Searching Irish Military Records
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Finding and Using Irish Military Records

[Remember that during the time that Ireland was under the British government, Irish military personnel were in the British system, and their records would be at Kew, with all the other British Military records. The key to British Army archives is to know what regiment he served in, since there were some 20 cavalry regiments (horse), 3 guards regiments and near a 100 regiments of foot at one time plus major corps such as the Royal Artillery and the Wagon Train - not counting the many fencible (home defence) and yeomanry regiments!]

Modern Ireland has an army, air corps and navy. Ireland also participates in the United Nations. Ireland provides for a total army force of 13,000, in 1967 there were 8,211 soldiers,including 1,109 officers. See Ireland - Military

The following sites on the Internet can can be used for Military Research

H-GIG - Military History

An article by Myra Gormley on the British Army Records

The PRO's website offers some downloadable leaflets,
including one called ``British Army" and you can also order others on-line.

The armed services personnel records for those serving in 1914 up to 1921 are currently being released from the Ministry of Defence to the Public Record Office, Kew where they are being microfilmed to occupy archive WO 363 - First World War Soldiers' Documents. This is a major project that is forecast to take a number of years to complete from the start of the work in 1997. The original documents cannot be viewed due to their fragile condition. It will be some years before information from these documents will be available remotely due to the complexity of the information and volume. The transfer to the PRO should be complete for the following groups by the dates shown:

Royal Navy officers whose service ended in 1920 or before: from February 1998;

Royal Navy ratings who enlisted between 1892 and 1923: from summer of 1999;

British Army officers whose service ended in 1920 or before: in February 1998;

Burnt British Army other ranks records, surnames beginning with A, E, F, N, O, Q, U, V, W, X, Y and Z are now available in the microfilm reading room. Those beginning with B, C and D in Summer 1999.

You should note that there is some risk that the official archives of more recent British Army personnel records are incomplete. It is reported that up to half of the original pre-World War 2 British Army soldier's personal records were badly damaged by fire and water following a German bombing raid on the Hayes Record Office during World War II. Those that survived are often in a poor condition.

The records will be open for personal search by the enquirer or a nominated agent. Details of the PRO can be found at the Public Record Office, Kew website URL:

Destruction of British Army Service Records, 1914-1920

We do not know how many men served as soldiers (other ranks) in the First World War, as most of their service records were destroyed by enemy bombing in 1940: a good guess is about 6-7 million. About 2.8 million service records either survived the bombing (WO 363) or were reconstructed from pension records (WO 364). As a result, you have about a 40% chance of finding the service records of a particular soldier. (There is a greater chance of finding information about officers, where supplementary information survived the bombing: see First World War: Army Officers' Service Records.)

British Army Records as Sources for Biography and Genealogy
Military Muster Rolls 1520 - 1640
PRO - Archives

from GENUKI UK & Ireland- Military Records

History of the Irish Brigade

The Royal Irish Regiment

British Military Records
Irish Military History
Schull Books, Skiberreen; Irish military and regimental histories

The Garda (Republic of Ireland Police) have a web site. Garda S�och�na

The "50th" Queens Own Regiment THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT

The Irish Guards (NOT the Garda) were raised at the beginning of this century in order to more fairly represent the various peoples of the United Kingdom. The Welsh Guards were raised at the same time. During their history as part of the British Army, the Irish Guards have always recruited in Ireland, directly and indirectly. Many of the current members of the Irish Guards are from the Republic, although most hail from the North. By the way, the Irish Guards are a regiment, not a squadron (which is a unit or the navy, cavalry or airforce), and maintain a very fine Irish pipe band (the Brian Boru pipes having been invented by the pipe major of the regiment).

The Dungargan Museum Society has a thorough and extensive history of the Connaught Rangers, 1793 - 1918.

The following site is by a group of re-enactors of the 88th during the Nepolianic Wars. They have a great illustration of a Ranger of that period in uniform.
The Connaught Rangers
88th Regiment of Foot
The Devil's Own

The Kings Regiment can be found at
Graeme House Derby Square Liverpool L2 7SD
e-mail [email protected]

The Fighting 69th

Scottish - Galloglas were recruited professional soldiers who were trained in war against the Danes in England. These Galloglaich (foreign soldiers) were later known as Gallow Glasses. They were involved in the "settlement" of the Northern areas of Ireland in the 1600's, and many blended into the Irish people.

The India office records at the British Library
96 Euston Rd, London NW1
e-mail [email protected]
They also have the marriage records for India.

The World War I Document Archive 1
Biographies of British Military Figures
National Army Museum Reading Room
Leeds University Library Liddle Collection
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Scots at War
International Genealogical Resources
Great War Combatant Information Sites
AWM Biographical Data Base
Canadian Forces College - Military History
South African War Virtual Library
Mike Young's Web Pages (The Light Infantries)
Olive Tree's Neat Places to Visit
Military Links
Irish Military History
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Jacobite Officer Listing 1689

OffLine Sources

Acomprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records 1640 - WWI
John M. Kitzmiller, II
Manuscript Publishing Foundation
Meridian Press
Ogden, Utah
ISBN Vol. I 0-9619260-3-1
Vol II 0-9619260-4-X
Library of Congress Call Number
UA 649, K56, 1988
A very good book with Register of War Office Records in the LDS Family History Library. Lists of Colonels are extensive going back to 1660. CAUTION you must know the Regiment to find the individual. The list of Colonels tells the Regiment so if you know a Colonel then you can find the Regiment.

edited by Thomas Barlett and Keith Jeffery, published by Cambridge University Press; ISBN # 0-521-41599-3

MEMIORS OF THE DIFFERENT REBELLIONS IN IRELAND FROM THE ARRIVAL OF THE ENGLISH: Also a particular detail of that which broke out the 23rd of May, 1798, with the History of the Conspiracy which preceeded it.
Sir Richard Musgrave , Bart.
Fourth Edition

Library of Congress Call Number DA949 M98 1988
Round Tower Books
P. O. Box 12407
Forth Wayne, Indiana 46863-2407

The Society of Genealogists has a guide: "My Ancestor was in the British Army: How can I find out more about him?" by Watts, C T & MJ . Their address is 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Rd London EC1a 7BA. You might check LDS to see if they have it.

