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The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic

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Researcher's Tips

Birth years from census (UK) data
It seems almost universal for people to get a probable birth year from census data by subtracting the age from the census year. Certainly some websites and some census CDs provide this as "helpful" information. For me it isn't helpful and personally I always subtract one more year from the result. All the 19th century censuses except 1841 were taken the first weekend in April, so people were three times more likely to have been born a year earlier. E.g. if a person was 24 in 1851, the accepted guess by subtracting one from the other seems to be 1827 for the birth year. But in point of fact, making of course the big assumption that the age is correct, this person was probably born between April 1826 and the end of March 1827. Born any later and (s)he would have been only 23 at the 1851 census. So for 1851 I subtract the ages from 1850, and similarly for the other censuses. 24 from 1850 gives 1826 which is the true "most probable birth year". If you don't do this you may be looking in the wrong year when you go looking for details in the parish registers. Most baptisms took place before the child was three months old, and usually less than that. For someone who was "24" at the 1851 census, even the baptism may have taken place as early as April or May 1826, so I'd always start looking in 1826 and only go on to 1827 if I couldn't find what I was looking for. In 1841 the census was taken in June, and ages above 15 are usually in a state of confusion reflecting the enumerators' understanding, or more usually lack of understanding, of the guidelines. Ages above 15 were supposed to be rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5, so that "20" stands for anything between 20 and 24 and so on. But many enumerators gave up, ignored the instructions and gave the exact age - and I always offer up silent thanks when they did! But for ages under 15, or where the enumerator gave an age that was not a multiple of five, the birth still has seven chances out of twelve (and therefore still slightly more than 50%) of having taken place in the year before the one you get by merely subtracting the age from the census year. Source: Tony Woodward (GOONS)

Research Service

We recognise that our members’ primary objective is to progress their personal family history.  We have the capability to help.
This programme is led by Brendan O’Donoghue, a leading Irish genealogist.  He has worked for over 15 years researching his own family tree and helping others research theirs.

Brendan has completed an intensive genealogy course at Newpark College, Dublin under the well-known genealogist and author Bob Burke, he has studied genealogy at University College, Dublin

In his professional life, Brendan carries out all forms of custom research in the United States, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. He currently works as a research expert at ExpertConnect on  Over 80% of his projects have been carried out in the United States, he specialises in Irish - American research.

We are fortunate that we have an O’Donoghue of Brendan’s experience to lead a team of members and guests who have volunteered to help society members with their family history projects.  The volunteers benefit from Brendan’s guidance.

Between us we have access to many of the mainstream online genealogical services.

Please make the initial contact with Brendan at providing the information required on this Project input page

Brendan will brief one of the volunteers who will liaise with the member while keeping Brendan informed.

Our volunteers are listed below
Name                                       Country                                  
Annie Handley                       Australia
Helen O’Donoghue                Australia
Leonie O’Donoghue               New Zealand
Paula Kennedy                       UK
Joe Kelsall                              UK
Bernie Donahue                     USA
John Donahue                        USA
Tom Donahue                        USA
Jim Horgan                             USA
Kathleen Lott                          USA
John Pozega                          USA
The volunteers also check the message forum regularly to see if they can guide other researchers on their issues.
We are always looking for more volunteers.

If certificates are required to be purchased, we will inform the member of the details and they will need to apply for them in their own name and at their own cost.  The member should then feed the information back to the researcher to see if further work is possible.

In the event that the team cannot advance the project, and extended use of Brendan’s personal expertise is required, the member will be told in advance the potential cost of his time and can choose whether to proceed or not.

In order to help researchers with their genealogical education and project progress we have provided some aids accessed via these links

Researcher Training