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"Ireland, a large island of Europe, W of Great Britain, between lon. 6 and 10, 40 W, and lat. 51, 15 and 55, 13 N, 280m. long and 160 broad, and containing 19,436,000 acres divided up into 4 provinces; Ulster N, Leinster E, Munster S, and Connaught to the W, and subdivided into 32 counties. ... The climate is in general more temperate than that of other countries in the same latitude; at the same time it is much more inclined to moisture ... The face of the country is level; it is well watered with lakes and rivers, and the soil, in most parts, good and fertile. A remarkable feature of this country is the extensive bogs, estimated at 2,330,000 English acres. Corn, hemp, and flax are produced in great plenty; beef and butter are exported; and hides, wool, tallow, wood, salt, honey, and wax, are articles of commerce. ... The principal manufacture is fine linen cloth, which is brought to great perfection, and the trade in it is very great. Ireland is well adapted to trade, on account of its numerous secure and commodious bays and harbours. The principal rivers are the Shannon, Bandon, Lee, Blackwater or Broadwater, Liffey, Boyne, Sure, Burrow, Slane, and Bann; lakes, lough Neagh, or the lake of Killarney, the most distingished for its beauties, lough Erne, and lough Corrib. The established religion is Protestant, though the majority of the people are Catholics." [From The New London Gazetteer (1826)]

Archives and Libraries

The fact that in 1922 the Republic of Ireland was created and six of the nine counties forming the province of Ulster (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, and Tyrone) voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, effects the location of various records. Moreover, because England ruled Ireland for much of its history, many records pertaining to Ireland are to be found in English repositories.

Both the National Archives and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland collect records for all of Ireland. The National Archives contains records previously held by the Public Record Office at Four Courts, Dublin and by the State Paper Office in Dublin (neither of which exists today). The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has a fairly complete collection of church records (all denominations), for all of Northern Ireland, plus many other holdings. (Note: For records before 1926, check also with the National Archives in Dublin.)

The National Library of Ireland is Ireland's main repository of 'filmed' Catholic parish registers. Other holdings include newspapers, city and regional directories, estate records, the Householders Index and Griffith's Primary Valuation. (Online catalogue now available.)

The major English archives that have Irish records are:

Irish Times' address listings:

Other archives, libraries, etc.:


Online resources:


  • Begley, Donal F., ed. Irish Genealogy: A record Finder. Dublin: Heraldic Artists (1981).
  • Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 vols. Evanston, Illinois:
  • Grehnam, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan (1992).
  • McCarthy, Tony. The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin: Lilliput Press (1991).
  • Quinn, Sean E. Trace Your Irish Ancestors. Bray.Ireland: Magh Itha Teoranta (1989).
  • Ryan, James G. Irish Records; Sources for Family & Local History, Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Publishing (1997).


Two sources listing published biographies are:

  • Grenham, John "Family Histories". In Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The complete Guide.
  • MacLysaght, Edward. Bibliography of Irish Family History 2d ed. Blackrock, Ireland: Irish Academic Press (1982).

The following collections are important sources for biographies of prominent businessmen, political leaders, and religious and historical figures:

  • British and Irish Biographies. London: Chadwyck-Healt (1986).
  • Crone, John S. A Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography.
  • Lee, Sir Sidney, Leslie Stephen, H.W.C. Davis, Et. al., eds. Dictionary of National Biography. 63 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sieveking, Paul, ed. The British Biographical Archive New York, New York, K.G. Sauer (1986). (FHL fiche 602709-35, 6066966)


Some gravestone inscriptions have been transcribed by Ireland's county heritage centres - see individual county pages. Gravestone inscriptions that have been transcribed by other organizations or individuals are listed in:

  • Catalogs and inventories of various repositories.
  • Hayes's Sources
  • John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide
  • Mitchell, Brian, Guide to Ireland Graveyards and Cemeteries

See also:


Virtually all 19th century census returns have been destroyed but the Irish censuses for 1901 and 1911 may be examined at The National Archives in Bishop Street, Dublin 8, Ireland. Surnames indexes exist for some census localities - see Smith's Genealogical Source Index: Ireland

Old age pension records preserve some of the information from the 1841 and 1851 census which were largely destroyed in 1922. See:

Tithe Applotment books, Griffith's Primary Valuation records, and later land valuation records are also valuable census substitutes, because they record the names of the owners or occupiers of the land. These are described in the Irish Times site under Land Records.

Church Records

Church records include records of births or christenings, marriages, and sometimes deaths or burials. These records were kept in the Parish Registers. In 1876, a law was passed requiring that the Church of Ireland parish registers be sent to the Public Record Office in Dublin for safekeeping. This law was amended in 1878 to allow parishes with good storage facilities to retain their records, so not all parish records were sent to Dublin, and others were copied before being sent. Thus, many Church of Ireland records remain, even though the records sent to Dublin were destroyed in 1922 when the Public Record Office burned.

For further information see Church Records, at the Irish Times site.

See also:

and from "Mother Hubbard's Cupboard":

Civil Registration

Civil registration commenced in 1864 but many Irish records were destroyed in 1922. Records from 1864 to 1922, for all Ireland, and from 1922 for the Republic are held at the Office of the Registrar General, Joyce House, 8-11 Lombard Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Northern Irish records since 1922 are held at the GRO, Oxford House, Chichester Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT1 4HL.

See State Registration of Births, Marriages & Death at the Irish Times site.

Court Records

Margaret Falley, Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research provides a good description of court records and lists repositories and published inventories of court records. Many of the published inventories she notes are available at the Family History Library.

Description and Travel

Under this topic here, and on the county pages, we list links to sites that provide general tourist and current information, and to large online services related to particular localities.


