Irish History, Genealogy and Culture

Find your family history in John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation. O'Hart traced the lines of descent of approximately 1000 Irish families, in many cases detailing births, deaths and marriages, as well as emigrations to Europe, Australia and America. Search now »

Most popular books on Ireland

Below are some of the more popular books on the site.

Ancient Legends and Superstitions of Ireland

Selected pages

Book contents

Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland »

A Topograhical Dictionary of Ireland

“A Topograhical Dictionary of Ireland comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate, market, and post towns, parishes, and villages, with historical and statistical descriptions.” (1837)

A monumental work by Samuel Lewis that provides fascinating and invaluable topographical and historical information on all the villages, towns, cities, parishes, etc. of Ireland.

Book contents

A Topograhical Dictionary of Ireland »

Irish Names and Surnames

Rev. Patrick Woulfe's book provides the origins and meanings of 1000s of Irish forenames and surnames as well as details on the clans of Ireland.

Book contents

Irish Local Names Explained

A handy little guide by P. W. Joyce to the meaning of 1000s of Irish place names and the root words from which many of them are formed.

Book contents

Irish Local Names Explained »

Featured reading

Below is a selection of compelling writing on different aspects of Ireland that will amuse, surprise, shock and sadden.

The first on offer is by an American widow, Asenath Nicholson, who gives a very revealing description of the living conditions inside a peasant cottage just prior to the Great Famine in a section from her book Ireland’s Welcome to the StrangerCabin Life.

The second, from Asenath Nicholson’s Irish sequel Annals of the Famine in Ireland, graphically details a visit to the island of Arranmore (off the west coast of County Donegal) during the height of the great hunger—Mr. Griffith and a visit to the island of Arranmore.

From the Dublin Penny Journal we have an article on the origin of the Irish funeral cry that includes a description of the author’s first encounter with it—The Irish Funeral Cry (the Ullaloo, Keeners and Keening at Irish Funerals)

In the Ulster Journal of Archaeology we find the mind-blowing suggestion that people from a certain region in Africa were able to speak and understand Irish!—Is the Irish Language spoken in Africa?

From Michael J. F. McCarthy’s Five Years in Ireland, 1895-1900, comes the horrendous story of the murder of a peasant woman in Tipperary as the result of her husband’s belief in fairies and witches—Bridget Cleary burned to death.

Lady Wilde conjures up a few rather gruesome prospects when she tells of—Superstitions concerning the dead.

Ireland travel readings: Discover things to do in Ireland and the many Celtic symbols designed by the Celts.

Latest additions

Special Report on Surnames in Ireland

Robert E. Matheson’s Special Report on Surnames in Ireland (1909) provides information on the numerical strength of 1000s of surnames in Ireland as well as indicating the provinces and counties in which they were most prevalent at the close of the nineteenth century.

Also available is Matheson’s Varieties and Synonymes of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland (1901) which helps identify spelling variations and alternative names used in the Indexes of Births, Marriages, and Deaths.

Both books are excellent resources for those engaged in trying to pinpoint ancestry records for their particular family in Ireland.

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Our bestselling publications through its publishing imprint, Books Ulster, reproduces mostly classic Irish texts that still inform and enthrall today. Each book is carefully proofed and professionally reset to provide a quality product.

Here is a selection of the most popular titles:

Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger

Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger; or, an excursion through Ireland, in 1844 & 1845, for the purpose of personally investigating the condition of the poor is the intriguing account of an American widow’s journey through Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine. The no-nonsense character of the intrepid Mrs Nicholson and her conversational style of writing make this book an absolute treat to read. As she refused to travel in fine carriages or stay in the best of hotels, but often made her way on foot and rested in common lodging houses or the cabins of the poor, the author was perfectly positioned to describe the reality of Irish life at the time. Highly recommended! (also available on Kindle)

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849 is Asenath Nicholson’s sequel to Ireland’s Welcome. Here she returns to Ireland during the worst of the famine years and describes the harrowing scenes that she personally witnessed, or were reported to her, as she travelled about the country dispensing relief as best she could (also available on Kindle).

The Ocean Plague

The Ocean Plague: or, A Voyage to Quebec in an Irish Emigrant Vessel is based upon the diary of Robert Whyte who, in 1847, crossed the Atlantic from Dublin to Quebec in an Irish emigrant ship. His account of the journey provides invaluable eyewitness testimony to the trauma and tragedy that many emigrants had to face en route to their new lives in Canada and America. The book is also available in Kindle.

The Scotch-Irish in America

The passage of more than one hundred years since The Scotch-Irish in America by Henry Jones Ford was first published in 1915 has rendered the book no less fascinating and gripping. Written in a thoroughly accessible way, it tells the story of how the hardy breed of men and women, who in America came to be known as the ‘Scotch-Irish’, was forged in the north of Ireland during the seventeenth century. It relates the circumstances under which the great exodus to the New World began, the trials and tribulations faced by these tough American pioneers and the enduring influence they came to exert on the politics, education and religion of the country.

Fighters of Derry

Fighters of Derry: Their Deeds and Descendants, Being a Chronicle of Events in Ireland during the Revolutionary Period, 1688–91 contains almost 2000 biographical entries of men (and women) who were participants in the epic Siege of Derry in 1688/89. In many cases their subsequent careers and lines of descent are traced. As the author, William R. Young, said, ‘There is scarcely an Ulsterman whose ancestry, direct or through a female line, has not some hereditary touch with participants in those memorable events.’

Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk

This book caused one of the greatest sensations of the 19th century when first published in 1836. The shockwaves from it reverberated across the civilised world and the ensuing controversy has barely subsided today. In 1835 a young, pregnant woman was found living in woods just beyond New York City and was taken to a nearby almshouse. She claimed to be an escaped nun from a convent in Montreal who had been subject to and witnessed all manner of heinous crimes. Her published account met with vehement repudiation from her adversaries and she was accused of being an insane prostitute rather than a nun. Whatever the truth, the Maria Monk affair is a gripping story to retrace, with an abundance of claims and counter-claims, twists and turns. It is a challenge to those with an analytical mind to impartially assess the evidence and decide on where the balance of truth lies, and the best starting point is with her own account Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk. [N.B. We have also published The True History of Maria Monk in which her claims are refuted.]

Truelove’s Journal: A Bookshop Novella

The new owner of a shop discovers his predecessor’s journal and embarks on an emotional journey that will change the course of his own life. As he reads the booksellerr’s diary he becomes gripped by a compelling curiosity to know more about the man and imbued with the desire to reveal the past of which he never spoke. While ostensibly set in England, this novella is penned by an author from Bangor, County Down. It tells the story of a lonely bookseller whose life is dramatically changed by a hungry kitten and an attractive customer. If you are a lover of both books and cats then this novella is destined to please (also available on Kindle).

‘Occasionally one reads a story that is just so beautiful that it leaves a lasting memory. Truelove’s Journal is such a story.’A review from