Ireland Archives and Libraries
Archives collect and preserve public records and historical documents. Libraries collect mostly published sources, such as books, maps, and microfilm. This section describes the archives, libraries, and other centers that serve as Ireland's major repositories of genealogical and historical sources.
Many resources for Irish research are available on the Internet. Other sources are available only in archives and libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland. A Web page on the Genealogy of the United Kingdom and Ireland (GenUKI) summarizes national and local collections.
Contact information, including links to individual Web sites, for archives, libraries and specialized places are found on the Archon directory. Some of the Web sites may have online catalogs.
If you plan to visit one of the repositories discussed, write and ask about its collections, hours, services, and fees a few months in advance. Also ask if a reader's ticket (a paper indicating you are a responsible researcher) is required to view the records, and ask how to obtain one.
Remember the Family History Library may have printed or microfilmed copies of the records you need, so check its holdings before you go abroad.
Ireland has five major types of repositories that contain genealogical information:
- National archives and libraries
- Public libraries and museums
- Religious archives
- Heritage or genealogical centres
- Other archives
Both the National Archives (Ireland) and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland collect records for all of Ireland. Neither staff does major research for patrons, but both may conduct brief searches if you supply them with sufficient information.
The National Archives was created in 1988 by merging the State Paper Office (created in 1702) and the Public Record Office of Ireland (created in 1867). Records at the National Archives include Church of Ireland parish records, gravestone inscriptions, census returns, probate records, deeds, Tithe Applotment books, rebellion and outrage papers, convict reference files, and other historical and genealogical sources.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
66 Balmoral Avenue
Belfast BT9 6NY
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has a fairly complete collection of church records (all denominations) for all of Northern Ireland as well as some records for the counties of Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan. The office's holdings also include estate papers, gravestone inscriptions, census records, Tithe Applotment books, valuation lists, and other historical and genealogical sources.
National Library of Ireland
The National Library is Ireland's main repository of filmed Catholic parish registers. Other records on deposit at the National Library include newspapers, city and regional directories, estate records, the Householders Index, and Griffith's Primary Valuation. The library's staff does not do commissioned searches. An online database, Sources: a National Library of Ireland database for Irish Research should be searched before visiting the library.
2 Kildare Street
The records of the Genealogical Office are now in the National Library. They deal mainly with heraldry. The office's holdings include information extracted from records that were destroyed when the Public Record Office burned.
The records of the Genealogical Office are not available to the public. Some of the records, however, have been microfilmed and these films may be available at other repositories. The office does not do commissioned research. The office does provide a consultation service that gives detailed guidance, for a fee, to people who are doing research on their own families. For more information on the Genealogical Office, see the chapter by that name in:
Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 3rd ed. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 2006. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D27gj 2006.)
Public Libraries and Museums
Each county and most major cities in Ireland have a main library. Many of these libraries have a local and family history collection. These collections may include estate records, newspapers, gravestone inscriptions, minute books of various local and county government agencies, poor law records, family pedigrees, and histories. Some libraries have indexed parts of their collections.
County or specialty museums may also contain genealogical records, including estate, military, tax, church, and business or employment records. For addresses of Irish libraries and museums, see Helferty, Seamus, and Raymond Refausse, eds. Directory of Irish Archives.4th ed. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press, 2004, (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 A34h, 1993.)
Religious archives contain records of a particular denomination. Several Irish religious archives and their addresses are listed in Ireland Church Records.
Heritage or Genealogical Centres
Local heritage centres, sometimes called genealogical centres, are a recent development in Ireland. These centres are currently indexing church records, mainly Catholic parish registers. Some centres are also indexing Tithe Applotment books, Griffith's Primary Valuation, the 1901 census, and gravestone inscriptions. The centres are computerizing their indexes.
Centre records are not open to the public. Centre staff, however, will search their indexes and supply information for a fee. For more information about the heritage centres, see:
- Directory of Parish Registers Indexed in Ireland. Naas, Ireland: Irish Family History Society, 1992. (FHL book Ref 941.5 K23d.) This work provides a county by county list of centres, including addresses, phone numbers, and descriptions of the records each centre has indexed.
