Ireland Church Records
|Historic Ireland (pre-1922)|
|Local Research Resources|
|Northern Ireland Wiki Topics|
For information about records for non-Christian religions in Ireland, go to the Religious Records page.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Religions and their Records
- 3 Accessing Ireland Church Records
- 4 Books and Tutorials
- 5 Search Strategies and Indexes
- 6 References
Before civil registration was introduced in 1864, Church records are the main source for Irish genealogy as they give baptism, marriage and burial dates. Some knowledge of the religious situation is a good idea before using them. What is now the Republic of Ireland was predominantly Catholic, with most members of the Anglican Church of Ireland being from wealthy Anglo-Irish families. In what is now Northern Ireland the Church of Ireland and various Presbyterian Churches were the main religions, with some pockets of Catholic areas.
Presbyterian and Anglican records usually go back into the 18th century, and in a few cases into the 17th century. However many Anglican records were destroyed in 1922. A few Catholic records start in the 18th or early 19th centuries, but most start around 1829, when virtually all discrimination against Catholics was lifted.
The most common sorts of Church Records in Ireland are baptism and marriage registers. Less common types of records are censuses/members list, burials and emigration lists.
Religions and their Records
Church of Ireland
The Anglican Church became established in Ireland in 1536 and was the religion of many plantation settlers in the 17th century. It's records start quite early, but unfortunately many were destroyed in 1922. Surviving records are either held by the RCB (the Library of the Church of Ireland) or are kept by the churches. The RCB has a List of Church of Ireland Parish Registers, clearly indicating the dates for each parishes, whether records survive and where they can be found.
Roman Catholic parish registers for most rural areas were not kept until the 1820s or much later. However, records for urban areas often start earlier; sometimes much earlier and as far back as the mid-eighteenth century or occasionally before. Registers in the City of Limerick for example begin in 1745, those for Cork Cathedral in 1766.Most parishes (a church unit with geographical boundaries) kept their own records. Some parish buildings were erected and used merely for baptising and worshiping chapels and kept no parish registers and the registers of same were kept at the main parish. There are very few Catholic burial records. The registers for baptisms and burials may use Latin, English or Gaelic interchangeably, and be abbreviated or otherwise hard to interpret.
Catholic registers up to 1880 were microfilmed by the National Library of Ireland. In 2015-2016 these were digitized and put online. Unfortunately the quality of these microfilms is poor, making the registers difficult to read.
|For Jewish records see the Ireland Jewish Records page.|
In 1605 Scottish Presbyterians began a massive migration into Northern Ireland. Congregations were organized at that time, but only a few congregations, mostly in County Antrim, kept early records. Most congregations started keeping records in the early 1800s.
A Methodist society began in Dublin in 1746.
Methodist records consist mainly of baptism and marriage records. Baptism records show the child’s name, parents, and birth date and place. Marriage records show the names of the bride and groom, and the marriage date and place. Occasionally a circuit minute book or vestry book was kept. Since there were few Methodist cemeteries, death or burial records are rare. Methodists were usually buried in Church of Ireland cemeteries, and their burial records kept in Church of Ireland registers.
Quaker (Society of Friends) Records
In 1654, the Quaker faith (Religious Society of Friends) began in Ireland. Its roots can be found among English soldiers, farmers, and merchants who arrived in Ireland after the English Civil War (1641-1651). These immigrants converted to the new religion from a variety of other nonconforming protestant faiths.
By 1750, there were 150 Quaker meetings across Ireland within the provinces of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster.
The Quaker faith kept its records separate and apart from those collected by the Church of Ireland or the State. As a result, many of its original records exist and are located in the repositories.
Many other denominations have established churches or congregations in Ireland. In the mid-1600s Congregationalists and Baptists first came to Ireland as soldiers under Cromwell. Huguenots, seeking religious freedom, also came in the 1600s. Most Huguenots affiliated themselves with the Church of Ireland or with the Presbyterian Church. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established branches in Ireland by 1850.
Records of other churches are primarily in local custody (except for Latter-day Saint records, which are mainly in Salt Lake City, Utah). Huguenot church records have been published in:
- The Publications of the Huguenot Society of London. N.p.: Huguenot Society of London, 18--. (Family History Library book 942.1/L1 B4h.)
Copies of records for other churches can be found at the Family History Library. These are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog. Do a Place Search for a county or parish of interest and select the topic of Church Records. Some records may also be found generally under Ireland and the topic of Church Records.
transcribed and photographed by Mott, George. Monuments of Irish Interest in St. Isidore's Rome. Photos of inscriptions of Irish persons in the church of the Irish Franciscan College in Rome. Also typewritten inscriptions. Surnames, Ball, Sherlock Meighan, Curran, Bryan. covers years 1626 and 1681. Article in The irish Ancestor Vol. X.no.1.1978, pages 15-17, Family History Library Salt Lake City, Ref. 941.5 B2i vol 10-11.
Accessing Ireland Church Records
More and more of the records are going online. However some, especially Protestant records are not yet available online.
- RootsIreland ($) has records from all religions. Their website has detailed lists of exactly what is and what is not available. No images are available.
- IrishGenealogy.ie has a few records from the Republic of Ireland.
