Directories and Occupational Records
Irish directories can be a superb source of information on your ancestors, provided they were not numbered among the country's underprivileged, such as servants, landless laborers, and small tenant farmers. For members of the gentry, professionals, merchants and the like, directories are indeed a rich source, in some cases providing the only source of occupational information.
The most comprehensive collections of directories can be found in The National Library and The National Archives. Request directory copies at the reading room counter in the Library; you can find copies on open access in the Archives.
Below is a list of some of the more prominent Dublin-specific directories:
- Wilson’s Directory – alphabetical lists of merchants and traders, with name, address and occupation. Published 1751-1837. From 1787, it was issued as part of The Treble Almanack.
- Pettigrew and Oultons Dublin Almanac and General Register of Ireland. Published 1834-1849.
- The Gentleman's and Citizen's Almanack, produced by John Watson. Published 1736-1844. Also known as Watson's Almanack.
Non-Dublin Specific Directories
Judging by their titles alone (e.g., Road Maps of Ireland), you could surmise that some of the leading directories that are non-Dublin specific were nothing more than map books. Actually, they had a wealth of very specific information about local residents. For example, Pigot's Commercial Directory of Ireland, first published in 1820, is recognized as the earliest countrywide directory whose coverage extended beyond the the gentry. Pigot's lists the towns of Ireland alphabetically, provides names of nobility and gentry living in town or close by, and catalogs the traders of each town by occupational trade.
Below are some of the most noteworthy directories in this category:
- Road Maps of Ireland, George Taylor and Andrew Skinner, 1778.
- The Post Chaise Companion, William Wilson, 1786.
- A Directory to the Market Towns, Villages, Gentlemen's Seats and other noted places in Ireland, Ambrose Leet, 1814.
- Commercial Directory of Ireland, H J. Pigot, 1820.
- City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory, H J. Pigot, 1824.
- Slater's National Commercial Directory of Ireland, 1846.
Alexander Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory
Thoms is generally regarded as a Dublin directory, typically including alphabetical and street listings for Dublin, but its coverage extends well outside the city limits. Some editions of Thom's include alphabetical lists of selected occupations covering the entire country, such as:
- Army officers
- Attorneys and barristers
- Clergymen – Catholic, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian
- Coast Guard officers
- Members of Parliament
- Members of the Irish Privy Council
- Naval officers
- Officers of counties and towns;
Other Occupational Records
In addition to the directories above, you may be able to find local commercial directories pertaining to a specific occupation. Other sources containing occupational information are trade guilds for occupations ranging from stonemasons and apothecaries to goldsmiths and bakers; historical journals with occupational lists in them; and lists of professionals and tradesmen who held licenses to practice a given trade or occupation. The National Library of Ireland may be able to point the way in your search for these kinds of records.
You could also try to search online for similar records. Visit the following
http://scripts.ireland.com/ancestor/genie/index.cfm, enter your ancestor's surname, and choose an occupation from the drop-down list.
One Final Note
In closing, we at the Celtic Network hope this genealogical primer has been useful in helping you get started tracing your Irish roots. You can find more detailed information on Irish genealogical searches in the many authoritative books that have been written on the subject. Please check, AnIrishChristmas.com, for listings of recommended Irish genealogy books.
Best of luck with your search for your Irish ancestors!