Below are a number of additional resources for exploring your family history.
State registration of all births, marriages and deaths across Ireland began in the year 1864. Registration of non-Catholic marriages commenced in 1845. The free website www.irishgenealogy.ie provides access to the civil registration records index and certificate images.
- Births, index and images: 1864-1921
- Marriages, index and images: 1845-1946 (Catholic marriages, 1864-1946)
- Deaths, index: 1864 – 1971, images: 1871-1971
An index to civil registrations of births dated 1922-1958 and marriages dated 1947-1958 can be consulted at Find My Past.
State registrations of births, marriages and deaths in Northern Ireland commenced in 1922.
Parish registers recording baptisms, marriages, and deaths are a critical source for family history research in Ireland.
Catholic parish registers can be accessed free of charge at the National Library of Ireland’s Catholic Parish Registers website.
This important set of records is organised by parish and date.
Where a parish of origin or date is unknown, a search by name is available by registering for a free account with subscription websites including Find My Past, Ancestry, and Family Search.
For information regarding non-Catholic church records see the Further Links section below.
The largest and most important survey of people living in Ireland is recorded in the Census of Ireland. Census records are held by the National Archives of Ireland.
Complete sets of records are publicly accessible for the years 1901 and 1911 and these are available to search online.
Census fragments from 1821 to 1891 are available online from the National Archives of Ireland and the Virtual Treasury.
Extracts of nineteenth century census records are rare but may include lists of all persons with a common surname in a town or townland in a given census year.
Statistical summaries of populations at large have limited value for family history but provide useful overviews of changes to population due to migration, fertility and mortality rates.
Search the NLI's online catalogue for census extracts and summaries.
Newspapers provide a contemporary commentary on the major occasions in the political, religious, sporting and cultural life of the nation. They are also a major source of information on everyday life — advertisements, reports on social events, accidents, court proceedings and inquests — all the exciting and mundane details that made up the daily lives of Irish people over the years.
The NLI has the largest collection of national and regional newspapers in Ireland, many of which have been digitised and are available to search on the Irish News Archive and the British Newspaper Archive. The NLI provides free access to these subscription websites onsite to all registered readers.
Search the NLI's online catalogue to explore newspaper collections.
Directories are very useful for researching the gentry as well as the professional, merchant and trading classes. Names of local gentry are key to identifying sources for further research on landholding, such as estate papers.
The content of directories is extremely valuable as a source for local history. Some directories list information on public institutions, market days, churches and schools in the area. This can be useful when trying to narrow down new avenues for your family history research.
Other sources for local history include the publications of county or parish history societies. Information to be found in such publications varies but may include gravestone inscriptions and detailed accounts of significant local events or families.
A number of directories are available digitally and searchable online, including on the subscription website Find My Past.
Published copies of local history societies, trade directories, and periodicals can be consulted in the NLI.
Search the NLI's online catalogue to explore directories and local history collections.
- Directories, Maps and Townlands
- Samuel Lewis Directory, 1837
- Thom's Directories containing certain years from 1862-1986
State records of property owners and occupiers take the form of tax assessments and registrations of property deeds.
The most accessible and complete records for nineteenth century family history research are:
- Tithe Applotment Books, c. 1820-1840
- Griffith Valuation Books and Maps, 1847-1864
The Tithe Applotment Books are organised by civil parish and townland, listing the name of the person liable for payment of the tithe tax and an assessment of the amount of tax to be paid.
The Griffith Valuation Books and Maps locate properties geographically, and record both the owner and the occupier of the land, alongside a brief description of the property type, and an estimate of the annual value of the property.
Land owners and occupiers can be researched in the General Valuation of Ireland records, 1864-c. 1975. These records are available at the Valuation Office in Dublin.
Records of transfers of land ownership are also available from the Registry of Deeds, Henrietta Street, Dublin. The Registry of Deeds surname index from 1708-1904 is available to search online at Family Search.
Modern land ownership can be researched online at the Property Registration Authority of Ireland.
Private records of land ownership are also to be found in collections of legal papers such as wills, and in the records of landed estates.
In the 18th and 19th centuries the majority of Irish people lived and worked rurally as tenant farmers on landed estates.
The state records of land ownership in Ireland confirm if an ancestor was the owner or occupier of land in nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland. Where a landlord is identified, it is possible to search for surviving estate papers.
Search the NLI's online catalogue by name of landlord or the name of the estate.
Estate records include lease agreements, rent payment ledgers, maps and other information that may be useful for family history research, including letter correspondence.
Estate papers are not generally available digitally and require a visit to the library or archive where the records are stored.
A list of surviving estate papers arranged by civil parish is accessible at the subscription website Irish Ancestors.
Examples of collections of estate papers held at the NLI include the Inchiquin Papers, Lismore Castle Papers, Lord Castletown Papers and the Clonbrock Estate.
- List of Estate Papers by Civil Parish
- Database of Landed Estates in Munster and Connaught
Maps are available in printed and manuscript format. Estate maps offer a unique insight to the changing Irish landscape and may contain information such as the names of tenants, the size and type of landholdings, categorisation of land, and the position of historical buildings and roads.
The NLI holds a large collection of maps created by individual surveyors, such as the Longfield Map Collection.
Printed maps generated by the state provide a key resource for local history research, charting in detail the changing land use and development of urban and rural areas across Ireland. The first Ordnance Survey at 6 inch to 1 mile was surveyed between 1829-1842, with publication in 1846.
Historic Ordnance Survey maps and satellite images are available online at GeoHive Map Viewer.
Search the NLI's online catalogue by place name.
Read more about the NLI's Map Collections.
Historical records of migration are a vital source in understanding both inward and outward movement of peoples to or from the island of Ireland.
The key records for Irish family history research are those of inward migration available in the United States, Australia and other overseas countries. The records of inward migration may include date of arrival, date and port of departure from Ireland, name of vessel and details of other family members or passengers.
Immigration records are available to search at subscription websites including Ancestry and Find My Past.
Passenger lists are those records created by shipping companies or their agents at the port of departure. Very few passenger lists survive, except where they were retained for specific legal purposes.
Occupational records, including those of military service, include a number of different record types.
Enlistment or conscription records will record key information such as date of entering service, age and previous address. Records may include a physical description such as height or weight. Irish military records are available from the Irish Military Archives
British Army and Navy records are available by accessing subscription pages online, for example at Ancestry and Find My Past.
Personal papers of leading figures in Irish history held by the NLI may also help expand information on the military service of other people involved in military campaigns or exercises.
Diaries, letters, and official papers are key sources in researching military history.
NLI collections referring to the War of Independence period include the Florence O’Donoghue papers, William O’Brien papers, and family letters in the Sheehy-Skeffington papers.