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Using Parish Registers Online

Adult Continuing Education Irish Genealogy Summer School 2016 - Ancestral Connections: Roots to the Rising

5:00 p.m. Tuesday 28 June 2016

G05 Western Gateway Building

by Dr Paddy Waldron

WWW version:


Catholic Parish Registers

Dioceses and parishes

Types of access available

Depending on parish and date, you may have access to:
Most parishes have a hard copy index to children baptised and to grooms married.
Some parishes have similar indexes online, e.g. Ennis.
Online indexes can usually be searched only by using Ctrl-F in your web browser.
Usually an attempt to fit the information into a slightly more sophisticated database structure, searchable and sortable on some or all of the fields included.
Fitting into a database structure may include attempting to standardise the spelling of Christian names, surnames and placenames.
An attempt to copy the original register verbatim into digital form.
Images of transcriptions
Many registers which were in poor physical condition were transcribed by a later priest or a trusted parishioner, e.g. `Origins of the Parish of Kilmacduane' by Canon James O'Neill, published posthumously as Chapter One of Cooraclare & Cree: Parish of Kilmacduane: History & Folklore (p.44) says:
Fr. Doheny C.C. was transferred [from Kilmacduane] to Miltown Malbay in 1921, and was succeeded by Fr Peter Ryan [1891-1972], a native of Kilrush. Fr. Ryan, who was, incidentally, a great historian, did great work on the Parish Registers. He copied the old Baptismal Register which was practically illegible and, in bold beautiful handwriting, left us a splendid register, a monument to his zeal and ability ... He was transferred to Roscrea in 1927.'
The registers for the adjoining Doonbeg parish were transcribed by Mick Blake, N.T. [1891-1976].
The original registers for Terryglass parish are still available in the parish, but the microfilmers worked from a modern transcript.
Images of originals
Most Irish Catholic parish registers were microfilmed by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) many years ago, with a cut-off date in general of 1880.
The original is always the best source, but is usually unavailable for reasons of conservation, distance, etc.


This website, based entirely on the NLI microfilms, was not launched until July 2015.
There are many gaps in coverage before 1880, for example parts of the Kilkee, Ennistymon and Kilmacduane registers have never been microfilmed.
If the register you need has not been digitised, then lobby the local Parish Priest.
The website includes undated maps showing Catholic parishes and Catholic dioceses or Catholic parishes and counties. Do these maps reflect the boundaries at a specific date?
Formerly Irish Ancestors at The Irish Times website, moved to a new domain name in May 2016.
For details of surviving parish registers which have not been microfilmed, see, for example, Kilmanaheen.
The various publications from Flyleaf Press by James Ryan and others also give dates of surviving registers available in various repositories.
Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915 is an index to the online NLI registers, compiled jointly by Ancestry and FindMyPast, and available to subscribers.
Ancestry has done its own digitisation of some (more recent) registers, e.g. Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1860-2014.
See also these earlier Ancestry databases:
The indexes appear to be divided into four separate databases on the FindMyPast website: Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms, Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages, Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Burials and Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Congregational Records (confirmations etc.).
The FindMyPast version is "free to search forever".
Before subscribing, check the page listing available sources by centre.
The county map is misleading and has duped many unwitting researchers into subscribing in order to search non-existent extracts.
Where coverage overlaps, the Rootsireland extracts were made independently of the Ancestry/FindMyPast versions.
Views originally cost EUR10 each in a pay-per-view model.
In the current subscription model, an annual subscription, which now costs EUR225, is limited to 15,000 views. This works out as only 1.5 cent per view, or 99.85% less than the initial price.
rootsireland.ie has badly damaged its reputation by constantly closing accounts which were deemed not to have made sufficient purchases.
Some extracts are now linked directly to the corresponding images on the NLI website.
Church and civil records are forced into the same template, so some field names are a little odd, e.g. "Sponsor 2 /
Informant 2:".
Some fields left blank in the extract may be present in the original, e.g. sponsors are not included for baptisms for St. Michael's parish, Limerick (ST. MICHAEL'S (RC)).
Some records are in the wrong category, e.g. confirmation records for Charlestown parish, Mayo (KILBEAGH/CHARLESTOWN (RC)).
This website was set up to plug gaps in the Rootsireland coverage.
See list of current records and dates covered - 5th April 2012.
There are many other websites containing one-off index or extracts or inscriptions for individual parishes or small groups of parishes. See, for example, the collection hosted by Clare County Library.

Search algorithms

Shifting parish boundaries

Missing records

If you cannot find the record that you are looking for, then it

Tips and tricks

Church of Ireland Parish Registers

rootsireland.ie and churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie include some Church of Ireland registers.
The Anglican Record Project by Mark Williams is an ongoing endeavour to make the registers of baptism, marriage and burial from Church of Ireland parishes available in a digital format.

Representative Church Body Library


Parishes and Unions

The Clergy of ... : Biographical Succession Lists available for many dioceses are very useful ways of telling which civil parishes had an active church and which were part of larger unions.


From the Act of Union of 1800 to the Irish Church Act of 1869, the United Church of England and Ireland was the Established Church in Ireland.
Its records were required to be deposited in the Public Record Office, where many were destroyed in the 1922 fire.
Copies of some were retained in the parishes and others were never deposited.
Permission is still required from the National Archives of Ireland as copyright holder in order to publish pre-Disestablishment records.

Other Denominations

Early Methodists often had baptisms, marriages and funerals performed in the Established Church.
Dublin Dissent by Steven C.Ffeary- Smyrl (ISBN: 9781906353155) is a good guide to the records of other denominations in Dublin.