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Tips on Searching the Civil Registration Indexes

Ireland Ireland Civil Registration

Here are tips for searching the Civil Registration indexes:Edit

  • If you want to narrow your search by using the registration district, you must choose the option of "exact, close & partial matches" otherwise this narrow search will not work.  
  • If you don't know the registration district, then the search can be narrowed by using the county.  The next section explains how to determine the registration district.
  • When you enter a place for your search, sometimes there are more than one spelling for the same place and you will get different results for a search on each place.  If you enter a place and do not find the person, try a different spelling for the place.  For example, if you enter Leix, then the drop down window will give you other spellings for this county, i.e. Laois and Laoighis.  You may need to try all of these spellings for this county.
  • To search again, choose refine search.  If you choose new search, you will return to the home page and have to go to the Ireland Civil Records search page again.
  • The search engine is not picking up all of the name variants.  For example, if you search on Hanora, then you get a different set of results than if you searched on Honora.  Thus, you should manually try other name varriants if you do not find the person you are looking for.
  • Surnames beginning Mc may have been typed M' in the compilation of the GRO Ireland index. You may need to enter M' in the surname search field on FamilySearch Historical Records (formerly Record Search) to disclose all surname entries with a Mc prefix. Indexers have typed what they see in the GRO index literally. The GRO index originals are typed in this way!

Here are tips for what to do if you cannot find an individual in the index:Edit

  • Late registrations of births and deaths are indexed separately at the end of each index volume.
  • Surnames are often spelled differently than expected.
  • Surnames with prefixes, such as O'Brien or McDonnell, may be listed without their prefixes (Brien, Donnell).
  • Events are filed by the date they were registered, not the date they occurred and may therefore be indexed in a later volume. (For example, a birth on 20 December 1879 which was registered on 6 January 1880 will be listed in the January-March volume of 1880.)
  • Indexes were hand-prepared and may contain errors, such as copying mistakes (for example, the interchange of T and F) and missed entries.
  • Occasionally, people were registered under a variation of their first name, other than that recorded at the time of their birth or death. For instance Ted for Edward or Molly for Mary.
  • In error, some marriages have been indexed by the name of only one party.
  • If a woman was married previously, then her surname in the marriage index might at a later marriage be her surname from a previous marriage and not her maiden surname.
  • Vital information provided by the family (particularly age at death) is often incorrect.
  • People with prolific first names or surnames are sometimes difficult to distinguish in the index.
  • Children born before their parents were married may be listed under the mother's maiden name.
  • Some children are simply listed as male or female if they were not named by the time of registration.
  • Some events were not registered, even though registration of births, marriages and deaths was required by law.

If, after considering the above factors, you cannot find a civil birth, marriage, or death certificate for your ancestor, you may want to search church or other records.