Mayo: Explore the roots of your heritage

MAYO’s long and colourful history was made by men and women whose descendants now live all over the world – as well as in their home county.

Visit this section to read about the History of Mayo, and how you can find out more.

Have a look at our feature on the Clans and Surnames of Mayo, and find out more about your place in that story.

Would you like to explore your own Mayo roots and heritage, or perhaps discover the story of your own family’s journey? Check out Mayo's genealogy centres, a great place to explore your family’s history.

Look back at some of the great news stories that have shaped our county and find out how you can stay in touch with news from home as it happens.

 

Top tips to help you get started tracing your roots

 
The importance of searching through official documents. If you know the name of the ancestor you are researching, but don’t know where they originated from, it is important to obtain a copy of their death certificate (if they lived in the United States, Scotland or New Zealand) or their marriage certificate (if they lived in England, Wales, Canada or Australia). The death certificates in the countries listed usually have the name of the deceased person’s parents, including the maiden name of the deceased’s mother. In the case of the countries listed for marriage records, these contain the name or the bride or grooms’ father. Having this information will be very important in establishing a place of birth and a correct family for your ancestor.
 
Names are often spelled in many different ways on various records. It is important to remember that even if your ancestors were literate, the records which map out their life story were usually entered by clerks, clergymen or registrars who put their own interpretation on how a name was spelled. Indeed, in some instances, they may have spelled the name as it sounded to them, i.e phonetically. Both centres have access to databases which account for the many variant spellings of surnames, but it is important not to assume that your ancestor’s name was always spelled a particular way.
 
Ages can vary significantly between different records concerning the same person. In the 19th and early 20th century, most people did not know their exact age. In other cases, varying ages might appear of records for deliberate purposes, for example if somebody emigrated to the United States aged 19, but felt they would have better prospects of employment if they were 21 or older, they might change their age on their emigration records to allow for that.
 

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