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The National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland is the ‘coal-face’ of Roots Tourism in Ireland and has excellent visitor facilities in place for tracing Irish family history. The Library has a permanent genealogy advisory service available. From June to September this service is enhanced by a panel of Ireland’s top professional genealogists. This crack-team of family historians are there to help with your research, or even on how to load the microfilm reels! The service caters for everyone – from newbies at the very start of research, to advanced researchers. The Library also has free access to all the main genealogy subscription websites, including and

The G.A.S. team answer all family history inquiries directed by email and letter to the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

National Archives of Ireland

If the Library is the ‘coalface’ then the Archives is the ‘Fort Knox’ of Roots Tourism: there’s a veritable treasure chest of records to be found here, but it’s difficult to gain access. If you want to apply for a reader’s ticket, you need to bring photo ID and a utilities bill or other proof of residential address.

For family history researchers, the key source held at the archives are the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland, which since 2009 has been available free online at

The National Archives in partnership with findmypast have digitized some other key collections which are indexed and imaged online. This ‘virtual archive’ compensates somewhat for the difficulty of access. A free, short personal consultation by professional genealogists is available in the Archives 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. It’s advisable to call ahead to check that there is a genealogist on duty at the time that would suit you.

General Register Office of Ireland (G.R.O.)

Civil registration of Ireland began in 1845. Between 1845 and 31 Dec. 1863, only non-catholic marriages were registered in Ireland because of the Catholic Church’s opposition to the state making any records of its members. From 1 January 1864, births, marriages and deaths of everyone in Ireland were registered. The indexes to 21 million of these births, marriages and deaths, up to 1958, are available to search online at findmypast.

The 1922 partition of the island of Ireland has resulted in Irish civil records being divided between Dublin and Belfast. Records of the Irish Republic are held in the General Register Office of Ireland in Dublin and records of Northern Ireland are held in the General Register Office Northern Ireland (G.R.O.N.I.). You can order some records online for Northern Ireland. Births up to 1914: Marriages up to 1939: and deaths up to 1964.

The Valuation Office

As my late father used to say, “nothing is certain in life, but death and taxes.” Griffith’s Valuation was published between 1847 and 1864. The records of the Valuation Office, a.k.a. the Cancelled Books, are the updates to Griffith’s. From the 1840s to the early 1990s these records were regularly updated, to ensure that all landholders paid the correct rate of local taxation. Family historians can now use these records as census substitutes to trace how long a family remained at an address in Ireland. They are a useful way of tracing living relatives.


I’ve included this ‘virtual’ hot-spot as my wildcard. This website contains 80 million unique Irish records – the largest collection of Irish records online.

If you know your ancestor was Irish, but not much else, this collection gives you access to the greatest number of records at one go. It’s often your best chance of finding that elusive ancestor!

If you’ve already traced the names and dates of your Irish ancestors, you can use these records to uncover their personal stories. Find out the actual details of your ancestors’ lives, and if they were caught up in any of the great events in Ireland’s history. is a dynamic organization, and regularly updates its online collections. So even if you don’t find what you want at first, check back regularly as millions of new records are regularly uploaded to the site.

For more stories on tracing your Irish heritage from findmypast click here