American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS

Ask a Genealogist

RSS Feed

Ask a Genealogist: Using an obituary for Irish research.

 Permanent link


I found an old an obituary for Michael Fox in an old family scrapbook. He died on 9-28-1910 IN Coraugh (Lower Drumreilly Ireland)and is buried in Corraleehan burial ground. (St Bridgid's) Ireland.

What is the easiest and least expensive way to determine who his parents were? Would and Irish death certificate list his parents if they were known at that time? Can old Irish newspapers be viewed on line any where?


Reply from Judy Lucey, NEHGS Archivist

Thank you for your inquiry to our Ask a Genealogy service. You are trying to determine the parents of Michael Fox who died in 1910 in the townland of Coragh, Drumreilly Parish, County Leitrim in the easiest and least expensive way.

I’m afraid death records in Ireland do not have names of parents of the deceased. Out of the three civil records, death records are the least informative. A quicker way to obtain parents’ names is to try to determine if Michael married after 1864 when the registration of Catholic civil marriages began. These records contain the fathers names of the bride and groom but not the mothers names. However, it is still a good place to start.

In order to search in any Irish historical records you must identify all of the various land divisions associated with your ancestor’s townland because these records are organized these division names. So for Michael Fox you must identify and know all of the associated divisions with the townland of Coragh. They are as follows:

Townland – Coragh (exact address by which Irish identify themselves from) Civil and Catholic Parish – Drumreilly (must know for govt. and church records)
Poor Law Union/Registrar District name – Bawnboy (this is used to find civil registration records of birth, marriage and death and to use for Griffith’s Valuation)

I began my search for Michael in the 1901 Census of Ireland online at the This is a free database. I found Michael living with wife Susan (maiden name unknown) with their three children and sister Margaret Fox in Coragh. I then searched the 1911 census hoping to find widow Susan Fox as the 1911 census asks widows and married women how long they were married and the number of children they gave birth to. Susan is still alive in 1911 and states she was married 33 years. Given that Michael died in 1910, I calculated Susan and Michael were married sometime in the mid 1870’s. I then turned to the Civil Registration Index for marriages in Ireland on and found two marriages for a Michael Fox in the district of Bawnboy, 1872 and 1875 respectively. I believe the 1875 marriage is correct as the Ancestry database provides a list of names on the Register’s page and there was no Susan listed in the 1872 hit but there is a Susan Kerner listed in the 1875 marriage. If you have an Ancestry account, you can view the index image here:|_F80066E8_x&uidh=pp2&pcat=34&fh=1&h=1817484&recoff=4+5&ml_rpos=2  
To order a certificate, you must contact the General Register Office in Ireland. The least expensive request is to order a photocopy of the record for 4 Euros (about $8 dollars). A certificate is 20 euros. Fill out the application for the marriage record, choose photocopy request for 4 euros and mail or fax it to them. Please record the year, and bride and grooms names along with the district name, Bawnboy, County Leitrim info. Here’s the link to the page:

The marriage record will give you the place of residence for each. With this information you could see if you could find a possible baptism for Michael in County Leitrim church records. Some of the parish records are online at the Irish Family History Foundation, a pay per view site. Check the source list for County Leitrim to make sure Michael’s parish of origin is listed and the dates cover the year he was born.

Lastly, there are some Irish historical papers online but they are spotty for dates and coverage of Ireland. The best one is a subscription based which you must pay a fee to obtain the page. The best placece to start for a newspaper search is locally and the Leitrim Observer covers all of County Leitrim ad has been in business for over 100 years. You can conduct a search for Michael Fox at the link below:  

Best of luck in your research! If we can be of further assistance, do not hesitate to contact us.

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society