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A-Z of Irish Research
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A-Z of Ireland Research

from DH Fianna Thanks Dianna Hanson for this donated page.

Much of this information is taken from the "Ireland Research Guide" by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" with references to other online resources. Permission was granted for non-commercial, educational, and personal research assistance use only. This information may not be reproduced or used for commercial purposes or of any kind.

Archives and Libraries

Archives collect and preserve public records and historical documents. Libraries collect mostly published sources, such as books, maps, and microfilm. If you plan to visit on of the repositories listed, write and ask about their collections, hours, services, and fees a few months in advance. Also ask if a reader's ticket (a paper indicating you are a responsible researcher) is required to view records, and ask how to obtain one.

Remember the Family History Library in your area may have only printed or microfilmed, or microfiche, copies of the records you need, so check there first before you go abroad. You may be able to order the record you want for only about $4 and have it available in a few weeks. Remember also that you do NOT have to be a member of the LDS Church to use their facilities. 90% of the people who use the Family History Centers are not members of the church.

English Repositories

Because England ruled Ireland for much of its history, many records pertaining to the Irish (especially military records) are found in English repositories. The major English archives that have Irish records are:

Other repositories to remember, or to search out, would be those that keep immigration and emigration lists, business records, probate records for people who owned land in both Ireland and England, and the College of Heraldry.

Irish Repositories

Ireland has five major types of repositories that contain genealogical information:

National Archives and Libraries

The National Archives and the Public Record of Northern Ireland

Both the National Archives and Public Record Office of Northern Ireland collect records for all of Ireland. Neither staff does major research for patrons, but both m may conduct brief searches if you supply them with sufficient information, for a fee.

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). Records at the National Archives include Church of Ireland parish records (many of which are also in local custody), gravestone inscriptions (also available at County Heritage Centers and public libraries) census returns (also available through local LDS Family History Center), probate records (available through local LDS Family History Center), deeds (also available through local LDS Family History Center), Tithe Applotment books (also available through local LDS Family History center and through Lookups, rebellion and outrage papers, convict reference files, transportation records (searchable through the internet) and other historical and genealogical sources. Civil Registration certificates can be ordered from them and personal research can be done only if you have a 'reader's ticket'. The address is:

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has a fairly complete collection of church records (all denominations Presbyterian, Methodist and Quaker as well as Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic), for all of Northern Ireland as well as some records for the counties of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan which are included in Ulster. The office's holdings also include estate papers, gravestone inscriptions, census records, Tithe Applotment books, valuation lists, and other historical and genealogical sources. Some of these records are available through your local LDS Family History Center, but because so many of them relate to Northern Ireland and started in 1926, many have not been microfilmed. (Note: For records before 1926, please check with the National Archives in Dublin as well.) Research is done for a fee and personal research may be done if you provide in advance for a readers ticket. Their address is:

National Library of Ireland

The National Library is Ireland's main repository of 'filmed' Catholic parish registers. (Please be aware that many parish registers (originals) are still in local custody.) Other records on deposit at the National Library include newspapers, city and regional directories, estate records, the Householders Index (also available through your local LDS Family History Center) and Griffith's Primary Valuation (also available through your local LDS Family History Center.) You must have prior permission to do personal research, or a 'reader's ticket'. Their address is:

Genealogical Office

The records of the Genealogical Office 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.

The records of the Genealogical Office are not available to the public. Some of the records, however, have been microfilmed and these films may be available at other repositories such as local libraries. The office does not do commissioned research. The office does provide a consultation service that gives detailed guidance, for a fee, to people who doing research on their own families. For more information on the Genealogical Office, see the chapter by that name in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. Their address is:

Public Libraries

Each county and most major cities in Ireland have a main library. Many of these libraries have a local and family history collection. These collections may include estate records, newspapers, gravestone inscriptions, minute books of various local and county government agencies, poor law records, family pedigrees, and histories. Some libraries have indexed parts of their collections.

County or specialty museums may also contain genealogical records, including estate, military, tax, church, and business or employment records. For addresses of Irish libraries and museums, see Seamus Helferty and Raymond Refausse, eds., Directory of Irish Archives (see p. 11).

Religious Archives

Religious archives contain records of a particular denominations. Several Irish religious archives and their addresses are listed in the "Church Records" section of this outline.

Heritage or Genealogical Centres

Local heritage centres, sometimes called genealogical centres, are a recent development in Ireland. These centres are a recent development in Ireland and are commercial enterprises. The majority of these centres are currently indexing church records, mainly Roman Catholic parish registers. Some centres are also indexing Tithe Applotment books, Griffith's Primary Valuation, the 1901 census, and gravestone inscriptions. The centres are computerizing their indexes.

Centre records are not open to the public. Centre staff, however, will search their indexes (they hold no original records, only indexes!) and supply information for a fee.

Other Archives

Other archives also contain information of genealogical value.

Linen Hall Library The Linen Hall Library has an extensive collection of genealogical and heraldic material. Some of its holdings are duplicated in other repositories such as the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, and the The National Archives. Others of its holdings, such as its printed family histories, are unique. Their address is:

Trinity College Library Among other genealogical and historical records, the Manuscripts Department of Trinity College Library has a collection of medieval manuscripts, the 1798 Rebellion papers, and some Church of Ireland parish records for Dublin. Their address is:

Valuation Office The Valuation Office holds the Griffith's Primary Valuation records and accompanying maps (see Taxation. The office's post-1868 valuation records and maps are of the Republic of Ireland only. Their address is:

General Guides

Guides to archives and libraries in Ireland and Northern Ireland include:

Inventories, Registers, Catalogs

Many archives have inventories, registers, catalogs, guides, directories, or periodicals that describe the archive's records and how to use them. If possible, study these guides before visiting an archive so that you can use your time there more effectively.

Some indexes to holdings in Irish Archives are:

  • Hayes, Richard J. Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization. 11 Vols. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1965
  • Sources for the History of Irish Civilization: Articles in Irish Periodicals. 9 Vols. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co., 1970.
  • Supplement 3 vols. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co. 1979
  • National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey 1986-87.


A biography is a history of a person's life. In a biography, you may find the individual's birth, marriage, and death information as well as information about parents, spouse, children, and other family members. Verify information from biographies because it may be inaccurate and collected many years after a person's death.

You can locate individual or family biographies on the internet through search engines or in the "biography" section of library card catalogues. For information on biographies of royalty, nobility, and those with coats of arms, see the Nobility section of this outline.

Two sources listing published biographies are:

Thousands of biographies have been gathered and published in collections that are sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. These usually only include biographies of well-known people. Some contain biographies of people belonging to specific groups, such as ministers, artists, scholars, or martyrs.

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

  • British and Irish Biographies. London: Chadwyck-Healty 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)

If your ancestor played an important part in a group, occupation, or event, such as the clergy, painters, or the Boer Wars, search for biographical collections that may include your ancestor of other people who were also involved.


Gravestone inscriptions can be a useful source of family history information. Gravestones may give birth, marriage, and death information. They may also give clues about military service, occupation, or family members buried in the same area. Sometimes they give more information than the parish burial register or civil certificate of death. Gravestone inscriptions are especially helpful for identifying ancestors who are not recorded in other existing records, or may have died before the registers were kept.

To find an ancestor's gravestone inscription, you must where he or she is buried. Your ancestor may have been buried in a church, city, or public cemetery usually near the place where he or she lived or died. You can find clues about burial places in church records, death certificates, probate records, newspaper obituaries, or family histories.

If your ancestor was buried in a churchyard, the parish minister of the church may have information about your ancestor in the church's burial registers or burial plot records. For help in finding a minister's address, see Church Directories or "Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History", by Jim Ryan, available through most local bookstores and public libraries. Also check the County Page for your area of research.

Some gravestone inscriptions have been transcribed by Ireland's county heritage centres. Contact the centre, or public library, in the county where your ancestor was buried for more information. Wicklow County has almost 100% of their tombstone inscriptions transcribed and indexed.

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


A census is a count and description of the population of an area. When available, census records can provide names, ages, occupations, marital status, birthplaces, and family members' relationships. Censuses can also provide clues that lead to other records. A census may list only selected people for a special reason (such as males between the ages of 16 and 45 for military purposes) or the whole population. The percentage of people listed depends on the purpose of the census and how careful the enumerator was.

Various types of census have been taken by civil authorities to determine such things as:

Civil Censuses of the Population

Government censuses of the population are particularly valuable because they list nearly all the population at a given time. The Irish government took a census in 1813 (which no longer exists) then every ten years from 1821 through 1911. Due to the Irish Civil War of 1921-22, another census was not taken until 1926. The next census was taken in 1936. Starting in 1946, censuses were every five years through 1971. Since 1971, censuses have been taken every ten years.

Only parts of the early censuses survive. The censuses from 1821 through 1851 were mostly destroyed in a 1922 in the fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin. Only fragments of these early census survive. The censuses from 1861 through 1891 were destroyed by the government sometime after statistics had been compiled from them.

Note: Broderbund CD of the Irish Census ONLY includes a partial census for two counties, Cavan (1830) and Londonderry (1840).

The 1901 census is the first available for Ireland. The 1901 and 1911 censuses are available to the public and are on microfilm through your local Family History Center. Censuses taken since 1911 are not available to the public for privacy reasons.

The 1821 to 1851 censuses are divided by county, barony, civil parish, and townland. (The Index to Townlands, Parishes, Baronies, and Counties of Ireland is based on the 1851 Census). The 1901 and 1911 censuses are divided by county, electoral division, and townland.

You will find the following information in the various census:

  • 1821 - every member of the household, name, age, occupation, and relationship to the head of the household. The census also records the acreage held by the head of the household and the number of stories the dwelling had.
  • 1831 - Only the head of the household, the number of children and adults in the household, and the religion of each.
  • 1841 - every member of the household, name, age, sex, relationship to the head of the household, marital status, and if married, the number of years married, occupation, and birthplace.
  • 1851 - Same as 1841, had two schedules filled out if necessary, one for absent members of the household, and one for household members who had died since the last census. It recorded for each person, the cause and year of death, age at death, sex, relationship to the head of the household, and occupation.
  • 1901 - every member of the household, name, age, sex, relationship to the head of the household, religion, occupation, marital status, county of birth (except for foreign births, which give country only) whether the individual spoke Irish (Gaelic), and whether the individual could read or write.
  • 1911 - same as 1901 and adds for married women, the number of years she had been married to her current husband, the number of children that had been born to them, and the number of their children who were still alive.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has some census records for Northern Ireland. All other census records, including the surviving early fragments, are kept at the National Archives.

When Searching Census Records


  • ages may be inaccurate
  • The name on the census may not be the same as the name recorded in church or vital records.
  • names may be spelled as they sound.
  • Place names may be misspelled.
  • Individuals missing from a family may be listed elsewhere in the census
  • Remember to search indexes, when available, before using the actual census records, although they may be inaccurate.
  • Search records of the surrounding area if a family is not listed at the anticipated address. It is common in England and Ireland to do up to a 25 miles radius search.

