Finding Irish Ancestors: Research Aids

Although I principally conduct research in Ireland, I have found many of the following sites to be very helpful when conducting research away from Ireland's shores. Also, some of the sites included here offer information about accessing materials in Ireland. I have only included sites which I have used (with varying degrees of success).  I hope they will prove helpful to you in your search.

Visit the following sites in order to conduct online genealogy and family history research, or learn about Irish History, or discover what is available if you travel to Ireland for research. Some of the research sites allow a free search; some require a fee in order to view documents.  In square brackets I have noted those online sites which are fee based: [FEE].  I recommend that you start with the sites which allow free access before you go to the fee based sites.  Also, take advantage of any free trial offers made by fee based sites before you commit to anything long term.  

Some researchers have great success with fee based sites, others not so much.  All sites not denoted as fee based currently provide free access.  Just click on the blue URLs to access the sites.  Please read my disclosures page prior to visiting any of these sites. If you do not feel up to doing your own research, consider commissioning a certified genealogist in Ireland. See below: Commissioning Research in Ireland.

Sites included here cover research in either The Republic of Ireland or the State of Northern Ireland, or both.

As soon as I find anything useful, I add it to this list, so check back on a regular basis for updates.  


CLARE COUNTY LIBRARY: offering a treasure trove of resources and information for those seeking ancestors from County Clare:

DIPPAM: An online virtual archive: excellent site, regularly updated:

DIGITAL REPOSITORY OF IRELAND: The Digital Repository of Ireland is an excellent site for browsing and searching materials you may not find elsewhere. The DRI is a national digital repository for Ireland’s humanities, social sciences and cultural heritage data. The site features multiple collections from more than 20 Irish organizations, comprising such materials as art work, audio recordings, historical documents, film, letters and photographs.

DUBLIN CITY LIBRARY & ARCHIVE: the offerings here are not as substantial as that of the Clare County Library; however, there are some gems to be found in their Heritage Databases:


In their own words, "This web site contains information about archival collections open for public research in Ireland. Its purpose is to aid researchers in finding collections relevant to their studies".


In partnership with academic and research institutions, HathiTrust offers — in fully accessible form  — millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. This site is a goldmine for history and family history/genealogy researchers alike. In addition to the usual fare of digital books you can find on a number of sites, HathiTrust offers free access to such resources as city directories and magazines, as well as maps, sound recordings, and other documents and ephemera you may not find elsewhere online. Definitely worth a look.


Founded in 1788, and considered one of the premier cultural institutions in Belfast, the Linen Hall Library holds a renowned Irish and Local Studies Collection. It also holds an important genealogical collection including the Blackwood Pedigrees, a collection of over 1000 manuscript family trees. As well the library has an index to births, marriages and deaths published in the Belfast News Letter 1738-1864, and the Greeves Pedigrees collection of Ulster family trees. Unfortunately none of these is available online, but they can be viewed in person. Currently there are only some 'e-treasures', as they describe them, for viewing.



NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF IRELAND GENEALOGY PORTAL: for direct access to 1901 and 1911 census documents, Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1837, and Wills of Soldiers of the Great War (wills from 1914-1917)

NATIONAL ARCHIVES UK: [Fee for copies of some materials]




This collection features over 4700 documents, pamphlets, and books, digitised and released by Trinity. There are some gems in this collection, so it is definitely worth a look:



1., and [FEE]

2. Ancestry Ireland (Ulster Historical Foundation) (Northern Ireland): not affiliated with the aforementioned Ancestry sites: [FEE]

3. Irish Records:

4. UK Records:

5. FindMyPast-Ireland: [FEE]

6. From Ireland: Irish Genealogy and Family History:

This excellent site from Dr. Jane Lyon includes records from various counties, cemetery records, some photographs. Be sure to check it out since you never know what you might find.

7. Irish Ancestors at Irish Times:

This site provides a wealth of information about the records available for family history and genealogy research, rather than the records themselves. [FEE]

8. Irish Genealogy Projects Archives: search by county: a lot of helpful material here, especially an extensive headstone images library, including transcriptions, but some counties have more than others. Updated on a regular basis.:

9. Irish Genealogy: an official government site:

Here you will find Catholic (RC), Church of Ireland (COI) and some Presbyterian (PRESBY) parish registers for

10. Library Ireland: some useful directories here:

11. (Irish Family History Foundation): Good site for BMD records, as well as others. No images offered, only transcription. Access to records is by subscription [FEE]

They describe themselves as follows: " was created by the Ulster Historical Foundation. We are a non-profit family history research organisation with over 50 years experience tracing your Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors." There are over 2 million records available for searching here, including BDM, with a free search but a fee for full viewing. [FEE]

Also see:

Cyndi's List for the full gamut of resources:





For the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland you can order copies of civil registration records online via the website at This site does not offer a search option, so you must have in hand the details of the record you want. See this link for details about the information required, and this link for full details with respect to exactly which records can be applied for online.

