This page has been revised and completely rewritten here.
John Grenham wrote in The Irish Times on 1 April 2013 that 'there are no ready-made searches for ... familysearch.org, and these are essential.' This is why there were no links from the search results at irishgenealogy.ie to familysearch.org after the relaunch of the former site in March 2013. The same column pointed out that 'The main obstacle [to using genealogy as a marketing tool] is no longer the lack of online records (although there remain some shameful exceptions – General Register Office, I'm looking at you).' There is a clear need for a clear guide to using records from the Irish General Register Office at familysearch.org and elsewhere. This page is a first attempt to gather all the relevant information into a single page.
The starting point for those wishing to understand the General Register Office and its records is the CIGO booklet IRISH CIVIL REGISTRATION -WHERE DO I START? However, much has changed since that booklet was published.
The biggest change was on 23 January 2009, when records first became available within the familysearch.org domain; they have been moved around within that domain frequently since that date. The links from this page are valid as of 2 April 2013, but past experience suggests that further changes may be required in the future.
The various bookmarks and tutorials relating to familysearch.org linked to from this website need to be updated in the light of the following announcement, which appeared in August 2011 at
August 23: Last Day for Record Search Pilot! Record Search Pilot
will be replaced by FamilySearch.org. Thank you! Record Search Pilot has been a
great success. Your feedback led to the first phase of an improved search
experience on FamilySearch.org. Look for more of your ideas to be implemented
in the coming months. Why is Record Search Pilot ending? The Pilot website was
never intended to be permanent - it was a place to gather and test ideas. It
was never designed to handle more records, more features, or more visitors. In
order to fully implement improvements, we need to end the Pilot and shift
resources to our main website.
This change is a cause of great inconvenience to those that have invested considerable time and effort into understanding, documenting and exploiting the original search interface. It appears to remove the facility to search or filter or sort by things like middle initials, etc., etc. The following is a quick summary of the present situation with direct links to the Irish databases:
All the remaining Irish databases at familysearch.org are based primarily on Irish Civil Registration records compiled by the body variously known as the General Register Office or the Civil Registration Service. Due to conflicting information on the familysearch.org website, it is quite unclear what these databases contain and do not contain. These are the best descriptions that I can provide:
As of 21 Sep 2011, these records are also available to subscribers at ancestry.com via the following links:
The ancestry.com version allows counts by quarter to be computed:
As the marriage of a widow or widower typically generates three index entries, the total number of entries in a quarter does not have to be an even number.
The extent to which the custom of marriages taking place in Shrovetide had died out by 1958 is indicated by the relatively uniform distribution of marriages between quarters.
On the one hand, the fact that only 0.03% of transcriptions are missing the surname completely suggests that the transcriptions are extremely accurate; on the other hand, it raises questions about all sorts of other possible mistranscriptions.
Some sample counts for a randomly chosen decade suggest that the transcriptions are probably complete:
To find birth, marriage or death records which may have been mis-indexed or are otherwise difficult to locate, advanced searching of the ancestry.com database can be carried out by using the various arguments which can be appended to the base URL,
Multiple arguments are separated by the & character. The following table is an attempt to identify some of the possible arguments.
|FHL film number
|f6= (does it need a trailing space?)
|Poor Law Union/Superintendent Registrar's District
|Results per page
|Results to skip
|Pages to skip
For example, to find all the marriages on page 132 in Kilrush in the fourth quarter of 1888:
Ancestry's own link to the other marriages on a page may not work if some of the other fields are omitted from the initial search URL. As of 13 Feb 2013, ancestry.com has added a "Records on Page:" field, containing all the other names from the same page, to the initial search output for a marriage search; it is no longer necessary to "click to see others on page".
The fluctuations from year to year probably reflect variations in the input duplication rate more than variations in the birth rate. Similar tables could be drawn up for individual counties by using both Place and Year field in the search form.
As of 21 Sep 2011, these records are also available to subscribers at ancestry.com via the following link:
First use Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958 to find the quarter, volume and year in which the event was registered.
Then follow the link below to the catalogue page for births, marriages or deaths, as appropriate, and find the film number by scrolling down or searching in your browser until you locate the quarter, volume and year that you are looking for (in the left-hand column). The corresponding film number that you need will be in the right-hand column.
There are both major and minor gaps in the coverage.
The films containing the indexes are unlikely to contain any information which is not in the excerpts from these films transcribed on the familysearch.org website. The films containing the certificates contain a great deal of information which is not included in the excerpts from these films transcribed on the familysearch.org website.
John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors (4th edition, 2012, p.4) has a nice one-page summary of the above information and the corresponding information for Northern Ireland, but my version does contain a few typographical errors.
The organisation which variously calls itself the The General Register Office, An tSeirbhís um Chlárú Sibhialta and The Civil Registration Service has a number of offices.
According to http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Find_a_Service/bdm/Certificates_ie/aboutus/, "The Civil Registration Service is part of the Health Service Executive and was previously known as Births, Deaths and Marriages." According to http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Overview%20of%20the%20Department.aspx, services of the Department of Social Protection include "administration by the General Register Office (GRO) of the Civil Registration Service (for the registration of births, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in the State)."
The main public office for research is in the Irish Life Centre in Abbey Street in Dublin. This office holds microfilms of all the transcripts sent in by the local offices each quarter.
Reports from customers using its local offices around the country suggest that the service provided varies from county to county. The appropriate local office's advantage over the Dublin office is that it has the original records with the original signatures for the local area, not the transcripts sent to Dublin at the end of each quarter. Some local offices have access to a nationwide computer database containing images of all births, marriages from 1920 to date, and deaths from 1924 to date. There is a list of local offices at http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Find_a_Service/bdm/contactus/ but it does not make clear which of the old Superintendent Registrar's Districts (Poor Law Unions) now come under the jurisdiction of which office.
The head office is in Roscommon.
The genealogist should obtain for 4 euro (cash only) at the Irish Life Centre an image of the handwritten record. There is no need to pay any more than this for records up to 1958.
Some offices may charge an additional 2 euro search fee even if the customer knows the full reference details from familysearch.org; it was announced in January 2013 that in certain circumstances this search fee will no longer be charged.
In January 2013, the price of a certified copy was increased from 10 euro to 20 euro. These are necessary only for those applying for citizenship or proving their right to an inheritance.
There are a number of reasons why the modern transcripts often supplied, whether typed or handwritten, are not appropriate for genealogical purposes:
There are several related web domains:
Last update: 7 Apr 2013