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Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy? – Civil Registration

Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy - Civil RegistrationWhere Do I Start With Irish Genealogy?- Civil Registration

Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy? I think we have all said this at one time or another, mainly, I suspect, because in the past it was said that Irish Genealogy was extremely hard if not impossible. I can distinctly remember being told by quite an eminent genealogist many years ago that I should ignore my Irish family line and concentrate on my English genealogy.  The good news is that now that we have the internet we can very easily research our Irish ancestry from the comfort of our homes and with great success. However it must be said that some aspects of Irish research can be a little hard to get a grasp of, so take extra care to understand what documents and what time frame the data-set you are looking at covers.

So the answer to “where do I start with Irish genealogy?” is you start in the same place as you start any genealogy – start with what you know and work backwards. I am written a series of posts taking you through the basic sources available online. This first post covers civil registration, that is the recording by the government of all births, marriages and deaths. This is different from parish registers which record baptisms, marriages and burials. Both baptisms and burials may occur some time after births and deaths so you need to research both sets of records.

For those researchers who aren’t familiar with the history of Ireland there are one or two things you need to know. Firstly that on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 the island of Ireland was divided into two, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. It was envisaged that both parts would remain part of the British Isles, however after the War of Independence Southern Ireland became a sovereign state which is now called Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. Wikipedia has two good explanations of this time in the history of Ireland both North and South. The Partition of Ireland and The War of Independence 1922. it is important in your research to have at least a basic knowledge of the 20th century history of Ireland.

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Civil Registration

Irish Civil Registration started in 1864, except for non-Catholic marriages which were registered from 1845. In 1922 the records were split with the northern records being held in Belfast and the southern records in Dublin. However I understand that copies of the pre 1922 documents are held in both Northern and Southern Ireland.


For genealogical purposes the indexes have been combined so contain the details of births, marriages and deaths from the whole of Ireland. The indexes have just the basic information about the event concerned. The indexes have the following information.

Births – Name, Birth year, Mother’s surname (from 1903 forward), Registration district, Volume and page number in the original record

Marriages – Name, Marriage year, Registration district, Volume and page number in the original publication

Deaths – Name, Year of death. Age at death, Registration district, Volume and page number in the original publication

Where Can I Find These Indexes Online?


This website is the official website set up by the Southern Ireland Government and will definitely help you with your query where do I start with Irish genealogy. The Republic Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy? - Civil Registrationof Ireland has seen the value in genealogy tourism and does all it can to encourage family historians to visit. They offer birth, marriage and death indexes for the whole of Ireland up to 1922 and for Southern Ireland after that. Plus the great news about this website is that historic images have been released and are online free. I so wish the UK would do this! The events and years covered are:-

Births: 1864 to 1916

Marriages: 1870 to 1941

Deaths: 1878 to 1966

Plus they are working on getting marriages dating back to 1845 and deaths dating back to 1864 online.

Their online indexes cover:-

  • Birth Indexes 1864 – 1916
  • Marriage Indexes 1845 – 1941
  • Death Indexes 1864 – 1966


Ancestry has the indexes for the following years:-Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy

  • Birth Indexes 1864 – 1958
  • Marriage Indexes 1845 – 1958
  • Death Indexes 1864 – 1958

Find My Past

FindMyPast has the indexes for the following years:-

  • Birth Indexes 1864 – 1958
  • Marriage Indexes 1845 – 1958
  • Death Indexes 1864 – 1958

Ordering Certificates

Southern Ireland (Republic of Ireland)

There are two options if you wish to order a certificate from the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland). Where Do I Start With Irish GenealogyThat is to say you wish to purchase a certificate of an event pre 1922 for the whole of Ireland or post 1922 of Southern Ireland.

Option 1 – a photocopied certificate which is called a research certificate costs 4 euro’s. A form need to be downloaded, filled in and sent off with the fee. Click here to purchase a Research Certificate.  If you don’t have a reference you can still order a research certificate and the General Registrar’s Office staff will search for the reference in the indexes. This search will cost an additional 2 euro’s.

Option 2 – A certified copy will cost you 20 euro’s plus postage and can be ordered online here – Certified Certificate. 

Northern Ireland

To order a certificate of a birth, marriage or death from Northern Ireland you will need to access the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) website. They have an online search, pay to view database of the indexes. These indexes cover Antrim, Armagh, LondonDerry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone which make up Northern Ireland. The indexes are the ones that date back to 1845. As things seem to change quite often on the GRONI website I suggest you following this link and check what the latest options are for buying certificates. GRONI Website. The cost is £15 per certificate.

Summary – Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy?

I hope this post has helped you answer the query “Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy?” It can be daunting starting genealogy when ancestors lived in a country where many people will tell you it is difficult, but don’t be put off researching your Irish ancestry by what you may have heard elsewhere. You just need to be extra careful so you know what you are looking at and the time period covered.I strongly suggest that you have a quick read of the two Wikipedia page I have mentioned above if you don’t have a clear understanding of 20th century Irish history. I can recommend John Gresham’s book “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” it is regarded as the definitive guide to Irish genealogy.

The obvious place to start your research is on the website. This website has much more to offer than simply civil registration and if you have Irish ancestry, as I do, I am sure you will get to know it well!

FindMyPast or Ancestry  have lots of Irish records that can’t be found on the website so I think the three compliment each other quite nicely. However for civil registration  wins hands down!

I will write about Where Do I Start With Irish Genealogy? – Census next time.

Remember that Ancestry offers a 14 day free try before you buy offer – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THIS OFFER

Remember that FindMyPast offers a 14 day free try before you buy offer – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THIS OFFER


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