- The website of the Irish Historical Foundation at www.rootsireland.ie
Other archives also contain information of genealogical value. Three such archives are described below. Others are discussed in the books listed under General Guides below.
Linen Hall Library. The Linen Hall Library has an extensive collection of genealogical and heraldic material. Some of its holdings are duplicated in other repositories such as the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, and the National Archives. Others of its holdings, such as its printed family histories, are unique. The address is:
Linen Hall Library
17 Donegall Square North
Belfast BT1 5GD
Trinity College Library. Among other genealogical and historical records, the Manuscripts Department of Trinity College Library has a collection of medieval manuscripts, the 1798 rebellion papers, and some Church of Ireland parish records for Dublin. The address is:
Trinity College Library
Valuation Office. The Valuation Office holds the Griffith's Primary Valuation records and accompanying maps (see Ireland Taxation). The office's post-1868 valuation records and maps are of the Republic of Ireland only. The address is:
6 Ely Place
Guides to archives and libraries in Ireland and Northern Ireland include:
Foster, Janet, and Julia Sheppard.British Archives: A Guide to Archive Resources in the United Kingdom. 3rd ed. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishers, 1995. (Family History Library book Ref 942 J54f 1995;) This guide lists the addresses, major records, and publications of several repositories in Northern Ireland. The guide is indexed by county and by type of collection.
Grenham, John. "Research Services, Societies and Repositories." In Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. This chapter lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, and hours of various repositories in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Helferty, Seamus, and Raymond Refausse, eds. Directory of Irish Archives. 2nd ed. Blackrock, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 1993, (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 A34h, 1993.) This book alphabetically lists for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland each repository, its address, its major record holdings, and any guides to its collections. The book is indexed by county and by record subject.
Inventories, Registers, Catalogs
Many archives have inventories, registers, catalogs, guides, directories, or periodicals that describe the archive's records and how to use them. If possible, study these guides before visiting an archive so that you can use your time there more effectively.
Some indexes to holdings in Irish archives are:
Hayes, Richard J. Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation. 11 vols. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall & Co., 1965. (Family History Library book Ref Q 941.5 A5h; film 1,440,939-43.)
Hayes, Richard J.Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals. 9 vols. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall and Co., 1970. (Family History Library book Ref Q 941.5 A5ha; film 973,222-30.)
Hayes, Richard J. Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: First Supplement, 1965-1975. 3 vols. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall & Co., 1979. (Family History Library book Ref Q 941.5 A5h 1st supp.)
These volumes index manuscripts, periodicals, and major collections of Irish interest deposited at the National Library before 1975. They also index many records in other repositories, public and private, in Ireland, Britain, and elsewhere. The indexes are arranged by person, subject, place, date, and manuscript. Throughout the rest of this article, these volumes will be referred to as Hayes's Sources.
A growing microfiche collection of guides and finding aids (including many unpublished finding aids) for various Irish archives, libraries, and museums is:
National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1986-87. This inventory gives a description and the exact reference numbers of the collections in many repositories throughout Ireland. The inventory can thus help in locating documents that pertain to your research. The Family History Library's copy of the inventory is listed in the Author/Title Search of the microfiche catalog under NATIONAL INVENTORY OF DOCUMENTARY SOURCES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND.
A name and subject index to the National Inventory is on microfiche (London, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1995-; Family History Library fiche 6341118). This index includes a list of finding aids and an alphabetical list of repositories.
Additional archive and library inventories, guides, catalogs, and other finding aids available at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under the following headings:
IRELAND - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
IRELAND, [COUNTY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
IRELAND, [COUNTY], [CITY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
Because England ruled Ireland for much of its history, many records pertaining to the Irish are found in English repositories. The major English archives that have Irish records are:
The National Archives
Ruskin Avenue, Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Department of Western Manuscripts
Great Russell Street
London WCIB 3DG
Internet: British Library (then click on collections and then any Manuscripts button)
India Office Library and Records
197 Blackfriars Road
London SEI 8NG
Internet: [India Office Library and Records
British Library, Newspaper Library
London NW9 5HE
Internet: Newspaper Library (then click on collections and then Digitized British newspapers)
Records dealing with the Irish may be found in other English archives as well.