'Irish Roots' archive



Irish Roots


January 18 2016

Digging up death records

Researchers from places such as Australia and Scotland, where death registers can give wonderful multi-generational family information, are continually disappointed by the Irish equivalents. Until recently, a death record here supplied no family information. As a result, headstone transcripts and cemetery registers have become disproportionately important.

The biggest single online collection of transcripts is at interment.net, a volunteer US site. The records of some cemeteries are frustratingly incomplete and some transcripts may not be completely accurate, but the site is free, well organised and includes Irish cemeteries in every county except Waterford and Monaghan. Another US site, findagrave.com, has a huge number of volunteer transcripts, including (it claims) some from 3401 Irish cemeteries. Most of these appear to consist of one of two transcripts, however.

The largest Irish site is the venerable historyfromheadstones.com, which covers more than 800 Northern Ireland graveyards. The site is paying, but the index search is free and there are some interesting essays on topics such as child mortality and military service.

Brian and Ian Cantwell's extraordinary set of transcripts from Wicklow, Wexford and the Atlantic seaboard are at FindMyPast.ie, also paying. Free Irish transcript sites include historicgraves.com, discovereverafter.com, from-ireland.net, IrishGraveyards.ie and igp-web.com. All cover slightly different areas, some include headstone images, most are not full.

I try to keep track at irishtimes.com/ancestor, God help me.

Cemetery records can be much more informative than gravestones, sometimes recording names, addresses and next of kin. Before local authorities acquired responsibility for graveyards in the 1890s, the only surviving registers are for urban areas. More than a million records of Goldenbridge and Glasnevin cemeteries in Dublin, dating from the 1820s, are searchable on the paying site glasnevintrust.ie, an essential resource for 19th-century Catholic Dubliners. The Church of Ireland equivalent, Mount Jerome, is not online, but a microfilm of their registers is available in Dublin City Library and Archive. A paying sub-site of belfastcity.gov.uk has about 360,000 Belfast burials. Mount St Lawrence graveyard in Limerick city has records from 1855, freely searchable at limerick.ie/archives.

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