The National Library of Ireland Places Adds Catholic Parish Registers Back to the 1740s Online

The National Library of Ireland in Dublin today (Wednesday) has placed the entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) online. Involved are over 370,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded and which will be accessible free of charge.

These parish register records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,086 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records. The NLI has been working to digitise the microfilms for over three years under what is had described as its most ambitious digitisation programme to date.

The parish registers provide evidence of direct links between one generation and the next (via baptismal registers) and one family and another (via marriage registers). The NLI holds copies of the registers for most Roman Catholic parishes in Ireland (including the counties of Northern Ireland) up to 1880. These registers consist primarily of baptism and marriage records.

The Catholic parish registers have been available on microfilm since the 1970s but this is the first time they have been placed online. Irish descendants no longer have spen a lot of money to visit the Library in Dublin view these registers.

You can find further information at http://www.nli.ie and especially at http://www.nli.ie/en/family-history-introduction.aspx and at http://www.nli.ie/en/parish-register.aspx.

6 Comments

This is a wonderful resource to explore the names of people residing in the same parish AND there is a map on the right side which you can use to select the parish that adjoins. When your people lived near the boundary of a parish it is possible that their siblings resided in the next parish. Or a previous generation resided close by.

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My brief experience of using the microfilms for Cork suggests that the baptismal registers generally contain plenty of detail, but that those for marriages do not. It is therefore difficult to identify the marriage of someone who was baptised, and vice-versa. The lack of burial registers prevents the searcher from excluding those who died in infancy.

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It is an easy to use system. Some priests did not list the mother’s maiden name on baptisms just Patrick Cassidy and Mary…that was a disappointment when you need the mothers birth name or to confirm you have the right family. Many pages are illegible. And some handwriting is chicken scratch. Still it is a breakthrough and much easier to search at home than on those awful microfilm readers in libraries with uncomfortable chairs. Someday maybe all of the films at Family Search will be available this way.

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This was one of the great days in Irish genealogy. Many millions of people throughout the world have Irish ancestry and this is a huge breakthrough for all of us. Many thanks to the National Library of Ireland and the government of Ireland for making these records accessible and free to all.

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Mary Beth (Noonan) Jensen July 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Love all the above comments, and so true. Sure wish the records were searchable for a surname. Perhaps that will happen in the future !?! Thanks so much to The National Library of Ireland in Dublin for sharing their archives with the masses. Looking for Noonan or Nunan, Herald or Hearld, McGarry, Nevin or Naphin.

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Thanks for the news about this! It took a few minutes to find the link on their site to get started. Since I had previously purchased a PDF printout of my ancestors’ 1844 marriage online, I knew when and where to look for the original. And I found it within minutes! Now to explore around the results to see if any other relatives are involved.

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