Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fantastic Find: Catholic Parish Registers at the National Library of Ireland

A post this morning by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) brought this to my attention. The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has just put its microfilm collection of Catholic parish registers recording baptisms and marriage from most of Ireland's parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland up to 1880 online for research and download. Starting dates for these records vary from region to region and parish to parish.*
[National Library of Ireland on The Commons, photostream on flickr]

Read what the NLI says about its mammoth project:
Church registers of marriage and baptism are considered to be the single most important source for family history researchers prior to the 1901 census. In many cases, the registers contain the only surviving record of particular individuals and families. With growing numbers of people engaged in family history research and limited on-site facilities at the NLI in Dublin, the decision was taken in 2010 to digitise the parish register microfilms. Following a tender process, the contract for digitisation was awarded to AEL Data who converted 550 microfilm reels, containing over 3500 registers into approximately 373,000 digital images. These images correspond to a page or two-page opening within a register volume. 
Of course since these records are organized by parish within each county, searching for your Irish ancestors will be easiest for those who know where to start. The NLI has a useful section on its Help page on finding the right parish with links.**
[St Saviour's Church and the Tait Memorial Clock in Limerick. National Library of Ireland on The Commons, photostream on flickr]

The NLI site is well-designed and easy to use. Best of all, it's FREE!

*The several counties (Meath, Armaugh and Galway) didn't have anything earlier than the very late 18th century.
**For more information about Irish genealogy in general, this link is a very good place to start.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.


  1. Oh Boy!! This could be what I (we) need to find our more about my Irish side! We know where they were in Ireland before they came here. Very exciting! Pat, are you listening?

    1. Very exciting in theory. However most of your ancestors were born too early to show up in these records most of which don't begin until the early 1800s. Of the 3 counties I looked at, two fell into that category--Meath and Galway. I'm more hopeful about the Leonards of Armaugh but someone will have to spend some time trying to locate what parish they lived in since it doesn't appear to have been in the town of that name.