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Hire a Professional Irish Genealogist
Yes, hire a professional Irish genealogist to find answers to your Irish genealogy questions. We are experts at retrieving records from Irish repositories or research the history of your Irish family homes.
Some of the massively huge libraries, such as the Library of Congress or the main branch of the New York Public Library, can boggle the mind. Most libraries are modest, serving small towns and rural areas. If, however, that small town or rural area is where a special family lived, the library is a good place for a family history researcher to find out about where their ancestors lived. Even in some place, or especially in some place, like Ireland.
Does Irish Genealogy Use Only Genealogical Records from Ireland?
St. Patrick’s Day has come upon us, so this RecordClick Irish genealogy expert thought it might be fun to do a family history search of an Irishman.
One of my favorites was actor Barry Fitzgerald. His accent and manner in both “Going My Way” and “The Quiet Man” movies delight me. On screen, he comes across as a small and spry man with a wry sense of humor. While delving to learn more about him, I found a variety of sources useful to almost anyone who is finding family history.
To begin with, Barry Fitzgerald wasn’t really Barry Fitzgerald. He was born William Joseph Shields on the tenth of March, 1888 in Dublin, Ireland, the fifth of seven children. Parents Adolphus Shields and Fanny Ungerland Shields were not exactly typical parents for that period of time and had some interesting travels.
Then, my genealogical detective radar led me in the direction of German genealogy rather than immediately to an Irish genealogy search. Why? Because our actor’s mother was born in Germany! She was born into a rather well-to-do family in 1856. Mother Fanny did not relish the subservient role of women in that country. So, she left Germany to become a governess in the fair country of Scotland. Then our ancestor research veers to yet another place. Our trail leads us now into the Irish genealogy: On a trip to Ireland, she met Adolphus, born in 1857 on Capel Street in Dublin. The two were married in 1881. A compositor, or typesetter, by trade, Adolphus was involved in the union movement in Ireland. In the 1901 Irish Census, the family is found living at house 12.2 in Crowe Street (South City, Dublin):
Name Age Relationship Religion
Shields, Madelina 18 Daughter Church of Ireland
Shields, Nelly 16 Daughter Church of Ireland
Shields, Marie 17 Daughter Church of Ireland
Shields, Adolphus 42 Head Church of Ireland
Shields, Carl 14 Son Church of Ireland
Shields, William 13 Son Church of Ireland
Shields, Arthur 5 Son Church of Ireland
Shields, Rudolph 2 Son Church of Ireland
Shields, Fanny 42 Wife Church of Ireland
Adolphus and Fanny believed in education and William went on to complete four years of college. He worked 20 years as a civil servant before he discovered acting. He took an interest in the theater and created his stage name, Barry Fitzgerald, so those he worked with during the day wouldn’t discover what he was doing at night. He didn’t make acting a full time career until 1929. By the mid-1930s, he was drawn to another country. So, this professional Irish genealogist next “went to” the United States to follow Barry Fitzgerald’s Irish family history. The U.S. genealogy portion of our actor’s trip takes us to where he settled next and began performing in movies and on the Broadway stage.
Fitzgerald’s slight height, 5’4 1/2”, served him well making him seem something of an Irish leprechaun in some of his roles. The involvement in movies and plays in the United States enticed him to start the immigration process by completing a Declaration of Intention to become a United States citizen in 1939. His career kept him on the move and, for whatever reason, he never completed the process.
At the time of the April fifth enumeration of the 1940 U.S. Census, Fitzgerald was living in New York at 375 West 45th Street in Manhattan. He was earning about $5,000 a year and paying rent of $65 a month. From January 16, 1940 to April 13, 1940, he portrayed Captain Jack Boyle in “Juno and the Paycock” at the Mansfield Theatre, 256 W. 47th Street.
Fitzgerald’s ancestor search shows that his line in the family tree didn’t grow past him: He never married and he left no known children. Yet, we get to go back to the Irish genealogy trail because in 1959, he returned to Ireland and died there in January of 1961. His funeral was at St. Patrick’s Protestant Church of Ireland Cathedral in Dublin. He is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, Blackrock, County Dublin with the name William Shields on his tombstone.
Shortly after Fitzgerald’s death, his brother, Arthur, also an actor, wrote a letter to a fan commenting, “Barry was a very shy little man and he was uncomfortable in crowds and really dreaded meeting new people, but he was not a recluse and did enjoy certain company, especially when the ‘old chat’ was good.”
On this St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll drink a toast to Barry Fitzgerald.
Irish Genealogists for Hire
Listed Researcher National Archives of Ireland / National Library of Ireland / Member Irish Family History Society / Irish Genealogical Research Society / American Association of Professional Genealogists
If you haven’t found that pot o’ gold yet doing Irish genealogy research, call the expert Irish genealogists at RecordClick. We have ideas for finding that long lost ancestor and will help you with your Irish genealogy.