Tracing your family in Limerick

A guide to tracing your ancestors

Limerick Historical Society

8:00pm Monday 14 April 2014

Room 301, Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick

by Paddy Waldron

WWW version:


  • Where do I start?
  • Principles
  • National sources
  • Limerick sources
  • Where do I finish?
  • Where do I start?


    National sources

    Free online sources

    The most basic source is Google, which is great for more unusual names or combinations of names, like "quin sleeman"; but Google, by accident or design, does not harvest many genealogy sites.

    The major free online sources for Irish ancestry include:

    First edition 6"/mile OSi maps, later 25"/mile maps, live street maps, five-yearly aerial views
    Example: where are we?
    Here in the townland of Courtbrack ...
    ... in St. Michael's civil parish in the barony of Pubblebrien in the county of Limerick in the province of Munster.
    But Courtbrack Avenue was the Municipal Boundary, dividing the townland into two parts, one within the city limits, the other outside the city limits.
    In the 1911 census, the more rural part of Courtbrack was in Limerick South Rural District Electoral Division; the more urban part appears to have been in Dock Limerick Urban No. 4 DED.
    However, Ballinacurra Creek was the western boundary of Limerick No. 4 (St. Michael's) Registrar's District, which therefore contained all of Courtbrack.
    We are in the Poor Law Union of Limerick (both pre- and post-Famine).
    We are in the Catholic parish of St. Joseph's which extends "out to the end of Ballinacurra" and is in the Catholic diocese of Limerick
    We are in the Church of Ireland Union of Limerick Cathedral (limerick st mary) in the United Dioceses of Limerick & Killaloe, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh and Emly.
    We are in the probate district of Limerick now served by the Limerick/Clare district probate registry.
    Julius Caesar: Divide and conquer - divide et impera --- Irish Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958
    See sample page from original index (1866)
    Registration districts in this index are:
    The 1851 townland index shows that post-Famine County Limerick comprised all or parts of nine PLUs:
    The first six unions had their workhouses in county Limerick; the last three had their workhouses across the county boundary.'s one-size-fits-all search form can mislead beginners. The indexes don't include spouse or parents, apart from the birth index from c1928-1958, which includes mother's maiden surname only. To narrow the search, you can fill in one of (a) birth date and/or place (b) marriage date and/or place or (c) death date and/or place. Filling in fields which are blank in the record you want will prevent you from finding it. More details here. --- Ireland Births and Baptisms mostly 1864-1881
    See sample birth record
    To narrow the search, you can fill in both parents' first and/or last names and/or birth date and/or place. The appropriate placename to use varies from year to year and from record to record. Try townland or dispensary district or Poor Law Union or county. --- Ireland Marriages mostly 1845-1870
    See sample page from marriage register
    To narrow the search, you can fill in spouse's and/or father's first and/or last names and/or marriage date and/or place. Irish marriage certificates did not until relatively recently include the name of either the groom's mother or the bride's mother. --- Ireland Deaths mostly 1864-1870
    See sample death record
    To narrow the search, you can fill in death date and/or death place and/or residence place. Irish death certificates did not include the name of any relative until c2004, unless the informant happened to be a relative, and even then the relationship may not have been specified. The appropriate placename to use is generally the townland.
    Full search
    In some non-Irish records the transcriptions may include father's first name, mother's first name and mother's last name, but not father's last name! See, for example, many entries in New Jersey, Marriages, 1678-1985. You must leave the father's last name blank if you want to find these records.
    Church records for only about four counties, mostly pre-1900.
    Alternative search form.
    The results from the main search form provide links to other free government-backed online databases.
    Griffith's Valuation (askaboutireland Family Name Search or Place Name Search - free)
    It's apparently not possible to link to specific map locations - see discussion. It is possible to link to the occupiers of a specific location using the PlaceID, e.g. Ballybrown (PlaceID=805749). Results are stupidly broken into pages of 20 occupiers at a time. To view Original Page or Map View, right click on icon and select "Open Link in New Tab".
    Lewis, Samuel: Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837
    Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1837
    Available online since November 2012. Edit the URL to see results 100 at a time.

    Subscription-based online sources

    Griffith's Valuation (Irish Origins - subscription)
    Griffith's Valuation (Find My Past - subscription; also includes Landed Estates Court Rentals)
    Griffiths Valuation, printed in the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s for different parts of Ireland,, is continued up to around the abolition of rates in 1977 in Valuation Office cancelled books, Irish Life Centre, Abbey Street, Dublin; e.g., Moore Street, Kilrush
    Burke's Peerage (Catholic church records possibly not available elsewhere, etc.)
    Catholic Parish Baptisms, 1742-1881
    Catholic Parish Marriages and Banns, 1742-1884
    Catholic Parish Deaths, 1756-1881
    Catholic Birth and Baptism Registers, 1763-1912
    Catholic Marriage Registers, 1775-1912
    Catholic Death and Burial Registers, 1767-1912
    Catholic Confirmation Registers, 1775-1912

    Offline sources

    Limerick sources

    Free online sources

    City Archives
    Digital archives.
    Local studies
    Museum catalogue
    Map of civil parishes
    Map of catholic parishes
    Limerick Chronicle obituaries
    Work in progress, by Mike Maguire, City Library
    Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery
    Search form
    Digitised registers 1855-2008
    City Councillors 1841-2009
    More details on Mayors
    Diocese Heritage Project
    Limerick families
    Trades register
    County Limerick Ireland Genealogy group at
    1.139 people (as of 14 Apr 2014) tracing their Limerick roots
    Ireland Reaching Out
    Limerick parish list

    Pay-per-view online sources

    Irish Family History Foundation
    Check the source list.

    Offline sources

    Where do I finish?