Researching Irish Family History Records

The accessibility of Irish family history records has improved substantially in recent years with a large number of records now available online. The larger repositories of records are available free of charge. Other information is available through subscription websites. When researching Irish records to give us information on our ancestors there are a number of primary sources that can be used.

The main primary records that are currently available online and are free to access are:

Census Records

The 1901 and 1911 Census records are available at – these records give details of the persons staying in the household on the night of each census.

Griffith’s Primary Valuation of Ireland​

These records record details of occupiers of properties and were prepared during the 1840s and 1850s. The records only record the name of the head of each household.

Tithe Applotment Books

These records are available at – these records record details of occupiers of properties and were prepared during the period 1823 to 1837. Records are not available online for each year and in a number of cases only one year is accessible online. Again the records only record the name of the head of each household.

Church and Civil Records of Births and Marriages

These records are available at – these records record Church and Civil Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Civil Registrations for Roman Catholic births, marriages and deaths started in 1864. For a number of parishes there are records for periods prior to 1864, though there are gaps in these records.

The naming of townlands was standardised in Ireland in 1851. In general, Griffith’s Primary Valuation of Ireland used the standardised spelling on townland names. One issue to be aware of in researching Church and Civil records is that prior to 1851 there may be a number of different spellings of townland names. In some cases this applied for some years after 1851 as local spelling continued for some time. This also applies to Tithe Applotment Books. 

When researching family history it is crucial that you are able to identify the area where your ancestor lived. In a rural area this may be a townland or a village. In an urban area it may be a street in a town. As the search area widens it will get more difficult to identify your ancestor as there are likely to be a number of people with the same name identified. The difficulty then is determining which person is your ancestor. Having information on your ancestors parents and siblings will help in identifying the correct family.

In the first instance you should explore the available records online to see if you can gather additional information on your ancestors. Should you wish to explore researching your ancestors further please contact us by completing the Assessment Form. When completing the form please include as much information as possible on your ancestor or person of interest. We can also be contacted by completing the Contact Us Form or by emailing us directly at We will provide an initial assessment, without obligation, based on the information that you have as to whether additional research has a reasonable prospect of finding further information.

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