BIFHS-USA | Guide to British Isles Research

BIFHS–USA  |  Guide to British Isles Research

IV. Ireland and Northern Ireland

The British Isles Family History Society - U.S.A. maintains a large research collection at the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center. This section is a guide to the Ireland and Northern Ireland portion of that collection, however many of the materials listed are available from the Family History Library through Family History Centers worldwide.

The resources listed in this "Ireland" section are to be used in addition to the resources in the "General British Isles" section.

The following items are only a select list of materials. These items are in the process of annotation.

A. How to Do Irish Research

Begley, Donal F., ed. Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, book number 941.5 D27

Betit, Kyle and Dwight Radford. Ireland: A Genealogical Guide for North Americans. This is the most useful book on Irish genealogy for those living outside of Ireland because it covers the records held by the Family History Library and often provides film numbers. It also provides the addresses, telephone, and FAX numbers of major archives and libraries located in North America and Ireland, and discusses their Irish collections. Book 941.5 D27br

Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish & Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research (2 vols.) is old (1962) but excellent. This is the standard Irish reference book, 941.5 F191.

Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors is book number 941.5 D27gj.

Handbook on Irish Genealogy: How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relative in Ireland is book number 929.1415 H412h.

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Ancestors in Northern Ireland: A Guide to Ancestry Research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Not yet cataloged.

Research Outline: Ireland. Compiled by the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you acquire only one guide to Irish research, this should be it. This inexpensive guide is available in the sales area of the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center and also through other Family History Centers worldwide. 

Ryan, James G. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History, 1997, book number 941.5 D23r.

B. Finding Aids

Frank Smith's Inventories: This is probably the single most valuable finding aid to British Isles sources held in the Family History Library collection. Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources was compiled by Frank Smith and a team of researchers who searched periodicals, books, and microfilms in the Family History Library Collection and indexed the individual items found in these materials that often not been separately listed in the Family History Library Catalog. For example, the Family History Library Catalog will list the name of a periodical but will not list the individual articles contained within. Smith's Inventory will contain names of the articles. Nancy Bier included a description of Smith's Inventory in the 1996 BIFHS-USA Genealogical Research Seminar Syllabus, pages 9-14. There are inventories for England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. All serious researchers must use both the FHLC and Frank Smith's Inventories.

Ireland Fiche #6110527

Richard J. Hayes, Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: these volumes list the location of Irish Manuscripts. The first 11 volumes are in LAFHL on films #1,440,939 - #1,440,943. The Index to Persons is volumes 1-4; Index to Subjects vols. 5-6; Index to Places (by county) vols. 7-8, index to Dates vols. 9-10; and Lists of Manuscripts is volume 11. There is also a Supplement to Hayes at the National Library of Ireland and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The Supplement is not on microfilm. See also, Richard J. Hayes, Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals, found on films #973,222 to #973,230.

C. General Reference

De Bhaldraithe, Tomas. English-Irish Dictionary. Book number 491.62321 De36.

D. Finding Places: Maps, Gazetteers, and Ordnance Survey Memoirs

Bartholomew, John. Philip's Handy Atlas of the Counties of Ireland, 1881, is book number 912.415 E3b. Also on film #912,415.

Census of Ireland, 1871: Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland. Shows the civil parish, city, and county in which a townland is located. On film #476,999 item 2. Also on fiche #6020345 - #6020353.

Gardner, David E, Derek Harland, and Frank Smith. A Genealogical Atlas of Ireland is book 941.5 E3b.

General Alphabetical Index to Townland & Towns, Parishes, & Baronies of Ireland (Based on the Census of Ireland for the Year 1851). Commonly called the Townland Index, Book number 941.5 X22g.

General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland for the 1901 census includes electoral divisions and 1901 census schedule reference numbers. It is on film #865,092.

Goblet, Y. M., ed. A Topographical Index of the Parishes and Townlands of Ireland in Sir William Petty's Mss. Barony Maps (c. 1655-9) and Hiberniae Delineatio (c.1672) is on film #599,359.

Lewis, Samuel. A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (2 vols.) Published in 1837, it is in the map area, book 914.15 L588-4

Lewis, Samuel. Atlas to the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland is a book of county maps, 941.5 ASL. This book is also on film #496,477 at other Family History Centers.

