Don't get me wrong, I spend oodles on online genealogy sites. Some days, it seems to me that genealogy as a passion is more expensive than skiing or owning pro sports teams or other cash intensive endeavors. And, since finding information about my ancestors is priceless to me, I can't say I don't get a return on my buck.
But, what does bother me is paying for data that is free online.
You have probably heard of the furor in the genealogy world created recently when Cyndi Howells, the owner of Cyndi's List, accused someone of copying her entire site and placing it in a for-profit site. A a lawyer who has dealt with copyright issues, I will not comment here on her accusations, because the legal issues involved are very intricate, and I only know of her allegations.
But I do know that we often end up paying for records and data (and sometimes erroneous transcriptions of both!), that we can obtain for free online with just a bit of searching. I suppose that some family historians would rather pay a fee to search "under one roof" for convenience sake. That is certainly the attraction of a site such as Mocavo, where the user can substitute a search engine, designed for genealogy purposes, for his or her own skill in conducting searches.
But, if you must budget the funds you spend on genealogical research, you would be wise to spend some time examining the databases of a subscription or for-profit site before you charge your credit card. I recently received an email from a site offering Irish records, many of which I know I can obtain for free elsewhere. Take some time to examine the list of databases, and determine if any of them 1) are free elsewhere, and 2) could actually be pertinent to your own research. Then determine whether the search capabilities of the website might aid your research and might be worth the cost itself.
For a start, I will list below just a few of the Internet sites containing free databases of Irish records that are included in for-profit sites. The list is incomplete, and I invite readers to share others in the comment section. Your search should include looking for the website of the Irish county library in your county of focus. You would be amazed at some of the databases that the local libraries in Ireland have placed online!
GRIFFITHS VALUATION : ASK ABOUT IRELAND
SELECTED IRISH CHURCH RECORDS:
1901 AND 1911 CENSUS: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
TITHE APPLOTMENT BOOKS
(The following link is for the Clare County Library, search for other county libraries's online collections)
IRISH NEWSPAPERS (limited years)
FLAXGROWERS LIST (and other databases)
PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND (various databases)
FAMILY SEARCH (LDS CHURCH) (various records)
https://familysearch.org/IRELAND GENEALOGY PROJECTS (tons of free Irish records transcribed by volunteers)