New: Irish Prison Records at

By Diane Haddad

Do you have an Irish ancestor who served time? You might have one who served time and you don’t know about it, given that’s new Irish Prison Registers 1790-1920 database contains 3.5 million entries at a time when Ireland’s population averaged 4.08 million.

The prison registers, which came the National Archives of Ireland, cover bridewells (places of detention), county prisons, sanatoriums for alcoholics and other institutions. Most records give the prisoner’s name, address, place of birth, occupation, religion, education, age, physical description, name and address of next of kin, crime, sentence, and incarceration start and ending dates.

Drunkenness accounted for more than 30 percent of crimes reported and more than 25 percent of incarcerations. Other common offenses in the registers are theft (16 percent), assault (12 percent), vagrancy (8 percent) and rioting (4 percent).

You can access the records with a subscription or with PayAsYouGo credits.

For help finding Irish ancestors in court and other records, check out Family Tree University’s Irish Research 101 and 102 courses, as well as our $4 Irish Heritage Research Guide from Family Tree Shop.