Review: My Heritage Ancestry Website

With the lockdown ongoing here in Ireland, one day out of the blue I took an interest in researching my ancestry. Don’t ask me why only God knows, but by the end of the research it dawned upon me that they were looking for prayer. They got prayers said for them and I got to meet them after all these years so everyone got good benefit from it. Hey, what can I say? Scratching one another’s back continues on in the spiritual realm.

In the process of looking up my ancestry a local priest noticed my enthusiasm and threw me a lot of free websites. There was one subscription based website I used for both DNA sampling and its entire research tools for looking up my ancestors called, My Heritage.

It’s important to note that my experience with my heritage is purely based on the Irish system which is already incredibly limited when looking for ones ancestors. Therefore, it’s important not to judge My Heritage based on this review alone depending upon where in the world you’re coming from.

Why is the Irish system so limited? It’s because of the Civil war that took place between the free state army and the IRA in 1922. The IRA took up residence in the public records office in Dublin. In what was probably one of the most juvenile leadership decisions ever made, the free state army headed by Collins decided to bomb them out of it. This came at an enormous price of losing all of our public records that dated as far back as the middle ages. Yup, all of Irelands ancestors gone up in smoke.

What survives today enables us to go back to the early 1700s (1800s for the majority of Irish people). There are a lot of free websites one can access all this information and documentation on out there. These include the Civil records from the 1950’s to 1864, and then there are the Baptism record. The Baptism records you pay for on Irish based websites. I’ll list everything at the bottom of this blog post so you can avail of the tools I used.

My heritage has a colorful, well presented website with a very user friendly platform. It has an attractive way of building your family tree that is easy to navigate at the drop of a hat. Several different formats make for easier viewing my favorite of which is it’s new “Fan Wheel” feature. The DNA kits are incredibly cheap but I would rather use the word “affordable” as the kit and the results they bring are of a very high standard.

People say that because of how they measure your ancestry using the data of other users you’re better off doing it with Ancestry who have a bigger database. But I’ve seen reviews where people have taken both DNA tests from My Heritage and Ancestry and pretty much came up with super identical results. Therefore, don’t allow the price of My Heritage nor other users on the internet (like myself) put you off buying into simply for that reason alone.

I spent around €130 euros for a year subscription to gain access to all the sites search features. I’m kinda bummed I did that and here is why. For all the money I pumped into My Heritage, I was only ever able to find census records for my family in the years 1901 and 1911.

I could already get this information for free plus Civil Birth and Marriage records online. What was worse is that they claim to have the civil birth and marriage records for Ireland but I could not find my ancestors on their system, only my own free website. My Heritage also lack Irish Baptism records than can be found on other paid websites databases such as Find my past.

When it came to searching historical books this was fun although a lot of the time some historical books were protected by copyright. This means I was unable to view them even at the original source. I really feel that My Heritage should stop referencing them if you can’t engage with the material.

I noticed that when it came to the American or British system and any other from around the world, My Heritage knocks it out of the park. It’s really useful for anyone other than Irish people. As Outlined above there are two reasons for this and that is, A) The Irish system is already limited and B) The My Heritage database is limited on an already limited system meaning it’s pretty useless.

For DNA Analysis, International records, user friendliness and most affordable pricing, My Heritage gets a 5 stars for me. In relation to it’s usefulness to Irish people it gets a poor 2 stars for me. 130 euro for functions that area already free on the website isn’t worth it.

Here are the sites I used to find my Irish ancestry:

http://www.irishgenealogy.ie (Free)
http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie (Free)
http://www.findmypast.ie (great for baptism records but subscription based)
http://www.rootsireland.ie (very pricy but has more in the area of baptism records than find my past.)

Have you ever taken a step back in time to discover where you come from? If so, share your experience with me in the comment section below.

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