Genealogy research in Ireland can be uniquely challenging. Since public records only began being collected in 1864 it can be very difficult to locate the origins of individuals that lived even into the mid-1900s. Public records of Irish births, deaths and marriages prior to 1864 do not exist. There are, however, existing church records, wills, property and land records for periods prior to 1864. There are a number of ways to locate this information if you know the approximate dates and location of residence at the time.
Below are a number of useful Ireland genealogy resources free and for-fee that are specifically geared specifically toward Irish genealogy:
- Records Ireland – Records Ireland is a family history/genealogy research service based in Dublin, Ireland, that aims to provide clients with the opportunity to direct their own family research by ordering searches for specific records in the various record repositories here in Ireland. Records Ireland will perform specific searches for you that include marriage, birth, death, census, property records, wills, and other items. The excellent value in this service is that they are capable of locating church and other records pre-1864 that would be far more difficult to locate from abroad such as from the U.S. or Australia. Cost – is very reasonable to acquire marriage records, birth and death records. Each type of record when found, can offer additional pieces of information in them. These services are priced at a fraction of what others charge. Value – Excellent value. Saves time and quite worth the fee. There are more than a dozen types of records they specialize in , and do not always require exact information. We have used them and highly recommend using Records Ireland for Irish research.
- National Archives of Ireland – FREE – The Ireland National Archive has digitally scanned all of the forms submitted for the 1911 census and is in the process of scanning the 1901 census of Ireland. All of the names in the 1911 census are searchable and the actual images are online. The 1911 census of Ireland is useful for genealogists because this is a rare collection of Irish public record documents that is free to search and view. This census includes the names of those residing in the household at the time, their occupations, their address, birthplace and whether they rented or were the land holder. The Ireland census for each household has three pages of information total, and should contain the signature of the head of household. Cost – Free
- IFHF Irish Family History Foundation – This website offers access to some unique information that does not appear to be fully accessible elsewhere. There are duplicated records such as certain census records and Griffith’s Valuation that can be found on other sites. This genealogy site is not search friendly, and it is quite expensive. Searching the databases is free, but to view an individual record costs five Euros. Frustrating is the limited search capability. Marriage records for instance, cannot be searched by groom and bride together. You’ll find several results for either, showing the name of the individual searched, location and the year of an event, not not anything further. To identify a marriage on this site it is best to search both bride and groom’s names separately in separate windows, then switch back and forth between screens to identify matching events by location and year. If you know exactly what you’re looking for and have the time, this site can be worthwhile to use. Cost – Can be very high if you are uncertain of specific details of the individuals you are searching for. To view the details of any record costs 5 Euros or about $6.60. It is suggested that you complete as much research as you can before making the investment to do searches on this site. Value – Good value if looking for very specific documentation with names, dates and locations you know ahead of time. This is not a website that is well suited for surfing or fishing for information.
- Irish Times – A Must See! In particular, this site offers something everyone researching Irish genealogy needs, and this is their Surname Search. Second tab in the site menu takes you to a page where you will type the surname (last name) of the family or ancestor you’re searching. The results instantly provide variable spellings that may have represented this name, and the frequency at which they appeared. Much of the information is derived from the period of 1847 to 1864. There is a map provided and a breakdown of residences from that period per county. Depending on availability there can also be an image of the coat of arms, meanings of names and a list of other information sources connected with your name. Cost is Free. Value – Excellent.
- Irish Origins – Formerly called Origins.net, is a website dedicated to genealogical research in the UK and Ireland. British Origins and Irish Origins, plus expert Scottish Old Parish records research on Scots Origins. Monthly membership is reasonably inexpensive and does have a user friendly search feature along with a few collections of records unique to this service. Cost – Reasonable. Fair alternative to IFHF listed above if your information about certain individuals is not conclusive. Value – Fair for the cost.
- Google.ie – Google Ireland is the Google search engine dedicated to the country of Ireland. Search for full names or surnames of interest, locations or any other information specific to Ireland. You can select to search the entire web or only search pages from Ireland. Cost – Free. Value – Excellent. You’ll find items in Ireland Google search that might surprise you.
- National Library of Ireland – Fascinating! Photographic images of locations and people in Ireland dating back to the 1860s. The National Library of Ireland holds the world’s largest collection of photographs relating to Ireland. Since 2007, the Library has been engaged in a major digitization project to increase online access to our extensive collection of rare and remarkable glass plate negatives. Cost – Free to view. Copies of photographs can be ordered from the library copying services. Value – Excellent.
Irish Genealogy Sites: Individual Collections
There are numerous personal and free collections assembled by individuals and groups which contain a wealth of information and opportunities to spot the name of an ancestor.
A sizeable collection of extracts from several counties dating from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. County Galway material is the most thorough, however there are lots of records on this site. Recommend using the search bar on the home page to see if records exist for the surnames you’re searching.
Impressive private collection of various indexes, directories and other genealogical records. Thousands of names included. The search bar on the home page works nicely. This is another genealogy site with tens of thousands of names. Indexes included are Irish Flax Growers, Hearth Money Roll, and extracts for Griffith’s valuation and some of the lost census segments.
Enter the name of a townland and county to receive the information pertaining to that townland from a regional perspective. Provides information that identifies the townland, county, barony, civil parish, poor law union and parish.
Contains LOTS of links to many “off the beaten path” Irish genealogy sources that together contain millions of names of the inhabitants of Ireland going back into the 1600s.