Mitchell, Brian. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland contains county maps showing civil parishes, baronies, and poor law unions. It is book 941.5 E7m.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland (10 vols.) was published in 1844. It is similar to Lewis's Topographical Dictionary, but it also contains statistical information from the 1831 and 1841 censuses. The gazetteer is on microfiche #6020358 - #6060382. Shows civil parish, barony, and county for each location.

Ordnance Survey Maps of Ireland in six-inch to a mile scale are in a locked case in the office of the LAFHL. See one of the BIFHS-USA Board members to use these materials. They are listed in the FHLC under Computer No. 0552942. Map numbers are indicated in the General Alphabetical Index to Townland & Towns, Parishes, & Baronies of Ireland (Based on the Census of Ireland for the Year 1851).

Ordnance Survey Memoirs were written in the 1830s to accompany the Ordnance Survey Maps. They contain detailed information about parishes, including "the landscape and situation, buildings and antiquities, land-holdings and population, employment and livelihood of the parishes." Some parishes have very in-depth coverage listing such details as the names of people who emigrated or the names of people buried in the churchyard. The Memoirs cover the northern half of Ireland and are essential for understanding life in the years immediately preceding the Great Famine. See the table of Ordnance Survey Memoirs for a list of volumes and the parishes included.

One-Inch Maps (3rd Series) of Northern Ireland are nine maps in Case 3, Drawer 5 of the map area.

1/4" to Mile Maps of Ireland are in Case 1, Drawer 5 of the map area, maps SM041 - SM044.

Irish Townland Maps are arranged by county and are on fiche #6342438 - #6342453 and #6343060 - #6343070.

Irish County Maps Showing the Location of Churches are in four volumes, one for each of Ireland's four provinces. They are county maps that show the locations of Church of Ireland (E), Roman Catholic (R), and Presbyterian (P) Churches. There are also tables stating the dates of commencement of records. These maps are found in Major Genealogical Sources, in the reference section, book R929.3 G286E. They are also on microfiche:

Munster #6020286
Ulster #6020301
Leinster #6020302
Connaught #6020303

E. Civil Registration

Registration of non-Catholic marriages began in Ireland on April 1, 1845. Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths for everyone began on January 1, 1864.

Please note that the place listed in the civil registration index is the name of the registration district, not the name of the parish. If all you know is the name of your ancestor's county and you want to know the names of the registration districts for that county, consult the table of Superintendent Registrar's Districts by County contributed by Nancy Carlberg. To find the name of the registration district in the Family History Center, see Civil Registration Districts of Ireland which has three parts. Part I contains maps showing registration districts. Part II is an alphabetical index of districts that shows the county for each district. Part II is a list of counties that shows the districts in each county. It is on fiche #6036472.

The microfilmed Civil Registration Indexes are at the LAFHL, complete from 1864 to 1921, then from 1922 to 1958/59. The marriage indexes from 1845 to 1863 are also at LAFHL. These are found in the Ireland Film Area.

1864 - 1921 #101,041 - #101,079
1922 - 1958 #101,229 - #101,240; #257,844 - #257,849
1922 - 1959 #231,962 - #231,969
1845 - 1921 #101,241 - #101,263
1922 - 1958 #101,575 - #101,581; #257,850 - #257,852
1922 - 1959 #232,169 - #232,173
1864 - 1921 #101,582 - #101,608
1922 - 1958 #101,735 - #101,744; #257,853 - #257,856
1922 - 1959 #232,472 - #232,478

In addition to the indexes, the LAFHL has most of the early birth, marriage, and death certificates in the Ireland Film Area. For example, the LAFHL has birth certificates complete to 1881. Many additional certificates are on microfilm and can be ordered from the Family History Library, but certificates for some time periods were never filmed (birth certificates 1881-1899, marriage certificates from 1871-1899, and death certificates from 1871-1899, among others). Check the FHLC under IRELAND--Civil Registration.