Religious Census

In addition to the official government censuses, religious censuses were taken at various times. For example, in 1876, the government required ministers of the Church of Ireland to compile a return of all the heads of household in their parishes. The name of the head of household, the religion of each family, and the activities of Catholic clergy in the area were noted in this census. All the original returns were deposited in the Public Record Office in Dublin and were destroyed in 1922. Extensive transcripts survive for some areas and are deposited in local archives in Ireland. Copies of surviving transcripts are also available through your local Family History Center.

Some ministers took censuses of their parish or congregation for their own purposes. These records are usually in the custody of local ministers and may be part of Vestry Records. Copies of the records may have been deposited in an Irish archive as well.

Census Indexes

Many of the surviving fragments of the early Irish censuses have been extracted and indexed, but little indexing has been done for the 1901 census. The 1901 census indexes that have been produced are for specific areas and are arranged by street or by individuals' names.

Surname Indexes

Surnames indexes exist for some census localities. Surname indexes are listed in Smith's Genealogical Source Index: Ireland

Street Indexes

If you know the address of an ancestor who lived in a large city such as Dublin or Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry, and Waterford, they are available through your local Family History Library under the title of Ireland 1901 Census Street Index

The following sources may help you find an ancestor's address so that you can access the above street indexes:

  • Old letters
  • City, occupational, postal, or commercial directories
  • Birth, marriage, or death certificates
  • Church records of christening, marriage, and burial
  • Land and Property deeds
  • Probate Records
  • Newspaper notices
  • Tax Records
  • Voting registers or poll books

Census indexes can save you time, however, they may be incorrect or incomplete. If you believe they should be listed, and are not, check the actual census anyway.

Census Substitutes

Census substitutes are records that, like censuses, provide lists of individuals living in a specific area. Census substitutes may give the occupation, religion, residence, age, and the value of the property of the individuals they list.

Old Age Pension Records

Old Age pension records were kept by the Irish government starting in 1909 for individuals who filed a claim for an old age pension. Anyone filing a claim had to provide proof of birth or age. In the early days of the program, many people filing claims had been born before civil registration began in 1864. Consequently, they had to find other proof of their birth or age. Church records of baptisms or christenings were hard to find or did not exist. The government decided to accept copies of the 1841 and 1851 census records of these individual's as proof of age. As a result, old age pension records preserve some of the information from the 1841 and 1851 census which were largely destroyed in 1922.

Most of the surviving old age pension claims are for Northern Ireland are filed at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Some surviving claims for the Republic of Ireland are held at the National Archives.

Tithe Applotment (taken 1823-38) and Griffith's Primary Valuation (taken 1848-64).

Tithe Applotment books, Griffith's Primary Valuation records, and later land valuation records are valuable census substitutes, because they record the names of the owners or occupiers of the land. For more information on these census substitutes, see the "taxation" portion of this outline.

Church Directories

Church directories are useful for obtaining the names, addresses, and jurisdictions of Irish Catholic and Protestant clergy. Church directories may also list:

Annual Church directories for Ireland include:

  • Church of Ireland Directory 1985 Dublin: Universal Publishing Co., 1985
  • Methodist Church in Ireland, Minutes of ConferenceBelfast: The Universities Press, 1992
  • The Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Directory and Statistics, 1983 Belfast: V.M. Jordan, 1983
  • Tierney, Rev. Martin, ed. Irish Catholic Directory and Diary 1992 Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1991.

Some church directories are indexed by parish or congregation. Others are indexed by diocese or conference. Church directories are available through your local family history center.

Church History

Effective research in church records requires some understanding of your ancestor's religion and the events that led to the creation of church records.

The following major events affected Irish church history and records. The History section of this outline mentions other important events in Irish History.

  • 1537 - King Henry VIII declared himself supreme head of a new church, the Church of England (Anglican)
  • 1541 - Henry VIII became King of Ireland
  • 1560 - The Anglican Church (Church of Ireland) became the state church of Ireland under Elizabeth I.
  • 1605-1609 The Plantation of Ulster was started. Many Presbyterians from Scotland were sent to Ulster (the northern six counties) to displace Irish Catholics and to strengthen English rule.
  • 1619 - The earliest known Church of Ireland parish register (St. John, Dublin) was begun
  • 1634 - A law was passed requiring that The Church of Ireland registers be kept.
  • 1637 - Presbyterian worship was suppressed by the Church of Ireland
  • mid 1600's - The Quaker, Congregationalist, and Baptist movements began. The Huguenot migrations (from Germany) to Ireland also began.
  • 1674 - The oldest known Presbyterian register (Antrim, County Antrim) was begun.
  • 1695-1728 - The Penal Laws against Catholics were in force. Catholic clergy were banished (and sometimes killed). The Catholic Church was forbidden to keep parish registers and Catholics were deprived of their rights to own property, hold office and to vote.
  • 1719 - The Toleration Act was passed, protecting Protestant dissenters.
  • 1726 - Non-conforming Presbyterians separated from the main Presbyterian body to form the Presbytery of Antrim.
  • 1747 - The Methodist movement began.
  • 1750's - Some Catholic registers in urban parishes were begun. Many Church of Ireland registers were begun.
  • 1772-95 - Catholic Relief Acts gradually restored the rights taken away by the Penal Laws.
  • 1782 - An Act was passed validating marriages performed by Presbyterian ministers. (Check Church of Ireland registers for marriages prior to this date as well)
  • 1816 - Methodists divided into two groups: Primitive Methodists and Wesleyan Methodists
  • 1819 - The Presbyterian Church began to require its ministers to keep records
  • 1829 - Irish Catholics became free to practice Catholicism without legal persecutions. Many Catholic records were begun. (Also check with the parish priest. Many records were kept in secret before this time and Mass was celebrated in private homes.)
  • 1869 - The Church of Ireland ceased to be recognized as the state church.
  • 1876 - A law was passed requiring Church of Ireland registers to be stored in the Public Record Office
  • 1878 - The 1876 storage law was amended to allow Church of Ireland ministers with suitable storage facilities to retain their records. The Primitive Wesleyan Methodists united.
  • 1922 - A separate record repository was established for Northern Ireland. The Public Record Office, Dublin, burned, destroying many Church of Ireland Parish records and other documents. Parish records in the east wing, A-C, survived and many, many parish ministers had copies in local custody.

Church records are an excellent source of names, dates, and placed. In fact, church records are the primary source for pre-civil registration (pre-1864) Irish research.

Church records include records of births or christenings, marriages, and sometimes deaths or burials. These records were kept in registers, usually called "Parish Registers". Church records may include other types of records such as religious census returns, emigration lists, and session or vestry minutes. (Sometimes called the Parish Chest as well)

The following books contains information about the history and records of many Irish religious denominations:

The following books also have excellent information about church records, dates they start and addresses for local parishes:

  • Ryan, James G. ed., Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History
  • Falley, Margaret, Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research
  • Grenham, John Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide

Church Of Ireland Records

Historically, each parish in Ireland kept its own records. Because the Church of Ireland was the state or established, church, these parish records were considered state records. 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. Further, some ministers made copies of their records before sending the originals to Dublin. Thus, many Church of Ireland records remain, even though the records sent to Dublin were destroyed in 1922 when the Public Record Office burned.

Church of Ireland parish registers list christenings, marriages, and burials. The amount of information recorded varies from parish to parish and from minister to minister. Later records generally give more information than earlier ones. Because the Church of Ireland was the state church, even people who did not belong to the church were sometimes listed in the church's parish registers. Consequently, it is wise to search Church of Ireland records regardless of your ancestor's religion.

Christenings (Baptisms)

Children were usually christened (baptized) within a few weeks of birth, though some christenings of older children or adults are recorded. Parish registers provide at least the name of the person christened and the christening date. They usually record the name of the father and frequently the first name of the mother. They may also record birth date, legitimacy, father's occupation, and the family's place of residence. In larger cities, registers often provide the family's street address.


Pre-1845 parish registers usually provide only the date of marriage and the names of the bride and groom. Beginning 1845, parish registers also include the place of marriage, the marital status, occupation, and place of residence; both fathers' occupations; and the names of witnesses (possible relatives). If the father is deceased, that fact was sometimes noted.

Couples were usually married in the bride's parish. Permission to marry was obtained in one of two ways:

  • By banns Couples were required by law to have the minister announce their intent to marry or post notice of their intent on the church door for three consecutive Sundays before the marriage could take place, unless a special license was obtained. This gave others time to object to the marriage.
  • by license A couple applied to the proper church authority, usually the bishop of the diocese or the Archbishop of Armagh, for a license to marry. An allegation and a bond were drawn up. The allegation listed the names of the bride and groom, their ages, marital statuses, and intended place of marriage. Note Special license was also required if the relationship between the two people was too close to be permitted by church law, such as first or second cousins wishing to marry. The bond was made to insure that all the information given was valid. The license granted permission to marry. Most Irish allegations, bonds, and licenses have been destroyed. However, some abstracts and indexes of these records for various dioceses remain. The indexes include the names of the intended bride and groom and the year their license was issued. Some of these indexes are available through your local Family History Center.


Burial usually took place in the deceased's parish within a few days of the death. Burial records give the name of the deceased and the date of burial. Sometimes they also give the deceased's age, place of residence, cause of death, and occupation. Occasionally a wife's burial entry will provide the name of the husband, and a child's entry, the name of the father. Stillbirths are sometimes recorded in the burial registers. Stillbirths are not, however, listed in christening records.

Vestry Minutes

The vestry is the presiding council of a parish. Minutes of vestry meetings often mention parishioners, appointments of parish officers, and other items related to the parish. Occasionally records of births, christenings, marriages, deaths, and burials are included in the minutes. Many parish ministers also kept a census of their parish for various reasons, such s the Great Famine, and other kept emigration lists of their parishioners so they knew who had left and who had died or moved away. When you ask for these, usually in local custody of the presiding parish minister, ask also for the 'parish chest'.

Locating Church of Ireland Records

Many Church of Ireland registers were destroyed in the fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922. To protect against further loss or deterioration, most existing records have been filmed or photocopied and the originals or copies deposited in national repositories in Ireland. Some of the deposited church records are closed to the general public. To search these records, you must obtain written permission from the minister of the parish or the bishop of the diocese over that parish.

Ministers were never required to send vestry minutes to Dublin for safekeeping. Consequently, most vestry minutes are in local custody, though some have been deposited at the National Archives, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland or other repositories.

To obtain information from a Church of Ireland record in Ireland, follow these suggestions:

  • Check your local Family History Center first to see if they have copies of the parish registers on microfilm or book form.
  • Request a copy of the record from the Representative Church Body Library. A list of this library's parish records is found in James Ryan, ed., Irish Church Records, (see page 16). The library also has biographical sketches of the Church of Ireland ministers. The address is:
    Representative Church Body Library
    Braemor Park
    Dulbin 14

  • Request a copy of the record from the National Archives or the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. To determine whether the Public Record of Northern Ireland has a copy of the record, consult the descriptive catalog of the office's holdings. See Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

  • Write to the minister of the appropriate parish to see if he will search his parish registers or vestry minutes for you. Minister's addresses and jurisdictions are listed in the Church of Ireland Directory

Catholic Records

Catholic parish registers for most rural areas were not kept until the 1820s or later. Records for urban areas started earlier. Each parish kept its own records.

