For the purpose of genealogical research in Ireland the two complete census returns are those of 1901 and 1911. Some counties hold partial census returns for other years. Please check the sources list for each county to see what is available.
From 1821 a census was carried out every ten years. Unfortunately, a large amount of this material was destroyed in 1922, some pulped for paper during World War I and some destroyed by government order.
The returns give detailed information relating to all persons, including householders and their dependants, residents of army and R.I.C. barracks, convents, hospitals, and other institutions, similar to present day censuses. The barony, civil parish and townland were the territorial divisions used.
Explanation of our Census Material
Each census record viewed will cost €5.00. This purchases the details that we have extracted from each household census return on each individual. Please read our explanatory notes on the data and what is contained in our index.
Click here to see two samples of what you will obtain when you purchase a census record. We do not have a digitized image of the census returns:
See the samples page for an example of the census records.
Census Data for Ireland
For the purpose of genealogical research in Ireland only the individual household census returns of the 1901 and 1911 are available for the whole country. A census was undertaken in Ireland from 1821 onwards from which statistical data and reports were complied. The census returns themselves for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were, by and large, lost in the fire at the Public Record Office in the Four Courts in 1922. However, returns do survive for some counties. The census returns for 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 were destroyed by the State.
Microfilmed copies of the 1901 and 1911 are held by most County Libraries in Ireland and in the national repository of the National Archives, Dublin. Returns from 1901 pertaining to the North of Ireland are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
A computerized index of the 1901 and 1911 returns has been compiled by many of our member centres. Please check each centre's site to see what is available for a specific county; some counties have completed an index of 1901 only while others have fragmentary census data from earlier returns.
We do not have digitised images of the original household returns. Our index was compiled many years ago as a component part of our local county genealogy centre databases. The index compiled was by household and includes the householder and all the occupants of the house on the day the census was taken. If a member of the family was not present on the day of the census they will not be included in the household. However, they may be located in another household where they were working as a servant for example, or visiting relatives.
The index also includes the age, religion, occupation and place of birth of each individual, and their relationship to the head of the household.
The record will also include the territorial divisions used, including townland or street, town, the civil parish and the District Electoral Division (DED).
You can search our census index using SURNAME, FIRST NAME, AGE, YEAR, PARISH and DED. As the Parish and DED do not always match up you should search using either one, not both.
Members of the R.I.C. and inmates in workhouses and asylums were recorded by initials only. However, you will be able to search for the known members of the R.I.C. members' family if they were married.
Please note that it is common for discrepancies in age to be thrown up by the census returns; for example, you may find that a person's age can be four, five or more years out of line with baptismal, birth or marriage records that you have already located, or between one census return and another. Cross checking with the census data, using known family names, occupations and place of residence will help you to establish whether a census record may be relevant.