Catholic parish records dating back to 1740s go online

Good news for Irish-Americans and other Irish expats looking for their roots. From :

Catholic parish records dating back to 1740s go online
08 Jul 2015

All of the Catholic parish register microfilms in the National Library of Ireland are being published online to help genealogists trace their ancestry.

Story by Marése O’Sullivan @Marese_UTV, Dublin

A new website with the Catholic records was made live on Wednesday at and provides almost 400,000 images of the parish register microfilm reels.

The public will be able to see the records for free.

The church records date from the 1740s to the 1880s and are mainly baptisms and marriages.

Alongside the 1901 and 1911 censuses, parish register records are the single most important source for genealogists to trace their Irish family history.

A fire in the Four Courts in 1922 meant that many historical records did not survive.

The registers begin in the 1740s/50s in some city parishes in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Waterford and Limerick, into the 1780s/90s in Kildare, Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny.

Parish registers in the west generally begin in the 1850s/60s.

The baptisms of some well-known Irish historical figures are also in the records, such as the 1916 leaders Padraig Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh, and author Peig Sayers.

Over 1,000 parishes from across Ireland feature.

Preservation began on the church records by the National Library of Ireland and the Catholic Church in the 1950s when microfilm copies were made.

For over three years, the digitisation process has been underway.

The NLI's Ciara Kerrigan, who managed the digitisation said: “The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s. However, their digitisation means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin,” she declared.

The acting director of the National Library, Catherine Fahy, said: “This access to the parish records will be transformative for genealogy services, in particular as they will allow those based overseas to consult the records without any barriers.”

“In using the website for family or community searches, we would recommend that members of the public consult with their local family history resource to help them refine their search. The website does not contain any transcripts or indexes, so for a search to be successful, some known facts about a person’s life will be necessary,” Ms Fahy said.

“Those who access the new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with local genealogical services or family history resources.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was at the launch and congratulated the National Library.

“The records will be of great value to experts in the areas of history and genealogy, but also of tremendous interest to people here in Ireland and the Irish diaspora around the world.

“No doubt the registers will contribute to the number of genealogical tourists to Ireland, as people of Irish descent access these records online and decide to visit their ancestral home place,” he said.

The Minister for the Arts, Heather Humphreys, added: “As we approach the centenary of the 1916 Rising next year, I am keen to make as much historical material as possible available online, so we can encourage people around the world to reconnect with their Irish roots.”

The URL for the records:

That is seriously cool. Great find!

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