“This week was a happy dance week for those of us with Irish roots. Ancestry.com has posted indexes to Irish Civil Registrations which began in 1864 for births, marriages, and deaths (1845 for non-Catholic marriages). In addition there is an index to births and baptisms that dates back to 1620, extracted from a variety of records.
Three other collections that were also posted caught my eye–Catholic baptisms, marriages, and deaths(the latter being the smallest). Although these collections are works-in-progress that are smaller in size and not all-inclusive, they are significant because some of the records pre-date civil registration. Since Irish emigration peaked during the famine and post-famine years prior to when most civil registration began, these records an important resource for many Irish-Catholic ancestors who left during that period.
The indexes were created from some of the parish registers that have been microfilmed and are held in the National Library of Ireland (NLI). A plurality of the records currently available on Ancestry.com are from County Meath, but there is also significant representation from other parts of the country. Counties with representation in these three collections include: Antrim, Cavan, Cork, Fermanagh, Galway (marriages only), Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary (marriages only), Tyrone, Westmeath, and Wexford.
The indexes include names, event dates and places, parents’ names (in the case of baptisms), as well as sponsor and witness names.
Tips for Using These Records
This collection does not include all of the Catholic parish records that are available at the NLI. Also keep in mind that the way the place name is listed may not be the way you expect, since they are using Catholic rather than civil jurisdictions. Begin by searching for your ancestor’s surname and a county name in the event place field since many of the dioceses shared the name of the county. (Use the place type-ahead and select from the list for best results.) Then you can explore the parishes that are represented and you’ll get a better feel for how they are listed in the index.
It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the Catholic jurisdictions. For example, The Parish of Meath includes records from most of Counties Meath (all but two parishes), and Westmeath (all but five parishes), as well as three parishes in County Cavan, two from County Longford, one from County Louth, and seven from County Offaly. Most of these counties adjoin County Meath, so in the search form change the place field setting from “Use default settings” to “Restrict to county/adjacent counties.” (Be sure to use the type-ahead and select from the list to enable this function.)“