Catholic parish registers mainly include christening and marriage records. Few registers contain death or burial records. Occasionally a register will contain a parish census. Some Catholic registers are in Latin.

Christening (Baptisms)

Catholic christenings (baptisms) took place as soon as possible after children were born to avoid death without baptism. Christening records nearly always include the date of baptism and the names of the child, the father, the mother, (maiden name), and the sponsors or godparents. Sponsors or godparents were often related to the child. Some christening records also include the child's birth date and the family's place of residence.


Catholic marriage records normally provide the date of the marriage, the names of the bride and groom, and the names of the witnesses. Occasionally, places of residence are listed. If the bride and groom are related, the degree of relationship is often given as well.

Locating Catholic Records

Original parish registers are in local custody. Sometimes a priest will search parish records for you. Names, addresses, and parishes of priests are listed in the Irish Catholic Directory and Diary.

Filmed copies of almost all pre-1880 parish records are held by the National Library of Ireland. Filmed copies of pre-1880 parish registers for Northern Ireland are also kept by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Some of the filmed parish registers at the National Library are restricted. To search these registers, you must have written permission from the priest of the parish or the bishop of the diocese in which the registers were kept.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many Catholic parish registers, but not all of them. Please check with your local Family History Center to see what is available. Maps showing Catholic parish boundaries for every county in Ireland can be found in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide

Presybterian Records

In 1605 Scottish Presbyterians began a massive migration into Northern Ireland. Congregations were organized at that time but only a few, mostly in County Antrim, kept early records. Most congregations started keeping records in the early 1800's.

In the 1700s and early 1800s several groups split off from the Presbyterian church. Seceding, non-subscribing, and reformed congregations were formed in many areas of Northern Ireland. These congregations kept their own records. In 1840 most of these congregations rejoined the main body of Irish Presbyterians. For a discussion and the names o the seceding, non-subscribing, and reformed Presbyterian congregations in Ireland, see the following book:

  • Stewart, David. The Seceders In Ireland Belfast: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1950.

The following book lists Presbyterian congregations in Ireland and their ministers:

  • A History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1610-1982. Belfast: Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, 1982.

Records kept by Presbyterian ministers include birth and baptism and marriage records. These records are similar in content to Church of Ireland records except that mothers' maiden names are often given in the birth and baptism records.

Session Minutes

The session is the presiding Council of a Presbyterian congregation,. Minutes of session meetings often mention members of the congregation, appointments of committee members, and other items of congregational business. Occasionally records of births, christenings, and marriages are included in the minutes. Most session minutes are in local custody.

Locating Presbyterian Records

Presbyterian ministers have custody of original Presbyterian records. James Ryan, ed. Irish Church Records lists the Presbyterian records in local custody. The jurisdictions and addresses of local ministers can be found in The Presbyterian Church in Ireland: Directory and Statistics.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has microfilm or paper copies of most of the Presbyterian registers for Northern Ireland and for most of Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan. For a list of the office's Presbyterian records, see James Ryan, ed. Irish Church Records See page 16.

The Presbyterian Historical Society has copies of some of the Presbyterian and seceding Presbyterian records for Northern Ireland. The society's holdings are not complete. To determine which records the society possesses, contact the society at the following address:

Presbyterian Historical Society
Room 218
Church House
Fisherwick Place
Belfast BT1 6DW

The Family History Library also has copies of many Presbyterian records. Check with your local family history center to locate them.

Methodist Records

A Methodist society began in Dublin in 1746. The following year, John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, visited Ireland. John Wesley urged his Irish followers to attend the Church of Ireland. Some followed his counsel. Others chose to worship with the Quakers or Presbyterians instead.

At the 1816 Methodist conference in Ireland, the presiding body decided that Methodists should be baptized, be married by, and receive communion from their own ministers rather than from ministers of other churches. This proposed change resulted in a schism within the movement. Those who chose to continue affiliating with the Church of Ireland became known as the Primitive Methodists. The Wesleyan Methodists, by far the larger of the two groups, started their own church, kept their own records, and set up congregations throughout Ireland. Other splinter groups included the New Connexion and the Primitive Methodist Connexion. In 1878 the Primitive Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodists united. The two Connexion groups rejoined the main body in 1932.

Methodist records consist mainly of baptism and marriage records that are similar in content to Church of Ireland records. Occasionally a circuit minute book or vestry book was kept. Since there were few Methodist cemeteries, Methodist death or burial records are rare. Methodists were usually buried in Church of Ireland cemeteries and their burial records kept in Church of Ireland registers.

Locating Methodist Records

Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist records are in local custody. You may obtain information from these records through correspondence with individual ministers. Names, addresses, and jurisdictions of Methodist ministers can be found in the 1992 Minutes of Conference

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has microfilm copies of Methodist records for several congregations in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. James Ryan, ed. Irish Church Records lists the Methodist records held by the office and give their Public Record Office accession numbers.

The New Connexion and the Primitive Methodist Connexion groups were administered from England. Their records were kept by various British circuits (districts presided over by traveling ministers). Consequently, pre-1905 New Connexion records and pre-1910 Primitive Methodist Connexion records are held in the Methodist archive at the following address:

The John Rylands University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PP

Records for either of the Connexion groups after 1905 and 1910, respectively, are held by individual churches in Ireland.

Smith's Genealogical Source Index: Ireland lists Methodist records published in Irish periodicals that are available at the Family History Library.

Quaker (Society of Friends) Records

Quakers emigrated from England to Ireland around 1653. If you are not sure your ancestors were Quakers, consult the list of chief Irish Quaker surnames found in the appendix in:

    Harrison, Richard S. "Irish Quaker Records"

Quakers held both weekly and monthly meetings. Births, marriages, and deaths were reported in the monthly meetings. Quakers began keeping records of their meetings around 1655. Irish Quaker records are held in two regional Quaker repositories. The Dublin Friends Historical Library only has records for the Republic of Ireland. The Religious Society of Friends, Ulster Quarterly Meeting mainly has records for Northern Ireland. Both repositories contain minutes of meetings; birth, marriage, and death records; diaries; pedigrees'; wills; and other records. The address is:

    Dublin Friends Historical Library
    Religious Society of Friends in Ireland
    Swanbrook house
    Morehampton Road
    Dublin 4

    Religious Society of Friends
    Ulster Quarterly Meeting
    Friends Meeting House
    Railway Street
    County Antrim BY28 1EP

The National Library in Dublin and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland have microfilm copies of some Quaker records. The Family History Library also has microfilm copies of some Quaker Records. See LDS Film Numbers

Jewish Records

Ireland has only a few Jewish synagogues. Jewish records have been deposited in the Irish Jewish Museum. The museum contains records from synagogues and from Jewish communal institutions. These records include registration of births, marriages, and deaths. For more information about these records, write the museum at the following address:

    Irish Jewish Museum
    3/4 Walworth Road
    South Circular Road
    Dublin 8

Other Churches

Many other denominations have established churches or congregations in Ireland. Congregationalists and Baptists first came to Ireland as soldiers under Cromwell in the mid-1600's. Huguenots, seeking religious freedom, also came in the 1600's. Most Huguenots affiliated themselves with the Church of Ireland or with the Presbyterian Church. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) established branches in Ireland by 1850.

Records of other churches are primarily in local custody (except for Latter-day Saint records, which are mainly in Salt Lake City, Utah). Huguenot church records have been published in The Publications of the Huguenot Society of London n.p.: Huguenot Society of London, 18--

Copies of records for other churches can be found at the Family History Library.

Locating Church Records

Church records are in local custody. Many church records have also been filmed or photocopied and the originals or copies stored in repositories.

Hayes Sources can be used to determine if and where church records were deposited before 1977. Look in the subject indexes of Hayes's Sources under the headings "Parish Registers" and "Vestry Books" for Church of Ireland records and by denomination (Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterians, etc.) for other churches' records. In the place indexes, look for church records by county and then town, city, or parish.

The descriptive catalog of holdings of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland details that archives' holdings of church records. The family History Library has a filmed copy of the descriptive catalog. The sections describing church records are found on film 1,701,904-5; 1,701,989 items 1-2; 1,736,433 items 5-9, 1,736,434 items 1-2.

The appendices in James Ryan, ed. Irish Church Records gives some names and addresses of church record archives. The appendices also provide details about Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, and Methodist records held in local custody or deposited in national archives.

Local heritage or genealogical centres throughout Ireland are currently indexing church records. To determine if a centre has indexed the records you need, consult the Directory of Parish Registers Indexed In Ireland. Additional church records have been indexed since the directory was published. Contact the appropriate centre for more current information and to determine the fees charges for searching and copying index entries.

Search Strategies

As you or your agent search church records, use the following strategies:

  • Search all parish registers and other available church records of the appropriate locality for the time period you are researching.
  • 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 the parish records, search other records such as land and probate records, or the householders index.
  • Use the additional information (residence, occupation, etc.) given in parish registers to find other records to search.

Civil Registration

Civil registration records are government records of births, marriages, and deaths. Because Irish civil registration records are indexed and cover most of the population, they are an important source of genealogical data, particularly of names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths.

General Historical Background

Before civil registration, churches alone kept the records of births, marriages, and deaths in Ireland. On 1 Apr 1845, the government began registering non-Catholic marriages. Many of the reasons behind this were political as well and as simply keeping a count of the population. The Queen or King of England depended upon loyal Irish subjects during war time and needed to know the number of eligible young men for military duty. On 1 January 1864, the government began registering of all Irish births, marriages, and deaths.

For civil registration purposes, Ireland is organized into districts. In each district, registrars record births and deaths, while ministers or other officials who perform the ceremonies register marriages.

Quarterly, the superintendent registrar of each district forwards copies of the district's registrations to the appropriate General Register office. The original records remain with the district registrar.

Since 1922, registrations for Northern Ireland have been housed at Belfast, while those for the Republic of Ireland have remained in Dublin. Pre-1922, records for all of Ireland are in Dublin.

Information Recorded in Civil Registers


Birth registrations typically include the child's name, sex, birth date, and birthplace; the parents' names (including the mother's maiden name) and the father's occupation; and the informant's signature, residence, and qualification (often relationship to the child being registered).


Marriage registrations include the marriage date, place, and denomination (for church marriages); the names of the bride and groom, their ages, occupations, marital statuses, and residences at the time of marriage; the names and occupations of their fathers and often whether their fathers were deceased; and the signatures of the bride, groom, and witnesses. marriages were usually performed in the bride's parish and were registered by the performing minister.


Divorce in Ireland was almost nonexistent. The few divorces that did take place were granted by the English government. For more information on divorce records, see the England Research Outline


Death certificates only give the name, occupation, age at death, and marital status of the deceased; duration of the illness; date, place, and cause of death; and signature, qualification, and residence of the informant. A spouse's name is sometimes listed. If a child or unmarried female died, the father's name is often written in the occupation space.

Civil registrations of deaths are of limited genealogical value because they:

Nonetheless, a death certificate is usually the only civil record for persons born or married before government registration began in 1864.

