Ir­ish parish reg­is­ters on­line for first time

Thou­sands of free Catholic parish records have been up­loaded to the web fol­low­ing the Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land’s most am­bi­tious digi­ti­sa­tion pro­ject to date

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ON THE RECORD -

More than a cen­tury’s worth of Ir­ish records have been made avail­able on the in­ter­net for the first time.

The Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land ( NLI) in Dublin has up­loaded 373,000 dig­i­tal im­ages of Catholic parish reg­is­ters to reg­is­ters.nli.ie, where they can be ac­cessed com­pletely free of charge.

Mainly cov­er­ing bap­tisms and mar­riages, the records – scanned from the NLI’s mi­cro­film copies – re­veal de­tails of peo­ple across 1,086 parishes be­tween the 1740s and 1880s.

Al­though the ma­te­rial has not yet been tran­scribed, users can trace their fore­bears by find­ing the rel­e­vant county and parish and then brows­ing through the scans page by page. This can be achieved by en­ter­ing a place name into the search box at the top of the home­page, or by us­ing the in­ter­ac­tive map lo­cated di­rectly below, en­abling re­searchers to zoom in on a spe­cific geo­graphic lo­ca­tion.

Due to the de­struc­tion of cru­cial records dur­ing the Ir­ish Civil War, the reg­is­ters are of­ten con­sid­ered the most im­por­tant source for trac­ing an­ces­tors in the coun­try be­fore the 1901 Census.

How­ever, it was pre­vi­ously only pos­si­ble to ac­cess the ma­te­rial by vis­it­ing the NLI and view­ing the mi­cro­film in per­son, or by track­ing down the orig­i­nal hard-copy reg­is­ters. Al­though in­dexes to the records have been cre­ated by fam­ily his­tory or­gan­i­sa­tions, they can some­times con­tain er­rors and omis­sions.

Speak­ing be­fore the launch, ge­neal­o­gist Ni­cola Mor­ris said that the avail­abil­ity of the records on­line would be of ‘sig­nif­i­cant’ help to fam­ily his­to­ri­ans try­ing to break down brick walls.

“Be­ing able to see the orig­i­nals is very im­por­tant be­cause it al­lows re­searchers to ver­ify the in­for­ma­tion,” she told Who Do You Think You Are? Mag­a­zine. “While the ma­jor­ity of th­ese records have been in­dexed and made avail­able on­line in a data­base for­mat by web­sites such as th­ese are not ac­com­pa­nied by an im­age of the record. This means that re­searchers can­not ver­ify the en­tries and con­firm that the in­for­ma­tion is cor­rect. “It is also im­por­tant to be able to see some of the nu­ances... the bold and un­der­lined term ‘ il­le­git­i­mate’ for a child born out of wed­lock speaks vol­umes about the at­ti­tude of the parish priest who cre­ated the record.”

At the of­fi­cial launch of the re­lease at the NLI in July, Taoiseach Enda Kenny sug­gested that the re­source could help boost tourism.

“[ The reg­is­ters] will be of great value to ex­perts in the ar­eas of his­tory and ge­neal­ogy, but also of in­ter­est to peo­ple here in Ire­land and the Ir­ish di­as­pora across the world,” he said. “No doubt the reg­is­ters will con­trib­ute to the num­ber of ge­nealog­i­cal tourists in Ire­land, as peo­ple ac­cess th­ese records on­line and de­cide to visit their an­ces­tral home place.”

The reg­is­ters will be of in­ter­est to the Ir­ish di­as­pora across the world

The dig­i­tal parish reg­is­ter im­ages have been cre­ated from mi­cro­film records held at the Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land in Dublin

AlthoughAl h h not search­able,h bl users can b browse theh webb col­lec­tion by county, parish and time pe­riod

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