Church Records in Ireland

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Church records exist for Church of Ireland, Catholic, Presbyterian, Huguenots, Quakers and Baptists. Baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded in Parish Registers as far back as 1680 however, you're very, very lucky if you find an entry that old. Because it was against the law to record or officiate at a marriage or birth in any religion other than Church of Ireland, few early Church records exist outside of it. Check the Locality Catalogue under Church records to see what is available. See also Brian Mitchell's "A Guide to Irish Parish Registers" c1988 by Genealogical Pub.Baltimore, MD. ISBN # 0-8063-1215-7.

Before the start of civil registration for all in 1864, virtually the only direct sources of family information for the vast majority of the population are the local parish records.
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* Catholic Records
The only way to be sure of the extent of surviving records is to check the individual parish. The National Library catalogue, available at the counter in the main reading room, is the only comprehensive county wide account of Catholic registers, and records in detail the period covered by each set of registers, including gaps, up to 1880. If you ask for these records from the National Library, approval by the local parish priest is required to view most of these records. Other locations, described below, allow you to view the records without this permission, however.

The LDS Church has a "List of Some Irish Catholic Church Records Filmed in the nat'l Lib. of Ireland" (LDS film #0990442). It lists the dioceses, parishes, record types and dates covered. The LDS Church filmed the surviving Catholic parish registers of the entire island but some are missing. Permission for public research has not been granted by the bishops of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Cloyne, Down and Connor, Galway, Kerry and Limerick. In these parishes, written permission from the parish priest is required before access to the records is permitted. A duplicate collection of Catholic Parish registers is available at PRONI and no permission is required. *

* Church of Ireland Records
The original records are indeed held locally, but unhelpful to researchers. In general, for the northern counties of Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Tyrone, surviving registers have been microfilmed by PRONI, and are available to the public in Belfast. For those counties which are now in the Republic of Ireland, Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth and Monaghan, copies of the PRONI microfilms are available to the public at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. For parishes further away from the border, local custody is generally accurate, and it is necessary to commission the local clergyman to search his registers. The current Church of Ireland Directory will supply the relevant name and address. *

* Irish Jewish Community
If you believe you have Irish/Jewish roots and would like more information, please contact The Irish Jewish Museum. *

* Methodist Records
There are a number of problems in locating Methodist records which are specific to that Church. First, the origins of Methodism, as a movement rather than a Church, gave its members a great deal of latitude in their attitude to Church membership, so that records of the baptisms, marriages and burials of Methodists may also be found in Quaker and Presbyterian registers, as well as the registers of the Church of Ireland. In addition, the ministers of the church were preachers on a circuit, rather than administrators of a particular area, and were moved frequently from one circuit to another. Quite often, the records moved with them. For the nine historic counties of Ulster, PRONI has produced a county by county listing of the surviving registers, their dates and locations, appended to their Parish Register Index. No such listing exists for the rest of the country. Pettigrew and Oulton's Dublin Almanac and General Register of Ireland of 1835 and subsequent years, provides a list of Methodist preachers and their stations, which will give an indication of the relevant localities. The next step is then to identify the closest surviving Methodist center, and ask of them as to surviving records. Many of the local county heritage centers also hold indexed copies of surviving Methodist records. *

* Presbyterian Records
Presbyterian registers are in three main locations:

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* Quaker Records
There are two main repositories for records, the libraries of the Society of Friends in Dublin and Lisburn. As well as the records outlined below, these also hold considerable collections of letters, wills, family papers, as well as detailed accounts of the discrimination suffered by the Quakers in their early years.

 

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