Tuesday, April 29, 2014

National Archives of Ireland, Findmypast and FamilySearch partnership to bring decades of lost Irish history online


  • Irish census records made available online for the first time - and free of charge
  • Records provide valuable insights into a ‘lost era’ (1821-1851) of Irish history
  • Launched today at the National Archives of Ireland by Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Dublin, Ireland – The National Archives of Ireland and leading Irish family history website findmypast today announced the release of an extensive series of records that will prove an invaluable resource for anyone tracing Irish ancestry. The records, which include over 600,000 names from pre-1901 Irish census records, are now available to access for free on findmypast and the National Archives website (genealogy.nationalarchives.ie). The launch of the Irish Census records forms part of findmypast’s 100in100 promise to launch 100 record sets in 100 days.

This is the first free-to-access launch resulting from an innovative partnership between findmypast, the National Archives of Ireland, and FamilySearch.org. Millions more essential family history records will be released in the coming months under the terms of the partnership, which represents a fruitful collaboration between a national cultural institution and private sector genealogy suppliers. The partnership allows people in Ireland and abroad to have free access to records relating to their Irish roots, which were not previously available online.

Irish family histories are notoriously difficult to trace, owing to the destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922. On the 30th June 1922 two huge explosions rocked the Record Office, causing a fire that destroyed millions of records - and with them hundreds of years of Irish history. These included a substantial number of Irish census records from the 19th century.

The surviving records open an online archive of Irish history to everyone interested in tracing an Irish heritage. The records cover three decades, 1821-1851, and include the surviving Irish census records from 1821-1851, and census search forms from 1841 & 1851.

Ireland census 1821-1851

Every ten years a census of the Irish population was taken between 1821 and 1911 and, luckily for Irish family historians, the manuscript returns for each household survived the 1922 fire for all 32 counties for 1901 and 1911. The new records add to the existing census and include information pre-dating 1901, with data sets covering some parts of the country now available from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851. The 1821 census is a particular highlight for family historians, as it records all members of the families documented.

The 1841 & 1851 census records family members living elsewhere, and also provides information on family members who died in the intervening period, such as Jeremiah Crowley’s family. Jeremiah, a 27 year old farmer from Cork was living with his wife and three year old child in 1841. Jeremiah’s parents both died after the 1831 census, and tragedy had recently touched the young family with the death of their 1 year old baby.

For those who have family from Derry such as Declan Donnelly, aka “Dec” from Ant & Dec the 1831 census could yield treasures for their family tree. Dec’s great-great-grandfather James Donnelly appears in Strawmore in the 1831 Census.

Ireland census search forms 1841 & 1851

These records are comprised of search forms used to corroborate the validity of pension claims made in 1908 and are extracted from the 1841 & 1851 census, which were subsequently destroyed in the fire. They represent a very useful link to pre-famine Ireland, and also list the applicant’s details and all of the information available from the census records - including other family members present on census night.

“Having such a priceless set of records available online to access for free is a huge benefit for everyone wanting to find their Irish roots, especially after the tragic loss of records in 1922”, commented Cliona Weldon, General Manager of findmypast.ie. “We’re proud to be able to assist in building Ireland’s family tree, and with all records available for free there’s no reason to not get started with tracing your Irish roots.”

“The National Archives is delighted to be involved in this partnership, which allows us to make many of our important genealogical records available free online at a time of scarce government resources. We look forward to rolling out many more records in the coming years”, said Catriona Crowe, Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland.

To learn more about the records and to access them free of charge visit The National Archives of Ireland or findmypast. The records will be available shortly on FamilySearch.org.