Locating Civil Registration Records

Civil Registration records are kept at the superintendent registrars' offices in the districts. Duplicates are kept at the General Register offices. The General Register Office for the Republic of Ireland ahs birth, marriage, and death indexes and corresponding records, including registrations of Irish subjects at sea, abroad, or in the military through 1921 for all of Ireland. The office's post-1921 records cover Republic of Ireland counties only. The address is:

    General Register Office
    Joyce House
    8-11 Lombard Street East
    Dublin 2

The General Register Office of Northern Ireland has birth, marriage, and death records, including registrations of Irish at sea, abroad, or in the military from 1922 on for Northern Ireland only. The address is:
    General Register Office
    Oxford House
    49/55 Chichester Street
    Belfast BT1 4HL

when requesting a registration certificate by mail from these offices, include:
  • a check or money order for the search fee (usually about $10 for a 'long' certificate)
  • the full name and sex of the person sought if known
  • the names of the parents, if known (only when requesting a birth record)
  • The approximate date and place of the event, usually within five years, and at least a county (if known)

Indexes to Civil Registration Records

Indexes can help you find a registration entry for your ancestor. Before 1878, registration indexes were arranged alphabetically by year. Since 1878, indexes have remained alphabetical but have been divided by quarter. Most registration indexes list only the name of the individual registered and the district, volume, and page number of that person's registration entry. The death indexes also list the individuals age at death. Republic of Ireland post-1927 birth indexes include the mother's maiden name. In searching for an index entry, knowing the name of the district and at least an approximate year in which the birth, marriage, or death occurred will reduce your search time and fees.

Place names in the indexes are for districts. In rural areas, many village and parishes belong to one district. In urban areas, a city may be divided in several districts.

To identify the district in which your ancestor lived, use the following sources:

  • Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland (1871 Census)
  • Ireland, Census Office, General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland (1901 Census, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1901; film 865,092 which lists Irish localities and the districts that served those localities in 1901.
  • Civil Registration Districts of Ireland (Salt Lake City Utah: Genealogical Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1983 FHL Book Reg 941.5 V2c) which provides maps and districts names as they were in 1871.

If you find an index entry, you can use that entry to request a copy of the original records from (1) the General Register Office in Dublin if the event was recorded before 1922 or took place in the Republic of Ireland or (2) the General Register Office in Belfast if the event took place in or after 1922 in Northern Ireland.

If you cannot find an index reference, consider the following reasons:

  • There are separate supplemental indexes for births and deaths for 1864-1870
  • Late registrations of births and deaths are indexed separately at the end of each index volume
  • Surnames are often spelled differently than expected.
  • Suranmes with prefixes, such as O'Bryan or McDonnal, may be listed without their prefixes (Bryan, Donnal)
  • Events are filed by the date they were registered, not the date they occurred and may therefore be indexed in a later volume under a different quarter. (For example, a birth on 20 December 1879 which was registered on 6 January 1880 will be listed in the January-March volume of 1880).
  • Indexes were hand-prepared and may contain errors, such as copying mistakes (for example, interchange of T and F) and missed entries.
  • Some people are registered under a different name than they used later if life.
  • Some marriages are indexed by the name of only one spouse
  • A woman's surname in the marriage index is sometimes her surname from a previous marriages and not her maiden surname.
  • Vital information provided by the family (particularly age at death) is often incorrect.
  • People with common names are sometimes difficult to distinguish in the index.
  • Many deaths are registered under the name Unknown
  • Children born before their parents were married may be listed under the mother's maiden name.
  • Some children are simply listed as male or female if they were not named by the time of registration.
  • Some events were not registered, though registration of births, marriages, and deaths was required by law.

Records at the Local Family History Library

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the civil registration indexes of births, marriages, and deaths for Ireland and Northern Ireland through 1958 (1959 for Northern Ireland). The Library also has microfilm copies of:

  • Pre-1871 marriages and death certificates for both Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Birth certificates from 1864 through Mar 1881 and from 1900 through 1913 for both Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Birth certificates for the Republic of Ireland from 1930 through 1955
  • Birth, marriage, and death certificates for Northern Ireland from 1922 through 1959
  • Some registration certificates of Irish subjects at sea, abroad, and in the military.

Court Records

Court records contain information about people who were involved in litigation or other court matters. Most court records provide lists of people who served as defendants, plaintiffs, jurors, or witnesses. Court records may provide these individuals' residences, occupations, physical descriptions, and family relationship.

Irish court records are broadly classed as temporal or ecclesiastical. The temporal courts include the Courts of Chancery, Exchequer, King's Bench, Common Pleas, and individual county courts. The ecclesiastical courts have jurisdiction over ecclesiastical issues, matrimony, and probate.

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. Some of those indexes are:

Directories See also church directories

Directories are alphabetical lists of names with corresponding addresses. Knowing an individuals address can be very helpful in searching the census records of a large city. The information in directories is for the year they are published. Directories for Dublin first appeared in the early eighteenth century and continue today. Provincial (town) directories began somewhat later and have continued only sporadically. Besides names and addresses, directories sometimes include:

  • City Maps
  • Indexes or listings of inhabitants by streets
  • Addresses of schools, churches, cemeteries, and other institutions
  • Streets and the civil parishes they are in

Inclusion or omission in directories of successive years may indicate when a person moved to or left a city, retired, or died. Not everyone was listed in directories, but those who had a trade or were of a higher social status were generally listed.

The following types of directories may be found for areas of Ireland:

  • Postal or commercial directories, which provide alphabetical lists of people engaged in some type of trade or profession
  • Trade directories, which provide alphabetical lists of trades and professions with the names and sometimes residential addresses of persons engaged in those trades or professions.
  • Court directories, which list government officials and private (upper-class) residents.
  • Law directories, which name judges, lawyers, notaries, and staff of various courts.
  • Telephone directories, which give names, addresses, and telephone numbers of individuals and businesses.
  • Specialty or professional directories, which were occasionally published for various occupations.
  • Organizational directories, which list addresses of societies, libraries, newspapers, and other organizations.
  • Church directories, which give information about and addresses for church jurisdictions, buildings, and leaders. See Church Directories

For a list of Irish directories and a summary of the information contained in each, consult:

    ffolliott, Rosemary, and Donal F. Begley, "Guide to Irish Directories." In Donal F. Begley, ed. Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder."

Emigration and Immigration

Emigration records are records of people leaving a country. Immigration records are records of people entering a country. Records of emigration and immigration include passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, records of passports issued, lists of transported prisoners, and registers of assistance to emigrate. These records may contain the name, age, occupation, destination, place of origin or birthplace, date of departure, and date and ship of arrival of the person immigrating or emigrating. Names of fellow passengers may suggest familial relationships or provide hints about a passenger's place of origin or destination.

Many emigration and immigration sources not discussed in this section are listed in Smith's Genealogical Source Index: Ireland (see p. 6).

A more detailed discussion of emigration and immigration records is also provide in Margaret Falley, Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. For a list of online emigration and immigration sources, as well as a bibliography of on-the-shelf passenger lists which are available, see the Migration Page.

Emigration from Ireland

No records are required for movements within the British Isles (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands). Records were not required for free emigrants to the United States until 1773, to Canada until 1865, or to Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa until the twentieth century. There was no systematic, official method of emigration from Ireland. As a result, you may not find emigration records for your Irish ancestor.

Emigration from Ireland began as early as 1603, when people emigrated to areas such as continental Europe, the islands of the Caribbean, the British Colonies, and other parts of the British Isles. Emigration increased during periods of civil or religious unrest or famine in Ireland as well as during various gold rushes in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. The period of greatest emigration began around 1780 and reached its peak from 1845 - 1855., when more than two million people left Ireland because of the potato famine. The following categories of emigrants account for most people who emigrated from Ireland:

  • Free EmigrantsStarting in the seventeenth century, emigrants left Ireland to seek opportunity in a new land; to flee religious persecution, poverty, or oppression; and to seek political asylum following rebellion in Ireland.
  • Assisted emigrantsIn the nineteenth century, qualified emigrants received passage money or land grants as incentives to emigrate. Assistance was viewed by officials as an alternative to providing poor relief for able-bodied, unemployed workers and for the starving masses during famine. After 1840, colonies such as New Zealand and Australia offered money or land grants to skilled workers to attract need immigrants.
  • Transported Prisoners From 1611 to 1879, more than fifty thousand Irish criminals were sentenced to deportation to a penal colony for a number of years for crimes as petty as stealing a handkerchief or a loaf of bread. Beginning with Irishmen who rebelled against Cromwell's army in 1649, political prisoners were also deported. Many Irish prisoners were sent to America, primarily to Virginia and Maryland, until 1775 as indentured servants. From 1788 to 1869, over forty thousand Irish prisoners were sent to Australia. Many of those deported were later pardoned on the condition that they would never return to Ireland. (These were usually politically motivated to not only prevent another uprising of Irish Nationalism, but to cement good relations with Australia and New Zealand who were English colonies and were needed for political and economic allies).
  • Military Personnel Soldiers serving overseas were offered land or other inducements to settle in the colony where they were serving when they were discharged. This settlement practice was common for soldiers in Australia from 1791, Canada from 1815, and New Zealand from 1844.

Finding the Emigrant's Place of Origin

Once you have traced your family back to an Irish emigrant ancestor, you must determine the place in Ireland from which that ancestor came. For ancestors who were born, married, or died after 1863 (1845 for some marriages), you may be able to find the place of origin by using the government indexes to birth, marriage, and death registrations (see the Civil Registration section of this outline).

You may also learn your ancestor's place of origin by talking to family members or through documents (in an archive or library or in the possession of a relative), such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, obituaries, gravestone inscriptions, journals, photographs, letters, family Bibles, military records, society and lodge records, land petitions and deeds, church records, naturalization applications and petitions, passenger lists, newspaper announcements or articles, passports, and family heirlooms.

Records of Irish Emigrants in Their Destination Countries

Immigration records of the country to which your ancestor immigrated may help you determine your ancestor's place of origin, occupation, and age. Knowing an approximate date and port of arrival or the name of the ship on which your ancestor sailed will help you search immigration records. Many immigration records are held in repositories, usually in the destination country. The immigration records that are available at the Family History Library are generally listed in the locality section of the catalog under (DESTINATION COUNTRY) - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION

United States

Immigrant lists from the various ports of entry provide the most information on Irish emigrants to the United States. While several ports of entry existed, the majority of Irish emigrants came through New York. The following published lists and indexes of information on Irish emigrants to America are found in the Family History Library's US/Canada collection:

  • Filby, P. William with Mary K. Meyer, eds. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 3 vols. Plus supps. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981 -. (FHL book Ref 973 W32p.) This ongoing series indexes more than 1,000 published lists of Irish immigrants to the United States.
  • Passenger and Immigrations Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900. 2d ed.Detroit: Gale Research Col, 1988 (FHL book 973 W33p 1988.) This bibliography references over 2,500 published lists of Irish immigrants tot he United States that will eventually be included in Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index.
  • Glazier, Ira A., ed. The Famine Emigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-51. 7 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1883-86. (FHL book Ref Q 974.71 W3f.) these columns contain many lists and indexes of Irish immigrants to the United States.
  • Harris, Ruth-Ann M., and Donald M. Jacobs, eds.The Search for Missing Friends; Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the "Boston Pilot." 3 vols. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1989-93. (FHL book Ref 974.461 H29s) These volumes list more than ten thousand Irish immigrants to the United States and their places of origin. The information is based on advertisements run between 1831 and 1856.
  • Resource of Online Passenger and Immigration Lists
  • Complete Bibliography of books indexed in NY and PA Passenger and Immigration Lists
  • Ports which have Passenger Lists Available through the US National Archives

Lists of passengers arriving at most U.S. ports after 1820 are available at the Family History Library. Many are indexed. For more information on these lists and indexes, see the United States Research Outline.

