s symbol since 1230AD, and this symbol appears throughout the city, on buildings, flags, water hydrants, plaques and streetlights. Maybe you’ll trace your family roots back to historical Dublin……

    Dublin Castle, Dublin City

    Surnames: Fitzhenry; De Birmingham.

    The Story: Dublin Castle in the heart of historic Dublin is more a series of rambling buildings than a contained stronghold, but it dates back to the 13th century and was actually built on a Viking site, beneath which lies the “dubh linn”, or dark pool, that gave the capital city its name.

    It was first founded as a major defensive work by Meiler Fitzhenry on the orders of King John of England in 1204, sometime after the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, for the defence of the city, the administration of justice, and the protection of the King’s treasure. It is unclear which member of the De Bermingham family the Bermingham Tower was named for. In its time, it has been a prison, police headquarters and law courts – authority has soaked into its very stones. Nowadays it is where state visitors are welcomed and presidents are inaugurated.

    Dublin Castle. Copyright: Failte Ireland

    Malahide Castle, County Dublin.

    Surnames: Talbot

    The Story: Malahide Castle is a beautiful 12th century castle owned by the Talbot family for nearly 800 years, making it one of the longest owned castles by one family in Ireland. King Henry II gifted Richard Talbot the lands and harbour of Malahide for his services to the crown in 1185. From that point on, the Talbot family became intertwined with Malahide’s history and development.

    Malahide Castle. Copyright: Failte Ireland

    Ardgillan Castle, County Dublin.

    Surnames: Taylors; Taylour; Potts

    The Story: Ardgillan Castle remained the family home of the Taylors (later changed to Taylour) for more than two hundred years up until 1962 when the estate was sold to Heinrich Potts of Westphalia, Germany. Ardgillan started life as Prospect House, named for the gorgeous views out to sea and to the Mourne Mountains in County Down. This pretty, castellated structure was built in the mid-18th century, and inside is like a grand but comfortable home, rather than a creepy, draughty castle. As you ramble through gardens, see the impressive Victorian glasshouse, which once graced the Jameson family before being donated to Ardgillan.

    Swords Castle, County Dublin.

    Surnames: Comyn

    The Story: Located in the centre of the ancient town, Swords Castle contains over 800 years of history. It was built by the Archbishop of Dublin, John Comyn, around 1200 A.D., as a residence and administrative centre. The Archbishop was also a Norman baron who had his own constable resident in the castle. In fact, a recent surprising discovery of burials beneath the gatehouse shows that the Castle has yet to give up all of its secrets. Most people will recognize it from BBC drama series The Tudors, because it was used to film scenes for the show in 2010.

    Suggestion for an overnight stay at an Irish castle hotel in Dublin –

    Clontarf Castle Hotel

    Surnames: Vernon

    The Story: Clontarf Castle is one of the few castles in Dublin that you can stay in but keep in mind that it has been modernized throughout. Dating back to 1172, Clontarf Castle has a rich and varied history. From Brian Boru & the epic battle of Clontarf to the mysterious monastic order, The Knights Templar and from the Vernon Family, the castles longest serving residents to George Frideric Handel who resided at the castle when premiering his most famous work Messiah. Clontarf Castle has seen generations of celebrations played out within these historic walls, a building where the old enriches the new, a place where every experience is a memory in the making.

    Clontarf Castle Copyright: Failte Ireland – Derek Cullen

    How to go about putting together the family jigsaw?

    Your research begins with you and your immediate family. Ask questions to family members to try to establish approximate dates (of births, marriages and deaths) as well as names (forenames and related family names) and places of residence. This information will point the way to relevant records on your family tree. Consult old photographs on which names and dates may be noted, newspaper clippings, old letters, family Bibles as well as family gravestones. Religious denomination is also important in determining which records are relevant to your research.

    There are numerous centres for genealogical research in Ireland. In Dublin, the National Library, National Archives and General Register Office are all key sources, with the National Library and National Archives both providing free advice from trained staff.

    State registration of all non-Catholic marriages began in 1845. In 1864, civil registration of all births, marriages and deaths commenced. These records are held at the General Register Office.

    There is a free index to records (births over 100 years, marriages over 75 years and deaths over 50 years) with images of the certificates available on the Irish Genealogy website.

    Linen Hall Library, Co. Antrim. Copyright: Tourism Ireland – Tony Pleavin

    Although a census of the Irish population was taken every ten years from 1821 to 1911, the earliest surviving Census is for 1901. The 1901 and 1911 Census and fragments from the 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 Census are freely searchable online in the National Archives .

    The Ulster Historical Foundation is another non-profit organization, specializing in family history research and who can assist with tracing family records (including birth, death and marriage records).

    Our blog is intended only as an introduction to tracing your family’s roots in Ireland and it’s far from an exhaustive guide. We suggest using many other resources along the way – books, websites, places, people – where you can find out more or get expert assistance. It can be a challenging journey tracing your family roots, with many winding country roads along the way and we hope we’ve helped a little by pointing you in the right direction.

    For a private chauffeur drive tour or a customized private tour to learn more about your Irish heritage and to explore the places your ancestors came from or to schedule that long awaited family reunion coach tour of Ireland, contact Specialized Travel Services ……. even if you don’t have a blood line connection with an Irish castle we’ll ensure to give you a superior welcome to the Emerald Isle.  Fill in the Contact form or send an email request to:

    We have some wonderful castle tours to choose from and we can tailor make any of our itineraries to suit your requirements –

    Castles of Ireland

    Irish Heritage and Ancestry

    Irish Castles & Manors

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      Malahide Castle


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