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Help and advice for Ireland

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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

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. Separate National Archives were formed for the Republic of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland (NAI), and Northern Ireland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). Similarly civil registration became, for the Republic of Ireland, The General Register Office (GRO) and, for Northern Ireland, General Register Office (Northern Ireland) known as GRONI.

Copies of many national records up to 1922 are available in both the NAI and PRONI and similarly registration records in GRO and GRONI. Records after 1922 are held in their respective offices. It is also important to note that several church dioceses of all denominations have parishes on both sides of the border  and some Ulster collections include records from Monaghan, Donegal and Cavan  as Ulster counties pre 1922.

Local records are held in County Archives, Libraries and Heritage Centres

Addresses of Archives and Libraries from (Formerly the Irish Times site).

Major Repositories:

Heritage Centres:

Local Libraries (Republic of Ireland):

Local Libraries (Northern Ireland):

As part of the United Kingdom, Irish records have historically been created and archived in Britain.   The UK National Archives have produced some guides to their archives and the Discovery catalogue can be used to search English and Welsh archive holdings

Printed Archive listings include:

O’Neill Robert K, Irish Libraries, Archives Museums & Genealogical Centres, Ulster Historical Foundation

Helferty Seamus and Refausse Raymond (Ed), Directory of Irish Archives, Irish Academic Press


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).
  • Flyleaf Press "My Ancestor was from" series 


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)



Two types of graveyard records exist, cemetery burial records and headstone transcripts.

1. Cemetery records: Typically a municipal cemetery owned and managed by the local authority. These cemeteries are multi-denominational, although may have areas reserved for the various denominations. Records may include age, parent’s names and place of birth and plots may contain several members of the same family. By far the biggest online collection comprises the records of Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin, about 1.5 million records dating from 1828 available at the pay-per-view site Burial registers for Co. Kerry are free at Limerick city burial records (for Mount St. Lawrence) are free at For areas in and around Cork city, see For Belfast, see

2. Headstones: These have been transcribed, published and digitised in many places. For a guide to Dublin city and county transcripts see For the 6 counties of Northern Ireland, the pay-per-view site has an almost complete set, without images. Other resources include: Filter for Ireland includes deaths and wills Filter for Ireland

Cemetery records, transcribed by volunteers and searchable by country, are to be found on the IGP website

Printed resources:

Mitchell, Brian A Guide to IRISH Churches and Graveyards, Genealogical Publishing Co Inc.


The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only complete surviving census records for the pre-Independence period. Fragments survive for 1821 – 1851 for some counties, as follows:

Antrim, 1851; Belfast city (one ward only), 1851; Cavan, 1821 and 1841; Cork, 1841;

Dublin city (index to heads of household only), 1851; Fermanagh, 1821, 1841 and 1851; Galway, 1813 (numerical returns for Longford barony) and 1821; King’s County (Offaly), 1821; Londonderry (Derry), 1831 – 34; Meath, 1821; Waterford, 1841.

The household returns and ancillary records for the censuses of Ireland are in the custody of the National Archives of Ireland and indexes and images are searchable on their website:  (Free)

The indexes only are also available of Findmypast Ireland:  (Subscription to Findmypast Ireland))

and Rootsireland (not all counties): (subscription)

Indexes for the 1821 to 1851 fragments with a link to images on the National Archives of Ireland website are available on Familysearch: (free)

Indexes to 1901 and 1911 plus some 1851 records for Antrim and Cork census are available on Ancestry: (Subscription)

In addition to the surviving Census records, information was extracted from the 1841 and 1851 census to support pension applications. The Old Age Pensions Act 1908 introduced a non-contributory pension for eligible people aged 70 and over. Proof of age was an essential part of the process of application for a pension. Because civil registration of births did not begin in Ireland until 1864, applicants had no official documentation to prove their age. It was decided that searches of the 1841 and 1851 census returns could produce acceptable documentary evidence of a claimant's age.

The original images are held in the National Archives of Ireland and the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. Index and images are available on the National Archives of Ireland   website: (free) and Findmypast: (subscription)

The indexes with a link to images on the National Archives of Ireland website are available on Familysearch (free)

Index with images of transcriptions on Ancestry:

Various local indices and transcriptions have been produced by volunteers. Many of these are to be found in the Irish Genealogy Project website

In addition some census substitutes exist. Please see subjects “Land and Property” and “Taxation”

Church Records

Parish registers are the most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the commencement of the civil registration of births, deaths and marriages in 1864.  Prior to this parish registers may contain the only surviving record of a particular individual or family and can supply evidence of direct links between one generation and the next (via baptismal registers) and one family and another (via marriage registers). Familysearch recommend the following strategy:

  • Search indexes first. 
  • Search all parish registers and other available church records of the appropriate locality for the time period you are researching.
  • Search available Church of Ireland records even if your family was not Church of Ireland.
  • Search surrounding localities if you cannot find records in the expected locality.
  • Note all entries, including burials, for the surname you are searching (unless the name is very common).
  • Note gaps or missing pages in the record. You may want to search alternative records for the missing time periods.
  • If you find little or no mention of your family in parish records, search other records.
  • Use the additional information (residence, occupation, etc.) given in parish registers to find other records to search.

