October 22nd, 2012

The New National Archives of Ireland Website

One of the most important free genealogy resources – the Irish National Archives – has recently updated and improved their website. The improvements have made the site a genealogists dream. I was really excited to visit it and noticed that it is especially designed to make genealogy research faster, easier, and more comprehensive. The new layout is exceptionally clear and concise, navigation is painless, and there are especially written guides to help researchers with their expanded records collections and genealogy research in general. If you have Irish ancestors, your research can be now taken to another level.

Some of the new features are the document of the Month, and an entire section on Women’s History and Transportation resources. The women’s history section consists of two major databases – the Directory of Sources for Women’s History inIreland, and Women in Twentieth centuryIreland. They are accompanied by the Ireland-Australia database, all of which are searchable online. In addition they have provided a link to the Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers website which contains records for the years 1818-1822. The records contain a variety of information on people and places inIrelandfor the years listed with plans to extend the collection up until 1852.

Irish Archives Online Catalogue 

The real heart of the new website is their updated online catalogue. An online catalogue is the nucleus of any archival website, as even if entries are limited to scraps of information such as descriptions and titles of records, users can search more widely and accurately. The search criteria for the catalogue have been expanded so that full text searches can be executed, and adjusted to just about any theme or category.

Most of the records are of the twentieth century, and though the website stipulates that many may be unsuitable for genealogy research, they have underestimated in my opinion the tenacity of genealogists! We don’t discard any type of records, and as an experiment I did a search of my surname. Lo and behold, I found several will papers and a dispute with the early Irish Department of Finance with one of my ancestors over land annuities. My advice would be to ignore the warning and continue to search everything as a good ancestor detective does!

Record Holdings of the Irish Archives 

The Irish National Archives actually hold a wealth of records that may prove valuable to your ancestors search. If you are looking to find Irish ancestors, the archives are a great place to start. The departmental records they manage are a supreme source on their own.

They include; Agricultural records, Records of the Attorney General’s Office, Department of education records, Finance records, Social welfare records, Judicial records and more. The other governmental records amount to archives of early governmental agencies that existed in the nineteenth centuries and twentieth, but some go back as far as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There are also court and probate records maintained by the archives, some dating back to the fourteenth century.

Besides government records you will also find:

  • ChurchofIrelandrecords
  • Trade Union records
  • Business records
  • School records
  • Hospital records
  • Estate Records

Irish Census Records

Some of the most popular records held by the Irish National Archives and used by genealogists are the Census records from 1901 and 1911. These records are a valuable part of the Irish heritage, and are currently being digitized in conjunction with Library and Archives Canada.

The1901 and 1911 returns are organized by townland in rural areas or by street in cities. Every member of a household is listed according to their name, sex, sex, religion, marital status, occupation, and their relationship to the head of the household at the time. Also recorded are whether or not an individual could read and/or write, and if they spoke the Irish language. The 1911 census contains the same information with the important addition that married women needed to state how long they had been married, how many of their children were born alive, and how many were still living at the time of the census.

In addition to households, asylums, prisons, military barracks, hospitals, colleges, workhouses, and trade schools were all enumerated, so the chances of finding your Irish ancestor are accordingly increased. As a bonus, descriptions of houses are given in both census returns. The descriptions include the overall condition of the dwelling, the number of rooms it had, how many windows, and even the type of roof they had, all making for additional interesting genealogical data. These census reports are an excellent source for those seeking their Irish family, and serve as a principal source for understanding the Irish economic and social structure in the early twentieth century.

The Irish National Archives obviously appreciate the importance and the popularity of genealogy today. The valuable records they are making available online show their dedication to the promotion and preservation of Irish heritage and history. If you find information on your Irish ancestors in any of their valuable genealogical sources, make sure you record it in one of our Free Downloadable Genealogy Forms. Doing so will ensure your family history is preserved in an accurate and organized way that will benefit your relatives and other genealogists for years to come.