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 in Ireland

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  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 – 1921

Marriages: 1845* – 1946

Deaths: 1871** – 1971

*Note: Marriage records go back to 1845 for non-Catholic marriages only. Civil Roman Catholic marriage records began in 1864.

**Note: Death records will eventually go back to 1864, so keep checking!

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 here.

Northern Ireland

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.

For an overview of Irish Parish Registers, see my post here. And for an in-depth look at Irish Roman Catholic Parish Records see this article.

I’ve also written about Irish Censuses here.

For more Irish genealogy see:

And for more Irish genealogy articles, please visit the Ireland page here.

Good luck with your Irish research!

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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