Tracing your Irish family relatives can be extremely simple or, in some cases can be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. In either situation a practical approach to tracing your relatives is often the best approach.
1. Research methods
There are many research methods available to Genealogists ranging from the personal to the historical to the scientific. To use a basic example, a father has a personal relation to his son; this is denoted on both his birth and baptism certificates and this, in turn, can now be verified by DNA testing, as Courts around the world have done in innumerable succession and paternity cases.
2. DNA testing
Many of the salutary tales of DNA testing equally apply back generations and these methods can now be applied to both genealogical and archaeological endeavours. There is however a broader point here; the advent of the scientific age has brought a sea change to genealogical faculties the world over.
3. Aural proofs
Obviously the simplest way of tracing your relatives is by primary aural proofs; clearly this frequently extends to grandparents or great grandparents who may have knowledge of their great grandparents. Or if that's too much of a mouthful we can state that the maximum possible number of generations communicable by aural means is eight; your great grandparent may recall his or her great grandparent but to trace your relatives by aural information beyond eight generations would be remarkable indeed.
4. Written documents
Beyond that point written documents are the next frame of reference, though it is inevitable that at some stage in the not too distant future genealogical data will be stored exclusively by electronic means ; indeed this process is already underway.
5. Original documentation
However it should be pointed out that for verifiable authenticity a hard copy of original documentation is eminently preferable; the practical approach dictates that there is no need to complicate. Therefore you should always start with the most readily available option when attempting to trace your relatives.