By Marie E. Daly
By Marie E. Daly
The beginning steps are the same for all family historians: start with the known and move toward researching the unknown. It is important to keep a wide focus when researching all ancestors, but especially Irish ones, since Irish surnames can be very common. You trace back to your immigrant ancestor, and then try to determine his or her origin in Ireland. A good place to learn about researching Irish records is with one of the general guides listed below.
Many people believe that researching Irish ancestors is impossible because of the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922. While many records were destroyed, other sources, such as deeds and Catholic Church records, were never located in the PRO and still exist. A lot of genealogical material has come online in recent years, and the growing list of Internet options has resulted in many more people finding their ancestors in Ireland. This subject guide aims to provide you with a list of key resources, records, and repositories to assist in your Irish research.
Irish Resources at NEHGS
Live broadcast: March 25, 2014
Presented by: Judy Lucey
Level: Beginners Running Time: 1:09:46
Description: Discover what Irish resources await you at NEHGS—both on-site and online, plus, gain a basic understanding of the concepts essential to Irish research.
For online versions of "General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland" (mentioned in the lecture) visit: irish-place-names.com and leitrim-roscommon.com. For Northern Ireland place names: placenamesni.org.
Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide by John Grenham
NEHGS, 7th Floor Reference and Mictrotext Floor Reference CS483 .G73 2012
Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History by James G. Ryan
NEHGS, Microtext Floor CS483 .R83 1997
Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600–1800 by William J. Roulston
NEHGS, Research Library CS448.U45 R68 2005
Census remnants, familysearch.org
Irish census records began in 1821, but most were lost when the Public Record Office was destroyed. Some remnants exist and are available on microfilm from the Family History Library.
1901 & 1911 census, census.nationalarchives.ie
Every-name searchable on the National Archives of Ireland website. Census also provides description of house and out-buildings.
Griffith’s Valuation is a mid-19th century record of head-of-household land occupiers that provides an exact address in Ireland. The address can be located on corresponding maps. You can access Griffith’s Valuation at the following sites:
- Ask About Ireland, askaboutireland.ie
Hosted by a consortium of Irish libraries and museums, the Ask About Ireland website has a searchable database of the actual images of Griffith’s Primary Valuation, with links to the later valuation maps.
- Irish Origins, irishorigins.com
Irish Origins, a commercial site run by Eneclann, features access to all versions of Griffith’s Primary Valuation and the original valuation maps that go with it. The site also has other records of interest.
- Failte Romhat, failteromhat.com
Failte Romhat allows you to bring up an alphabetical listing of everyone in a parish, which is useful for determining variant spellings of a surname. This site also has other records, such as the Flax Growers List 1796 and 17th century Hearth Money Rolls.
Tithe Applotment Books
Covering 1823 to 1837, these records of head-of-household land occupiers are available on the Family History Library website ( familysearch.org) and the National Archives of Ireland website ( nationalarchives.ie).
Irish Genealogy, irishgenealogy.ie
Hosted by the Irish government, this web portal links to a free, searchable database of Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland church records for Counties Cork, Dublin, Kerry, and Carlow.
Irish Family History Foundation, rootsireland.ie
This is a pay-per-view, searchable database of church and civil registrations for most of the counties not covered by irishgenealogy.ie. It is free to search, but costs €5 to obtain a record.
NEHGS also has a number of printed Church of Ireland parish registers in our collections in the 1st floor stacks.
Family History Library, familysearch.org/search/
The FHL website includes transcriptions of Irish civil birth records in the database, Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620–1881. Allows searches by parents’ names to identify all children. The FHL also has online indexes of Ireland civil registrations, including 1864–1958 births, 1845–1958 marriages, and 1864–1958 deaths. Excludes index records for Northern Ireland after 1922.
GRO Ireland, groireland.ie
To order birth, marriage, and death certificates by mail, download a certificate application form from the GRO website. Photocopies cost €6 and can be ordered and paid for by credit card. The volume and page numbers can be obtained from the index to Irish civil registrations (see above) on the Family History Library website.
Maps and Atlases
A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland by Brian Mitchell
NEHGS, Microtext Floor G1831.F7 M5 2002
Irish Place Names by Deirdre Flanagan and Laurence Flanagan
NEHGS, International Collection – 1st Floor DA979 .F53 2002
Irish Ancestors, irishtimes.com/ancestor
Hosted by the Irish Times newspaper, Irish Ancestors has maps of civil and Catholic parishes; information about the availability of Catholic parish registers; and a place-name search function that allows wildcard searches.
Ordnance Survey Maps, osi.ie
The Ordnance Survey Office of Ireland has 19th century, historic black-and-white and color ordnance survey maps and the corresponding 2005 satellite images. Click on explore maps using their public viewer.
Valuation Maps: askaboutireland.ie and irishorigins.com
Valuation maps that correspond with Griffith’s Valuation and show the exact location of an ancestor’s house. Irish Origins, available by subscription, has the original black-and-white valuation maps that match the valuation. On the free Ask About Ireland website, color valuation maps are from late 19th century, and the lot numbers may not match if renumbering took place.
Riobard O’Dwyer Collection
NEHGS, Manuscripts Mss 1097
This collection contains handwritten genealogies, extracted genealogical data from parish and cemetery records, data on occupations, and notes produced and collected between 1963 and 2011 by Riobard O'Dwyer, a genealogist and social historian who studied the families of the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland. (Access to manuscripts is a benefit of NEHGS membership.)
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has several searchable databases on its website, including freeholders lists, revised valuations, will calendars, street directories, and 18th century census substitutes.
NEHGS has a good collection of Irish county historical journals that contain primary sources such as estate records, rental rolls, gravestone inscriptions, parish registers, and wills. Many also include genealogies. These are just some of the journals at NEHGS:
Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society
NEHGS, Research Library DA995.C7 J68
NEHGS, Research Library DA995.C55 C54
Familia: Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild
NEHGS, Research Library CS440 .F36
Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society
NEHGS, Research Library DA990.L89 C6
Irish Genealogical Society International, irishgenealogical.org
Irish Genealogical Research Society, irishancestors.ie
The Irish Ancestral Research Association, tiara.ie
Genealogical Society of Ireland, familyhistory.ie
Want to maximize your research? The experts at NEHGS can help! We offer a number of services that can help you break down brick walls and expand your research.
Meet one-on-one with our genealogists
Want research guidance from a professional genealogist? Our experts provide 30-minute to two-hour consultations in person or by phone.
- Find elusive ancestors—Whether you are searching in the U.S. or abroad, in the 17th or 20th century, our genealogists have the knowledge to assist you.
- Locate and use records—Vital records, military records, deeds, probate, and more—if you’re wondering where to look for them, how to read them, or what data you can find in them, we can guide you.
- Get more out of technology—Feel like you could be making better use of your genealogy software? Curious about websites and databases that might be relevant to your research? Let us help!
Hire our experts in Research Services
Whether you are just beginning your family research or have been researching for years, NEHGS Research Services is here to assist you. Our team of experts can:
- Conduct hourly research
- Break down “brick walls”
- Retrieve manuscript materials
- Obtain probate records
- Research and prepare your lineage society application
- Organize your materials and files
- Write narrative biographies about your ancestors
- Create customized family charts