St. Patrick’s Day Greetings and a Little Help in finding your Irish Ancestors

Harp and Shamrock Sketch by Marian Androne

About St. Patrick

Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa AD 385–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, and is celebrated on 17th of March. It is celebrated by both Catholics and Protestants.

Where are all the Irish Records?

There is a rumour that Irish records are scarce and practically non-existent. Most of the Irish records that were lost were already housed in the Four Courts Building in Dublin when it was blown up in 1922 during the Irish Civil War. However, don’t despair as there are still plenty of old and interesting Irish records that are intact.

Here’s where I found some of my Irish ancestors. I went to the online Will Calendars
section of The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland or  PRONI and was able to extract a wealth of information about my Irish ancestors.

1901 and 1911 Censuses of Ireland are Intact!

I also found my grandmother and her family in the 1901 and Irish Census Search on the National Archives of Ireland site. Fortunately these records escaped the bombing of 1922 and are still intact.

For a list of free resources for genealogical research you can go to the National Archives Genealogy Website

Alas – Much is Lost

  • Apart from a few fragments, the Irish Censuses of 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851 were burned in 1922 in the fire at the Public Record Office at the beginning of the Civil War.
  • The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after the censuses were taken.
  • Those for 1881 and 1891 were destroyed during World War 1.

The Good News

  • As mentioned. the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns survive, as do all civil registration records.
  • Because of the reluctance of many of the Church of Ireland parishes to send their registers to Dublin, nearly have of all Church of Ireland parish registers (many of the clergy had not sent their registers to Dublin).
  • Baptism, marriage and burial records for Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and Methodists were not housed at the Public Records Office so many of these records still exist.
  • Griffiths Valuation  which is a source of land and property records for the mid nineteenth century is intact.
  • Indexes to wills and probate bonds survive, as well as many other records dating back to the early 1600s.

Read  more about what Irish records are available and what Irish records were destroyed at the Irish Genealogy Toolkit site.

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