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Dig deeper into Irish roots - Three centuries of Irish records now online

Historic Irish records, detailing 40 million births, marriages and deaths spanning three centuries, online today –

  • Over 400,000 historic Irish Catholic Parish records, 1742-1884, online for the first time today
  • Irish BMD and Civil Registration indexes now extended by over 40 million records
  • Famous names uncovered in the records include CS Lewis, W.B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett

Today,, the UK’s favourite family history website1, launched online for the first time the Irish Catholic Parish Records, 1742-1884 and has extended the Irish Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes on the site by a further 40 million records.

Together they contain a wealth of information that will help millions of people worldwide with Irish ancestry discover more about their Gaelic roots, including an estimated 9.5 million Britons2. From today, those with Irish heritage will be able to trace the birth, marriage or death of an ancestor living in Ireland as far back as the 17th century.

The collections comprise 433,560 Catholic parish records dating from the mid 18th century and more than 40 million ‘BMD’ records, consisting of the Civil Registration BMD, 1845-1958 – the government system introduced in 1864 to record the ‘vital’ events in citizens’ lives, i.e. Births, Marriages and Deaths – and Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911.

Before today, tracing an Irish ancestor living before Civil Registration (1864) has been an incredibly difficult task as few records of this period have survived. The publication of the Catholic parish registers will enable millions of people to trace ancestors living as early as the 18th century, with some records dating back as far as 1742. 

The Catholic Church has historically represented about 80 per cent of the Irish population. This means its records cover the vast majority of people living in the country at the time.

The records contain key information about individuals in the following birth (baptism), marriage and death (burial) records:

  • Catholic Parish Baptisms, 1742-1881 – featuring 275,298 records, containing the names of the person baptised, their parents and godparents, as well as the date. Residence of the family also features on some records
  • Catholic Parish Marriages and Banns, 1742-1884 comprising 128,618 records from Roman Catholic parishes in Ireland, detailing the date and the names of the bride, groom and witnesses
  • Catholic Parish Deaths, 1756-1881 containing 29,644 rare burial records typically detailing the name of the deceased and the burial date, however some records also contain the age and place of internment.  


While these parish records are vital for tracing ancestors pre-Civil Registration, the Irish Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes available on the site are the primary resource for tracing the lives of more recent ancestors.

This Irish BMD collectionhas been extended by 40 million records to a total of over 45 million, revealing key information about individuals from the 1840s to the mid-20th century (1958).

A number of famous names can be uncovered within the newly published records, including:

  • C.S. Lewis Lewis (1898-1963) was a British novelist and academic most famous for writing The Chronicles of Narnia. His birth place is listed as Belfast
  • W. B. Yeats Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet, playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. His birth place is listed as South Dublin
  • Samuel Beckett Beckett (1906-1989) was an Irish novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet whowas awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature. His birth place is listed as Rathdown.


The new databases complement the existing historic Irish records online at, including Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland, 1848-1864, which features more than 2.5 million names and addresses and is especially useful as a substitute for a 19th century census of Ireland, most of which were destroyed during the Civil War. Global Content Director Dan Jones comments: “These new collections will not only be of huge relevance to anyone living in Ireland, but also the millions of people worldwide with Gaelic heritage who from today will be able to delve as far back as the 1740s.

“The addition of these 40 million records to our Irish collection makes it the foremost set of online Irish family history databases available, and easier than ever for people to research their Irish ancestors.” now has more than 45 million Irish records to help everyone discover more about their family’s link to the Emerald Isle.



1. Source: .comScore, 2010, based on genealogy related websites selected from the Family and Parenting sub-category under the Community category.

2. The research was conducted by ICM research in February 2011. Sample was 2,000 UK adults weighted to be representative. 20 per cent of those surveyed report they have Irish ancestry. UK adult population is 47,700,000 (ONS). Therefore 20% of 47.7 million = 9,540,000 or 9.5 million.

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