For the 6 counties of Northern Ireland, you can search for and order copies of civil registration records online via the website of GRONI, the General Registration Office of Northern Ireland at

Indexes for Irish civil registration are available on at, and on at



For any of the websites which charge a FEE for viewing records the search is free.

Belfast City Cemeteries Online Database: [FEE]

Discover Ever After:

This relative new comer to cemetery websites, on which access is currently free, recognizes the importance of the history on gravestones, and is working to add records on a regular basis. The description on the site explains, "everafter has modernised the way the deaths of our loved ones are recorded.  We provide Parishes and Councils with a complete set of up-to-date graveyard records and an online Graveyard Management System to record future burials."  They clearly intend to cover all of Ireland, and have a listing which appears to include all townlands in all counties. I have not yet found anything here, but if they deliver as promised this will be one site to watch.

Glasnevin Trust: [FEE]

History from Headstones (Northern Ireland): [FEE] Ireland and Northern Ireland:

Irish Death Notices Index:

Irish Genealogy Projects Archives (search headstones by County):

'Over thy dead body': is my cemetery blog which principally includes stones found in cemeteries in Ireland, although I have included a few from North American cemeteries. Together with photos of headstones, and grave markers, I include any biographical and historical information I have been able to find about those interred. There is a search box on the site, so you can check to see if any stones connected to your family are on my site.

Search for cemetery records in Ireland at by entering a surname and clicking search:

Restrict search to



1901 and 1911 Census at National Archives of Ireland: An excellent site, freely searchable, and you can view original census documents: Site also includes surviving census fragments and substitutes for the 1821 to 1851 census records.


Commissioning research in IRELAND:

Although, there is an ever increasing amount of material online which is germane to Irish genealogy and family history, there remains a significant cache of Irish records which are not currently online and may never be so, at least not in the foreseeable future. In light of this fact, the role of the professional genealogist remains vitally important. In order to ensure your family tree is as complete and as accurate as possible, you may wish to contract the services of a professional genealogist.

In Ireland, the regulating body which oversees the profession of genealogy is Accredited Genealogists Ireland. Their mandate is to maintain high standards among their members and to protect the interests of genealogy clients. AGI members are drawn from every part of Ireland, represent a wide variety of interests and expertise, and are bound by a code of practice.

Currently, the AGI president is Steven C. ffeary-Smyrl, M.A.G.I., F.I.G.R.S., a specialist in legal and probate genealogy, and Non-Conformist religions. The AGI counts among their membership John Grenham, esteemed author of the indispensable Tracing Your Irish Ancestors and the genealogist responsible for Irish Ancestors on The Irish Times newspaper website, Nicola Morris of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' fame, both the U.K. and U.S. versions, and Brian Mitchell, author of the excellent A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, as well as a number of other respected titles.

Membership in Accredited Genealogists Ireland has also been extended to a number of other professional genealogists with excellent reputations. Be sure to consult their website for further information:

Also, the National Library of Ireland has a downloadable PDF list of Professional Genealogists on its website which you may wish to consult. The PDF includes contact information for each individual listed. Be sure to crosscheck the NLI list with that of the Accredited Genealogists Ireland to ensure you are hiring an accredited genealogist.


Registry of Deeds Indexing Project: The purpose of this project is to index all of the names that appear in the memorial books at the registry of deeds.

Located in Henrietta Street, Dublin City, County Dublin, Ireland, the Registry of Deeds is a repository of records of wills, land transactions and other deeds, and records such as marriage settlements, dating from 1709. The Registry is an excellent source of genealogical information because, not only are the records in and of themselves significant, they often bear information about family connections.

The Registry of Deeds was originally formed in order to ensure enforcement of the rules limiting land transactions by Roman Catholics. While most of the deeds registered prior to 1800 are related to the Protestant ascendency, prior to the removal of these rules in 1782, many Catholics, and representatives of Catholic families can be found in the memorials.

Many memorials name people of the trading and merchant classes who registered deeds as a method of securing tenure. Even Catholic occupiers of property are sometimes mentioned.

Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland is a project staffed by volunteers who have indexed over 185,000 entries.


Issues affecting the dissemination of information pertinent to those doing Irish family history and genealogy research falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltacht. The TD, or minister, responsible for this department sits in the Dáil Eireann (House of Representatives). If you want to stay in the know as far as government initiatives are concerned, or see what is currently under discussion and debate, visit the Houses of the Oireachtas website at and click on Dáil Éireann debates.

To view an especially important report about the future of Irish family history and genealogy in Ireland see TD Catherine Murphy's report at



Even if your ancestors migrated to the United States during An Górta Mor, the Great Famine of 1845-52, be sure to check Canadian as well as U.S. websites. Canada was still under the full control of the British Empire in this period, so unlike ports in the United States, Canada could not close her borders to famine ships, Some persons who eventually ended up in the U.S. entered through the Port of Quebec at Gross Île.