There are indexes for the army for 1760-1854 and 1883-1813, indexed by surname. Also records on the Army Pensioners, Militias, Navy (but unindexed), etc, but mostly in PRO.

Check FHL Catelog under Great Britain - Military Records to find out what is on film.

Regimental Registers of Soldiers Marriages, births, and baptisms (1790-1924 and indexed for baptism), Chaplain Returns from 1796 to 1880 and indexed, station returns which start in 1759 and list the regiments stationed ina town for a given year. They are held at Kew.

GRO in Edinburgh has service returns for Scottish soldiers who died abroad 1899-1902 (Boer war), 1914-1919 (WWI) and WWII.

If you check Scotland Military Records you will find more stuff. Like film 1068238 is the records of the Gordon Highlanders (75th foot)-- births 1812-1881 and marriages 1803-1881. The notes also say to see Archibold Murray, "History of the Scottish Regiments in the British Army" (Glasgow, 1862) on 0994034.


About Naval Records

1. Service records for seamen who joined the Royal Navy between 1853 and 1891 are in the Public Record Office, Kew, London and not too difficult to find. They have not been microfilmed, and are only available at Kew.

2. Service records for anyone joining after 1891 have not yet been released, and are still held by the Ministry of Defence: they will look up records (on written application, with a fee of UKP 20)

3. For anyone serving in the Royal Navy before 1853, there are no centralised service records - seamen were taken on the books of a specific ship for the duration of a voyage, and paid off on return to the home port. They may - or may not - have signed up for the next voyage of the same ship, or another RN ship, or a merchant vessel. Apart from some pension records (of men who accrued 20+ years service, and qualified for a pension from the Navy), the only records of these men are the muster and paybooks of the individual ships. (These are in the PRO, up to about 1878 - later ones were destroyed.) After 1853, men were on "continuous service", where they had permanent employment in the Navy for the duration of their enlistment; initially 12 years, with the option of renewing up to a maximum of 25 years.

4. Whilst someone could join as a boy from the age of 14 (with parent's written permission), their service as a rated seaman counted from the age of 18.

5. The Royal Navy accounting system for pay and rations was based on ships' books. When men were at one of the main dockyards (Plymouth, Portsmouth, Chatham), either as new recruits or between voyages, they were taken on the books of a 'nominal' ship - originally the flagship of the Port Admiral or of the Reserve squadron based at the dockyard. In the case of Portsmouth, the flagship is HMS Victory.

6. The PRO also holds some Casualty records of men who died in service, as well as sailors' wills. An alternative source, however, is the "Marine Registers of Deaths at Sea" held by the Registrar General; the indexes are at the Family Records Centre in London, and a copy death certificate may be obtained in the same way as for civil registers. 7. The Family History Centers have microfilms of the Naval List.
Also, there is a Maritime Museum in Dublin:

The Maritime Institute of Ireland,
Headquarters & Museum,
Haigh Tce,
Dun Laoighre
Co. Dublin.

Navy records rarely mention individual seamen before 1853. After that search the index for continuous service engagement books. Before that see ships musters and pay lists. Also check ports where your ancestor landed, search list books which identify lists of ports where ships were located on certain dates. These are at Kew. Kew is in London.

A Short Reader's Guide to Nonfiction Books Describing the Age of Fighting Sail
U.K. Public Record Office: Merchant Seamen and Shipping Records
U.S. National Archives: Records Relating to Service in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps
The Library of Congress

Rodgers, N A M "Naval Records for Genealogists", Her Majesty's Stationers Office.

The Public Records Office Northern Ireland ( have the enlistment records for the Royal Irish Constabulary on micro film. The info given is full name, age, date of birth, birth place, rank and places he served in.

Remember that a member of the R.I.C. was not allowed to serve in his nor his wife's county of birth.
The Royal Irish Constabulary was disbanded with the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922. The LDS has a series of films covering the Service records from 1816 to 1921. Here are the numbers of the Tapes at FHL for the Irish Constabulary:

Garda (Constable) Jim Herlihy Blarney Garda Station, Co. Cork, Ireland, (E-mail: [email protected]), has the records for the Royal Irish Constabulary (1867-1922) and its predecessors the Irish Constabulary (1822-1867) and the Robert Peel's Peace Preservation Force (1814-1822). Similar records are available from the LDS (Mormons). Jim Herlihy has written a book called "The Royal Irish Constabulary" (Hardback ISBN 1-85182-337-9 and paperback ISBN 1-85182-343-3).

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

Also in Volume 4, Number 1 (1997 1st Quarter) of the publication "The Irish at Home and Abroad" there is an excellent article on the Constabulary including a picture of them on the front cover.

Check out

Also, some information can be obtained from:

The Royal Ulster Constabulary Museum
R.U.C. Headquarters
"Brooklyn" Knock Road
Belfast.BT5 6LE
N. Ireland

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