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Parish Registers - Baptisms, Marriages & Burials, & Other Records, Catholic (Ireland)

Nature of Source

Records from Roman Catholic parish registers of baptism, marriage and burial Up to 1869 with passing of the Irish Church Act, the established church in Ireland was the Anglican (Protestant) Church of Ireland, although during the 19th century about 85 per cent of the Irish population was Roman Catholic, 10 per cent nonconformists with only about 5 per cent Protestant. Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland parishes often had different names covering different geographical areas. Use Lewis' Topographical Dictionary for locating a particular parish which is available online at A summary of research sources available for a particular parish including Roman Catholic church records can be found at

The anti-Catholic penal laws meant that the surviving registers are very incomplete with only about 20 per cent of burials recorded and are often difficult to read especially when written in Latin or heavily abbreviated. With the relaxation of some penal laws from 1760, the record keeping of the Catholic Church markedly improved. The introduction of dedicated pre-printed forms for registering a baptism or marriage from the mid-19th century resulted in the information recorded becoming more standardised and easier to read. A few registers date from late 17 century mainly for towns and cities where wealthier Catholics enjoyed greater religious freedoms. In poorer rural areas, the priests with little funding were un able to maintain the structures of a well-functioning church administration. It was only after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 that many Catholic priests commenced keeping authoritative registers in more rural areas. The registers were kept and stored by the parish priest who often lacked the resources to adequately look after the books. Consequently some reregisters have been lost or destroyed. Fortunately the entire surviving collection of Roman Catholic parish registers were deposited with the National Library of Ireland who began filming the registers in the 1950s and are now available to browse online.

From 1908, the Papal decree, Ne temere, stipulated amongst other things that a solemnised catholic marriage must be recorded on the original baptism entry, therefore a Catholic baptism register should show all subsequent marriages.

Also See
Surname Origins and Distribution

Where Found

Parish priest's office (Original registers)
The National Library of Ireland
(Microfilm copies of the registers of most Roman Catholic parishes in Ireland, including Ulster for the years up to 1880)
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) (Microfilm copies up to 1880)
Local Heritage Centres
LDS FamilySearch Centers (Microfiche or microfilm copies)
Irish Genealogical Research Society (Card indexes to 18th and 19th century Irish births, marriages and deaths taken from 18th and 19th century provincial Irish newspapers)

Period Covered

1820 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Name of child, date of baptism and birth, names of the father and mother and their home address. Mother's first and maiden name is normally recorded and the names of least two Godparents.
Date of marriage. Names, addresses, ages, occupations of bride and groom. Names and addresses of at least two witnesses. From 1850 both parents' names and their address are often recorded.
Name of deceased, home address, including townland and date of burial.

Further References

Parish Specific  
Burn, John Southerden. The History of Parish Registers in England: Also of the Registers of Scotland, Ireland, the East and West Indies: J.R. Smith, 1862 (Available to view online or download at Google Books or the Internet Archive. Also available to buy on CD at Archive CD Books) Buy Now on Amazon
Farrar, Henry. Irish Marriages: Being an Index to the Marriages in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1771 to 1812: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001 (1897) (Details all the marriage entries in Walker's Hibernian Magazine 1771-1812 plus appendix by Sir Arthur Vicars of the births, deaths and marriages recorded in the magazine Anthologia Hibernica 1793-94) Buy Now on Amazon
Grundy, Joan. A Dictionary of Medical & Related Terms for the Family Historian: Swansong Publications, 2006 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. A Guide to Irish Parish Registers: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009 (Limited preview at Google Books) Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. A Guide to Irish Churches and Graveyards: Genealogical Publishing Co, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Reid, Noel (ed). A Table of Church of Ireland Parochial Records and Copies: Irish Family History Society, 1994 Buy Now on Amazon
Ryan, James G. Irish Church Records: Their History, Availability and Use in Family and Local History Research: Flyleaf Press, 2001 (The book contains chapters by experts on the records of the eight major Irish churches including: Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, Quaker, Huguenot, Jewish and Baptist) Buy Now on Amazon
Smyrl, Steven. Dictionary of Dublin Dissent-Dublin's Protestant Dissenting Meeting Houses 1660-1920: A & A Farmar, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Family History Guides  

Adolph, Anthony. Collins Tracing Your Irish Family History: HarperCollins, 2007

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Begley, Donal. Handbook on Irish Genealogy: How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relatives: Heraldic Artists, 1984

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Connell, Gretta. Tracing Your Westmeath Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Corrigan, Mario &  Durney, James & Kiely, Karel. Tracing your Kildare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Davis, Bill. Irish Ancestry - A Beginner's Guide: FFHS, 2001

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Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scottish-Irish Ancestral Research: GPC, 1981 (1962)