Parish names and boundaries may differ between Roman Catholic Parishes, Church of Ireland Parishes and the name of the city/town. Reference should be made to an online sources such as The IreAtlas Townland Database (formerly “Sean Ruad”) or Irish Ancestors  or reference books including: Mitchell Brian, A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, Genealogical  Publishing Co Inc.

The following websites provide guidance on which parish registers still exist

General Information


The List of Church of Ireland Parish Registers :

Catholic Parish Registers at the National Library of Ireland:

Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland:

Methodist Historical Society of Ireland:

Baptist Historical Society:

Reference can also be made to: Mitchell Brian, A Guide to Irish Parish Registers, Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.

Websites offering national and multi-county indexes and images of parish registers.

National Library of Ireland: Catholic Parish Registers Images (Free)

Irish Family History Foundation: Parish Registers and Civil Registration with links to NLI images. (Subscription)

Irish Genealogy: Church Records Cork, Kerry and Dublin, Civil Records for Ireland Some images. (Free)

Emerald Ancestors: Births, deaths and marriages from historic Ulster (subscriptions)

Ulster Historical Foundation:  Baptism and Marriage records Co. Antrim and Co. Down. (subscription)

Findmypast Ireland:  Parish records from across Ireland and across all religions. Some images. (subscription)

Ancestry:  Parish records from across Ireland and across all religions. Some images. (Subscription)

Ancestry: Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915 with images from NLI. (Free)

Familysearch: Parish records  indexes from across Ireland and across all religions. (Free)

The following libraries have collections that include indexes and transcriptions of parish registers Irish Genealogical Research Society and the Society of Genealogists

Volunteer County/Parish indexes can be found on

Civil Registration

Civil registration of all births, marriages, and deaths in Ireland began in 1864 (except for non-Catholic marriages, for which registration started in 1845). Registration produced two sets of records: registers for births, marriages, and deaths and published indexes to these registers. The repository split in 1922, with the records for Northern Ireland being kept by the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) in Belfast, while records for the Republic of Ireland are housed at the General Register Office (GRO) in Dublin.

Certificates can be ordered online and by post from GRO and GRONI  or by post from the local Registrar.

The Irish Government website (free) is publishing the indexes, together with images of the register pages for Births over 100 years old, Marriages over 75 years old and Deaths over 50 years old.

Indexes only have been published on a number of websites: Familysearch to 1958, but excluding index records for Northern Ireland after its creation in 1922. (free).  These indexes are also available at Family History Libraries on microfilm. Ancestry births. , deaths ,, marriages,  (subscription), excluding index records for Northern Ireland after its creation in 1922. RootsIreland , birth, death, marriage (subscription) Civil records are included with parish record.

Various local indices and transcriptions have been produced by volunteers. Many of these are to be found in the Irish Genealogy Project website

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 research guide on Irish Ancestors

The following websites hold online collections of national, regional and local directories

Findmypast:   (Subscription)

PRONI: (Free)

Ancestry: (Subscription)

Hard copies of national, regional and local directories are held in local studies libraries throughout Ireland and some facsimile copies have been published. These are mostly out of print but may be available second hand or on CD.

Newspaper advertising is also a useful source for commercial life.

Emigration and Immigration

Extensive information, including lots of references to (printed) sources on Irish Emigration is given in the Irish Irish Ancestors site under 

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 Ancestors site also provides an online facility as does the SeanRuad Townland Database Townland Database

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).


Irish Ancestors (formerly the Irish Times) has 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.
  • (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

Records of place can provide useful information about where your ancestors lived. The main sources for records of place are Griffith's Valuation, the Tithe Applotment Books, Estate Papers and maps.

Griffiths Valuation

The primary valuation of Ireland or Griffith's Valuation - carried out between 1848 and 1864 to determine liability to pay the Poor rate (for the support of the poor and destitute within each Poor Law Union) and provides detailed information on where people lived in mid-nineteenth century Ireland and the property they possessed.  Griffith's Valuation is fully searchable online on the  (free) and includes images and maps.

Other websites that include Griffiths and other land records:

Valuation Office: (subscription)

Property Registration Authority: (subscription)

Ancestry:  index and image (subscription)

Findmypast:  Griffith's Survey Maps & Plans, 1847-1864  and Griffith's Valuation 1847-1864  (subscription)

Rootsireland: index (subscription)

Index and images to valuations between 1824 and 1856 are available on:

National Archives of Ireland:
 Findmypast: (subscription)
Familysearch holds 355 microfilms  of Valuation  books available to view as images or microfilm viewable in a Familysearch Family History Library .

