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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)

The Society's goals, culture and approach


The purpose of The O'Donoghue Society is to promote a deeper understanding of the individual family histories of those that carry or have carried the O'Donoghue name, and its many variants. We extend our knowledge of the origins and history of the name itself through specific and general communication and research..

Main activities and current status

  • Maintaining a dedicated web site for the Society, which will allow easy interaction between members and guests, and a regular flow of information. The web site is not used for advertising of any sort, other than members’ own personal publications relevant to the purpose of the society.
  • Encouraging everyone to join in the community nature of the society by getting to know each other and contributing to the society's activities through participation in the forums, blogs and by undertaking specific jobs.
  • Maintaining a database of family history data, research interests and general source material, with the objective of supporting members’ research programmes, and connecting similarly interested people and related family groups.
  • Providing a family history service to members, carrying out specific research where requested and advising members on how to meet their objectives.
  • Publishing a quarterly journal on the web site with contributions from anyone interested in providing suitable material.
  • Promoting the conservation of documents, monuments and other material of special significance to O’Donoghue history.
  • Encouraging and participating in gatherings of like-minded people brought together by a common interest in their heritage·
  • Undertaking projects of a cross-society nature, where an extended period of time and effort is required to achieve a result.

The Basic Culture

Our approach is best described as participative, with everyone encouraged to contribute to the society’s and each other’s aims. We aim to provide value for money, but the payment of a subscription should be viewed, fundamentally, as an investment for future benefit, rather than a transaction for immediate service provided. We seek to be professional at all times. We avoid excessive rules and work on the basis of mutual support and enjoyment. We try, to the best of our ability, to protect people’s privacy in areas they request (the society is registered under the UK Data Protection Act - registration number Z6848743). Critical decisions are taken, wherever possible, in consultation with members. Whenever the name O’Donoghue is used, it should be interpreted as your name however you spell it.

Organisational approach

The Society Council, under Rod O'Donoghue's leadership and with members from many different backgrounds, is the guiding group for the society.  Each member undertakes a specific role.  Volunteers from within the society are encouraged to participate in all areas of activity.  For instance for the Family History Research Service we have ten volunteers from all over the world.