The best way to learn this is by hands-on experience. So we have put together two full case studies showing step-by-step how the records can reveal the history of a family, generation by generation, individual by individual.
The first case study is the family history of Seán Lemass, son of a middle-class Dublin family who fought as a boy-soldier during the 1916 Rising and went on to become one of the most powerful politicians of twentieth-century Ireland.
The second is the family history of John Purcell, born into a poor labouring family in Dublin just up the road from the Lemass family business. His grandparents had links with the British Army and came from the poor rural tenant farmers who made up the vast majority of the ordinary population of Ireland in the nineteenth century.