Parish registers of all denominations are an excellent source of genealogical research and probably the best starting point as they include baptisms, marriages and sometimes deaths for all classes of the population. They also pre-date civil registration which began in Ireland in 1864.
Roman Catholic registers are kept in individual parishes and, in most cases, were not deposited in national repositories. This ensured their survival from the Public Record Office fire in 1922 and makes them one of the most comprehensive records available.
The main disadvantages pertaining to their use:
- they can be difficult to decipher
- names and addresses were not standardized
- names were entered on a chronological basis so it takes time to search for the members of a particular family
- it may not be possible to find a complete family in one parish as families move between parishes and counties.
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland, as the Established Church, had a more regular system of recording entries, using formatted books long before its Catholic counterpart, making their registers easier to research. Parish registers can be held locally by the rector whose permission must be sought to consult them, or they will be in the RCB (Representative Church Body) Library.
The IFHF centres have compiled computerized indexes from the original registers of all the major churches in Ireland. Please consult the information in SOURCES on the individual centres to find out which parishes are completed. As work in the centres is ongoing, further parishes will be computerized.