To learn more about the emigration process and life on board an American-bound emigrant ship, see the following book:

    Coleman, Terry. Going to America. New York : Pantheon Books, 1972.(FHL book 973 W2cg.)

To find United States immigration records at the Family History Library, look in the Locality section of the catalog under UNITED STATES - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.


From 1815 to 1850, Canada was the primary destination of Irish emigrants. until 1900, the major port of immigrant arrivals were Quebec City and Halifax. After 1900, arrivals were more widespread. Canadian passenger lists are rare before 1863. Those from 1865 to 1900 are available at the Family History Library. For more information on Canadian immigration records, see the Canada Research Outline and please check Resource for Online Passenger and Immigration Lists and New Brunswick, Canada Passenger and Emigration Lists.


Australia was founded as a British penal colony in 1788. Australian immigration records. Vary in content and coverage by state. Some contain such details as the immigrant's birthplace; residence in Britain; education; mother's maiden name; and father's name, occupation, and residence. Some are indexed. In Australia, immigration records are kept at state archives. Most pre-1900 Australian immigration records are available at he Family History Library and are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under AUSTRALIA,(STATE) - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RECORDS. Also, see Resource of Online Passenger and Immigration Lists.

New Zealand.

The British began colonizing New Zealand in 1840. Most immigrants to New Zealand received some form of assistance either from the New Zealand Company or from a government or church association set up to encourage immigration. Besides age, origin, and occupation, New Zealand immigration records usually include additional details such as wife's and children's names and ages and details of settlement. Many New Zealand immigration records are available at the Family History Library and are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under NEW ZEALAND (PROVINCE) EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RECORDS. Also, see Resource of Online Passenger and Immigration Lists.

Naturalization records in the destination country can be more helpful than immigration records in determining your ancestors place of origin. To learn more about naturalization records, consult the "Naturalization and Citizenship" section of the destination country's research outline, if available, or see the Tracing Immigrant Origins Research Outline.

British Records of Irish Emigration

Many records of Irish emigration are kept in England from Emigration FROM England to other places, but NOT from Ireland to England. Irish were considered British subjects and only passenger lists of alien emigration to England was kept. Therefore record of Irish emigration from Ireland to England was not recorded.

To effectively search what records exist, it helps to know the approximate date of emigration, the ship in which your ancestor emigrated, the type of or reasons for emigration, or the previous residence of your ancestor in Britain. If you know the ship name, please check:

  • Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1776-1880 (LaCrosse, Wisconsin: Brookhaven Press, 1981; FHL fiche 6024581-5194, 6025259-95, 6053006-7; no circulation to family history centers) may provide additional details on the ship, including ports of embarkation and arrival.
  • Ships from Scotland to America 1628 - 1828 Ed. 1998
  • The Compass - Listing of Ships that sailed between Europe and the Americas, and other countries.
  • Ships of Our Ancestors Available in most Public Libraries and available through Lookups and on [email protected] mailing list.

Once you have gathered background information, you can search British emigration records including:

  • Passenger lists. Passenger lists are port records listing departing or arriving passengers. British passenger departure lists are rare before 1890. From January 1890 records were kept of passengers departing from ports in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. These lists usually give the emigrant's name, age occupation, departure date, address in the United Kingdom, and sometimes destination. These records are arranged by date and by port of departure. These are kept at the Public Record Office, Kew (se p. 9). The Family History Library does not have copies of these records. Therefore, you may want to check Irish emigrants lists that have been compiled from these records and published in recent years by such authors as Ira A. Glazier, Michael Tepper, and Brian Mitchell.

  • Assisted emigrant registers. Assisted emigrant registers list people applying for assistance to emigrate. These records often contain the petitioner's name, age, occupation, residence, destination, name of sponsor, address of relative, and size of family. The registers available at he Family History Library appear in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:


Immigration into Ireland

Immigrants to Ireland came primarily from elsewhere within the British Isles or from continental Europe by way of England. Specific groups of immigrants included refugees from various wars (such as the French Revolution), Huguenots, Germans, and Jews. Ireland kept no official immigration records, although there have been found many passenger lists among parish register vestry minutes, and in the basements of shipping companies. Many of these may never be transcribed as they are in fragile condition. You must rely primarily on (1) English records of immigrants who passed through England on their way to Ireland and (2) emigration records of the country from which your ancestor moved.

No consistent records of arrivals into the United Kingdom were kept until 1836. Beginning in 1836, certificates of entering aliens were kept. These are arranged by port. They provide name, nationality, profession, date of arrival, country last visited, and the signature of the alien. The Public Records Office, Kew (se p.9) has an alphabetical index to these certificates.

Beginning in 1878, passenger lists were kept of those entering the United Kingdom (see British Records of Irish Emigration in this section). Passenger lists no longer exist for the years between 1878 and 1883. Records surviving from 1883 to 1891 are for the Irish ports of Cork (Queenstown), Londonderry, and Belfast. After 1891 the records are more complete. However, passengers from Europe or the Mediterranean are rarely listed. These passenger lists are arranged by port and are kept at the Public Record Office, Kew (see p.9).

One good, though limited source of information on British immigrants, especially for before 1836, is naturalization and denization records (see the "Naturalization and Citizenship" section of this outline).

Other sources of information on people entering Ireland include court records, state papers, and plantation and settlement records.

The Family History Library has few records of immigration into Ireland. The sources the library does have are mostly published works. They are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:


The library may have emigration records of the country from which your ancestor moved. These are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under (COUNTRY OF ORIGIN) - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.


A gazetteer is a dictionary of place-names. Gazetteers describe towns and villages; parishes and counties; and rivers, mountains, and other geographical features. Gazetteers generally list place-names in alphabetical order.

Gazetteers may provide the following information about a locality:

A gazetteer entry for Ballintoy, for example, includes the following information:

"Ballintoy, a parish containing a village of the same name, on the north cost of the barony of Carey, and of the county of Antrim, Ulster . . . This parish is a rectory and a separate benefice in the dio(cese) of Connor . . . In 1834, the parishioners consisted of 2,122 (Irish) Churchmen, 933 Presbyterians, and 1,064 Roman Catholics" (the Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, see below).

Several difficulties arise in dealing with Irish placenames. First, Irish place-names often come from the Gaelic or Irish language, though some have been given English variations. Second, Irish place-names were sometimes spelled phonetically in family records and documents in other countries, because many immigrants did not know the accepted spellings. The phonetic spellings can vary widely from the accepted spellings, because recorders sometimes misunderstood what the immigrants said. Finally, there are many places in Ireland with the same or similar names. A gazetteer may help you resolve each of these difficulties.

Helpful gazetteers include

Unfortunately, Irish gazetteers often do not list townlands, though many place-names in records about Irish people are townlands. The sources listed below under Finding Place-Names in the Family History Library Catalog may help you locate Irish townlands and identify the parish and county they are in.

Similarly, gazetteers rarely list property names, though a property name, rather than a town or parish name, may have been handed down within a family as the place where the family originated. The Irish Place-names Commission at the Ordnance Survey Office in Dublin may be able to help you locate a property name when gazetteers fail. The address of the Place-Names Commission is:

Place-names Commission
Phoenix Park
Dublin 8

The Family History Library's gazetteers and other guides to place-names are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:

Finding place-Names in the Family History Library Catalog

Ireland records may be listed in the catalog under the country, county, parish, and city or town in which they were kept. Townlands or other small places are seldom included in a catalog listing. To find the county under which a parish or city is listed, use the see references on the first few microfiche of the Locality section for Ireland. Or type the city or parish in the Locality Browse screen of the compact disc version of the catalog. The computer will display the county under which that city or parish is listed.

Regardless of how a place-name may have been spelled at various times, Irish places are listed in the Locality section of the catalog by the name and spelling that appears in the 1871 census as recorded in Ireland, Registrar General, Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland (Dublin: Alexander Thom, 1877, FHL book Ref 941.5 X2ci; film 476,999 item 2; fiche 6010345-53; no circulation to family history centers). This index is arranged alphabetically by the name of the townland, town, village, or place. A brief entry for each locality includes the locality's county, barony, parish, poor law union, area in statue miles, and reference for locating it on Ordnance Survey maps.

Similar place-name indexes based on the 1851 and 1901 censuses exist. The index for 1851 is only available in book format and so may not be available at all family history centers. The index for 1901, the General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns of Ireland, (see p.23) is available on microfilm and can be ordered through family history centers.


In this outline, the heading genealogy is used to describe (1) sources that contain family history information gathered by individuals, societies, and archives and (2) sources that discuss how to do family history research. Genealogical records may include pedigree charts, compiled family information, correspondence, ancestor lists, research exchange files, record abstracts, and collections of original or copied documents. These are excellent sources that can save you time. However, they may contain inaccuracies. You should verify the information found in them.

Handbooks and Manuals

Handbooks and manuals on how to do Irish research can also save you time. They often suggest additional sources and techniques that will facilitate your Irish research. Some handbooks focus on specific localities in Ireland, such as Dublin. Such specific handbooks mentioned records and sources for their locality that are not mentioned in more general handbooks. Specific handbooks may also alert you to problems or situations that you may encounter when doing research in the targeted locality. These handbooks can thus be very helpful.

Some genealogical handbooks and manuals are mentioned in this outline, but many others exist. The genealogical handbooks and manuals specific to Ireland and it localities that can be found at the Family History Library are listed in the catalog under the following headings:


Major Indexes and Databases

The Family History Library ahs several sources that can help you access previous research or refer you to others who are interested in sharing research:

Family Histories

Some Irish families write histories or newsletters that contain biographies, photographs, and other genealogical information.

The Family History Library has a number of these Irish family histories and newsletters. They are listed in t he Surname section of the catalog under the major surnames discussed in each publication. Allied families may not be listed.

Many Irish family histories are also indexed in:

These books are arranged alphabetically by surname and together list over thirteen hundred family histories.

Indexes to Genealogical Collections

The Family History Library has some unique collections of genealogical information on Irish families, including published and unpublished collections of family lineage's, research files of prominent genealogists, and a few surname indexes. The following sources index many of the library's genealogical collections:

The following guide and supplements index printed sources containing pedigrees of at least three generations. These guides are excellent for finding Irish pedigrees:

  • Marshall, George W., ed. The Genealogist's Guide 1903. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980, (FHL book Ref 929.143 M356g 1980; film 496,451.) This is the main volume of these three sources.
  • Whitmore, John Beach, comp. A Genealogical Guide: An Index to British Pedigrees in Continuation of Marshall's Genealogist's Guide (1903). London: Walford Brothers (sold guide for compiler), 1953. (FHL book Ref 929.142 M356g supp.; fiche 6054492.) This source supplements Marshall's guide.
  • Barrow, Geoffrey B., comp. The Genealogist's Guide: An Index to printed British pedigrees and Family Histories, 1950-1975. London: Research Publishing Co., 1977. (FHL book Ref 929.142 M356g 1950-1975; fiche 6026284.) this source supplements Marshall's and Whitmore's guides.

