Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Genealogical and Historical Resources

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

In honor of the holiday, I'll be baking soda bread, eating corned beef, and reviewing some of my favorite resources for Irish genealogy!

Online Resources
-The 1901 and 1911 Irish Census
Earlier Irish Census records were almost entirely destroyed, so 1901 and 1911 are both the earliest extant censuses and the only ones that are currently available to the public. (1926 will be the next to be released.) Both the 1901 and the 1911 Census are available and searchable online at the website of the National Archives of Ireland.

-Griffith's Valuation
Griffith's Valuation, the property valuation overseen by Richard Griffith, serves as an excellent census substitute for mid-19th century Ireland. It was undertaken between 1853 and 1865, so it predates the earliest available census records, and lists the head of each household in Ireland, as well as the name of the landlord from whom the property was rented (source). Griffith's Valuation is available online from

-The Irish Family History Foundation
The Irish Family History Foundation ( offers online access to Birth/Christening, Marriage, and Death/Gravestone records through the individual county genealogy centres. Now, this is not a website without its problems. Credits are expensive, there's no subscription option, you need to pay even to view search results, and the records you're paying to view are just transcriptions; there aren't actual images available. A search can yield many results, and you then have to pay to view each of them individually, at a cost of 2.75-5.00 Euros per record, depending on whether you've purchased credits in bulk. Nonetheless, the sheer volume of records available makes this a valuable resource, and when you search intelligently, the cost can be reasonable. Using the technique outlined in this tutorial has made all the difference for me!

-Irish Church Records
While most Irish church records are most easily accessed, for a fee, through the Irish Family History Foundation, lucky researchers with ancestors from the counties of Kerry, Dublin, and Carlow, and the Diocese of Cork & Ross have a FREE option! Parish records from these areas can be accessed through the Irish governmental site (Availability varies by year and denomination; for more information, see the list of available parishes on the site.) While my ancestors don't hail from any of those areas, my husband's family was from Kerry, so I've occasionally had opportunities to use the site, and it definitely made me wish this resource were available for my areas of interest.

A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland
This is one of the most useful, practical books for Irish research that I've come across. It has maps of each Irish county, divided into civil parishes, Catholic parishes, baronies, dioceses, and poor law unions. It's invaluable for helping figure out which jurisdictions you should be checking for records, and I definitely couldn't be as productive without it.

Brian Mitchell, Irish genealogy, maps of Ireland

Annals of the Famine in Ireland
This book, by 19th century reformer Asenath Nicholson, was assigned in an Irish history course I took in college, and I found it fascinating. It's not a book of records or a research aid, but it's a fascinating contemporary look at conditions in Ireland - particularly the west of Ireland - during the famine, valuable for anyone with famine-era Irish ancestors. Nicholson also wrote Ireland's Welcome to the Stranger before the famine struck, which is a book I haven't read yet but have on my list.

Asenath Nicholson, Irish history, Irish genealogy, Potato famine

The Course of Irish History
This is another excellent book that was assigned in one of my college Irish history courses. It consists of expert essays on various topics in Irish history, arranged chronologically. They provide brief, usually quite accessible looks at these various topics, ranging from "Prehistoric Ireland" to "Ireland, 1982-94" and all major aspects of Irish history in between. As a result the book provides an excellent overview for any researchers who need to add some historical context to the search for their Irish ancestors.

T.W. Moody, Irish history, Irish genealogy

Enjoy the day, and take the opportunity to use some of these resources to delve a little deeper into your Irish ancestry!

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