"In Quarantine: Life and Death on Gross Île" (through Library and Archives Canada [archived page]):

Orphans List of 1847: Grosse Île: a page on this blog (it has its own tab) which bears my transcription of a list of some 500 children who landed at Grosse Île Quebec Canada in the year known as Black '47. Many of the children included were orphans whose parents died either on the journey over or at Grosse Île, but some were not.: 

Immigrants at Grosse-Île: This database includes information on 33,026 immigrants whose names appear in surviving records of the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937. As you can see from the dates indicated, this includes those landed during the period of the Great Famine. 

6000 burials on Grosse-Île: This database on the Parks Canada website is a searchable list of 6000 names of those buried on Grosse-Île (There are options on the main page for further research). These names are engraved on glass panels which overlook the Irish cemetery on the western side of the island. They are grouped by year on the website.

Records for Passengers Who Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine (created between 1977 and 1989) documents the period from 1/12/1846 - 12/31/1851. For researching famine victims who landed in the United States view this database on the NARA (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) website:

**Be aware that on the NARA site the records of immigrants to the United States during the Famine period is not exclusively limited to the Irish born.  In the Irish Famine Passenger Records approximately 30 percent of the passengers list their native country as somewhere other than Ireland.

Passenger Lists for those who emigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine: 

On the Ships' Lists website there are many passenger lists which include those Irish who travelled during this period, and well as many other passenger lists covering emigration during other years. Many of these lists are very well detailed and include such information as town and county of origin as well as occupation.



Griffith's Valuation: [FEE] (this site has the correct valuation maps for the period in which the valuation was actually completed.) (ORIGINS.NET is no longer in operation; the site was bought by FindMyPast)



CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts, is Ireland's longest running Humanities Computing project.  The free digital Humanities resource for Irish history, literature and politics. It brings the wealth of Irish literary and historical culture to you on the Internet, for the use and benefit of everyone worldwide. It has a searchable online textbase consisting of 14.85 million words, in 1230 contemporary and historical documents from many areas, including literature and the other arts.  

CENTURY IRELAND: The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago. It is published online on a fortnightly basis, beginning in May 2013, and is the main online portal for the Irish decade of commemorations, 1912-23.

News reporting on life in Ireland 100 years ago is supported by a wealth of visual, archival and contextual material to facilitate an understanding of the complexities of Irish life in the year between 1912 and 1923. The various partners are working to make a range of rarely or never before seen material available, bringing to life the events which shaped Irish history a century ago.

Dublin Heritage: a great site for all things Dublin including an index of cemeteries, voters lists and other helpful online resources.

Guinness Brewery Genealogy Database:
Search the surviving personnel records of past employees dating from the 1880s to late 1990s, and early 2000s. They hold over 20,000 individual employee files, accounting for approximately 80% of all employee files from this period. These personnel files do not contain employee photographs.

Heritage Ireland: a good site for getting to know Ireland by geography:

Irish History Online:

Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) :

National Museum of Ireland:



Buildings of Ireland: via the website of The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). The work of the NIAH involves identifying and recording the architectural heritage of Ireland, from 1700 to the present day.

The DeCamillo Companion to British and Irish Country Houses:

Landed Estates Ireland: Landed Estates and Gentry houses in the West of Ireland:



First of all you will notice I have both the words 'emigration' and 'immigration' in the title for this section. Although some people use these words interchangeably, there is an actual difference in their meanings. 

EMIGRATION: a person emigrates FROM their country of origin.

If you are searching for information about ancestors leaving Ireland, then take a look at the emigration database connected to the site of the Dunbrody Famine Ship. For the port of New York, the database covers the years between 1846 and 1890. For Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Philadelphia the database covers only the famine years between 1846 and 1851. Access to the database is free; there is a small Fee for printouts of the information.

IMMIGRATION: a person immigrates TO a foreign country in which they wish to permanently live.

If you are searching for information about ancestors who immigrated to the United States, then take a look at the following immigration databases.

Information Wanted: : This website created by Boston College offers a database of advertisements placed in a 'Missing Friends' column, published by the Boston Pilot newspaper between October of 1831 and October of 1921. The ads were placed by friends and family members of Irish immigrants with whom they had lost touch.

Ellis Island: This website offers a database of immigrants who landed at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. Searching on the site is free, but viewing results requires registration. Also, offers are made throughout for the purchase of various documents. Still, it is definitely worth a look.