Research Coordination

You can use Ancestral file to identify others who are searching your family line and to register your interests in coordinating research.

You can also use the following publications to identify the names and addresses of individuals researching the same family name. Search all editions of both publications, since both are published yearly and specific family names may appear in only one edition. You may have to do some research to connect your family with a family of the same surname listed in one of these sources.

  • Johnson, Keith A., and Malcom R. Sainty. Park, Keith and Tracey park. Family History Knowledge - UK 199213.2d ed. Melksham, England; Family History Club, 1992. (FHL book Ref 942 D27pk.)
  • Park, Keith, and Tracey park. Family History Knowledge - UK 199213. 2d ed. Melksham, England; Family History Club, 1992. (FHL book Ref 942 D27pk.)

Heraldry is the designing, regulation, and recording of coats of arms and related emblems. Coats of arms were granted to individuals, not families or surnames. Coats of arms were originally granted to identify individuals in battle. Eventually, the crown began to grant coats of arms to people who performed heroic deeds, made notable achievements, or held prominent positions. The right to use a coat of arms could be inherited only by legitimate male descendants of the person to whom the coat was granted. Most Irish ancestors did not have a coat of arms.

Grants of arms in Ireland have been recorded since 1552 by a representative of the crown called the Ulster King of Arms. Since Edward VI created the office of Ulster King of Arms in 1552, most of those who have obtained costs of arms through that office have been people of English descent living in Ireland. The native Irish originally did not believe in the granting of arms by a herald, so until the late seventeenth century such grants were not common practice in Ireland.

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Ulster King of Arms visited the landed families throughout Ireland. He asked for proof of male descent from the original grantee of arms and drew up pedigrees for these families. Heraldic visitations are the records of these visits.

Heraldic and genealogical information about Irish landed families can be found in the following book:

Many books and articles deal with specific families who bore heraldic arms. For information on how to find these publications, see the "Genealogy" and "Nobility" sections of this outline.

Grant-of-arms records are housed at the Genealogical Office, Dublin (see p.9). Some have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. These are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - HERALDRY.

Most libraries have books on heraldry. Those available at the Family History Library are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:



Efficient family research requires an understanding of the historical events that affected your ancestors and the records about them. Learning about wars, laws, migrations, settlement patterns, local events, and economic or religious trends may help you understand family movements. These events may also direct you to records, such as settlement certificates or military records, that mention your family. Learning about the conditions in which your ancestors lived and the events that influenced their lives will also help you understand your ancestors as human beings.

Events in Irish history that may have influenced your ancestors and the records about them include the following:

  • 1002-14 Irish Kingdom. Brian Boru united Irish regional Kings.
  • 1200-50 British colonizing. English colonists were sent to colonize Ireland.
  • 1494 - The English crown officially claimed Ireland as part of England. Meetings and legislative drafts of the Irish parliament were subject to the control of the English king and council. But in 1496 Kildare, the lord deputy who had ruled Ireland before 1494, was reinstated.
  • 1549-1640 Plantations. Many English and Scottish families were sent to Ireland to receive estates as rewards from the King. Lands were mainly granted in the counties of Leix, Offaly, Tipperary, Wexford, Leitrim, and Longford and in the major plantations in Ulster province. Some civil servants received lands in Munster province. Many Irish families were displaced.
  • 1603 - Scots began settling Ulster province.
  • 1641-52 Irish Rebellion. Ulster natives overthrew English colonial rule, and Irish rebels established a Catholic government called the Confederation of Kilkenny.
  • 1649 - Oliver Cromwell crushed the rebellion in Ireland and awarded lands to Protestants. Catholics who could prove they had not been involved in the rebellion were given estates in West Clare. Some prisoners were sent to New England. (See Ireland Specific Lookups for lookups of "The Complete Book of Immigrants 1600-1825".
  • 1690 - The Irish Parliament was established in Dublin.
  • 1720- British parliament began to legislate for Ireland, and the British House of Lords had the powers of a supreme court in Irish Law cases.
  • 1782-93 Legislative acts gave power back to the Irish parliament and more rights to Irish Roman Catholics.
  • 1800 - Ireland united with England and Scotland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • 1821 - The first genealogically useful census was taken.
  • 1845-49 Potato Famine. Blight destroyed the potato crop for several consecutive years resulting in starvation and disease. Millions died and millions emigrated.
  • 1850-1914 Many Irish emigrated, which helped to stabilize the economy. This was many reasons, including jobs building the Railroad in America, the American gold rush, and the Australian Gold Rush.
  • 1850 - The Reform Act was passed, basing the right to vote on occupation rather than property ownership.
  • 1858 - The Principle Probate Registry began proving Irish probates.
  • 1864 - Civil registration of births and deaths began. Marriage registration began to include Catholics.
  • 1869- The Church of Ireland ceased to be recognized as the state church.
  • 1919-22 Civil strife resulted in 1,468 deaths. A treaty, signed on 7 January 1922, split Ireland into the predominantly Catholic Republic of Ireland and the predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland.
  • 1922 - Irish Civil War. Irregulars of the Irish Republican Army opposed to the 1922 treaty occupied the Four Courts building where many Irish records were housed. The building was burned and many records destroyed. However, please understand that ONLY Church of Ireland Parish Registers and state census were stored here. Roman Catholic and non-conformist records were stored locally and are still available.

For key dates relating to church records, see the Church History section of this outline. For dates and records of other wars involving the Irish, see the England Research Outline. To find out when the various British rulers reigned, see-

  • Cheney, C.R., ed Handbook of Dates. 1945. Reprint. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1955. (FHL book Ref942 C4rg No.4.)

A few comprehensive Irish histories include:

  • Foster, R.F. The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. (FHL book 941.5 H2hf.) This book provides a history of Ireland written in modem times.
  • Griffin, William D., ed. And comp. Ireland: A Chronology and Fact Book. Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana Publications, 1973 (FHL book 941.5 H2ir.) this book contains a lengthy time line of Irish history supplemented with transcripts of historical documents.
  • O'Donovan, John, et. Annals of the Kingdome of Ireland; From the Earliest Times to the Year 1616. 1856. Reprint. 3d ed. 7 vols. Blackrock, Ireland: Edmund Burke Publisher, 1990. (FHL book 941.5 H2af.) This series provides a comprehensive history of early Ireland in Gaelic and English. It contains many dates of specific events, including the deaths of some individuals.

Locating Records at the Family History Library

The Family History Library has many sources compiled by Irish genealogical societies. These sources are described in the Author/Title section of the catalog under the society's name. Copies of some records gathered by Irish genealogical societies are also listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the record type. For example, cemetery transcripts compiled by a local family history society are listed in the Locality section under IRELAND, (COUNTY) - CEMETERIES.

Societies' histories or lists of members' interests are indexed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:

Lists of and guides to societies' collections are indexed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:


Local Histories

Local histories are particularly helpful in understanding the time, places, and conditions in which your ancestor lived. Local histories describe the economy; the prominent families; and the founding of churches, hospitals schools, and businesses in an area. Even if a local history does not mention your ancestor, it may direct you to records that do.

For many localities, more than one written history exits. Local histories can be found in major research libraries, including the Family History Library. The Family History Library has many histories about Irish parishes.

The Family History Library has many national, county, and parish histories for Ireland as well as histories for specific time periods, groups, occupations, and localities in Ireland. Major research libraries may have similar histories.

Historical sources available at the Family History Library are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:


Bibliographies of Irish history available at the Family History Library are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - HISTORY - BIBLIOGRAPHY.


Land records are valuable genealogical sources, because they may reveal where and when your ancestor lived; where your ancestor lived previously; family information, such as the names of children and heirs, spouse, other relatives, and neighbors; the occupation your ancestor pursued; other records that may mention your ancestor, and the progression of estate ownership or tenancy from one generation to another.


Deeds are often valuable land records. Registration of deeds began in 1708. However, many did not register their deeds, because deeds had to be registered in Dublin and a fee was required. Marriage settlements, leases, mortgages, and wills are also found with deed registrations.

Two separate indexes to Irish deeds exist: surname and county. The surname index is arranged by grantor (seller or transferor of land). The county or land index is arranged alphabetically by county and then by the place-name (town or townland) within the county. Larger cities have their own indexes within the county index. Irish deeds and their indexes are stored at the Registry of Deeds in Dublin (Henrietta Street, Dublin 1, Ireland). For an excellent overview of records at the Registry of Deeds, see:

The Family History Library's copies of Irish deeds are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:


Estate Records

Estate records are another valuable set of property records. Most Irish lived on large estates owned by a minority of the population. Land owners usually hired agents to keep records of transactions involving their families and/or their tenants. Estate records vary in content and duration and may include deeds, leases, rent rolls, and account books, among other records. A brief explanation of estate records is found in "Land Records" in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors.: The Complete Guide (see For Further Reading)

Estate owners often lived away from their estates. Some lived in England. Many of the records of owners living in England have been deposited in English archives. The following sources identify some estate records and where they are deposited:

  • Irish Manuscripts Commission. Analecta Hibernica, Dublin: Stationery Office, 1930-(FHL book 941.5 B2ah.)
  • Grenham, John. "county Source Lists." In Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. (See For further Reading)
  • Hayes's Sources.
  • National Inventory of Documentary Sources in United Kingdom and Ireland. (see p. 11).
  • Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Records. Belfast: Her Majesty's Stationery office, 1924- (FHL book 941.5 A5m.)

The Family History Library's copies of estate records are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:



The native language of Ireland is Gaelic. You do not need to know Gaelic to do Irish research, however, because most records used in Irish research were begun in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries and were written in English. The foreign language you may have to deal with is Latin. Government records were written in Latin until 1733, some Catholic Church records used Latin until the mid-nineteenth century, and older records written in English often latinized names and relationships. Some knowledge of Latin will help you read these records.

For help in reading Latin, see:

  • Ainsworth, Robert. Theasuarus Linguae Latnae Compediarius: Ainswowrth's Latin Dictionary. 1752. Reprint. Long: Frederick Westly and A. H. Davis. 1836. (FHL book Ref 47 Ai65a 1836: film 599,788.) This is a Latin dictionary. Most libraries have a similar work.
  • Latin Genealogical Word List. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1990. This publication provides translations of Latin words often used in genealogical records and is available from the Family History Library.
  • Martin, Charles T., comp. The Record Interpreter. 2d ed. Dorking, England: Kohler and Combes, 1976. (FHL book Ref 422.471 M363re.) This book is a collection of abbreviations, Latin words, and names used in British historical manuscripts and records.
  • McLaughin, Eve. Simple Latin for Family Historians 2d ed. Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies, 1986. (FHL book Ref 942 D27me.) This book lists Latin words that frequently appear in parish registers.

Handwriting and Paleography

Spelling may make some records difficult to read. Prior to 1900, spelling was often phonetic. Family and place-names were often spelled as they sounded to the writer. And given names were often abbreviated.

Handwriting may also make records difficult to read. Writing styles have changed over time. With practice you should be able to decipher mot of the difficult words and letters you will encounter in Irish records.