PRONI: Valuation Revision Books covering counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone between the years 1864 to 1933.(Subscription)

Tithe Applotment Books

The Tithe Applotment Books were compiled between 1823 and 1838 as a survey of land in each civil parish to determine the payment of tithes (a religious tax). Unlike Griffith's Valuation they do not cover cities or towns. The Tithe Applotment Books are available online at National Archives of Ireland website (free).

Tithe Applotment records can also be found on the following websites

Estate papers

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the vast majority of the Irish population lived as tenant farmers on estates. The administration of these estates produced large quantities of records such as leases and deeds, rentals and account books, maps and correspondence.

Archives and Libraries with Estate Paper Collections.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland:

National Archives of Ireland:

The National Library of Ireland:

Trinity College Library Dublin: Manuscripts and Archives Research Library (Family and Estate Papers):

Boole Library, University College Cork (Special Collections):

James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland, Galway:

Cork City and County Archives (Solicitors' & Landed Estate Papers) Boole Library, University College Cork:

Estate Papers can also be found in County Archives and Local Studies Libraries and  a number of Irish Estate Papers are to be found in U.K. National Archives and County Archives. These can be searched using Discovery on the National Archives website.

A selection of  websites which include indexes and images relating to Estate Papers

Findmypast: Landed Estate Court Rentals (subscription)

Findmypast:  Estate commissioners offices applications from evicted tenants 1907 (subscription)

Findmypast: Burkes Landed Gentry of Ireland1899 (subscription)

PRONI  Freeholders records (free)

Findmypast: Thoms Irish Who’s Who 1923

Ancestry: Lord Viscount Morpeth's Testimonial Roll, 1841

Ancestry: Burke's Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland

Ancestry: Return of Owners of Land in Ireland 1876


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

Until the creation of the Republic of Ireland, military service was as part of the British Army and Navy and, as such, most remaining records are held by the UK National Archives at Kew. Northern Ireland continues to be part of the United Kingdom. Before searching these archives some knowledge of the recruiting, organisation and structure of the Army and Navy and their records is recommended.  The National Archives publish a series of free Research Guides:



Personnel records are mostly classified by regiment (army) or ship (navy) and are open to the public up to 1923. Requests may be made for WW2 service records, under the Freedom of Information Act. Many of the service records have been indexed but regimental/ship’s muster and pay records can only be searched at the National Archives.

Service record Indexes can be searched using the National Archives Discovery catalogue and the following websites hold extensive indexes and images.

Findmypast:  (Subscription)

Ancestry:  (Subscription)

Familysearch: (Free)

United Kingdom, World War I Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920

United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United Kingdom, Militia Service Records, 1806-1915

United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913

Great Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935

Regimental Museums hold some personnel records but mostly record the history of the regiment.

Most military records for the Republic of Ireland are covered by Data Protection legislation, some information is available on Defence Forces Ireland , Military Archives website (free) and Findmypast have published the Irish Army Census 1922 (subscription)

Names, Personal

Other sources:


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


Local newspapers in Ireland have been published since the early 18th century and cover all aspects of national, regional and local life. Copies of most newspapers were sent to the British Library and have since been scanned and indexed (note the indexing has been by OCR and is subject to error). The British Library collection has also been released by Findmypast.

Historic Newspapers collections online. (Subscription) (Subscription) (Subscription) (Subscription) (Subscription)

Many Irish libraries hold microfilm and paper copies of local newspapers which are free to browse.

Since the 1990s many newspapers have started making copies available online. The following website is a guide to online holdings:


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 Ancestors site.


Many are listed on the individual county pages.

Probate Records

Irish probates were handled by ecclesiastical courts up to 1858. Twenty-eight diocesan courts, known as consistory courts, existed. The highest court, with authority over all the ecclesiastical courts, was the Prerogative Court of Armagh (which operated from Dublin). If a person had an estate that included property in more than one diocese and was worth more than £5, that person's will would have been proved in the Prerogative Court. And in addition, the wills of wealthy people were usually proved in the Prerogative Court. If the Estate included property in England or Wales the will may have been proven in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury or Prerogative Court of York.

In 1858, civil authorities, government departments, and courts, took on the work of proving wills and administrations. Eleven district will registries and a Principal Probate Registry in Dublin replaced the church probate courts. Each registry made copies of wills and administrations that it proved in 'will and admon books' and after 20 years sent the originals to the Public Record Office in Dublin. The originals and copies, of almost all records of the Principal Probate Registry (which also had jurisdiction as a district court over the counties of Dublin and Kildare) were destroyed in the fire that consumed the Public Record Office in 1922.  Copies of wills and administrations kept by other district registries have been gathered into the National Archives and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, where they remain grouped by district.

Websites with Probate indexes and images. 1922-1982 1484-1820 and WW1 Soldiers Wills Index to the prerogative wills of Ireland, 1536-1810: Filter Location for Ireland

Familysearch Family History Libraries also hold microfilms of indexes and images of probate documents.

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.