Directories for Dublin first appeared in the early eighteenth century and continue today. Provincial (town) directories began somewhat later and have continued only sporadically. See the Directories - at the Irish Times site.

Emigration and Immigration

Extensive information, including lots of references to (printed) sources on Irish Emigration is given in the Irish Times' site under Emigration - the Famine.

Other material on Irish Emigration and Immigration


The Ordnance Survey Archives provide an extensive set of search facilities, including what is in effect a Gazetteer of Irish Parishes.

The Irish Times site also provides an online place name search facility.

One of the best printed gazetteers, providing detailed information on all towns, parishes etc, is:

  • S. Lewis. A topographical dictionary of Ireland, comprising the several counties, cities ... and villages : with historical and statistical descriptions ..., S. Lewis (1846).

See also :


John Grenham and the Irish Times have produced an online genealogy guide based on Grenham's 1992 book "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors". (Direct links to appropriate parts of this guide are given under relevant topic headings on this page.) The guide includes an "expert system designed to provide comprehensive information about records relevant to a particular Irish ancestor" - for fee-paying subscribers only.

  • What to do if your ancestor (or any of his or her siblings) was born, married or died in Ireland after 1863?
  • What to do if your ancestor (or any of his or her siblings) was of a religious domination other than Catholic, and married in Ireland after 1844?
  • What to do if your ancestor was not born, did not marry, and did not die in Ireland after 1863 and you do not know where in Ireland he or she came from?
  • What to do if your ancestor was not born and did not marry or die in Ireland after 1863, but you know where in Ireland he or she came from?
  • What to do if your ancestor lived in Ireland before the nineteenth century, and you know where in Ireland he or she came from?
  • What to do if your ancestor lived in Ireland before the nineteenth century, but you do not know where in Ireland he or she came from?

Other tutorial accounts:

Extensive tutorial material, plus lots of links, are also to be found at the Irish Genealogical Society, International (IGSI) site.

Each county now has a local Heritage Centre - part of the Irish Family History Foundation. (Here is the Irish Times' listing of Heritage Centres A-K and Irish Times' listing of Heritage Centres L-Z.) Many of these centres offer a fee-paid search service. For details see under Genealogy in the individual county pages - however there have been concerns expressed about the accuracy (and cost) of the information supplied by some Heritage Centres.

An overall access point for posting queries about Irish Genealogy is provided by IrelandGenWeb (part of WorldGenWeb) - see also under individual counties.

All-Ireland Newsgroups and mailing lists:

  • Cúpla Focal - The Irish Book Shop.
  • FIANNA-L-request@rootsweb.com (sources and methods for Irish research)
  • GENIRE - Gatewayed with the soc.genealogy.ireland newsgroup
  • IRELAND - A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical or historical interest in the island of Ireland
  • Ireland Genealogy Forum
  • IrelandGenWeb - A mailing list addressing general and specific questions about Ireland genealogy, methodology, etc.
  • IRISH-ADOPTEES-SEARCH (adoptees who wish to share search/reunion stories, genealogical pursuits, and knowledge of Ireland)
  • N-Ireland - A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical or historical interest in Northern Ireland
  • Scotch-Irish Mailing List (Scotch-Irish is a term that has come to be used in the United States to indicate all those who came from Northern Ireland who were not Gaelic Catholic Irish)
  • SHAMROCK - A mailing list for those trying to find their Celtic/Irish roots and for Irish historic research.
  • SURNAMES-IRELAND - Gatewayed with the soc.genealogy.surnames.ireland newsgroup for surname queries related to Ireland and Northern Ireland

Other Online Resources:

See also:


Irvine, Sherry and Nora M Hickey. Going to Ireland: A Genealogical Researcher's Guide. Trafford Publishing, Victoria, Canada. [ISBN 1 55212 077 5] [Very favourably reviewed in Family Tree Magazine, June 1998.]


The records of the Genealogical Office (2 Kildare Street,Dublin 2, Ireland) deal mainly with heraldry (mostly relating to English Lords who were transplanted to Ireland as landowners). The office's holdings include information extracted from records that were destroyed when the Public Records Office burned.

See also:

  • Eddie Geoghegan's Coats of Arms in Ireland - a large collection of representations of coats of arms of Irish families/clans.



Further reading:

  • Sources for the History of Irish Civilization: Articles in Irish Periodicals. 9 Vols. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co. (1970).

Land and Property

Land records are particularly important because of the large scale destruction of census records. A detailed description of the various types is provided under Land Records in the Irish Times site.


Map of Ireland showing counties and their Chapman Codes - based on a map obtained from Paddy Waldron.

Other sources:


  • Mitchell, B. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland. Genealogical Publishing Co. [Shows counties, dioceses, baronies and civil parishes.]

Military History

Military Records are mainly in the Public Record Office, Kew.

Online resources:

Names, Personal

Other sources:


  • MacLysaght, E.The Surnames of Ireland (6th. ed.). Irish Academic Press (1985).


The major reference book:

O'Toole, James. NEWSPLAN: Report of the NEWSPLAN project in Ireland (2nd. ed.). British Library in association with the National Library of Ireland (1998). [Lists the known holdings of the newspapers of Ireland, giving years of coverage and where held]

The National Library, in Dublin, has the largest collection of newspapers in Ireland, but see also:


Listings of online Irish Newpapers are provided by:

National Online Newspapers:


Many Irish people were agricultural labourers or small farmers, for which few records exist. However, for other occupations the situation is much better. A detailed description of the various types of Records concerning Occupations is given at the Irish Times site.


Many are listed on the individual county pages.

Probate Records

For detailed advice and information see Wills at the Irish Times site

Social life and Customs


Many Irish tax records were lost in 1922 when the Public Records Office burned. Important surviving ones include Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation. These are described in the Irish Times site under Land Records.