10 Million Irish Catholic Parish Records Free Forever To Search Online

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

  • Records span 200 years of Irish history (1670-1900), contain 40 million names, cover 1000 parishes across all 32 counties of Ireland
  • Collection forms the most important resource for Irish ancestors prior to the 1901 census, allowing researchers to trace their roots back to Pre-Famine Ireland
  • Reveal how Great Famine halved the number of Catholic baptisms
  • Findmypast makes entire Irish collection of over 110 million records free from Tuesday 1st of March until Tuesday 8th March

Dublin, 1 March 2016

Leading family history site, Findmypast, has announced today the online release of over 10 million Irish Catholic Parish Registers as part of their ongoing commitment to making Irish family history easier and more accessible than ever before. Fully indexed for the first time, the registers form one of the most important record collections for Irish family history and are free to search forever.

Spanning over 200 years of Ireland’s history from 1671-1900, the Irish Catholic Parish Registers contain over 40 million names from over 1,000 parishes and cover 97% of the entire island of Ireland, both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

This is the first time that National Library of Ireland’s collection of Irish Catholic Registers has been fully indexed with images to the original documents linked online. The records can now be searched by name, year and place, allowing relatives and historians the opportunity to make all important links between generations with the baptism records and between families with the marriage registers.

The indexing of these important documents also allows researchers to witness the devastating effects of the Great Famine (1845-1852) first hand. Using the records to examine baptism rates in pre and post Famine Ireland has revealed that the number of children baptised across the whole of Ireland dropped by more 50% in the decade that followed. Across all 32 counties, 2,408,694 baptisms were recorded from 1835-1844, while 1,109,062 baptisms were recorded between 1851 and 1860, a difference of more than 1,299,000 baptisms.

The records also reveal the worst affected regions, with counties Limerick, Wexford, Roscommon and Kilkenny seeing the most dramatic drops in baptism rates.

To celebrate the release of this essential collection, Findmypast is also making its entire archive of over 110 million Irish records, the largest available anywhere online, FREE from 9am Tuesday 1st March to 9am on Tuesday 8th March. Findmypast is home to the most comprehensive online collection of Irish family history records with millions of exclusive records, published in partnership with The National Archives of Ireland, The National Archives UK, and a host of other local, county and national archives.

Brian Donovan, Irish records expert at Findmypast said:

“This important publication marks a further step in Findmypast’s commitment to making Irish family history more accessible. In less than 5 years, we have made over 110 million records (with 300 million names) available online for the first time. Irish research has been transformed from the select pursuit of the few, to a fun and relatively easy hobby for the many. The Irish story of hardship, migration and opportunity is a global story, and in partnership with the cultural institutions around the world we are bringing the fragments of their lives within reach”.


Free for ever?

The blog headline says “Irish Catholic records available free for ever” but the web site says that they are free from 1st March to 7th March. How does seven days equate to “forever”? Am I missing something?


“10 Million Irish Catholic Parish Records Free Forever To Search Online”
March 1st to March 8th doesn’t sound like forever!


Can someone educate me as to how to access the free searches? When I go to Find My Past and register, it requires a membership payment. Thank you.


They’re saying their entire collection of Irish records are free on those dates. The Catholic parish records specifically are free permanently.


The images on the findmypast web site have “nli” watermarks scattered all over them, obscuring part of the image. Follow the link to the National Library of Ireland web site for a cleaner image.


When I recently read about the future release of an “indexed” database of Irish Parish Records my immediate concern was about the accuracy of the indexing. The handwriting is so horrible and difficult to read in many of these records that it is a major challenge to properly “translate” the names for a usable index. After reviewing this new database today my concerns have been confirmed. I searched the database for ancestors and relatives that I had previously found on LDS microfilm of parish registers using tip-offs in a letter from an Irish parish priest found in a Civil War pension packet providing the baptismal information for an individual so he could receive an increase in pension payments due to his age. The individuals that I had previously found on the microfilm were not indexed in this new database. While this indexed database is a welcome addition to the resources that Irish researchers now have, please understand that it potentially has significant limitations due to the difficulty of the indexing.


Totally agree on the indexing issue. As I commented here earlier (but did not see posted), I have experienced two sets of indexes in a parish in Co. Carlow. One was by the local council in the last 15-20 years, used teenagers as volunteers, and was clearly rife with errors and omissions. The other was done at the parish level by adults in the 1940s. In cross-checking between the two, I found how poorly done the more recent indexing was. Just as with Ancestry indexing–use it as a guide, go page to page in the index for your parish, and then go page to page in the original records. With that level of attention to detail, you’ll probably get a good 90% of your people. Happy hunting!


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