Search Griffiths Valuation records for free. These records list each parcel of land throughout 32 counties of Ireland and were recorded in 1850s and 60s. These are very important as census records from 1800's no longer exist. Records list leasee or owner of land or building. There are over 1 million records, which also list townland,parish and county where land was located.There is no guarantee that your ancestor will appear on records even if they were living in Ireland at the time as there were frequent disagreements and evictions from farms. Also record just list principle leasee, not everyone living on farm or building.
However if your ancestor does appear it may lead to other sources such as parish church records.
Also possible to see distributions of surnames throughout various parishes etc which may offer clues when tracing your ancestors.
Beginners Guide to Irish Genealogy Research
Do you know which part of Ireland your ancestor came from?
If not and surname is common then firstly try to get more clues from your elderly relatives. If your ancestor or relative died, was married or had a child in Ireland after 1864 then check out the General Register Indexes.
All Births,Deaths and Marriages from 1845 for Protestants and from 1864 for all the population were officially registered by the state.The Registrar General's Office , 8/11 Lombard St, Dublin 2 holds alphabetical listings by Surname of all Births, Deaths and Marriages for each year from the years mentioned above.
The Index entries shows the District where Birth,Marriage or Death was registered. If you find a relevant record then the assistants there can get photocopy of actual certificate. However there is a daily search fee to search indexes and a charge per photocopy. Remember that Births,Deaths and Marriages were often registered in following year if they occured late in previous year.
Do you have some idea of area your ancestor lived?
Knowing the townland your ancestor lived in is of great value when researching records. Each county is divided into a number of baronies which are then divided into civil-parishes and further divided into townlands. Go to Townland Search. Select county to get list of it's townlands.
If you can first establish at least a parish and hopefully from that a townland, then your research will be made much easier.
Note that Catholic Parishes did not always coincide with the civil-parishes for an area. Church of Ireland Parishes more often do coincide with civil-parish boundaries.
With this information you can go to the new Genealogy room in the National Library where the assistants can advise you on relevant records in National Library and other repositories.
Why can't I just check census records?
Censuses were carried out at 10 year periods from 1821. However most censuses from the 1800's were destroyed during a battle for the Four Courts in Dublin during the Civil War in 1922.
The 1901 and 1911 census survived but are only useful if an ancestor lived in Ireland during or after 1901.
The census for both years can be seen in the National Archives, Bishop St., Dublin 8. You will need to know Townland (or if ancestor was in a town on night census was taken then the street). Armed with townland or street you will need to find out the associated D.E.D. (District Electoral Division) in the DED index for the appropriate county. With county, DED and townland/street you order census records for that area and hopefully find a record of your ancestor.
The Old Age pension was introduced in 1908. Often to prove a birth before official registration in 1864 a search was made of 1821-1851 census. Some of these records survive in the National Archives.
If my ancestors left before 1901 and almost no census record exist for 1800's what do I do?
As almost all census records for the 1800's were destroyed the only alternative is to use 'Census Substitutes'. Theses are usually land related records. The Griffith's Valuation of Tenements which was done from 1848-1864 covered the whole country.
Indexes of surnames from these records by county/parish/townland are in the National Library. Can also be searched here
If my ancestors lived on farm in Ireland after 1850's are there any other related records?
If you found record in Griffith's Valuation for your ancestor's farm then you can also see records in Valuation Office. They hold 'Cancellation Books' which were subsequent valuations which also show when farm changed ownership.
Your ancestor may also show up in these books if they weren't the tenants of farm during the Griffith's Valuation in 1850's.
If I cannot find record in Griffith's Valuation, or my ancestors left before the 1850's what do I do?
Tithe Applotment records were records of valuations carried out
from 1823-1838. Tithes or taxes were levied based on these valuations and paid to the 'Church of Ireland' (Anglican Church).
However these records are not as comprehensive as the Griffiths Valuation.
An index of surnames in Tithe Applotments records together with surnames from Griffiths Valuation are indexed in books by county in National Library.
An index by townland also exists in the National Library. This index
gives you the Microfilm related to townland Tithe records which you can then read townland records.
What about church records?
Most Catholic parish records were microfilmed up to 1880 and can be read at the National Library. An index of parishes and related film should be checked first. Be warned that the quality and dates of these records vary quite alot. Records were entered by hand and often in Latin. This means it can take days to look through records for 1 parish. If initially records look illegible do not despair. Normally only Christian names were translated into Latin. Scan records for townland and surname.
eg A Birth record could be in a form similar to
Bapt.Bartholomew, f.l. Michaeli Sheehan et Johanna Casey, Ardcanaght, sp. Demetrius Sheehan,Johannes Casey
Here Bartholomew (f.l. - fil legit = legitimate child) to Michael Sheehan (et = and) Johanna Casey, townland Ardcanaght. Sponsers Dermot Sheehan,John Casey.
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