This stunning collection of maps assembled in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) which reveal exactly who owned the lands that were taken from Irish families and given to landlords during the Cromwellian Plantation of 1670. The collection has been digitized and layered onto Google maps in order to give a modern day perspective of exactly who owned which lands across Ireland prior to the invasions by Cromwell. The maps are fully searchable by county, barony and parish. There are some areas of the country for which there are no currently extant maps. For example, there is no map for the Barony of Murrisk in County Mayo because the map for that area was destroyed in 1711; however, there is other information on the site for that county. Overall this is a very valuable resource.



Irish Mariners: Irish Merchant Seamen 1918-1921:

Coast Guards of Yesteryear:

Tony Daly describes his site as follows: This site is dedicated to the Coastguards who lived and worked around the Irish coastline between the 18th and early 20th centuries. It includes a collection of CG station photos as well as facts and figures about the people , births, deaths, census information, etc.



CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

Military Heritage of Ireland Trust:


An excellent website, fully searchable by surname, and also rank, regimental number, and regiment. This site provides photographs of the graves of those who fell on fields of battle in Europe and elsewhere. For a small donation they will provide copies (digital and/or hard copy) upon request.  They work together with the CWGC.



Irish Newspaper Archives: [FEE]

British Newspaper Archives 1800-1900: [FEE] - Since Ireland was still part of the British Empire in the period covered, this is a good source for Irish news.

Google News Archive: [FEE] - This site offers access to old newspapers, with free searching and free access to some newspapers, while others require a subscription or pay-per-view.



You don't have to pay to view photographs from the National Library of Ireland Digital Photographic Archive. Just click on the link below to access more than 33,000 digital images including those from the Lawrence Collection, the Keogh Brothers and the Irish Independent newspaper.

National Library of Ireland Digital Photographic Archive

Clare County Images Online: a database of photographs held by the Clare County Library, including some 6,000 Bunratty graveyard images.



Place names Database of Ireland:


POST CARDS: a great site for finding postcard views of places in which your ancestors may have lived.



The 1641 Depositions, held in the archives of Trinity College Dublin are witness testimonies concerning the experiences of persons affected by the 1641 Irish Rebellion. The testimonies are principally given by Protestants, but also by some Catholics. Testimony is given by persons across the entire social strata and document the loss of goods and property, as well as crimes allegedly committed by the Irish insurgents, including assault, stripping, imprisonment and murder. Military activity is also covered. 

This body of material is a unique source of information for the causes and events surrounding the 1641 rebellion and for the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of seventeenth-century Ireland, England and Scotland. It is entirely free to search, but you must sign on for an account, and the advanced search option allows for a wide range of details including such things as age, occupation, nationality and religion.



Distribution of surnames in Ireland: Derived from Robert R. Matheson's Special Report on Surnames in Ireland, 1890.

Accessible through the Ulster Historical Foundation website, this search tool allows you to key in a surname, and will give a numerical report showing where the surname occurs most frequently based on province (Connaught, Leinster, Munster, Ulster).

Don't be fooled the simple look of this site; it is good search engine. Simply key in the surname of your ancestor and it will pull that name wherever it is found, with varying results. Some pages pulled are definitely better than others. You will get lists from many places including the NAI Census. 


1. From the Irish Manuscripts website:

View the original publications the Calendar of Ormond Deeds 1172-1605. The Calendar of Ormond Deeds is an excellent resource for genealogical research because it offers details of such documents as wills, letters patent, indenture papers, and tenant lists. If your ancestors were not gentry, you may still find them in the tenant lists or indenture papers. The Irish Manuscripts site is engaged in the ongoing digitization of their original manuscripts, so there are regular updates.

2. For the Province of Ulster:

Through the website of the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland you can access will calendars for the District Registries of Armagh, Belfast, and Londonderry. Included in these are areas in the Province of Ulster (including some which are now part of the Republic of Ireland) from the year 1858 to 1921:

The Armagh Registry covers testators living in Counties Armagh, Fermanagh, Louth, Monaghan and Tyrone (except for the Baronies of Strabane and Omagh in Co. Tyrone). 

The Belfast District Registry covers Counties Antrim and Down.

The Londonderry District Registry covers Counties Donegal and Londonderry, as well as the Baronies of Strabane and Omagh in Co Tyrone.

For best results use the 'ALL' option for district searches.


WORKHOUSES: UK and The Republic of Ireland

1. Peter Higginbotham's excellent website:

2. FindMyPast Ireland now offers the Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919. FindMyPast is a paid site, but offers 14 day free trial, so be sure to take advantage of that if you are not already a member. 

Whether or not your ancestors hailed from Dublin searching these registers may yield some finds for you, because the North and South Dublin Union workhouses were among the most busy in Ireland. Not only did they serve the citizens of Dublin, but they often took in the poor and indigent from all across the country. No matter where your family were from in Ireland, they might have found themselves in the workhouses of Dublin. 

This is especially applicable to the time period of An Górta Mor, the Great Famine of 1845-52, when large numbers of starving persons descended on the capital seeking relief. 
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