Do you have ancestors that lived in Ireland? You might be having difficulty finding information about them because many records have been destroyed. However, if your ancestor happened to have a dog, the dog license could give you some clues.
Most of the Irish Censuses were destroyed during the Civil War in 1922. An explosion tore apart the Public Records Office in Dublin where genealogical records were kept. Some of the information that was on the old Irish Censuses may also be found on Irish dog licenses. If you can’t find your Irish ancestor on the Census, it might be worth a try to find the license for their dog.
Findmypast has a collection of more than 7 million Ireland Dog License Registers Each one shows the color, breed, and sex of the dog. It also has the name and address of the owner (including the county the owner lived in). Dog licenses had the year and date they were issued printed on them.
Dog licenses were first issued in 1886 by the courts of Petty Sessions. The purpose of the dog license back then is very similar to their purpose today. A dog license helped the authorities identify the owner of a lost dog. It also helped authorities find the owner responsible for a dog who was damaging property, being aggressive, or “worrying sheep.”
If you can find your ancestor’s address, it might be possible to use it as a clue about where to look next. Contact the local parish and see if they have records kept there. Ask a local genealogy society if they have any family histories about your ancestor’s surname. If you are able to travel, you might visit the location of the address just to see what’s there today.
It might be possible to learn a little bit about your Irish ancestor’s life through the dog license. If your ancestor owned a work dog (such as a Collie or a Mastiff) it may indicate that your ancestor had sheep to tend to.
An ancestor who owned a Spaniel or a Terrier might have been a hunter (who liked to hunt waterfowl.) If your ancestor owned a Mastiff, they might have been a gamekeeper. Or, your ancestor might have purchased the Mastiff for the purpose of being a guard dog.
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