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:
- Tracing Irish ancestors
- Tracing your Irish ancestors: the complete guide
- Collins tracing your Irish family history
- A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish ancestors: how to find and record your unique heritage
- How to trace your Irish ancestors: an essential guide to researching and documenting the family histories of Ireland’s people
- Finding your Irish ancestors : a beginner's guide
- Finding your Irish ancestors : unique aspects of Irish genealogy
- Help! My ancestors Irish and I'm stuck!!!
- An introduction to Irish research : Irish Ancestry : a beginner's guide
Useful family history resources that are available online:
- National Archives of Ireland - the National Archives of Ireland has a wealth of material of use to family historians. The website includes the: Census of Ireland 1901/1911. Both the 1901 census and 1911 census for Ireland have been digitised and are available.
- Ireland-Australia Transportation Database - an online index to Irish convict transportation registers and convict petitions. Some registers were destroyed by fire so the records are not complete. Further information about the convicts can be found by noting the reference number and consulting the microfilm collection archives relating to the transportation of convicts from Ireland to Australia in the Genealogy Centre on the 3rd floor.
- National Library of Ireland - includes some family history guides, an online catalogue and a large collection of digitised photographs.
- Public Record Office of Northern Ireland - online content includes the Ulster Covenant, street directories 1819-1900, freeholders records and will calendars. In addition, there are online guides and their catalogue has recently been added to the site.
- Findmypast - Irish records on Findmypast include the vast collection of Irish prison records, army pension records from the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, indexes to wills, post office directories, cemetery transcriptions, land records and more.
- Irish Newspaper Archives - Search over 20 Irish newspapers, the earliest dating from 1763.
- GENUKI Ireland - the Ireland section of the GENUKI: UK & Ireland Genealogy website. It has pages for each county as well as information for the whole of Ireland.
- IrelandGenWeb Project - the Ireland section has pages for each county, links to other websites, message boards and mailing lists.
- Cyndi’s List – Ireland & Northern Ireland - This is the Ireland and Northern Ireland section of Cyndi’s list a comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of genealogical research sites with online links.
- Irish Ancestors - produced by the Irish Times newspaper, this site has information such as a surname dictionary, surname histories, place name database taken from the 1851 General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, parishes and baronies of Ireland, and passenger lists. There are also pages for each county.
- A Guide to Irish Genealogical Research - provides Irish history, timeline, maps, pages for each county and lots of links.
- Irish Ancestors - a single reference source for any records needed to research Irish ancestors, as well as a starting-point for anyone with a surname historically found in Ireland.
- Irish Family History Foundation - records of births, marriages and deaths for many Irish counties which can be downloaded for a fee.
- Genealogical Society of Ireland
- Irish Genealogical Research Society
- Irish Genealogical Society International
- North of Ireland Family History Society
- Irish Roots
- The Irish link: the Irish family history magazine, Australia & New Zealand
- Irish Genealogist from the Irish Genealogical Research Society
- Irish Genealogical Research Society newsletter
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.
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:
- General Register Office - Republic of Ireland - Apply here for copies of birth, marriage and death certificates for the whole of Ireland prior to 1922 and for the Republic of Ireland after 1922.
- General Register Office - Northern Ireland (GRONI) - Apply here for copies of birth, marriage and death certificates in Northern Ireland after 1922. Some earlier certificates are also available through GRONI. See their website for details.
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.
- Census of Ireland 1901/1911 - The surviving censuses were taken on 31 March 1901 and 2 April 1911. Both of these censuses are freely available on the National Archives of Ireland website and include digital images of the original census forms.
- Leitrim-Roscommon Genealogy - complete transcriptions of the 1901 census for Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo and Sligo.
- Census Finder - a resource for locating census records available on the Internet. It includes lots of partial censuses for Ireland.
- Ancestry Library Edition - Ancestry includes the 1766 Religious Census of Ireland. Navigate to this by choosing the Search tab and selecting UK & Ireland - Ireland - Census & Voter Lists.
- Land owners in Ireland: return of owners of land of one acre and upwards in the several counties, counties of cities, and counties of towns in Ireland. [Book]
- The 1831 Tithe Defaulters [CD-ROM]
- Tithe Defaulters Ireland, 1831 [Microform]
- County Longford Residents Prior to the Famine: A Transcription and Complete Index of the Tithe Applotment Books of County Longford, Ireland (1823-1835) [Book]
- Ireland Census - Read this FamilySearch wiki for a detailed look at censuses and census substitutes for Ireland.
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.