Irish Research Resources

As in the U.S., Irish records are kept at the local level by both civil and church authorities.  You must exhaustively search all U.S. and family sources that you can in an effort to identify where in Ireland your ancestor came from.  The piece of information that you are seeking is the townland where your ancestors lived.  The next best information is their parish, either civil or ecclesiastic.  Once you have identified this information you can search Irish records (see research sources listed elsewhere in this section), including:

Church records

Records kept by ecclesiastic parish/diocese (Roman Catholic records generally begin in the 1800s)

Civil records

These records were mandated beginning in 1864 (marriage, birth, death)

Census records

most Irish census data was destroyed on government order or by fires; 1901 and 1911 are the earliest surviving nation-wide Irish censuses and are available on-line at the National Archives of Ireland, county-based family history research centers in Ireland and on  There was no census taken in 1921 because of the War for Independence.  The First census for the Irish Free State was taken in 1926 and is scheduled to be released in 2027.

Census Substitutes

Because census information, one of the most valuable tools we have in genealogy research, is so limited in Ireland, we have to use other sources in our search, often referred to as Census Substitutes, including:

Tithe Applotment Books (1823 – 1838)

  • Provides name for heads of household only.
  • Income tax on those who held land; usually 1/10th of annual income
  • Funds used for the upkeep of the Church of Ireland
  • Organized by civil parish and townland; not all land/crops taxed: varied by parish so records are not comprehensive
  • Contain townland name, landholder’s name, area of land and tithes paid; some list landlord’s name
  • A list of those who refused to pay also prepared

Griffiths Valuation (1848 – 1864)

  • Survey of every civil parish in Ireland
  • For tax purposes, detailed ratable heads of household and occupier by townland
  • Maps used county Ordnance Survey maps (prepared 1829 and 1842, scale 6” = 1 mile); every lot in Griffiths is marked on accompanying maps

Householder’s Index

  • Index of surnames in Griffiths Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books
  • Arranged by county
  • Two sets of surname lists for each county
  1. First set covers whole county and lists barony(s) where surname is found
  2. Second set arranged by civil parishes within each barony

Flaxgrower’s List 1796

  • Aka the Spinning Wheel List
  • Irish Linen Board list of nearly 60,000 individuals who received spinning wheels and looms as incentive for planting flax
  • Listed by county
  • Ulster received 65% of wheels; particularly strong in County Tyrone
  • No records exist for Dublin or Wexford
  • Includes full name, parish and county

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

  • Latter Day Saints (LDS) Family History Library database of Irish civil registration birth and marriage entries
  • Available on-line
  • Info includes date and parents’ names (births) or the name of spouse (marriages)
  • Shows registrar’s district, county, page number but NOT townland

Old Age Pension Act 1909

  • Needed to establish persons over age 70
  • Searched 1841 and 1851 census to verify applicant’s age
  • Only about 23,000 records survive
  • Include applicant’s name, age, address at time of claim
  • Townland, parish, barony and county
  • Age in 1841 and 1851 census
  • Occasionally includes siblings and date and place of baptism

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