Irish Catholic Parish Registers, 1740s-1880s, Are Now Free Online!

By Diane Haddad

You guys. The digitized Irish parish registers we’ve been waiting for are now online—free!

The National Library of Ireland announced earlier this year that it planned to make digital images of its Catholic parish registers of births and marriages freely available online. The 390,000 images from more than 1,000 Catholic parishes and spanning the 1740s through the 1880s are now online at

These records are the most important source of family history before the 1901 Irish census.

But wait: The parish records aren’t indexed. Rather, you must browse to find the record you need. You start by entering a parish name, or clicking a county and diocese on a map of Ireland:

That brings you to a page like this one, where you click a reel of microfilm covering the date range you need:

Then you use a filter to select the event (baptism or marriage), year and month you need:

From there, scroll through the pages until you find the names of your family.

As Irish genealogy expert Claire Santry writes in our July/August 2015 Family Tree Magazine Irish genealogy websites guide, you still need to know where in Ireland the birth, or marriage occurred in order to find your ancestor’s church baptism or marriage record.

But Santry also points out that one or more genealogy organizations, such as, Findmypast or FamilySearch, likely will start projects to index the records and make them searchable.

That should help many of you finally find your ancestors’ place of origin in Ireland. I still have some work to do in US records: Because my Irish immigrant third-great-grandparents have common last names and I don’t know much about their immediate families (only that Third-great-grandma Elizabeth Butler had parents David and Mary, and probably a brother, James), I’d have a hard time identifying the right people in Irish records.

This is exciting news for folks tracing Irish roots. And it happens that we have an Irish Genealogy Problem Solving webinar with Donna Moughty coming up Thursday, July 30. Consider registering for help using parish and other essential Irish records.