Search the catalogue, guides and gateways

There are many useful resources for researching Irish ancestors.  The key to finding them is in the State Library catalogue using a keyword search. Try searching under the name of a location – village, town or county – plus the type of source. Most resources on this page relate to Ireland only. These are just a few examples of search words:  Roscommon, Ireland census, Northern Ireland directories

The following guides are available in the Genealogy Centre, 3rd Floor, State Library:

Useful family history resources that are available online: 

Births, marriages & deaths

The official recording of births, marriages and deaths by the government, known as civil registration, began in Ireland on 1 April 1845 for non-Catholic marriages and 1 January 1864 for all births, marriages and deaths. When the system was introduced, the country was divided up into registration districts and it became compulsory for people to inform their local registrar when a birth, marriage or death took place. It is worth noting, however, that some people were slow to comply with the new law. Under this system, registrars forwarded details of births, marriages and deaths to the General Register Office in Dublin until the division of Ireland in 1922. For a more detailed look at civil registration in Ireland see: Irish civil registration: where do I start?An introduction to British civil registration and Ireland - Civil Registration Familysearch Wiki

  • Partition of Ireland - In 1922 Ireland was divided into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland. This division meant that there were two different systems of civil registration operating from 1922 onwards and two separate General Register Offices; one in Dublin for the Republic of Ireland and one in Belfast for Northern Ireland.
  • The Counties in Northern Ireland: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry (Derry) and Tyrone.
  • The Counties in the Republic of Ireland: Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Offaly, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.
  • FamilySearch - Irish births, marriages and deaths appear on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website. Please note that records are incomplete and also that dates of birth have often been estimated from age at death.

The Irish civil registration indexes are also available on microfilm through FamilySearch Centres.

Ordering certificates

Irish birth, marriage and death certificates contain much less information than those for Australia. For a detailed breakdown of information recorded, see our guide: Information found on certificates for Australian states, New Zealand and the British Isles (PDF 34KB). Please note that the information recorded on certificates depends on the knowledge of the person who was informing the registrar. Therefore, some information may be missing or incorrect. Certificates for some date ranges have been microfilmed and are available through FamilySearch Centres. See the FamilySearch Ireland Civil Registration Research Wiki for full details of microfilms available. Certificates can also be ordered through the two General Register Offices: 

Finding births, marriages and deaths before civil registration

When searching in the period prior to civil registration (before 1845 for non-Catholic marriages and before 1864 for births, Catholic marriages and deaths) consult church registers where baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded. These events continued to be recorded by churches, so parish registers also provide information after these dates. To use parish registers, it is necessary to have some idea as to which parish is relevant to the person whose records are being searched. A valuable source of information about the location and extent of parish registers are the following publications Guide to Irish Parish Registers and New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland.

  • GENUKI Ireland - this website also has useful information about parish registers for some counties.
  • FamilySearch - One of the most important sources for parish registers is the extensive collection of microfilmed material available from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some of this material has been indexed on their website.
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)  is available on the old FamilySearch website. The IGI contains births and marriages, not deaths. Consult the microfilm of original documents which often has additional information. Microfilms can be ordered for a small fee from any of the FamilySearch Centres located around the world. Check the Library Catalogue to see what is available and obtain the relevant microfilm number for ordering.
  • Findmypast - There are some parish registers for Ireland on Findmypast.
  • Roots Ireland - Irish Family History Foundation's online database of over 18 million parish register transcriptions. 
  • British Isles Vital Records Index - This index covers England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and has over 10 million birth and christening records and nearly 2 million marriage records for the following periods Baptisms from 1530-1906 and Marriages from 1538-1940. Along with many other CDROM resources produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this resource is currently being moved to the FamilySearch online catalogue. Between 2021 - 2022 please go to the Family History Library and use their Record Lookup service  to request information from the CDROM resource.
  • Ancestry Library Edition - there are some parish registers for Ireland available on Ancestry.

Census and census substitutes

Very few census records exist for Ireland prior to 1901. It is possible to use any document which names people and places them in a particular place at a particular time as a census substitute. Use the State Library catalogue to find other census material relating to Ireland. Use keyword search 'census' plus the name of a geographic area e.g. Dublin census. For census substitutes try keywords such as land or taxation. Published by the National Archive Census: the family historian’s guide contains in-depth information about censuses in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Cemeteries and graveyards

For  cemetery records, try searching the State Library catalogue using the following keywords together with a geographic area e.g. cemeteries mayo. Keywords: Cemeteries, Epitaphs, Inscriptions, Memorials, Sepulchral monuments, Tombs

  • Findmypast - gravestone and memorial transcriptions including those collected by Brian J Cantwell and his son, Ian Cantwell. See entry below for more details.
  • Brian J Cantwell's Memorials of the Dead - Brian Cantwell was a prolific transcriber of gravestones and memorials in Ireland. This website has indexes to Cantwell's memorials including a Graveyard index, Surname index, Placename index and Occupation index.