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Franklin, Margaret. Tracing your Limerick Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Grenham, John. Irish Ancestors, A Pocket Guide to Your Family History: Gill & Macmillan, 2004

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Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: Gill & Macmillan, 2011

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Hamrock, John. Tracing your Roscommon Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon

Kinealy, Christine. Tracing Your Irish Roots: Appletree Press, 2009

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McCarthy, Tony. The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1991

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McCarthy, Tony & Cadogan, Tim. Tracing Your Cork Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Ancestors in Northern Ireland: A Guide to Ancestry Research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Stationery Office, 1997

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Maxwell, Ian. Researching Armagh Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Maxwell, Ian. Researching Down Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. How To Trace Your Irish Ancestors: How To Books, 2009

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Maxwell, Ian. Your Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2008

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2010

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Meehan, Helen & Duffy, Godfrey. Tracing Your Donegal Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Basic Guide to Irish Records for Family History: Clearfield Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Tracing Derry-Londonderry Roots: Clearfield Company, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Connor, Michael H. Tracing your Kerry Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 1994 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Dowd, Peadar. Tracing your Galway Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon

Ouimette, David. Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide:, 2005

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Paton, Chris. Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide For Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Prochaska, Alice, Irish History from 1700: A Guide to Sources in the Public Record Office: British Records Association, 1986

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Raymond, Stuart. Irish Family History on the Web: The Family History Partnership, 2007

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Roulston, William. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2005

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Ryan, James. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History: Flyleaf Press, 1997

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Ryan, James & Smith, Brian. Tracing Your Dublin Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Ryan, James. Tracing your Sligo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian. Tracing your Mayo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian & Kennedy, Gerry. Tracing Your Clare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Stewart, Alan. My Ancestor Was Irish: A Guide to Sources for Family Historians: Society of Genealogists, 2012

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Bradshaw's Railway Map Great Britain and Ireland 1852: Mapseeker Publishing, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Connolly, S.J. The Oxford Companion to Irish History: Oxford University Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon
Coogan, Tim, Pat. The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Dickson, R.J. Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1718-1775: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1976 Buy Now on Amazon
Grenham, John. The Little Book of Irish Clans and Tartans: Book Sales, 1995 Buy Now on Amazon
Robinson, Philip. Plantation of Ulster: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Paul & Turner, Keith. Railway Atlas of Ireland Then & Now: Ian Allan Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Websites (National Library of Ireland Information leaflet: Catholic Parish Registers in the National Library of Ireland. Also alphabetical lists of the parish registers by diocese along with the dates of the registers in each parish) (Roman Catholic records: County by county holdings of Catholic records) (PRONI Guide to Church Records: Identify what churches are in a parish, what records exist for each church, the covering dates for each series of records and their PRONI reference number) (Guides to searching Irish church records) (Free resources include Church and Catholic Parish Search. This option searches for the closest Catholic Chapel to a selected location based on Chapel locations as they were in the late 1830s and early 1840s’ Catholic Parishes and directories, 1848; Catholic Parishes and Civil Parish Links for over 1,000 parishes) (Ireland Reaching Out. What is a Parish? Irish Land Divisions and Geographical Boundaries Explained) (National Archives of Ireland Guide: Parish records and marriage licences) (Roman Catholic Records, Research and their Locations),-1836%3A-Parish-Index (Roman Catholic Parishes, 1836: Parish Index) (Roman Catholic baptism, marriage and burial records: How to find your family history using Irish Catholic records) (Research Wiki: Ireland Catholic Church Records) (Interactive map of Civil parishes for Irish counties with a summary of sources covering each civil parish) (Civil Parish Maps for Ulster) (The Churches of Britain and Ireland; The aim of the site is to have at least one photo of every existing church of all religions, denominations and sects in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, and where possible, photos or artwork of churches no longer in existence) (Dublin City Public Libraries & Archive: Dublin Graveyards Directory. The directory all graveyards in the Dublin area and gives information on the location, contact details, titles of published gravestone transcripts, links to on-line gravestone transcripts, location of surviving burial records and other information) (Irish Archives Resource: The site contains information about archival collections open for public research in Ireland from many organisations, societies, political organisations and businesses)
( Learning Center Online Genealogy Course: Getting Started in Irish Genealogy. Lecture designed to acquaint beginning genealogist with strategies and sources for getting started in Irish genealogy) (Online Tracing your Irish Ancestors Course designed and presented by the genealogist John Grenham. The 11 modules will give you the tools and techniques to comprehensively trace your Irish family history. The online tutorials will provide you with a wide-ranging guide to all the records, resources and research techniques you will need)
(Information on Northern Irish counties and available resources) (Family History & Research) (Irish Genealogy: Research in Ireland: Irish Records: What Is Available?) (Irish Genealogy: How To Start Your Family History) (Information on Irish counties and available resources) (Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy) (IreAtlas Townland database) (1851 General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, parishes and Baronies of Ireland. You can also search street listings from Dublin, Cork and Belfast) (Period Approximation Chart, adapted from "Basic Course in Genealogy," Vol.II, by Derek Harland. Use to calculate the approximate date of a birth, marriage or death) (Calculator Site: Birthday Calculator. Discover what day you were born on your star sign, your Chinese zodiac sign, your birthstone and other facts about your birthday) (Multi-country historical calendar for the years 1000 to 2100)