The meaning of words may also have changed over time, making some records difficult to understand. The following book can help you understand strange usage's as it provides examples of British word usage's in different time periods:

Other language helps available at the Family History Library are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES.


Maps are helpful in locating the places where your ancestor lived. They help you identify neighboring towns, parishes, and geographic features. They can help you locate parish churches. They can show the transportation routes that your ancestor could have used in moving.

Maps may be published separately or in bound collections called atlases. Maps may also be found in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, directories, and history texts.

Different types of maps provide different types of information. Historical maps describe economic growth and development, boundary changes, migration and settlement patterns, military campaigns, transportation developments, effects of plagues, and other historical information. Road maps provide information on highways, rivers, and town sizes. Other types of maps include parish, country, topographical, enclosure, civil district, church diocesan, and many more highly specialized maps.

City and street maps are extremely useful when researching in the records of large cities. Locating an ancestor's address on a city or street map may help you determine which parish to search.


In 1838, the Poor Law Act divided Ireland into 159 districts called poor law unions. A workhouse was established in each union to house the poor. Each union elected a board of guardians to administer poor law relief.

Records of the poor in Ireland are found in board of guardian minutes, in workhouse registers, and in the British Parliamentary papers (unpublished). Information found in board of guardian minutes and workhouse registers may include names, dates of admission, places of birth or residence, ages, occupations, information about parents, testimony about conditions in the workhouse, and reports of disciplinary actions. Many of the minutes and registers are deposited in county libraries and national archives in Ireland.

The repositories of poor law records in Ireland are identified in chapter six of the following book:


Probate records are court records dealing with the distribution of a deceased person's estate. Probate records may give the deceased's death date; names, relationships, residences of heirs and guardians; and names of witnesses. Probate actions have been recorded in Ireland since the sixteenth century.

Not every person who died left probate records. Most wills were left by males with property. However, wills often list the names of the deceased's family, so that many more people are listed in probate records than actually left them.

Some types of Irish probate documents are:

For a discussion of probate documents and their availability, see Rosemary ffolliott and Eileen O'Byme, "Wills and Administrations" in Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, edited by Donal F. Begley (see "For Further Reading").

Pre-1858 Probate Courts in Ireland

Irish probates were handled by ecclesiastical courts from 1536 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. If a person had an estate that included property in more than one diocese and was worth more than L5, that person's will should have been proved in the Prerogative Court. The wills of wealthy people were usually proved in the Prerogative Court as well.

For a list of the diocesan courts and the counties over which each had jurisdiction, see:

  • Camp, Anthony J. Wills and Their Whereabouts. 4th ed. London: Anthony J. Camp. 1974. (FHL book Ref 942 S2wa.)
  • sh Probates Register Typescript. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 1979. (FHL book Reg. 941.5 P2gs.)

Most pre-1958 probate records were destroyed when the Public Record Office in Dublin burned in 1922. Fortunately, prior to the fire, wills and admons had been indexed. Most of the indexes survived the disaster. Microfilm copies of the indexes are available at the Family History Library.

Some of the indexes have also been printed in:

  • Phillimore, W.P.W., and Gertrude Thrift, eds. Indexes to Irish Wills. 1909-20 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970.(FHL book 941.5 P22I 1970; fiche 6036097 nos.1-10.)

Prerogative wills of Ireland (wills tried in the Prerogative Court) have been indexed in:

  • Vicars, Sir Arthur, ed. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810. 1897. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967. (FHL book 941.5 S2v 1967).

Most probate index entries give the name and residence of the deceased and the year of the probate. If you find a desired index entry, turn to the following sources to see if a copy of the probate record exits:

  • Hayes's Sources (see p.11). Hayes's volumes contain references to many wills found in various archives and libraries.
  • Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Card Index to Wills in the Several Collections Held at the Public Record Office, Belfast 1536-1920. This index was filmed by the Family History Library in 1990. The index lists many wills and other probate records found at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (see p.9). Copies of the wills listed in the index can be obtained from the Public Record Office or can be viewed on microfilm at the Family History Library.
  • Ireland, Public Record Office. Testamentary Documents Card Index, Seventeenth to Twentieth Centuries. This card index lists wills and copies of wills that were collected after the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922. These wills and copies of wills are now on file at the National Archives (see p. 9). The 1928 version of the index is published in Public Record Office, Dublin, The Fifty-Sixth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records and keeper of the State papers in Ireland (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1931; FHL book 941.5 A5r; film 990,493 and 100,239 item 4; fiche 6023597-602). In 1990, the Family History Library filmed the index. Some copies of wills referenced in the index are also on film at the family history library.
  • Eustace, p. Beryl, ed. Vol. 1, 1708-45 and vol. 2, 1746-85; and Eilish Ellis, ed vol. 3, 1785-1832, Registry of Deeds, Dublin: Abstracts of Wills. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1954-. (FHL book 941.5 S2e; vols. 1 and 2 only are on film 896,887.) These volumes contain copies of the wills in the Registry of Deeds (see p.32).
  • Index to many abstracts and copies of wills in the Genealogical Office of Ireland (see p.9). A copy of this index can be found in P. Beryl Eustace, Comp., Index of Will Abstracts in the Genealogical Office, Dublin (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1948; FHL book 941.5 S2eu: film 990,430 item 4).
  • Indexes and registers held by the Inland Revenue office, London of Irish wills and administrations proved between 1828 proved between 1828 and 1879. Commissioners of Inland Revenue, Irish Will Indexes, 1838-79 (FHL film 597,268-72; indexes for 1862-63 are missing) records the name of the testator, the name and residence of the executor, the court in which the will was proved, and the folio number of the original will. Commissioners of Inland Review, Irish Administration indexes, 1828-79 (FHL film 597,278-81; indexes for 1830-31 and 1851 are missing) gives the name and sometimes residence of the deceased, the name and residence of the administrator, the name of the court where the administration was granted, and the folio number of the original administration. Many of the will and admon registers on which the indexes are based are also available. The registers for the years 1829 to 1839 are summaries of the originals. The registers from 1840 to 1879 are missing. The existing registers contain names and relationships of heirs and often the death date of the deceased. The registers and indexes are on film at the Family History Library.
  • Irish estate duty wills. Irish wills proved in English courts between 1812 and 1857 were subject to an estate duty tax. Abstracts of these wills were kept at the Estate Duty Office in London but have since been transferred to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (see p. 9). Abstracts for the years 1812 to 1820 and part of the list for 1821 no longer exist. Surviving copies begin in 1821 and are alphabetized beginning with the letter k. Filmed copies of the surviving abstracts are available at the Family History Library.

There are several other collections of will and administration abstracts compiled by various genealogists and organizations. These collections include:

  • Betham, Sir William. Genealogical Abstracts (of Prerogative Wills of Ireland). Dublin: Public Record office. (FHL film 595,939-45; 596,139- 40.) This source is arranged alphabetically.
  • Volume of Abstracts of Grants of Administration, Prerogative, 1595-1802. This set of notebooks is at the National Archives(see p.9). It is not arranged alphabetically. The Genealogical Office (see p. 9) has a version which is arranged alphabetically. The Family History Library has a microfilm copy of this alphabetical version, Prerogative Court Records, Dublin, Ireland (FHL film 100114 item 2).
  • Burke, Sir John Bernard, Sir Bernard Burke's Collection of Wills for Forming Irish pedigrees 42 vols. Belfast; Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. (FHL film 227,866-900.) This collection is indexed (FHL film 227,866-669).
  • Clare, Wallace. Abstracts from Some Irish Wills. (FHL film 477,000 item 2.) This book provides abstracts of some will shield in the Public Record Office, Kew (see p. 9). It is indexed.

Many Irish wills were probated in English courts, especially the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and the Prerogative Court of York. See the GENUKI site for more information on English courts and their records.

Post 1857 Probate Courts

In 1858, government courts began to prove wills and administrations. Eleven district will registries and a Principal Probate Register in Dublin replaced the church probate courts.

Each registry made copies of wills and administrations that it proved and sent the originals to Dublin. The originals, all records of the Principal Probate Registry, and all probate records for the counties of Dublin and Kildare, were destroyed in the fire at the Public Record Office in 1922.

Copies of wills and administrations kept by other district registries have been gathered into the National Archives (see p.9) and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (see p.9), where they remain group0ed by district. To determine the district registry that served your county of interest, see the Irish Probates Register or Anthony Camp, Wills and Their Whereabouts.

For the years 1858 to 1920 there is a calendar (annual index) of the grants of probate and letters of administration made in the Principal Probate Registry and in the several district registries. Produced by the Principal Probate Registry, Dublin, this calendar is arranged alphabetically by the name of the testator. For each entry the calendar tells the testator's name; the executor's name; the court where the will was registered; and the deceased person's name, occupation, death date, and death place.

For the years 1858 to 1877 a master index to the above calendar references probates from all courts. Arranged b6y surname, the index gives the name of the deceased, the district registry where the probate was proved, and whether the probate involved a will or an admon. To find the film numbers for the Irish calendar and master index, select the calendar by Ireland, principal Probate Registry (Dublin) on the Locality microfiche of the catalog under IRELAND - PROBATE RECORDS - INDEXES.

If you are searching for a will proved between 1858 and 1877, look first at the master index. If you are looking for a will proved after 1877, go directly to the calendar. These sources will tell you the district registry where the will was proved. Once you identify the district registry, you can search that district's records. Each district has its own index giving the page number of the original will. District records, include indexes, that are available at the Family History Library are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - PROBATE RECORDS.

Other records that may provide information from a will or administration include the Irish Will Indexes 1838-79 (see p.44) and corresponding registers and Irish Administration Indexes, 1828-79 (see p.44) and corresponding registers. Both indexes list the name of the deceased, the name and residence of the executor or administration, the court in which the will was provided, and the folio number of the original record. Some of the registers (those from 1840 to 1879 ) on which the indexes are based are missing. Available registers provide the names and relationships of heirs and often the death date of the deceased. The Family History Library has copies of the available indexes and registers. These are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - PROBATE RECORDS.


School records, including alumni lists, may contain valuable information about your ancestor, including name, birthplace, residence, and father's name and occupation.

The main Irish college, Trinity College in Dublin, is a Protestant college, but was attended by some Catholics. Brief biographies of Trinity College alumni appear in:

Most school records remain in local custody, though a small collection of school records for the Republic of Ireland is held at the National Archives>

Northern Ireland school records and their Family History Library call numbers (when applicable) are listed in the following:

  • Register of School Registers Held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Department, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1987.(FHL book Ref 941.5 J2rs.)

If your ancestor received professional training, he or she may have attended school in another country. Many Irish professionals were trained in other countries. For example, Anglican ministers were often trained in England, doctors in Scotland, and Catholic priests in France and Italy. Therefore, if you cannot find Irish school records for your professionally trained ancestor, you may want to check school records of other countries.


Historical and genealogical societies may have valuable genealogical information on your ancestor. Some societies focus on a specific area, region, family line, or name, while others deal with all of Ireland. Many publish helpful journals, transcripts, and compiled genealogies. Some publish queries about Irish ancestors or maintain lists of members' research interests. Some have special indexes, collections, and projects. Many are based in countries to which Irish emigrated, such as the United States or Australia. You may want to join and support the efforts of one of these societies.