Examples of some other films and fiche of special interest to Irish researchers:

The Foreign Register: births, deaths & marriages, 1864-1923, of Irish citizens in Continental Europe - Film #101,764

Extracts of returns of births, marriages, and deaths, 1922-1984 - Films #232,604 - #232,611

Marine Register of Births & Deaths 1864-1884 (Ireland) - Film #101,765

29th Report of the Registrar General of Marriages, Births & Deaths, with special report on Surnames of Ireland - Film #476,999

Marriages in Dublin Newspapers, 1731-1740 Film #100,213, item 9

F. Census Records

The first civil census taken in Ireland was in 1813. It no longer exists. Thereafter, the census was taken every ten years from 1821 through 1911. Small parts of the 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851 census still exist, but the 1861 through 1891 census returns were routinely destroyed within about two years after the census was taken and analyzed. They had been destroyed years before the fire in Four Courts in 1922. See "Irish Census Returns" in Donal F Begley, Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder for a list by county of surviving returns. The only virtually 100% complete Irish census returns are those for 1901 and 1911. The 1,173 rolls of film of the 1901 census [See Computer No. 0339917] are available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but less than 10% of these rolls are on indefinite loan and available in the LAFHL. The 1911 census returns for Ireland are being microfilmed, but they are not currently available. 

Irish Census Fragments

1821 #100,816 - #100,824
1831 #100,825 - #100,830
1841 #100,831 - #100,838
1851 #100,839 - #100,858

Thrift's Census Abstracts: In addition to the census fragments above, there are census abstracts ccompiled by genealogist Gerturde Thrift before the destruction of the records. Her abstracts are from 1821, 1841, and 1851 census records. They are found on FHL film #596,418. There is an index to Thrift's abstracts on fiche #6035573. The four-digit number to the left of each index entry refers you to the abstract number on film #596,418.

The General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland for the 1901 census is on film #865,092.

The Ireland 1901 Census Street Index is on fiche #6035493 - #6035495.

Census Substitutes

Householders Index: The Householders Index is a surname index to the Irish Tithe Applotment Books and to Griffith's Primary Valuation. The Resource Guide The Ireland Householders Index tells step-by-step how to use this index. The Guide is available for purchase in the LAFHL sales area. Chapter 4 "Land Records" in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors describes the records. In the Householders Index, the counties of Ireland are arranged in alphabetical order on films #919,001 through #919,007

The Tithe Applotment Books cover the period from about 1823 to 1838. The Tithe Applotment Books for the Republic of Ireland are on 140 rolls of film #256,560 to #256,699 (Computer No. 0385320). The Tithe Applotment Books for Northern Ireland are on films #258,443 to #258,470 (Computer No. 0384614). In addition to the Householders Index, the Tithe Applotment Books for Northern Ireland have been indexed by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). This index is an every name index that is much easier to use. The PRONI index is on microfilm starting with film #1,565,426. See Computer No. 0384614.

Griffith's Primary Valuation was published between 1848 and 1864. Revisions to the valuations showing updates to the occupiers and their property were recorded until modern decades. Griffith's Primary Valuation is found in the FHLC under IRELAND--Land and Property. The Resource Guide The Ireland Householders Index states: "Griffith's Primary Valuation Lists consist of 22 rolls of microfilm. They are arranged by county and then by union and barony." The referenced 22 rolls of microfilm are #844,975 - #844,996. However, these are only for the Republic of Ireland. There is a separate series of valuation rolls for Northern Ireland. Although Griffith's is arranged by poor law union, the FHL has compiled a list by civil parish on fiche #6026722.

Microfilm Numbers for Griffith's Primary Valuation

Northern Ireland #258,749 - #258,758
Republic of Ireland #844,975 - #844,996

Ireland Old Age Pension Claims used the 1841 and 1851 census returns as proof of age when those records still existed. The census abstracts for Old Age Pension Claims held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland are on microfilms #258,525 to #258,548 [Computer No. 0530954]. These records are indexed in Josephine Masterson, Ireland 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Republic of Ireland), book 941.5 X2m 1841/51 R.I. and in Josephine Masterson, Ireland 1841-1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland), book 941.5 X2m 1841/51 N.I.

G. Church Records

Once you know that name of the civil parish where your ancestor lived, you can find the church that your ancestor probably attended by using Brian Mitchell, A Guide to Irish Parish Registers (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1988). It is an alphabetical listing by county of all civil parishes in Ireland and the Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and other Protestant congregations associated with that parish. Each civil parish has a map reference number so that you can find the parish in Mitchell's A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland. Book 951.5 E7m.

Catholic Parish Registers of Ireland. The majority of the surviving Catholic Parish Registers have been microfilmed. The LAFHL has copies of many of these. See the FHLC under IRELAND [COUNTY] [CIVIL PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS. Maps of the Catholic parishes can be found in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. Maps can also be found in a black binder on Irish Catholic Church Records (Book Number 942 K2r) in the Gazetteer Area of the LAFHL. This binder also includes film numbers of Catholic parish registers and indicates many of the ones held by the LAFHL.