Online Databases (Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1670-1900. The datasets contain over 40 million fully indexed names from over 1,000 parishes across all 32 counties of both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The records are from National Library of Ireland’s collection of Irish Catholic Registers and are fully indexed with images to the original documents linked online) (National Library of Ireland: Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI: Browsable images from the NLI’s collection of Catholic parish register microfilms. The registers contain records of baptisms and marriages from the majority of Catholic parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland up to 1880) (Irish Family History Foundation: Online Genealogy Databases for Ireland including Church of Ireland and Catholic Baptismal/Birth Records, Marriage Records and Burial/Death Records)
(Roman Catholic Church records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials covering a number of parishes, churches and congregations. See website for the Current list of available parishes)
(Irish Catholic Parish Records 1742-1884: Catholic parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials containing indexed images of baptismal registers from Roman Catholic parishes in Ireland)
(Ireland, Select Catholic Birth and Baptism Registers, 1763-1912. This collection includes Catholic baptismal registers from 73 parishes in Ireland. Although the Church of Ireland was the established state church from 1536 to 1870, Ireland’s population remained overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. According to the 1861 census, almost 78 percent of the population was Catholic; by 1891, this had risen to 89 percent) (Irish Genealogical Research Society Marriage Finder Index. More than 25,000 marriages compiled by Roz McCutcheon extracted from Chancery bills, diaries, deeds, marriage settlements, memorial inscriptions, wills, family letters and newspaper cuttings. No marriages from 1864 onwards are shown as full civil registration is available from that date)
(Irish Genealogical Research Society: Index of Townlands, 1901: Searchable database of over 64,000 townlands in Ireland which are ancient land divisions measuring from just a few acres to several hundred and still in use today)
(Magherafelt District Council, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland: Genealogy Project: Transcribed inscriptions from parish churchyards, cemeteries and old burial grounds across the district including interactive graveyard maps to view photographs of the headstones) (Irish Records Index, 1500-1920; Farrar's Index to Irish Marriages 1771-1812 as found in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, first issued in 1771 and discontinued in 1812)
(Ireland, Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911: The database is an index containing details extracted from a variety of Irish church, civil and other records of births housed in various repositories throughout Ireland) (Ulster Historical Foundation: Records include Virtually all Roman Catholic registers of baptisms and marriages for Counties Antrim and Down prior to 1900 as well as funeral records where they survive. Catholic registers include: Sacred Heart, St Mary’s and St Vincent de Paul Churches in Belfast covering the years 1890 to 1930)
(Irish Genealogy: Roman Catholic baptism, marriage and burial records for County Cork and Dublin City) (Historical Record Collections: Transcripts of baptisms, marriages and deaths extracted from parish registers and non-parochial/nonconformist registers. The site incorporates the data formerly known as the International Genealogical Index and also data formerly sold on CD as the British Isles Vital Records Index. The former Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File can be found under the heading of 'Family Trees') (Northern Ireland births, marriages and deaths) (Church Records Project: Search the currently available online Church of Ireland and Catholic records) (Some transcribed records and links to resources including the 1864 Ireland Birth Index)
(Irish Catholic Church Directories, 1836-37. This directory lists all members of the clergy and parishes in Ireland for the years 1836 and 1837, as well as much of the Catholic hierarchy throughout the world) (The 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders: Lists of individuals of those who made claims for compensation for loss of property during the rising, and rebels who surrendered in Dublin City and Coolock Barony) (Some transcribed records) (Northern IrelandGenWeb Project: Includes the Births, Deaths & Marriages Exchange and other transcribed records) (Jean McCarthy's Genealogy Web Site. Includes birth, marriage and death transcriptions) (Christening, marriage, and cemetery records county by county) (The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Name Search: Surviving fragments of the 1740 and the 1766 religious census returns listing Roman Catholic or Protestant heads of households) (The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Name Search: 1775 dissenters petitions which contain lists of names of Dissenters, mainly Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, arranged either by parish, by congregation, by town and neighbourhood) (Sinn Féin 1916 Rebellion Handbook Irish Times Weekly Supplement 1917. The database includes 1,306 casualties and over 3,000 rebels arrested and interned)

CD Roms

Archive CD Books (Including Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland and other gazateers and guides; Farrar's Index to Irish Marriages 1771-1812)
(Including Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland and other gazetteers and guides)