How to Find Free Irish Vital Records

By | 2018-02-17T23:48:15+00:00 February 3rd, 2018|Categories: Beginners, Genealogy, Ireland, Resources, Top Tips|Tags: |0 Comments

If you have Irish ancestors, you’ve probably noticed that it is not that easy finding them. At least it’s not as easy as finding Scottish, English or Welsh ancestors. The main reason for this is that many records no longer exist in Ireland, especially pre 1901 census records. However, there are others available to the researcher, including historic free Irish vital records (birth, marriage and death civil registration records). The great thing about these records is that you can download copies of original documents at no cost. This is unlike the General Register Office for England and Wales and Scotland’s People where you have to pay for your copies.

Civil registration began in Ireland in 1845 with non Catholic marriages and for all births, marriages and deaths from 1864. Note that before 1922 Ireland meant the whole of the island. After partition in 1922, the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermamagh, Londonderry and Tyrone became Northern Ireland and remained part of the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland became the Republic.

The Irishgenealogy.ie  website is owned by the Irish Ministry of Culture and is where you can access the historic records of births, marriages and deaths of the General Register Office. Records available online cover the following years:


Births: 1864 – 1916

Marriages: 1870 – 1941

Deaths: 1878 – 1966

Note: The online records were supposed to have gone back to 1845 for non-Catholic marriages and back to 1864 for deaths by the end of 2017. However, when I checked recently this doesn’t seem to have been completed yet. So keep checking, it should be finished soon.

The information on the records is not as comprehensive as, say, Scottish records but you do get the following:


Pre-1900 – Superintendent Registrar’s District and area, name of child and year of birth. From 1900 the child’s date of birth and mother’s maiden name was also included.


The post 1870 marriages have the Registrar’s District and place of marriage as well as the date of marriage, names of both parties, age is frustratingly usually recorded as “full” on the copies I’ve seen, marital condition, occupation, residence (only town is usually recorded) and names and occupations of fathers.


Only the registration district, name, age at death and year of death are recorded on these records.

Search for Irish civil records on IrishGenealogy.ie here.

Note that although this is a Republic of Ireland website, records for the whole of the island until 1922 are available. For Northern Irish records after 1922, you need to use the GRONI website (General Register Office of Northern Ireland) which unfortunately is a pay per view site like Scotland’s People.

Hope you find your ancestors.

For further reading on Irish genealogy, you may be interested in the following books:

More genealogy books can be found in the Resources section of this website.

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About the Author:

Originally from London with roots spread across the British Isles; Alistair now lives in Markham, Ontario. A former purchasing manager, he has been a part-time genealogist for more than ten years and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland as well as an MBA from the Open University in England.

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