The names and addresses of these societies are listed in:

  • Grenham, John. "Research Services, Societies and Repositories." In Tracing Your Irish Ancestor: The Complete Guide.
  • Ryan, James, Irish Records.

For more information about the publications of these societies, see the "Periodicals" section of this outline.

One-Name Groups

Some societies gather information about individuals with a particular surname. If you would like to find out about or join such a group, contact the following organization:

Guild of One-name Studies
Box G
14 Charterhouse Buildings
Goswell Road
London EC1M 7BA


Only the most significant Irish records are discussed in this outline. Many other types of Irish records that contain genealogical information are available at the Family History Library. To locate these other records, look in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND-, OR IRELAND, (COUNTY)-, OR IRELAND, (COUNTY, (PARISH or CITY)- and the following headings:



Search Strategies

  1. Identify What You Know about Your Family

    Begin by finding out everything you know about your family. Collect together all the pictures, family stories, families bibles, evidence from marriage, birth and death certificates, tombstone evidence, baptismal and church information, old letters from other family members, etc. Ask your relatives for anything they might have. Organize that information together on pedigree charts and family group sheets. There are also other forms you might want to consider such as Research Logs and Correspondence Logs which come in useful in organizing your research. Please see Free Online Ireland Genealogy Course

  2. Decide What You Want to Learn

    Select a line that you want to concentrate on, such as your father's surname, or your mother's surname. This should be the person that you think is born in Ireland. Collect all the information on the person and his children. Death certificates, and birth and death certificates of their children can give you hints as to where they were born. Then decide what you want to learn, their birth date and birth place, or absolutely everything about them, including their style of life. What you want to learn, will determine which records you search.

  3. Select a Record to search

    Before you begin to research your ancestor, learning a bit about the history and culture of Ireland might be helpful. There were many rebellions between the Irish and the English overlords. Knowing when they took place will help you to understand how your ancestor lived. Please see History and Brief History of Ireland and How it Affects Your Family

    To search the right records, you need to know where your ancestor came from, or the townland, parish, and barony that they lived in. Examine Maps, Gazetteers, and Index to Townlands, Parishes, Baronies, and Counties of Ireland to locate the correct area.

  4. Determine what has already been done

    There may be other family members, unknown to you, who have done Irish research on your family. They may have important information, or have already completed the research that you are attempting to do. There are several sources to check first before beginning your own research. They are:

    • Printed family and county histories and genealogies
    • The International Genealogical Index (IGI) available through your local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Family History Center (FHC) Check your local phone book for the one nearest you or visit the LDS Church Home Page.
    • The Family Group Records Collection (a collection on microfilm and family group sheets turned in by members of the LDS Church for filing)
    • Biographies
    • Compiled Irish Pedigrees
    • Family History societies' lists of members' interest and Surname Lists on the internet.

  5. Locate the Original record that you want to search. If you are looking for a birth date, look for the original birth record, not a copy or written down reference to it. Only the Original document will contain the most reliable information. To find the records you are searching for, go to the County index for the county you are researching in and determine what records are available for the parish your person lived in, where they are located, and who might have access to that record, or what the LDS Film # is for that record.

  6. Find and Search the Record

    Records can be searched in person if they are on microfilm or microfiche through your local Family History Center, or they can be written for by consulting the County Index, or through a person known as a lookup. A lookup might be a volunteer researcher or a paid researcher who does 'lookups' in books or records that they have access to.

    Suggestions for searching the records: (this is considering that you may only have access to a source or resource ONE time:

    • Search for all occurrences of that surname at the same time and write them down on paper for future reference.
    • Search for the ancestor's entire family, collateral lines too if you know that line is. Keep separate surnames on separate sheets of paper to file them in different folders if necessary.
    • Search each source thoroughly. Before you send it back, or give up, look through it again, and maybe even a third time looking for things or inferences that you might have missed, alternative spellings of the name, or mis-spellings of the name.
    • Examine a copy of the original if at all possible, not the microfilm or transcription. (From experience of working with some genealogical companies, many records are difficult to read and are inaccurate, are missing information and can be read better by people experienced with the name they are searching for. Just because you don't find it, if you KNOW it's supposed to be there, look again!
    • Search a broad time period. Just because someone says they were born in 1795 doesn't mean they were. Check 10 to 20 years on each side. If you're searching parish registers, search a 5-10-20-25 mile radius around where you think they are from.
    • Look for indexes, but remember they aren't always accurate.
    • Look for name variations, misspellings. For instance, if you illiterate Irish ancestor was arriving at Ellis Island and a German was taking down the information. The German might have guessed, and the ancestor who couldn't read said yes, Hubbard is 'okay' when in fact it was Hobert.
    • Make certain you write down the record name, source, location, call number, page numbers, and years that the source covers so you don't repeat your searches. Also write the surname you were researching so that if you didn't search for another name, you can go back to that same source.

  7. Evaluate the Information you Find.

    Ask yourself some questions about the information you find:

    • Who gave the information? A close relative who would have known, the census taker, or some woman who lived 10 miles away, was senile, and didn't even know them?
    • Did the person who gave the information witness the event?
    • Is the information logical and consistent with what you already know?
    • Is the information within the time period and geographical area that you are searching for?
    • Are the other names consistent with what you're looking for?

    If the answer to any of these questions is no, be cautious in accepting that information. Don't be afraid to continue looking and don't accept the first John Smith that comes along. As you search and find information, evaluate it for suggestions on where else to search. For instance if a gravestone has a Civil War marker next to it, search the military records!

  8. Record Your Searches and Findings on research logs and correspondence logs so you know what you've searched.

  9. Share your information with others researching the same name. They may have the missing pieces to your puzzle, and you may have theirs. Also by filing your information with the LDS Church, or with an entity such as Family Tree Maker you can give someone else the needed edge to find their own ancestor.

If You NeedLook First InThen Search
AgeCensus, Church Records, Civil RegistrationCemeteries, Military Records, School Records
Birth DateChurch Records, Civil RegistrationCemeteries, Military Records, Newspapers, Occupations
BirthplaceChurch Records, Civil RegistrationCensus, Newspapers, Military Records, Occupations
Boundaries of parishes, districts, and countiesGazetteers and online indexes to townlandsHistorical Maps, and county histories
Coats of ArmsHeraldry 
Death DateCemeteries, Church Records, Civil Registration, Newspapers for Obituaries and Will ReadingsCourt Records, Probate Records, Land and Property Records, Tax records
Emigration DateEmigration and Immigration Lists, Naturalization and Citizenship Records Church Records, Census Records (when do they stop appearing!)
Language HelpsLanguage and Languages 
Living RelativesCivil Registration, Directories (city and county), Phone BooksNewspapers, Periodicals, Societies, Church Membership rolls
Maiden NameChurch Records, Civil Registration (of person and their children)Newspapers
MarriageChurch Records, Civil RegistrationBiographies, Genealogy, Newspapers, Nobility records
OccupationCensus, Church Records, Civil Registration, Probate Records, DirectoriesCourt Records, Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.
Parents, children, and other family membersCensus, Church Records, Civil Registration, Probate RecordsLand and Property; Poorhouses, Poor Law, Etc., School Records
Physical descriptionCourt Records, Military Records, BiographiesBiographies, Newspapers, Occupational records
Place finding aidsGazetteers, mapsDirectories, History, Land and Property, Periodicals, Taxation records
Places of residencesCensus, Census Indexes, Church Records, DirectoriesLand and Property, Names (Personal)
Place of residence when you know only the countyCivil Registration, Directories, Land and Property, Probate Records, TaxationChurch Records
Previous research (Compiled genealogy)Biography, Genealogy, Societies, LDS Church, Family Tree Maker online, online search enginesNobility, Periodicals
Record finding aidsArchives and Libraries, GenealogyPeriodical, Societies
ReligionBiography, Church Records, Civil RegistrationCensus, Cemeteries, Genealogy, History
Understanding namesNamesDictionaries


In most countries, tax records are difficult to locate, are rarely indexed, and give limited information. They are usually searched only after other sources have been exhausted. However, because so many Irish records (including tax records) were lost in 1922 when the Public Records Office burned, surviving tax records are particularly significant to Irish research.

Tax records are useful in Irish research because they reveal an individual's place of residence at a given time. As mentioned, knowing place and date of residence is extremely helpful in Irish research.

Irish tax records fall into two classes: pre- and post-1661 records. Pre-1661 records are of taxes created under the English feudal system and extracted by the crown. Post-1661 records are of taxes assessed and extracted by the local districts.

Many types of Irish taxes were assessed prior to the nineteenth century. The most important Irish tax records, however, are Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation. Both are nineteenth-century sources and serve, to some extent, as census substitutes. Both are extremely useful in locating people and identifying the townland and parish in which they lived. Griffith's Primary Valuation can also be used to determine names of estate owners, making it possible to access estate records (see the "Land and Property" section of this outline).

Tithe Applotment Books

The tithe was a land-based tax exacted from rural Ireland between 1823 and 1837. The tax did not apply to inhabitants of the cities or larger towns. Though taken from people of all faiths, the tithe was used to support the Church of Ireland in rural areas. Tithe Applotment books record the name of the head of the household and the value of the property.

Griffith's Primary Valuation

Between 1848 and 1864, a valuation, called Griffith's Primary Valuation, was made of taxable property in every parish in Ireland. The valuation records list the name of the head of the household, the name of the landowner, the acreage of the plot, the value of the property, and the amount of tax assessed. The tax based on the property valuation was used to support the poor.

Valuation Books

After the primary valuation, later valuations were made throughout Ireland approximately every decade. Changes in ownership or tenancy as well as the types of information recorded in the original valuation (name of the head of the household, name of the landowner, acreage, and property) were noted in the valuation books.

For more information on Tithe Applotment records, Griffith's Primary Valuation, and other valuation sources, see:

The Family History Library's copies of Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY. Other valuation records are listed in the Locality section under IRELAND, (COUNTY) - LAND AND PROPERTY.

The library's other taxation records are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under the following headings:



The following work was compiled by the staff at the National Library, Dublin (see p.9) and is available at the Family History Library. Arranged by county, this index lists surnames found in the Tithe Applotment records and in Griffith's Valuation:

  • An Index of Surnames of Householders in Griffith's Primary Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books. 14 vols. Typescript. Dublin: National Library, 1960-70. (FHL book Ref 941.5 R22I 14 vols.: film 919,001-7) This work is often referred to as the Householders Index
  • A brief aid produced by the Family History Library, the Ireland Householders Index (item 34070), contains step by step instructions on how to use the Householders Index and its corresponding records. This aid is available at the library and through family history centers.

The Irish Land Commission has produced an index to the Tithe Applotment records for the counties in Northern Ireland; Northern Ireland, Public Record Office, Land Commission Archive index. This index is listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS.

Several indexes, by full name, to the Griffith's Primary Valuation records for specific counties have also been compiled and are available on microfiche at the Family History Library. These indexes cannot be circulated to family history centers. The indexes are listed in the Locality section of the catalog under IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY - INDEXES.

The Guide Page

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