What Irish genealogical records are online? – the quick-and-dirty answer

One of the most common questions people ask me  is “What Irish genealogical records are online?” Years ago, on the old Irish Times version of the site, I did a single page giving a quick-and-dirty overview to answer the question.

I’ve just finished an updated version for this site and the changes are extraordinary.

The Four Courts complex burning in 1922. That speck in the top right is your gt-gt-gt-grandfather’s 1831 census return.

The curse of 1922 still looms. The destruction of the Public Record Office in that year certainly simplified Irish research, but in the way Cromwell simplified Ireland. On the bright side, (repeat after me: “the glass is half-full, the glass is half-full”)  virtually everything of universal relevance to Irish genealogy is easily visible: Census/GRO/Griffiths/Church/Tithes.


Which in turn makes it relatively easy to get a grasp of what bits are searchable online and what’s still only offline.

From that Olympian perspective, a few things are clear.

First, offline territory is shrinking rapidly, mainly due to advances by global genealogy giants Ancestry.com and FindMyPast.

Second, many records are being transcribed multiple times on different sites. What a waste, cries the naive researcher. Not at all. Every transcription adds a fresh layer of mistakes, but different transcriptions have different mistakes: using them together provides a level of accuracy they can’t have on their own.

Third, digitisation is stretching that simplified set of universally relevant records.  When you can search a century of newspapers, or an entire set of burial registers, or decades of city directories at the click of a mouse, their relative importance changes completely.

And last, but not least, Irish genealogy online remains a lot more fun than in most other places. You have to rummage right down to the bottom of the Irish drawer to get at the good bits.

15 thoughts on “What Irish genealogical records are online? – the quick-and-dirty answer”

  1. Great post and great list as always–thanks so much. But as I am a greedy person, I’m still hoping for the Revision Books images online for the Republic. Any news on that score?

    1. The images are complete for Cork, Dublin Kerry, Mayo and Tipperary. But only available in the search room in the Irish Life Centre in Dublin. Poke an Irish politician.

  2. What really gets my gander up, is that the whole Irish Establishment know that with the destruction of the Customs House, compounded with the loss of the four Courts. That the only main pillars of Irish genealogy are still the B.M.D records?
    Yet there is not one complete B.M.D record set available on line. We have 100 years here, 75 years there, and 50 years somewhere else. We cannot even have access to the first post independence Census of 1926. Yet Ireland likes to believe that the country lives in the 21st century. Mentally it is still 1916.

    1. Yes, I agree. The 1926 census should be made available. If the cost of transcribing the census was given as a reason for not releasing the census, then I’m sure that there are many people with a genuine interest in this who would gladly volunteer to do transcriptions. The U.S. censuses up to 1940 are on line so there’s no reason whatsoever that our 1926 census can’t be also.

  3. It is now 105 years since 1911 Census that gives us solid ancestor information. By 1926 when next solid info becomes available it will be 115 years, that is wrong wrong wrong !!. Second justified, Irish genealogy info is so scattered its doesn’t even come under the “organised chaos” banner ! Its time the State took a real interest in what is the genealogy industry. The list of Oireacthas Members made available to as many genealogy folk as possible to email as a lobby group might spark some action ?

  4. Cant get anything past 1911 how am i suppose to find a death when i dont know just keep typing in a year spend hours trying getting no where

  5. I tried to get the 1926 census released by getting commitments to it included in the last government’s programme for government. Unfortunately some in the department are fanatical about not releasing them and have managed to get ministers to back them. The original plan was to have them released in 2016. But unfortunately yet again the ‘no release’ wing of the department blocked their release. I am very angry about it but it seems that we have run into a total brick wall. Wars have been fought with less determination than the department has fought every effort to get 1926 released. I think at this stage an early release is unlikely, and that has me furious.

  6. “Ah” of course you must be referring to the fat cats in the Government that save the “jobs the boys” Now correct me if I am wrong, but in those far of days when the government declared to the overseas Irish . They were going to invest tax payers cash into setting up county Genealogical workshops to digitize the church records of every parish in the land, and make their findings available to the world. “O” yes such are what dreams are made of??
    That is how the Irish Family History Foundation came into being..
    then one of those back room Civil Servants, had a vision, just like St Thomas on the road to Damascus, that would create more “Jobs for the boys”. Now that the tax payers cash had been spent, in setting up these centers, they decided that the Foundaiton should become a non tax paying charity that is Irish Roots, today.
    Yes, those Civil Servants at the GRO have a lot to answer for..

  7. Irish records on line are still a lot better than Canadian or American. Other countries take note!

  8. VirginiaB,
    You got me there, and found my deliberate mistake?Just shows how rusty my catholic religion has become. But I hope you know where I am coming from. That is until the Irish Government places on-line the complete set of Catholic Church Records (free to view) After all their issue have not the same restrictions placed on them by the IGRO as the Civil B.M.D. Registers have? All we can do is keep naming and shaming those departments that still stand behind that brick wall that represents is Irish Genealogy??

  9. I’m going to take a look at a different angle for this often discussed topic for a change. If the census compilers in the various countries where Irish people settled had insisted on not only “Ireland” but a county or place name of origin it would have made Irish genealogy a lot easier. Seeing “Ireland” again and again is so frustrating.

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