Index to prerogative marriage license bonds for the Church of Ireland ca. 1750-1849. This alphabetical index lists name of groom, name of bride, and year of marriage license bond. It does not list place of marriage. Film #100,876.

Index to Church of Ireland diocesan marriage licenses. These pre-1845 licenses were issued to Catholics as well as Protestants. Most of the actual licenses were destroyed in the 1922 fire; only the indexes survived. The LAFHL has the complete set on 15 rolls of film #100859 - #100872. Years vary by diocese.

PRONI Card index to Church of Ireland parish registers is on film #1,238,732 item 4.

PRONI Card index to Presbyterian registers [Northern Ireland] is on film #1,238,732 item 3.

H. Probate Records

Probate Calendar 1858 to 1917

In 1858 District Probate Registries were established in Ireland. The Dublin Principal Probate Registry had direct jurisdiction over the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, and part of Offaly (King's), and a general jurisdiction over all of Ireland to 1920. Since that time, the Dublin Principal Probate Registry covers only the Republic of Ireland. The eleven district registries include Armagh, Ballina, Belfast, Cavan, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick, Londonderry, Mullingar, Tuam, and Waterford.

Wills and administrations are calendared in Calendar of the grants of probate and letters of administration made in the principal registry and in the several district registries, 1858-1920. The calendar combines extracts from the records of the 11 district registries and the Principal Registry into one series. The extracts give the name of the deceased, residence & date of death, date & district of administration or probate, and names of executors or administrators. The calendars from 1858 to 1917 are on films #100,968 to #101,006. The "general index" on films #100,965 to #100,967 is a shortened index to the calendars.

There is a card index for Republic of Ireland wills from 1918 to 1920 on films #101,007 to #101,010.

Prerogative Court of Armagh

Prior to 1858, there were twenty-eight diocesan courts that probated wills. In addition, the Prerogative Court of Armagh (PCA) had probate jurisdiction for all of Ireland over all persons with goods valued at more than five pounds in more than one diocese. All of the original records of the PCA were destroyed in 1922; only indexes and six will books remain. The will indexes 1536-1858, surviving will books 1644-1834, and indexes to administration grants 1595-1858 are on microfilms #100,893 to #100,910.

There is an index to unproved wills for 1689-1858 on film #100,956. The LAFHL also has Genealogical Abstracts of Prerogative Wills of Ireland on films #595,939 - #595,945 and #596,139 - #596,140. These were done by Sir William Betham before the destruction of the records in 1922 and are arranged alphabetically. For administrations, see Prerogative Court Records, Dublin, Ireland, film #100,114, which is an alphabetical version of Betham's abstracts of grants of administration. See also Sir Arthur Vicars, ed. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810. Book number 941.5 S2v.

Other Probate Courts

To find records in the twenty-eight diocesan courts, the 1992 BIFHS-USA Genealogical Research Seminar Syllabus contains probate index tables by David Rencher on pages 54-61. The tables list each diocesan court with the types of probate records, years covered by the indexes, and FHL film numbers. The Los Angeles Regional Family History Center has all of these indexes on films #100911 - #100,917 and #100,958 - #100,964. For a good description, see chapter 8 "Wills & Administrations: A Prime Source for Family Research" in Donal F Begley, Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder. See also W.P.W. Phillimore and Gertrude Thrift, eds. Indexes to Irish Wills, fiche #6036097.

For a list of counties with the respective dioceses that handled wills and administrations prior to 1858 see Irish Counties and Their Dioceses.

National Archives Testamentary Documents Card Index. This is an index to various probate documents held in Dublin. Most of them were collected after 1922. The index is by surname and covers the time period from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Testamentary Documents Card Index on Microfilm

Surnames Microfilm Number
A - B #1,565,816
C - Drewry #1,565,817
Drewry - G #1,565,818
H - K #1,565,819
L - Murphy #1,471,894
Murphy - R #1,471,895
S - Willington #1,471,897
Willington - Z #1,471,898

I. PRONI Card Index to Wills 1536-1920

The wills held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland have been indexed by surname on the following microfilms.

