Getting started

Visit Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI

Your research begins with you and your immediate family. Ask questions of family members you think might know a little bit more about your family history. Consult old photographs on which names and dates may be noted, newspaper clippings, old letters, family Bibles as well as family gravestones. Try to establish approximate dates (of births, marriages and deaths) as well as names (forenames and related family names) and places of residence. This information will point the way to relevant records. Religious denomination is also important in determining which records are relevant to your research.

Begin with census records and civil records

Although a census of the Irish population was taken every ten years from 1821 to 1911, the earliest surviving Census is for 1901. The 1901 and 1911 Census and fragments from the 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 Census are freely searchable online on the National Archives of Ireland website.

State registration of all non-Catholic marriages began in 1845. In 1864, civil registration of all births, marriages and deaths commenced. These records are held at the General Register Office in Dublin. A free index to these records (births over 100 years, marriages over 75 years and deaths over 50 years) is available on the Irish Genealogy website.

If you are starting out on your ancestral journey we recommend that you read our information booklet Family History Research - Sources at the NLI  Family History Research_Mar 2016.pdf (0 MB, Adobe PDF) or visit our free Genealogy Advisory Service.

Wedding group commissioned by Mr Ryan, Cashel, county Tipperary, 1920. NLI Ref: PWP2865A
Wedding group commissioned by Mr Ryan, Cashel, county Tipperary, 1920. NLI Ref: PWP2865A
Quick Links