Course Details

Full Course Name:
Diploma in Family History

Course Dates

Next Course Commencing:
Enrol and Start Anytime on Asynchronous Online | Classroom and Live Online Starting January 2021
10 weeks, one evening per week from 6.30 to 9.30pm

Course Award

City Colleges Diploma
Not Applicable

Course Fee

€995 (€1,095 if paying in instalments)
€895 (€995 if paying in instalments)
Asynchronous Online:
Call +353 1 4160034

Learn how to trace genealogical lineage

The Diploma in Family History will assist students to develop the skills necessary to utilise the resources available to trace genealogical lineage using online search records as well as resources in historical libraries and archives. Students will investigate death certificates, wills census records, birth certificates and other primary records to teach students to identify ancestors in building their family tree.

Course Content

Each session of discussion of online sources and strategies is followed by hands-on practice in the classroom.  All participants receive a free year’s subscription to the Irish Ancestors site at

1: Introduction & Expectations, Surnames & Placenames
The expectations and misconceptions surrounding Irish genealogy are discussed and debunked. Surnames and place names are the raw material of genealogy and are especially tricky in Ireland. Tools for handling them are introduced

2: The General Register Office
All Irish births, deaths and marriages were registered by the state from 1864. How the system works and how to research these records.

3: Irish Census Records
The history of census-taking in Ireland.  Research strategies for the earliest complete census records, 1901 and 1911, and for surviving earlier fragments.

4: Irish Church Records 
Irish church records, their importance, locations and nature. Years covered, locations and research strategies for the records of the major denominations.

5: Irish Property Records
Only two country-wide 19th-century census substitutes exist, Griffith’s Valuation and the Tithe Books. Here they are examined them in detail and research approaches are outlined.

6: Revision of Major Sources
How the four main record-sources already examined interact with each other and how each can be used to find out more in the others.

7: Census Substitutes 
The lack of early censuses makes anything with a name on it potentially relevant for Irish research. Samples of the best-known are introduced and examined.

8: Other Useful Records 1
Apart from the four universally useful sources, there are many other potentially helpful records, generally relating to property. This session treats occupational records, directories, newspapers and wills.

9: Other Useful Records 2
Covering the Registry of Deeds, the Genealogical Office, graveyard records and records of the Irish Abroad

10. Bringing it all together

The mechanics of designing, pursuing and recording a family history project. Online subscriptions and online tree-sharing.

Much of the course will be conducted in a workshop atmosphere with students being asked to prepare material for discussion in advance. A fully qualified genealogist will be in attendance for a one-hour session each week to offer detailed, personalized expert advice.


Students must attend at least 80% of classes to graduate with either the Diploma or Certificate of Attendance unless a serious and verifiable reason for further absence is provided.

If completing the course online, attendance and participation is tracked through Moodle.

A pass grade on the written assignment will be required for awarding of the Diploma.



John Grenham

John Grenham has been called “the godfather of Irish genealogy”. He is a presenter of the hit RTE TV show “The Genealogy Roadshow”. Among his publications is  the standard guide to Irish genealogy, Tracing your Irish Ancestors (4th ed.2012).

He was Project Manager with the Irish Genealogical Project from 1991 to 1995 and later went on to develop and market his own genealogical software, “Grenham’s Irish Recordfinder”. Since 1998, he has run the Irish Times “Irish Ancestors” website.

In 2005, he was the first Genealogist-in-Residence at Dublin City Library. He was awarded a fellowship of The Irish Genealogical Research Society in 2007 and of the Genealogical Society of Ireland in 2010. Among his other publications are Clans and Families of Ireland (1995), Generations (1996), “The Genealogical Office and its Records” in The Genealogical Office , (1999), Grenham’s Irish Surnames (CD-ROM, 2003) and numerous articles and columns in the UK magazine Your Family Tree. He has written the “Irish Roots” column and blog in The Irish Times since February 2009.

In 2011, along with Irish Times Training, he developed and launched an online genealogical course.

His website is

Course Fee

Asynchronous Online – Enrol and Start Anytime

You can enrol directly for our Asynchronous Online option from this box. Just click on the Enrol button.

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    Diploma in Family History (Asynchronous Online)


    Asynchronous Online Diploma in Family history


January Courses

We are taking bookings for our January Classroom and Online Course.



(€1,095 if paying  in instalments)

Online course: 


(€995 if paying in instalments)

Non-EU students: Call +353 1 4160034

John is very knowledgeable, both in his chosen field and in general.  He is very easy to listen to  and understand, and has a very pleasant manner. The whole process has been very easy for me, both to join and to participate in class.  Any contact I have had with the staff, I have found them to be very helpful and pleasant.

Sinead Nolan

John is a superb lecturer!  So knowledgeable.  And the streaming online and recording of the course is a wonderful resource.

Natalie Milne

I very much enjoyed the coursework, chatting with the other participants and, of course, meeting John Grenham. I would certainly recommend City Colleges to family and friends.

Lorna Carroll

Excellent presentation! Access to the online material is very helpful.

Brian Daly

Why City Colleges?

  • Courses for students who are passionate about their subject, delivered by leaders in their field.
  • Live lectures which are also streamed live on Moodle and recorded for review
  • City centre location in South Great George’s Street, convenient for bus, LUAS, DART
  • Southside Dublin location in Dundrum
  • Study rooms and library in our City Centre location
  • Limited class size
  • Parking

Enrol Now

Select your Courses

Select the desired options and click the enrol button below when finished

Diploma in Family History (Classroom)

Classroom Diploma in Family History


6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

John Grenham


Diploma in Family History (Online)

Online Diploma in Family History


6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

John Grenham