Search Tips

First Names

The recording of first names (also known as Christian names) can vary from record to record, e.g. Elizabeth or Lizzie, Patrick or Pat. Please consult the First Names listing for guidance. Remember that a wild card search facility is automatically performed, returning all first names that begin with the characters entered. i.e. if you enter Pat, it will match Pat, Patrick, Patrica, but not Paddy

You can also use the % character for more complex matching, e.g. %LIZ% will match Liz, Liza and Elizabeth, 

On some records one or more of the parents' first names may not have been recorded in the original record, may have been illegible or been recorded incorrectly by the priest.

Surnames

The recording of surnames can vary from record to record, e.g. Brien or O'Brien. While we have a Standardized Surnames database in operation you should also consult the Surnames listing for guidance.

On some records one or more of the parents' first names may not have been recorded in the original record, may have been illegible or been recorded incorrectly by the priest. It was also less common to record the surname of the mother on baptismal records. It may be recorded on one child's baptism but not on a subsequent baptism.

Dates

You can search by year and increase or decrease the span of years according to your knowledge of possible dates of events. If a lot of records are returned for your search criteria (> 10) and no year was entered you will need to enter a year +/- 10 or 5 years to narrow your search results.

County

You can choose to search all counties or one county or any combination of counties.

Sources

Please check the current SOURCES list for the county's whose record you wish to search to see what is available online. You may be searching for records too early or too late for the available data. Computerization is still ongoing and the parish you wish to search may not be available

Why did I not find the record(s) I am looking for on this website?

There are no records in the database pre 1700 or after circa 1920.  Please check that the year, parish or district that you are interested in is available on the site in our detailed sources list.  Please note that some of the parish registers of baptismal and marriage records have gaps (missing years) in their records. Some civil births, deaths and marriages were not registered, especially in the earlier years of state registration which began in 1864 in Ireland. Church of Ireland (Anglican) marriages only were registered civilly from 1845. We cannot guarantee success in any search. If you are unable to find the records that you are looking for please bear in mind the following:

  • Have you checked all the alternative or variant spellings of surnames and first names? As the parish registers were usually completed by the officiating minister, priest or local registrar and not by a family member, it is not uncommon to find variations in the spellings used. Parish registers can be difficult to decipher; names and addresses were not standardized, and it may not be possible to find a complete family in one parish as families did move between neighbouring parishes and bordering counties.
  • It may be that our participating county genealogy centres have not computerized the relevant set of church/civil records which contain your ancestors' records, or that your ancestor was from a county whose records are not yet online. This is an ongoing project and your support will enable us to add further records on a regular basis. The revenue generated by this website will be used in part to support the completion of the computerization of the outstanding church and civil records.
  • Some church registers have not survived. Many Church of Ireland (Anglican) records were irretrievably lost during 1922. The earliest Roman Catholic Church records for Ireland commence in 1792 but most RC parish records commence in the 1820s. Please check the start date for the parish records that apply to your research. You will note that all parishes have different start dates. It is also important to note that where a parish has a start date of 1796, for example, it is still a possibility that gaps may occur in the registers or that in the early years of recording in a parish many baptisms or marriages were not included. The Roman Catholic parish had no administrative status and the commencement date of these records varies from parish to parish. The records were not kept for historical purposes and so the information contained in the registers is not consistent from parish to parish or within a parish, e.g. some parish registers do not record a townland or street address, mother's maiden name or parents' names of the bride and groom, while others might include this information.
  • Although compulsory civil registration was introduced in Ireland in 1845 (for non Catholic marriages) and in 1864 for Catholic marriages and all births and deaths, a significant number of births and marriages went unregistered until the latter part of the nineteenth century and beyond.
  • The parish system of holding Church records might mean some records could be held in neighbouring counties. Please check our interactive map to see what other counties' records are available.
  • If you still cannot find what you are looking for please note that not all records are online yet but may be held in the local genealogy centre and can be searched by the centre's staff on request. Please contact the relevant centre directly for more information. Please note that fees apply for commissioned research

Which record is that of my ancestor?

A search of the dataset may uncover many possibilities, e.g. a search for John Hughes in 1870 has returned 5 possible matches. You can either search the details of each record to obtain the correct record or you can try narrowing the search results by entering more information in the search fields.

For example, when searching for a baptismal or birth record enter the father's name if known to reduce the number of results returned. However, that there is no guarantee that the father's name is recorded exactly as you have entered it in the search fields or it may not be recorded at all in the original record.

On the All Ireland site you can search across all available (or any combination of) counties. If you know the county you can click on the search icon to go that centre's site and search its data only.  On the centre’s own site you can narrow your search further by selecting the parish. The list of parishes also shows the denomination code after the parish name (What are these?)

In the census search you can alternatively select the DED (District Electoral Division).

Changing the Surname Match method will also affect the number of matching records returned. (See more on Search Fields)

Alternatively, you can contact any one of the county genealogy centre members of the Irish Family History Foundation and it may be able to assist you. Fees apply for commissioned research and you will need to contact the individual county centre directly to discuss your requirements.

Why is the date recorded as 11/11/1111 or 01/01/1000 or 01/01/2000 in the record I have purchased?

Where a baptism, marriage or death was recorded in a parish register without a specific year an approximate year was entered where possible, e.g. if it was known from other records on the register page or register book that the entry was made between 1884 and 1886 then 1885 was recorded as an approximate.  The same applied if the month or the day was illegible.  Where no year could be estimated 1800 was entered.

Where baptism, marriage or death was recorded in a parish register and only the year of the event was legible and no day or month could be established, the date was recorded as 01/01/1884.

If a baptism, marriage or death was recorded in a parish register and the day and month could be established, e.g. 1st June, but the year was not known the date was recorded as 01/06/1111.

If a baptism or marriage had no date recorded and it was not possible to estimate a date 01/01/1000 or 11/ 11/ 1111 or 01/01/2000 was entered in the date field (the exact approximate date differs depending on the particular county genealogy centre’s own convention).

The records were entered in the original registers by the priest; records can be inserted into the margins of register books or written over other records without any dates.