Most researchers are familiar with two types of record associated with cemeteries, headstone transcripts and church burial registers. But headstones were a luxury and burial registers, where they exist, are usually very uncommunicative about the family of the deceased.
However, a third class of cemetery record also exists, much less well known and much more informative. These are the local authority interment records.
What are they and why were they created?
The Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878 created public authority sanitary districts under the control of the Poor Law Boards of Guardians, and gave them responsibility for sewage, drains, water supply and … cemeteries. When county councils came into existence in 1898 they inherited this mortuary responsibility and, it would appear, took it more seriously than their predecessors. At any rate, they began to keep records of every burial in the graveyards they controlled.
And what records they were! Most included the plot, the address, the date of death, the age at death, the cause of death, marital status, occupation, date of burial, next of kin …
They were never intended to be public records, their relatively late start made them less obvious as genealogical sources and many have not survived, but over the past few years, some local authorities have begun to open them up for research. As guides to extended families, and clues for possible living relatives, they are wonderful. And sometimes, in the level of personal detail, just a little hair-raising.
Here’s a list of any I know are available, either online or in local archives. If you know of any others, please tell me and I’ll add them.
|Cork||Five cemeteries online at Cork Archives, another 15 onsite|
|Dublin (Fingal)||Just launched online, a superb collection covering 33 graveyards in north Dublin and including more than 65,000 entries.|
|Dublin city||Online transcript of the registers for Bluebell, Clontarf and Finglas. More please.|
|Kerry||The mother of all online interment register collections. More than 140 cemeteries with records coming right up to 2010.|
|Kildare||A full collection onsite at Kildare Archives|
|Laois||Registers of 27 graveyards, in the local studies section of Laois County Library.|
|Limerick||Mount St Lawrence, complete from 1855|
|Mayo||Full list of the registers held by the council.|
|Offaly||Scanned copies of all available at the county library.|
|Waterford||Six cemeteries online|
|Wexford||Thirteen sets of graveyard registers on microfilm at the county archives.|