GUIDE TO SOURCES
General civil registration of births, deaths and marriages did not begin
Ireland until 1864. These registers are extremely useful and are generally
well kept. (Registration of Protestant marriages began in 1845).
Before the introduction of civil registration, individual churches maintained
registers of births and marriages, and in some cases, deaths.
Griffith's Valuation was a survey carried out between the years 1848
1864 which detailed every householder and occupier of land in Ireland.
It is an
invaluable record as it amounts to a census of the heads of households
for this period.
Tithe Applotment Records
This is a record from the 1820s and 1830s of all landholders who paid
(levy or tax) to the Church of Ireland. The tax was payable by all
denominations. These books are a very useful source of information
relating to pre-famine rural Ireland.
In 1659 Sir William Petty listed the names of those with title to land
the number of people in each townland. He also listed the principal
names, their frequency and distribution. It was not until the early
century that the modern census began using the ten year cycle.
The 1901 census is the earliest complete census of Ireland available.
provides the name, age, occupation and marital status of every member
each household and their relationship to the head of the household.
1911 census is similar in content to the 1901 census, but there are
additional details which make it more worthwhile. These include the
of time that people have been married, the number of children they have
how many are still alive.
Just like birth, marriage or death records, gravestone inscriptions
important link with our ancestors, often providing additional or incidental
information and, in the case of a family inscription, indicating relationships.
In those cases where no other written information is available a headstone
inscription may be the only tangible link with a forbear.
Registry of Deeds
The Registry of Deeds is intact from 1703 and contains six different
Sales Assignments or Conveyances
This registry is a complex source to use as there are literally thousands
documents. The information held can vary greatly; for example a certain
may show only one name, while another might provide information on three
generations of a family. In order to make the best use of this source
it is important
to have a fairly accurate date of the sale, lease, mortgage, marriage
or death of
the testator (person who made the will).
Wills have always been among the most useful documents for search
purposes. In addition to the names of the testator, the executor(s)
witnesses, they often provide the names and relationships of the beneficiaries.
Irish directories are an excellent genealogical source and some go back
the middle of the 18th century.
Many Large estates throughout the country kept records of the payments
made by tenants for rent. Often these prove to be a useful research
The information contained in these lists varies greatly from one shipping
to the next. The list may contain only the name of the person, the name
the ship and the departure. Some shipping lines recorded more detailed
information such as where the passengers originated.
Voters' Poll and Freeholders' Records
These are lists of those entitled to vote. However, their use is very
as only a small proportion of people possessed sufficient property to
allowed to vote.
Flax Growers List
This list was completed in 1796 on a parish basis. It names farmers
received, or were entitled to receive, a grant for the growing of flax.
grants were generally in the form of machinery such as looms or spinning
Militia, Yeomanry and Munster Rolls
Records were kept of the men who served, or were available to serve,
various military forces. They were usually compiled on a county basis
as with some other records, their contents tend to vary. Generally they
detail the person's name, the type of weapon they used or the service
Newspapers can also be helpful at times in providing lists of births,
and marriages. Printed genealogies are available for some families and
may also be worth consideration.
ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS OF IRELAND
Through the centuries there have been many types of administrative division
Chief among these are: counties, baronies, parishes, poor-law unions,
districts, electoral divisions and local government areas. In practice,
genealogical research is really dependent on the oldest and most fundamental
divisions - the county, parish and townland.
With its roots in the English system of local government, this division
begun in the twelfth century and completed by 1606. County boundaries
usually reflect the lordships of major Gaelic families. In all, there
-two counties in Ireland.
Each county is sub-divided into civil parishes which were based on the
Christian and medieval monastic settlements. A civil parish is a number
townlands linked together. There are over two thousand five hundred
parishes in Ireland.
Townlands are the smallest sub-division in Ireland. They were originally
based on the area that could support a fixed number of cattle, thus
in size depending on the land quality. Altogether Ireland has some sixty-
nine thousand townlands, with an average size of three hundred acres.