Because so little is available, many Irish family historians rely on census substitutes such as the Griffith's Valuation which list the heads of households of virtually all the households in Ireland. The information in the Griffith's Valuation is certainly helpful but it does not give you a full list of inhabitants nor any indication of dates of birth.
As such, for those of us whose ancestors left Ireland late, the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses offer a gold mine of information. The data varies somewhat between the two censuses, but I've found wonderful information such as:
- Occupations -- My people were mostly farmers, but I learned that between 1901 and 1911, cousin Patrick Moynihan in Caherolickane became a shopkeeper as well as farmer.
- Who could speak Irish -- My great-grandfather Jeremiah Moynihan could, so could my great-great-grandfather Patrick Leahy.
- Who was blind -- Patrick knew Irish but could no longer read it, as he was blind at age 80.
- At what age my grandparents' generation learned to read -- My grandparents were four and five in the 1901 census. They couldn't read yet but their siblings over age 7 could.
- How many children a woman had -- The 1911 Census tells me that my great-grandmother Hanora (Harnedy) Moynihan had ten children but only 9 were still living.