- The National Library of Ireland has Catholic records only. These have been made searchable by name on Ancestry($) and FindMyPast ($)
- The RCBL Lists access arrangements for Anglican records. It may not mention which records are on other websites.
- The IGI includes a selection of records from all religions.
- The NIFHS($) and Emerald Ancestors($) websites contain some records from Northern Ireland
- The FamilySearch Catalog contains many records.
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has published:
- An Irish Genealogical Source: Guide to Church Records. Belfast, Ireland: Ulster Historical Foundation on behalf of PRONI, 1994. (Family History Library book 941.6 K23pr.) This is a guide to locating church records in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. It also indicates which records are still in local custody. This guide is also available as a PDF on www.proni.gov.uk. Click on the link for 'Online guides' then click on the link for 'PRONI Guide to Church Records.'
The descriptive catalog for PRONI details their holdings of church records. The Family History Library has a filmed copy of the descriptive catalog. The sections describing church records are found on films 1701904-5; 1701989; 1736433 items 5-9; 1736434 items 1-2.
The appendices in James G. Ryan, ed., Irish Church Records give some names and addresses of church record archives. The appendices also provide details about Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, and Methodist records held in local custody or deposited in national archives.
Additional church records have been indexed since the directory was published. Contact the appropriate centre for more current information and to determine the fees charged for searching and copying index entries.
To identify transcripts or abstracts of church records found in Irish genealogical periodicals available at the Family History Library, consult Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources: Ireland
- Irish Records Extraction Database, 1763 - 1912 ($)
- Index to Church of Ireland diocesan marriage licenses, 1630-1845, index only.
- Ireland Diocesan and Prerogative Marriage Licence Bonds Indexes 1623-1866, index, ($).
- Index to prerogative marriage license bonds, ca. 1750-1849
- Ireland, Marriages in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1771-1812, index and images, ($).
- Ireland, Non-Conformist Births & Baptisms, index, ($).
- Ireland, Non-Conformist Burials, index, ($).
- Ireland, Non-Conformist Congregational Records, index, ($).
- Ireland, Non-Conformist Marriages, index, ($).
- Irish Quaker Collection, index.
- Ireland, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Births, index, ($).
- Ireland, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Deaths, index, ($).
- Ireland, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Marriages, index, ($).
- Transcripts of the national register of the Society of Friends, 1859-1949, births, marriages, deaths, monthly meetings.
Books and Tutorials
- Ryan, James G., ed. Irish Church Records. Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland: Flyleaf Press, 1992. (FHL book Ref 941.5 K27rj.)
- Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 vols. Evanston, Illinois: Margaret Dickson Falley, 1961-62. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27f 2 vols.)
- Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 3rd ed. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 2006. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27gj 2006.)
Some articles of interest found in the periodical The Irish Ancestor include:
- Whyte, Donald. "Old Parochial Registers of Scotland." References to people from all parts of Ireland, batisms and marriages, that are held in various parts of Scotland Old Parochial Registers, covering years 1691-1846. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol.III,no.2,1971 pages 79-82, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i
- Brown, Mary Ross. "Births, Marriages and Deaths from the Journal of Rev. Adam Averell." Article contains baptisms, births, marriages and deaths noted in his journal from 1754 to 1808 all over Ireland. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol.III, no.2 1971, pages105-106, Family History Library Book Ref. 941.5 B2i
- "Entries Relating to Irish Persons in the Marriage Register of the Parish of Portpatrick, Wigtownshire, Scotland." Entries of marriages, one or both persons shown must have an Irish address, covers years 1720-1846, article in The Irish Ancestor, vol.IX,no.2.1977, pages 107-129, Family History Library Salt Lake City Ref. 941.5 B2i v.9
- Punch, Terrence M. "Some Irish Immigrant Weddings in Nova Scotia 1841-1845." List of one or both Irish Immigrants that were married in St. Peter's Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 1841-1845, Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. IX.no.2.1977, pages 133-146, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v9.
- Stewart, Rev. David, 1950 Index to Congregations Listed in "The Seceders in Ireland. Family History Library Ref. 941.5 K 2ste
- Hayes, Richard J. Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 A5h.) Look under the headings "Parish Registers" and "Vestry Books" for Church of Ireland records, and look by denomination (Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.) for other churches' records. In the place indexes, look for church records by county and then town, city, or parish.
- Irish Family History Society. Directory of Parish Registers Indexed in Ireland. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 K23dp.)
Research Tutorials at FamilySearch
Note: Microsoft browser may be required for viewing tutorials.
- Ireland Beginning Research Series: Church Records
- Ireland Presbyterian Church Records
- Ireland Catholic Church Records - Parts 1 and 2
- Irish Protestant Church Records
Search Strategies and Indexes
As you search church records, use the following strategies:
- Search all parish registers and other available church records of the appropriate locality for the time period you are researching.
- Search available Church of Ireland records even if your family was not Church of Ireland.
- Search surrounding localities if you cannot find records in the expected locality.
- Note all entries, including burials, for the surname you are searching (unless the name is very common).
- Note gaps or missing pages in the record. You may want to search alternative records for the missing time periods.
- If you find little or no mention of your family in parish records, search other records.
- Use the additional information (residence, occupation, etc.) given in parish registers to find other records to search.