The digitization of the 1901 and 1911 census return forms by the National Archives has generated much interest in in people's families and ancestors. I have had good fun looking in to my own family history, and I know some of my wider family read this blog, so I thought I'd summarize what I have found so far.
I have found three of my four grandparents - my Mum's mother Kathleen Cullen has eluded me so far, but I will find her if she was recorded on census night. The three that I have found are the O'Loughlin's and Hurley's on my Dad's side, and the Burns (Byrne's) on my Mum's side.
My grandfather PJ O'Loughlin was born in 1904 so he features only on the 1911 census. He is listed as "Pattie Loughlin" here with his father, "Joseph Loughlin",, his aunt "Mary Loughlin", and a servant "Eugene Loughlin". They lived in Barnacurra near Newmarket in West Cork. According to my Dad the "O" was lost at a Christening when someone got so drunk that the name O'Loughlin was entered incorrectly on the birth certificate! My great grandfather "Joseph Loughlin" is also listed on the 1901 census here - he lived in Tooreenclassagh (also near Newmarket), and is listed on his own.
The Hurley family were easy enough to find. My grandmother Kathleen Hurley features in the 1911 census here, as living in Church Street, Newmarket. For the 1901 census, she was not yet born, but her family are listed here. It's not clear that they were living in the same house - the 1901 record shows "Residents of a house 74 in Newmarket (Newmarket, Cork)", while the 1911 record shows "Residents of a house 2 in Church Street (Newmarket, Cork)".
I finally tracked the "Burns" family down in the 1911 census. My Mum's maiden name is Byrne - all her family use this spelling of their name. However, just last weekend she told me a story about her Dad (Patrick) having difficulty getting a passport in 1956 when he was emigrating to Canada. There was no trace of a "Byrne" birth certificate, but it was found under the name "Burns" instead. Having had no luck looking for my Mum's family under the name "Byrne", I quickly tried the "Burns" spelling and found her father here (see also graphic to the right) in the 1911 census straight-away. Patrick (Paddy) Burns is listed as a 5-year old - the only other member of this family that I remember is Uncle Jimmy who is listed as a 1-year old. The family are recorded as living in "Ballyquirk (Lorrha West, Tipperary)". Both my great-grandparents, James and Margaret, are listed as "Cannot read".
The availability of these census records is fascinating. In one of my recent AgeAction Getting Started classes for over 55's, where most of my students are in their 60's and 70's - all were amazed at finding relatives and neighbours on streets where they grew up. It's hard to justify the cost of completing this project in times when there are spending cutbacks on schools and hospitals - but I consider it money well spent. The National Archives is experiencing a huge amount of traffic to their resource - long may it continue.