Records of more than 80,000 officers from the first Irish police force are being released online on www.Ancestry.co.uk. The new genealogical source will contain the personal details of every man that enlisted in the Irish Constabulary between 1816 and 1921, including their name, year and place of birth, age on enlistment and marital status. These records contain huge genealogical significance because many census records were destroyed during fighting in Dublin in 1922. In many cases, the Irish Police Force Officers records may be the only surviving records of the lives of these men.
"These records are the only surviving source of personnel information on members of the constabulary in Ireland 1816-1922. Although it gives only basic information, it is often an invaluable tool given the lack of alternative genealogical sources," said Hugh Forest, archivist at the Police Service of Northern Ireland museum.
Thousands of officers emigrated to Ireland from the US, Australia and UK to enlist in the force. A recruitment drive in 1919 sought "men willing to face a rough and dangerous task". There were almost 10,000 new recruits to the force in 1920 as many men were jobless after returning from the first World War.