PRONI Card Index to Wills on Microfilm

A - D 1536-1857 #1,565,605
E - L 1536-1857 #1,565,578
Mac - Mc; M - R 1536-1857 #1,565,672
S - Y 1536-1857 #1,565,673
A - Mc 1858-1920 #1,565,674
M - Y 1858-1920 #1,565,675

J. Land Records

Ireland Registry of Deeds - The Registry of Deeds was established in 1708 and the records continue to the present time. Registration of deeds was not required, so the collection of deeds and other materials is far from complete. A multitude of types of records are in the Registry of Deeds. Some of the types of records included in this collection are: deeds, mortgages, sales of land, leases, releases, assignments, business agreements, marriage settlements, and wills involving land. See Chapter 8 "The Registry of Deeds" in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors for a good description of the Registry. Also see Chapter 7 "The Registry of Deeds for Genealogical Purposes" in Donal F Begley, Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder. The wills recorded in the Registry of Deeds have been abstracted for 1708-1832 in P.B. Phair and E. Ellis, Abstracts of Wills at the Registry of Deeds (3 vols.) 941.5 S2e; volumes 1 & 2 of this index are on film #896,887.

Assignment of film numbers by the FHL was inconsistent for many of the 2,580 rolls of film in the Registry of Deeds collection, so the films are scattered throughout the film cabinets in the Ireland film area. The collection of films in the LAFHL is 100% complete for the years from 1708 through 1847. See Computer No. 0149539.

Surname Index to Deeds - The Surname Index to grantors has surname and given name of seller and surname of buyer. The location of the property is not given in the index prior to 1833. After 1833, the name of the county is given. The Surname Index is complete through 1901 at the LAFHL. See Computer No. 0149539 for the exact listing of the surname indexes by film number.

Place Name Index to Deeds - This index is divided by county, then by initial letter of the townland. The index records the surnames of both parties. The Los Angeles Regional Family History Center has the Place Name Index to 1849. See Computer No. 0149539 for film numbers.

John Lodge Materials - These property abstracts and index were created by John Lodge, Deputy Clerk and Keeper of the Rolls. They include grants of land, deeds, and patent rolls and cover the years 1307-1760, films #100,878 - #100884. A general index is on the last film.

K. Other Sources

The Genealogical Manuscripts Collection from the Genealogy Office in Dublin Castle. See Chapter 6 "The Genealogical Office" in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors for a full description of the nature of the records. This is a significant collection of about 148 rolls of microfilm, all in LAFHL, on films #100,103 to #100,250. This series is extremely well indexed in Virginia McAnlis, The Consolidated Index to the Records of the Genealogical Office Dublin, Ireland.

Religious Census of 1766 includes members of all faiths and is from transcripts of Tenison Groves. Volume I covers Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Fermanagh, and Tipperary. Volume II covers Longford, Louth, Meath, Kings, Wicklow, Cork, Limerick, Armagh, Dublin, Wexford, and Cavan. It is on film #100,173, items 1 and 2.

Deputy Keeper Reports for Northern Ireland are lists of PRONI acquisitions. There are subject, surname, and place name indexes for each volume. They are in the Ireland Book Area, 941.5 A5rn. Deputy Keeper Reports for the rest of Ireland are on microfilm or fiche.

Sir William Betham [1779-1853] Index to Manuscripts contains the surname indexes to pedigrees of some Irish families, as found in various parts of the Manuscripts Collection at the Genealogical Department, Dublin. Film #100,188, items 1 to 3.

Tenison Groves Collection is a genealogical collection of muster rolls, householders, wills, deeds, and parish registers. The entire set is at LAFHL on films #258,497 - #258,524. The index is on #258,471 - #258,497; Computer No. 0400183.

Royal Irish Constabulary Records - These Police Force records for Ireland can be a valuable source of information if an ancestor may have served on the force. The complete collection of films is at LAFHL on films #852,088 to #853,097 and #856,057 to #856,069. The index is on films #852,096 - #852,097.

The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot is a series of books listing advertisements for people searching for missing friends and family members. The Boston Pilot was an Irish immigrant newspaper, so the notices are for immigrants living all over the U.S. and even in other parts of the world. The advertisements often include detailed descriptions, places of origin, previous residences, names of other relatives and other important identifying information. Book 974.461 H29s.

Also see the listings for General British Isles

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The BIFHS–USA Guide to British Isles Research has been compiled and annotated by Linda Jonas.
Copyright © 1998-2008 Linda Jonas. All rights reserved.