As a genealogist here at Into The Past Genealogy Services, Dublin, Ireland, I receive many family history enquiries from the USA, Canada, UK and even in Ireland. The most important information we need before we can start searching for your ancestors are approximate dates of birth, marriage and/or immigration; mother’s maiden name, and at the very LEAST the county in Ireland they originated from. A parish or townland would also be a pre-requisite. If we look at the 1901/1911 census for Ireland we will see the vast number of parishes within each county in Ireland, so it could be time consuming and indeed very costly to try and search all parishes within a county, particularly if the name is a common surname within that county!
Try and obtain as much information as possible on ancestors from census forms, naturalization papers, personnel records, draft records. Before civil registration here in Ireland in 1864, the main records available to us are the parish or Church records. These can be fragmented, illegible and missing sometimes, so it is not always possible to find everyone we are looking for. Also remember name spellings change down the generations as do details of family history stories that are handed down. Check out every lead and most of all ENJOY the journey that genealogy takes you on! Happy Hunting! Anne-Marie Smith